What I’ve learned in almost 8 years of blogging (Part 2)
This is part 2 in the series – go here to read the first six lessons I’ve learned in my years of blogging…
People want what’s real.
And who can blame them? Although recent years have seen the rise in popularity of the numbered, how-to post, I don’t think that’s ultimately what people are really looking for. Sure, they’ll pin or like that post with The Top 20 Coolest Ikea Hacks. But the best posts are usually the ones that come from a genuine place.
The ones that flow out freely, without so much planning or strategy. The ones that are beautifully and thoughtfully written, that speak deeply to some aspect of our humanity, that connect us with one another and make us feel like we’re not so alone.
Bloggers don’t know it all.
And they should stop trying to talk and act like they do.
We’re writers, thinkers, business people, entrepreneurs, innovators, risk takers, public speakers… and yet, most of us are not also scientists, skilled physicians, herbalists or nutritionists, professional counselors, or parenting experts, much as we may wish we were.
I’m sick of the wannabes and the fakes. Most bloggers are just real, everyday people, who happen to have a passion for sharing their lives and experiences with others. Let’s be cool with that and not try to portray ourselves as more than we are.
Bloggers know a lot.
At the same time, I love to see truly skilled and knowledgeable people recognized for their talents online, even if they don’t have a bunch of letters behind their name.
There are incredible chefs and photographers and story tellers and seamstresses and artists and inspirational leaders and deep thinkers, who have been recognized for their astounding contributions and sheer talent as a result of their online presence, and I’m so grateful that blogging has done that for them.
Blogging has allowed the “average” person to have a voice and a platform and show that sometimes, they’re not as average as the rest of the world assumed.
It’s not an easy road to fame, money or success.
Blogging is freaking hard work. It requires serious, long-term, keep-going-every-time-you-want-to-give-up commitment, and then some.
Writing when you don’t feel like writing anymore. Learning technical skills you think are above your head. Managing business aspects you’d rather ignore (finances and taxes come to mind, for those of us who aren’t numerically inclined). Juggling a whole lot of balls in the air. Constantly researching and staying up-to-date as this field changes at the speed of light. Becoming adept at business relationships – hiring and firing people, managing and inspiring a team, collaborating with partners, having really hard conversations.
I don’t think most people realize the intense amount of time, effort and hard work that goes into a truly successful blog, because all we know is the ease of reading that post, opening that email, pinning that pretty recipe.
It’s not for the faint of heart, just as being an entrepreneur in general isn’t, either. Doing anything well, being successful at any career, takes a whole lot of work, and if someone tries to tell you otherwise, they’re lying.
Sometimes you get lucky.
Let’s face it — when something goes well, it’s human nature to want to take credit for it. And I won’t deny that most successful bloggers have worked incredibly hard to get where they are.
But sometimes, you’re not really in control. Posts go viral for very random, unexpected reasons and it can be hard to pinpoint why one mediocre post goes gangbusters and another thoughtful, well-written, incredibly useful post sits silently. Some people started their blog, launched their Facebook page, got active on Pinterest, etc. at just the right time. They weren’t super clever. They weren’t being strategic. They didn’t know what would happen. They just had good timing and things went well for them as a result.
I’m not trying to say it’s all sheer luck, not at all. I just think it’s helpful to remember when we’re tempted to beat ourselves up, or to let our egos get the better of us, that the internet carries with it a measure of chance.
Blogging is vulnerable and often, painful.
It’s a lot like living in a fish bowl. It can be extremely hard to walk through seasons of personal change when you’re so publicly known. Not to mention the fact that people have grown callous and uncaring in their online, anonymous responses, spouting off in a way they probably never would face to face.
Blogging takes a very thick skin, and at the same time, a willingness to shed that skin frequently in order to still be real, authentic, approachable and honest.
It’s a very delicate balance, one that is probably the reason so many long-term bloggers (myself included) tend to vacillate between loving it and hating it, thinking they have the best job ever and then wanting to go curl up in the fetal position and never use a computer again.
It’s out there for good.
What you say, the pictures you post, the way you react to others in comments, the reputation you establish for yourself – it’s out there and you can’t take it back. On the internet, we’re all immortalized, like it or not.
For bloggers in particular, it can take a very, very long time to overcome something stupid we’ve done or said, to fix a tarnished reputation, or to help others see how we’ve been changing.
It takes a community.
I see some bloggers who want to go it on their own — they clutch opportunities and followers tightly to themselves, don’t acknowledge how others have helped them or contributed to their success, and are often not willing to extend a helping hand to others.
I’m sorry to say, but that’s not really how it works. Oh, it could work… for a while.
But in the long term, selfish blogging won’t get you where you want to go. This is a team sport. The best bloggers are collaborators, networkers, encouragers, and givers.
There are always different ways to do things.
Bloggers often get caught up trying to feed the blogging monster. We think we have to keep up with every single fad, be active and on-trend with every social media platform, keep our site perfectly up-to-date, say yes to every opportunity, and do whatever the current most “successful” person is doing on Facebook (or YouTube or Twitter or whatever).
It’s total baloney. I know so, so many different bloggers who approach their work with their own style. They buck the trends. They don’t do it the way they’re “supposed” to. They ignore what people expect of them. They do it their own way, in their own time, on their own schedule, with their own creative ideas and methods. And they do a dang good job of it.
There is no one right way to blog. Scrap that notion.
Blogging will change you.
You can’t write often and introspectively, be exposed to public scrutiny, and overcome so many learning obstacles, and then expect to walk out the other end of the tunnel unaltered.
Blogging has been one of the most impactful forces of change in my life (along with my marriage, being a mother, traveling internationally, and authentically exploring my faith).
Exactly where it will take you, I can’t say. But I can guarantee it will shake you up and chew you up and spit you out different than you were before you started.
And for all of this…
I wouldn’t trade these past 8 years. I’m so thankful for what blogging has taught me and given me.
To my fellow bloggers out there, what have you learned through blogging? What would you agree or disagree with on this list? (And if you’re a blog reader, I’m so curious to hear your perspective as well!)
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