Lessons I Learned from Seven Years of Blogging
It is my blogoversary. For seven years, I have shown up in this space. I write pretty much daily. I post about 5 times per week; sometimes more. I leave about a quarter of my posts in draft; completed but unpublished. There is no rhyme or reason to what I choose to post vs. what I choose to leave in draft forever.
I’ve seen blogging change a lot. When I started, blogs were like little lights flickering from mountain top to mountain top, sending a signal across the land. Now there are millions… billions?… of blogs. Seven years ago, the blog was it, the end all and be all, the place you could find me. Now, we’re expected to spread ourselves thinly across multiple platforms, keeping up with dozens of social media sites. Or we’re encouraged to drop the blog and go ephemeral — throwing our thoughts into the fast-moving rivers of Twitter or Facebook instead of chiseling the words into slow-moving, semi-permanent blog posts.
Over the last seven years, I’ve seen memes come and go, trends take off and fizzle. I’ve seen the blog be declared dead more times than I can count.
Which brings us to the most important piece of advice I have to give at this point:
If you love blogging, if you get what you need simply from putting words on a screen, tune out the “experts” who tell you that you need to do this or that to be “successful.” What does that even mean anyway? Why measure yourself by someone else’s definition of a successful blogger? Those blogging talking heads aren’t Merriam-Webster. They do not get to define what makes or breaks a blogger.
YOU get to decide that. We all individually get to decide that.
Every few months, a new trend is floated into the blogosphere. If you want to have a successful blog, you have to go visual! You have to have images! You have to be pinnable! No… wait… to have a successful blog, you have to be on Twitter! You have to have a lot of followers! No… wait… to have a successful blog, you need to make your blog look like every single other space out there, so it doesn’t reflect your personality at all and instead drops you neatly into a single niche that you can present yourself in as an expert.
When all those ideas are floated by me, I nod. And then I wait. Because those speakers are anxious to make something happen, to make something go viral or find the next big thing. And I’m happy to just be trucking along, putting words on a screen. I get everything I need to get out of blogging; I don’t need to change this space or the way I write. I like where I put my words. I like the speed in which they come as well as how long they stick around for readers to find them.
The reality is that if you keep chasing all the things you’re supposed to do with your blog it will cease to be YOUR space in the same way that if you spend your life trying to be like someone else, you will miss you on being you. I didn’t really get that when my parents would tell me that when I was a kid, and I was moaning that I wasn’t like this person or that person. But I get it now.
So if Twitter is your thing, go do Twitter. And if Facebook is your thing, go spend time on Facebook. If you’re a big fan of hangouts, Google+ is for you. Images make you happy? Then there is Pinterest or Instagram.
But I like blogs. I like reading them, and I like writing one. So this is what I’m going to do, year after year after year, plodding along with the same thing and waiting when people tell me about the next big thing I need to do in order to be successful since it always changes anyway.
Thank you for being here for seven years. Some of you have been here since the beginning. Some of you have found this space quite recently. And I’m grateful for each and every one of you who pick up my words, consider them, and share your own.