Today you are reading my 175th post. Eight years! Who knew I had so much to say? Whether it was interesting or valuable is questionable, but 175! Yikes! Each post is approximately 900 words. I’ve posted 157,500 words. Double Yikes!
As I try to decide what next to do with this blog – I mean, seriously, after 8 years, it’s probably time to step back and see what’s what – I’m sharing what I’ve learned along the way.
- Eight years ago, and many times since, I researched how to grow an audience. “They” say if you keep writing consistently and with authenticity, the audience will grow. I know I’m consistent and I know I’m authentic. So, either “they” are full of it or I’m not good at it. I’ve decided to believe “they” are a bunch of wankers.
- My publisher – who really really really would like for us to sell some books -- keeps telling me, “You’re doing the right things. Just be patient and one day the flip will switch.” Eight years? Either she’s full of shit or her definition of ‘one day’ might mean never.
- The woman who used to help me with social media agreed with the publisher. But, I had to let her go because I could no longer afford to wait on the switch to flip.
- I was told that if I create a “brand”, more people will find me. First, what the hell does that mean? Second, I went to the trouble and expense of a new site that looks lovely and all matchy-matchy. I added structure to the content. Well, if that’s branding then it’s bullshit too.
- If you ask the reader questions, you’ll get more feedback and generate conversation. I’ve gotten approximately 3 comments in 8 years. The Return on Investment = 1.7%. (Note: I do have some wonderfully loyal friends who respond directly to me – thank you Joan! Leslie! Leigh Anne! Toby! Anne! and anyone else I may have forgotten!)
- It’s been suggested that I plan this blog better – pre-plan the topics and do a “campaign” around each, find guest bloggers, participate or even start a podcast, swamp social media. More structure would build the audience, they promise. For me, authenticity is the act of spontaneity, of sharing what’s hurting or what’s working in real time not because some calendar said I should.
It's Not All Bullshit
Not all of my lessons have been of the bullshit variety. Thank goodness. Let’s see some of the positives I’ve gathered after 8 years, 175 blogs, 157,500 words:
- Never look at statistics. They are meaningless (or too confusing) and can sink an emotional ship.
- I am living proof that writing your truth helps you work through areas of pain. I am a work in progress, but I assure you I am making progress.
- My husband, who edits for me, has learned a lot about me and we’ve been able to open some discussions I might have been too afraid to have without this blog triggering us. By the way, he did not edit this one so it's likely fool of silly mistakes. So be it.
- There are times when this blog hits a person’s heart and allows them to understand themselves or others better. That trumps any bullshit!
- My husband’s family and my brother are faithful readers. That surprised (and still surprises me). I am honored and humbled. All of them have careers and lives and other ways to spend their precious time. But they take a few minutes to read about me, my struggles, my triumphs. Humbling and wonderful. (On the other hand, my children do not read it – I’ll keep that in mind when it’s time to buy Christmas presents.)
- When I don’t put pressure on myself to have a blog by a certain date, I actually like writing them. When I relieve myself of “have to”, I can lean into “this excites me or interests me or challenges me”. The right attitude makes the entire process fun and rewarding (if only to myself).
- For me to write 175 blogs, I have to spend a lot of time reading and learning. I estimate in the last eight years, I’ve read over 100 nonfiction, “self-help” books that challenge me to look at the world differently.
- Beyond the nonfiction books, I read fiction more deeply too. I seek out those bits of truth and wisdom good novelists provide us via story. I estimate I’ve read at least 500 novels in the last eight years. In each and every one, I find at least one sentence that states a truism I can ponder and hold.
- I've met some amazing people along the way.
- I love to learn and doing this blog has been an education. I understand (mostly) WordPress. I have an idea what it means to “brand”. I’ve learned to cut 1000 words to 800. I can talk about social media without sounding like the old woman I am. I know MailChimp and SamePage. I’ve mastered Google images and soon have to learn Canva. I know the rule for when to use “that” (but I don’t often obey the rule).
- Mostly, though, I’ve learned about me. I’ve learned to accept myself and even embrace my crazy. I’ve learned some people appreciate me and this blog. Other people believe I’m narcissistic.
- I’ve learned that when people say shit about me, it’s more about that person than me. That doesn’t make it hurt less but it makes the pain go away much faster.
- I’ve learned that if I choose to never write another word or if I choose to write for another eight years, life will continue, lessons will be learned or ignored, friends will appear and disappear. And through it all, I will be okay.
I appreciate you and am glad I have several people on the journey with me. I’ll see you when I see you. In the meantime, be well and relax. All is as it should be even when it sucks.
Will there be a 176th blog? You’ll know when I know.
Have you been doing something for a long while that needs some ? Is it time to step away, look in the rearview mirror and re-assess? Everything has a layer of bullshit and it's the easiest to identify. But everything also has a layer of celebration. Assess both.