One year ago today, I sat down in my husband’s La-Z-Boy, and opened a Blogger account. I hammered out a 180 word post that probably took me an hour to write, and hesitantly clicked the publish button. Two months later, that terrible post got its first comment, from one of my very first blogging buddies, Meredith from The Girl Next Door Drinks and Swears. She told me my blog was awesome, so it’s obvious she was drinking that day. A week after becoming a blogger, I announced it to my Facebook friends, and spent the rest of my day staring at my computer, refreshing my stats and seeing how many people liked my status.
After that rocky and scary start, things started going well. I was thrilled with every single comment, and every page view. There still weren’t many readers, but so what?! I was writing! It took me about six more months to call myself a writer, and even then I put a question mark at the end of it. “I’m a …writer?” Now? Now I’m a writer. Hells yes, I am.
It has been a fun and exciting year, with many things to celebrate, and a few disappointments along the way. Here are a few things I’ve learned in my first year of blogging.
1. Managing a blog takes way more time than one would think. Way, way more. At my house, the infancy of my blog looked very much like bringing home a real baby in that my kids watched every show on television. Twice.
2. Sometimes, a fun family activity becomes a weekly blog staple. Crock Pot Thursday, anyone?
3. There are so many talented and clever writers in the world. It is exciting, entertaining, and terribly intimidating. I go through an “I’m not good enough” pity party at least every other month. THIS post by Julie DeNeen of Fabulous Blogging does a great job explaining blog traffic, perceived popularity, and our quirky blogging culture.
4. Getting paid for a piece of writing is thrilling. Everyone wants to know how much that is, because writing for a living falls outside the basic societal guidelines of salary etiquette. Apparently.
5. The blogging community is so very supportive. It amazes me how this vast group supports and celebrates one another. Much like passing on hand-me-downs, sharing information is as exciting as getting it.
6. The scary things are the best things, and for cool things to happen, you have to put yourself out there. Trying the scary things means there will be rejection. It sucks. Shake it off and try another scary thing.
7. Facebook hates bloggers, yet we spend half of our lives there. When someone’s ready to organize a Facebook walkout, let me know. I’m in. Or out. I’m in on being out, is what I’m saying.
8. Twitter is the shizz. The funniest people on the internet are yucking it up on Twitter.
9. Pinterest is the unsung hero of blog traffic. Well over half of my traffic comes from Pinterest. And not just my recipes.
10. Blogging can be a jumping off point for other ventures. Like two amazing books and a weekly newspaper column.
11. Blog comments are incredibly important. Every single one gets read, even if there isn’t always a response.
12. Some of the comments move us bloggers to tears. I have cried more times than I can count over kind words from readers. I have also shed a few angry tears over trolls. A very few.
13. Write in your own voice, while being mindful of your readers. If you say, “I write for me,” that’s fine, but don’t be upset when no one reads it. I write my newspaper columns differently than my blog posts, because the audience is different. It’s still my voice, though. Less swears, mostly.
14. When you find like-minded bloggers, reach out, make friends, and don’t let go. This tribe will get you through the hard times (no traffic, disapproving family members, stolen content, the terror of a viral post, trolls) and celebrate the good times (being featured on huge sites, reaching personal goals, book publications, the thrill of a viral posts).
15. Everyone loves a list. Myself included. My most popular post, which accounts for almost 1/4 of my all time pageviews, is a list.
I am Grateful.
I have published 242 posts in the last 365 days, gained 15 pounds, and made countless friends. This has been a true labor of love, and I’m not the only one doing the laboring.
Thank you to those of you who encouraged me to start this blog. Your were up my ass like my kids begging for candy, and that was just the thing I needed to pull the trigger on this venture.
To Libby, who bought me a journal for my birthday every year and told me to write a book, I know a blog isn’t what you had in mind, but thanks for reading just the same.
To Jen from People I Want to Punch in the Throat and Leslie Marinelli, thank you for taking a chance on me. I still don’t know why you invited me to submit to your anthologies, but my eyes get drippy when I think of all you have done for me. I can’t wait to meet you both in person, and smell your hair in a kind of creepy way.
To my real life friends and family who have championed my writing, I think of you every time I pen a piece, and am writing for you.
To my blogging friends, thank you for accepting me into your fold. I am truly grateful for your friendship, and I admire your mad skillz more than you know. Someday I’m going to drive around the country and stay at all y’alls houses. I’ll eat anything, but I need coffee in the morning. Plan ahead.
Now, my husband didn’t get a gift for our 10th wedding anniversary last week, but in honor of our year together, I’m giving you something! The traditional gift for a one year anniversary is paper, so I’m giving one lucky winner a copy of I Just Want to Pee Alone and “You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.” I’ll also be throwing in a $25 Amazon gift card, so you can buy yourself something nice to go with your new books!
Thanks for coming to my blogiversary party! Sorry I ate all the cake.
The winner will be announced on Monday September 16th, and may the odds be ever in your favor!