So this is my 800th blog post. (No, I don’t keep track of these things; WordPress does). Â My thoughts on this milestone range from Holy cow, that’s a lot of writing Â to I never thought I’d last this long to Let’s go get some cannoli to celebrate!Â (see Blog Post #792).
I also Â thought, I guess I’ve learned a thing or two about blogging over the last five years, haven’t I? Â And since many of my readers are bloggers too, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned just in case it proves helpful to others. Â (It’s certainly Â less messy than trying to share a celebratory cannoli, though I do believe life is exponentially better when it includes Italian desserts.) Â So here it is: What I’ve Learned From Writing 799 Blog Posts.
1. Â What you write about may change over time. Â When I started in 2008, I’d just published a book about Mary, and my blog was very focused on Mary and how she can relate to modern women. Â But as time passed and my second child began to exit the baby stage, my focus became less about one particular mother and more about motherhood in general. Â That change happened organically; I just went with it.
2. If your blog focus changes, the name might need to change. Â The Blog Formerly Known as Mary and Me became Random Acts of Momness in early July of 2011. Â I owe the name entirely to Scott, who turned to me suddenly in the middle of watching a Fourth of July parade and said ,”I have the perfect new name for your blog.” Â (See why I love him?).
3. Â Blogs can be the catalyst for getting to know some pretty fantastic people. Â In some cases, you actually get to meet them in the flesh (hi, Chris!); in most cases, my blog-buddies are people I have never seen face-to-face, people whose voices I could never identify. Â But their comments led to actual email conversations, and now I count many of them as true friends. Â I had no idea that would happen when I started blogging. Â It’s been a beautiful surprise.
4. Â Blogging energy, Â like anything, ebbs and flows.Â Â There are days where I’m so into this whole thing that I could post something every day, and then there are other times where I feel like the blogging well has run so dry that if you were to drop a bucket into it, the ensuing clank would echo until Kingdom Come. Â Sometimes, you need to take a little Â hiatus and let the rainwater fill you up again. Â I’ve found that it always does.
That said, I do have the mental escape hatch that if this ever stops being fun for a long period of time, I can give it up. After all, no one is making me do this but me. Â (But if I stopped blogging, would I miss it? Â Yes, I probably would.)
5. Â You have to figure out what you’re comfortable sharing, and not. Â I made the call early on not to post pictures of my kids on the blog, for their privacy’s sake. Â (God knows I share enough embarrassing stories about them as it is.) Â Your line may be different, and that’s great — you just need to decide where it is.
6. Â When it comes to developing your craft as a writer, blogging is both good and bad. Â On the plus side, blogging can let you develop a totally authentic voice. Â If you aren’t trying to match the style of a certain publication or editorial vision, you are free to let yourself go and write however the heck you want to write. Â Blogging has helped me solidify my own personal voice, and that’s nice.
That said, there is a reason why most published material goes through an editorial process: we aren’t always able to see what works and what doesn’t in our own writing. Â If you don’t have someone else giving you feedback, it can be hard to grow as a writer. Â Anytime someone else edits my work, I learn … a lot. Â When Â you are publishing your own stuff, it can be hard to get that feedback unless you actively solicit it from others.
7. Â Go with your enthusiasm. Â My blog is about Â motherhood and spirituality, but not every post fits under that umbrella. Â Sometimes, I am so into something that I just have to share it. Â (And I’ve never had a reader ask, “Why the heck are you writing about Jane Austen when you are supposed to be a blog about motherhood?”)
8. Â A blog is a zillion times more interesting with readers’ comments Â …Â so what would you add to this list?Â If you are a blogger too, whether you’ve written one post or one thousand, what have you learned from blogging? Â I’d love to Â have you share your wisdom in the comments field below. Â (And Â please stick around for the next 800 posts!).