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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  I leave about a quarter of my posts in draft; completed but unpublished.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:

Wait.

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.

58 comments

1 TasIVFer { 06.25.13 at 8:09 am }

HAPPY BLOGOVERSARY! More to say, but in Tasmania it is time for sleep s. . .

2 A.M.S. { 06.25.13 at 8:16 am }

Happy blogoversary! Thanks for always being here!

3 Egg Timer { 06.25.13 at 8:29 am }

Happy Blogoversary!!! It is always good to remember that being successful is more about being true to yourself.

4 Sarah { 06.25.13 at 8:43 am }

Happy seven years! Well done 🙂

xo

5 Catwoman73 { 06.25.13 at 8:44 am }

Happy Blogoversary Mel! I look forward to reading your posts each and every day!

6 Jamie { 06.25.13 at 8:44 am }

It’s hard to believe I’ve been reading you for 7 years! I’ve been here since the very beginning.

I hope to actually meet you this year at BlogHer!

7 Aerotropolitan Comitissa { 06.25.13 at 8:54 am }

Happy blogaversary!

And keep blogging.

8 Mommy-At-Last { 06.25.13 at 9:10 am }

Happy Blogoversary. I think you get to be a bit on an ‘expert’ on the blog having stuck with it for this long. And through all the stages on my journey to parenthood and now my journey to be a better parent, you have been there, so thank you for that too.

BTW I also think you have created a pretty awesome ‘hangout’.

9 Chickenpig { 06.25.13 at 9:27 am }

Your blog seems pretty damned successful to me 🙂 I wish you seven more years of success….and seven more after that….

10 Steadfast Warrior { 06.25.13 at 9:28 am }

Wow, seven years! Happy blogoversary! I found my way into the ALI community through your blog, so I’m ever grateful for your presence and frequently wise words. Thank you. 🙂

11 nonsequiturchica { 06.25.13 at 9:39 am }

Happy blogoversary! I’m so happy that you blog and continue to blog because you are such a great resource for all things related to infertility. THANK YOU for all that you do!!!

12 a { 06.25.13 at 10:01 am }

When I see successful bloggers, I see people who are doing something that they enjoy. If they try something new, and like it, they stick with it. If they don’t like it, they move on. Their posts never have a hint of boredom.

Happy 7 years! I’ve been enjoying your writing for much of that time now – thanks for keeping it interesting!

13 Gypsy Mama { 06.25.13 at 10:49 am }

Happy Blogiversary! I am so thankful that I found Stirrup Queens. Through reading your posts, I learned SO MUCH and I met lots of other bloggers through Stirrup Queens too. I can honestly say that those things have enriched my life.

So thank you!!

14 emma { 06.25.13 at 10:54 am }

Happy Blogiversary 🙂

15 Katie { 06.25.13 at 11:20 am }

Happy seven, amazing years, Mel. xo

16 marwil { 06.25.13 at 12:25 pm }

Happy anniversary! whatever you enjoy most you should continue with, great advice.

17 Karen (formerly Serenity) { 06.25.13 at 12:29 pm }

Happy blogaversary. 🙂

18 Tigger { 06.25.13 at 12:48 pm }

Happiest blogoversary!!

19 Esperanza { 06.25.13 at 12:59 pm }

Happy blogaversary! Seven years is a massive acheivement and I for one am glad you’ve been around so long and you plan to keep on trucking.

20 loribeth { 06.25.13 at 2:10 pm }

Happy blogoversary, and many, MANY more. And don’t worry about fads & trends (although I know you don’t)… we love you & your blog just the way you are. 😉

21 Tracie { 06.25.13 at 2:25 pm }

Happy blogaversary!

I am new-ish to your blog, but I enjoy stopping by and reading your words.

Love this encouragement to wait, to be us, to do what feels right in our space and shut out the voices that would change us into something less than our true selves. That is good advice for blogging and life.

22 Blanche { 06.25.13 at 3:10 pm }

Happy happy! And THANK YOU for sticking it out, for staying true, and being the kind of person who allows, nay, supports and encourages community to develop and continue to thrive.

23 Jendeis { 06.25.13 at 3:39 pm }

Congrats sweetie! You’re amazin’ and not just because you introduced me to the Greatest. Spring Rolls. Evah.

24 gurlee { 06.25.13 at 3:43 pm }

Happy 7 years of blogging! Thanks for all the hard work & sharing pieces of yourself with the world!

25 JustHeather { 06.25.13 at 3:54 pm }

Happy Blogoversary! I’m happy you like blogging too…because I like reading your blog. Can’t wait to read more.

26 Illanare { 06.25.13 at 3:57 pm }

Happy blogaversery!

27 missohkay { 06.25.13 at 4:00 pm }

Happy Blogoversary! I appreciate that you consistently write thought-provoking and interesting posts that will live beyond the latest trend. I never think much about what it takes to have a successful blog because it seems implicit that you must have a ton of readers and make your living off it by reviewing products or the like. That’s great for the people who have it, but that’s not what I want from writing (or for that matter, from reading) blogs. Cheers!

28 Amel { 06.25.13 at 4:34 pm }

Happy Blogoversary! Wise words and I have to THANK YOU for helping me find other IF bloggers whom I can relate to (which isn’t easy to find, but you’ve made it easier to do). But anyway, I love your posts ‘coz they make me think and they also introduce me to new things that I can learn from. 🙂

29 It Is What It Is { 06.25.13 at 4:37 pm }

Yeah, so many fads and gimmicks. Blogging is here to stay because people love reading good work.

And you, my friend, thank YOU, for being the you that you are to us and this community. You fill me up with thoughts and emotions and humor and compassion. One of the greatest things to come out of my struggle with infertility (aside from my two boys) is the privilege to know you and read your words.

Happy Blogoversary, Mel!

30 Lisa Froman { 06.25.13 at 4:59 pm }

Hi, I just started blogging in January…and it has been a bit overwhelming. In addition to my full time job, I blog about once a week and keep up with facebook and a small audience on Twitter daily. I’m doing this to expose my book and my voice…it feels kind of sacred to me. But even so, I have questioned my voice, my style, my message at times…and you’re right…you get into trouble when you start trying to imitate others. I want to learn what I can from others, but continue to express in my own unique voice. Anyway, found your blog validating….and congrats on seven years of service.

31 k { 06.25.13 at 5:07 pm }

Happy blogiversary! I am not sure when I discovered you, but I’ve been around quite a long while, so pretty close to the beginning I think. I’m so grateful for you, for your blog, and for your friendship. Here’s to another 7, and another 7 and another 7!

32 Wolfers { 06.25.13 at 6:08 pm }

Happy Blogoversary! May you have another 7 years of blogging! 🙂

33 HereWeGoAJen { 06.25.13 at 7:22 pm }

Happy blogoversary! I’m glad you keep sticking around.

34 Risa { 06.25.13 at 7:33 pm }

Happy blogoversary! Love what you are writing about! Here is to another 7 more!

35 Tiara { 06.25.13 at 8:05 pm }

A very happy blogoversary!! Seven years! thats awesome! Great advice, great post. I often question myself about keeping up my blog. I ask myself why I do it, what I get from it, what I want to get from it. As long as I am ok with my answers I continue.

36 jjiraffe { 06.25.13 at 8:21 pm }

Happy Blogoversary!! Glad you continue to do your thing 🙂

37 Justine { 06.25.13 at 9:16 pm }

Happy blogoversary! I’m so, so grateful I found this space, and you.

Last year at BlogHer I got myself caught up in the “how to be successful” discussions, and came back full of fire about being more proactive everywhere to promote myself. And when I couldn’t keep up, I questioned my decision to blog at all. Maybe I didn’t have what it takes to be “successful.” But dammit, you’re right … isn’t that version of “success” at the root of many of the discussions we’re having lately about women and the workplace? What is success? And why are we living by someone else’s definition? Yes, I’d love more readers, but not because I am trying to monetize my brand, but because I love it when people read what I write, appreciate my words, and have thoughtful things to say about them.

Maybe I’ll write a book some day, and maybe not. But I’m never going to do it if I put a wall in my way because I think I’m not good enough, by someone else’s standards.

How did you get so smart? And can I be like you when I grow up? 😉

38 Lori Lavender Luz { 06.25.13 at 10:55 pm }

I am so grateful to Josh for what he helped launch 7 years ago, and to Peggy Orenstein for helping me find this space 6+ years ago.

Amen on your advice.

39 Ann Z { 06.25.13 at 11:21 pm }

Happy blogiversary!!

40 Shelby { 06.26.13 at 12:40 am }

Happiest blogoversary to you! I LOVE your message. I have stumbled upon so much ‘advice’ on blogging and not once has any of it seemed fitting or authentic for me. To thine own blog be true!

41 StacieT { 06.26.13 at 1:08 am }

Happy Blogoversary to you!

42 Mali { 06.26.13 at 2:01 am }

Congratulations, Mel! To blog for seven years, as regularly as you do, is a huge commitment and achievement. Wish I’d found you seven years ago, but glad I got here eventually.

43 St. Elsewhere { 06.26.13 at 3:12 am }

Happy Blogoversary…and Congrats for being so consistently terrific at it.

xo

44 Turia { 06.26.13 at 9:43 am }

Happy blogoversary! I have been reading you since I started blogging five years ago. I made my blog friends through LFCA. I appreciate so much what you have done to make the ART community into a true community.

45 Pale { 06.26.13 at 10:59 am }

Happy Blogoversary, Mel! Just randomly clicked over today … doing a little way overdue reader maintenance … and it’s your blogoversary! Synchronicity. Of all the posts to land on. Much love to you and yours! Cin Cin!

46 Natalie { 06.26.13 at 12:46 pm }

So true, and I have really lost my blogging self. I have tried a few times to get it back, but I keep just not getting it. Apparently i am now a facebooker. The very thought of it makes me sad. I wish I could find the words for blogging again… But I guess I don’t have much to say.

47 Cristy { 06.26.13 at 2:53 pm }

Happy blogoversary, Mel!! And thank you for the sage advice to just be ourselves. Wishing you many, many more blogoversaries too.

48 Daryl { 06.26.13 at 5:55 pm }

Happy blogoversary!

49 Em { 06.26.13 at 9:00 pm }

First of all, congratulations! Seven years! Woohoo! And secondly, what great advice! Thank you for taking the pressure off and helping me chill out a bit and do what works for me. I hope this whole blogosphere never, ever dies. But I know that if it does, it will be because we don’t need it anymore or because something better has come along. Again, congrats!

50 Audrey { 06.26.13 at 10:05 pm }

Oh man, when I started blogging they were largely used as meme catchers. Places to put your quiz results and whatnot. I used mine to keep in touch with friends who lived a few hours away mostly. I went from meme catcher at Blogger to more diary like journalling at LiveJournal to another Blogger account to keep track of being pregnant and having a baby to..well..it’s kind of like a piece of me now. And it’s on WordPress. It’s weird having so much of your life tied to something not physical, like the internet. I even met the husband on a writing website.

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