December marked two years of blogging at Findingravity. It blows my mind to think about how much I’ve learned in the two years I’ve been steering this ship. Or…spaceship, if we’re talking gravity.
Now, I’m not going to tell you that you “need a pretty blog design”or to “have a unique voice” because…Well, of course. Also, who am I to tell you how to run your show. This isn’t about “the hustle” or whatever trendy word people use for working really hard on something, usually between the hours of 10pm and 3am. But I am going to share a few things I’ve learned along the way, that have shaped the way my blog has played out. I’m not going to assign numbers to these to make it a little less list-y. I’ve also tried to refrain from telling you how to make your blog more successful. I’m not a guru/ninja/connoisseur/Harry Potter. I’m just a girl with a blog who likes to share things. (Things that are not Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Yo. Get your own).
I just had to start, even if it was nowhere extraordinary. I started my blog in a coffee shop after work one day (I know, eye roll). I was feeling intellectually unfulfilled and a little bit lost, as most of us in our twenties tend to feel at some stage. I had my degree, teaching experience, and was working full time, but it wasn’t cutting it. I knew there had to be more out there. I knew that I had skills that weren’t being put to use, and while I didn’t know much about blogging other than what I’d learned in a basic university computer class, it sounded like a good way to utilize some of my creativity. After telling my mom that it felt like I was just floating around as if I had lost my sense of gravity, Findingravity was born. I had five blog followers but I was happy. (Thanks Mom, Dad, and friends! You guys rock for not saying my blog sucked).
When people ask me how to grow a following I always feel like I don’t know the answer. “Write…press publish…rinse…repeat?” Show people that you’re genuine. Care. Open a vein or two. Communicate with the people who are kind enough to take time out of their days to read your work. There are no shortcuts here. I’m not going to tell you to always post photos, and that if you like it then you shoulda put a filter on it. That’s garbage. My suggestion is to write quality content and have patience.
I forgot about money. I think my blogging experience would have been sad and unfulfilling had I started with monetization in mind. Truthfully, I didn’t know what monetizing a blog was until I went to my first blogging conference. Here’s a fun secret – my blog STILL isn’t monetized. I know the world in which bloggers are making $OMG.00 per post to wear a pair of shoes. I work in it every day. Having career in digital media, I can see the value of that for both the brand AND the blogger. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to monetize and have turned them down. I enjoy taking a no pressure approach to blogging, for now. I write when I have something to say. That may change someday, and if you CHOOSE to (or currently) monetize, great! But I hope you never forget why you started. (Which is hopefully because you love it).
There will be a-holes. I once found out a couple of kids I went to college with were making fun of my blog on Facebook. At first I was hurt, because these were people I’d been nothing but friendly to. It was after I kindly thanked them for their page views and moved on that I realized there are internet trolls who occasionally come out from underneath their sad little bridges. They’ll belittle you for no reason other than they think basking in the anonymity that the internet provides is ballsy. It’s not. These people are cowards. I ignore these people. (Except for right now. Sup, peeps? I see you.)
There will also be critics, and these are different than a-holes. They may say negative things about your writing style, point of view, or overall piece you’ve just poured your heart into. They may whole-heartedly disagree with you. I know I have people who read my blog who probably don’t relate to or agree with what I have to say 100% of the time, and some have been quite vocal about it. I appreciate these differences in opinions. Considering and reflecting on these dialogues have helped me grow as a person and a writer. I think it’s okay to digest what these people have to say — provided it isn’t racist, sexist, or unnecessary bigotry, otherwise see previous, “There will be a-holes”.
It’s possible to make some really great, lasting friendships through blogging. Kate from Greatestescapist and Holly from HollySaysHey have turned into real life friends…That I hang out with outside of the blogosphere, and if it weren’t for miles and distance between us, I’m sure there are a bunch more blog friends I’d get ice cream or lattes or grab beers with. (Depending which of those three sounds most enticing. I’m a big fan of ice cream).
I’ve found stepping away when I don’t feel inspired is better than forcing content when my brain has turned into oatmeal. If you’re thoughts are feeling like mush, your writing may translate into mush. It’s okay to step away for a week, or a month, or five months, or however long it takes for you to feel good about the work you’re doing. People might disagree with me here, and I know plenty of writers who strongly feel that any form of writing is better than no writing. Don’t get me wrong, I write when I don’t feel like writing ALL..THE…TIME…It’s just not writing that I would publish on my blog. It stays trapped in my journal, or on napkins, or bar coasters, never to be seen by anybody (except for maybe the bartender). I’ve taken a hiatus or two from blogging. When the thing I love starts becoming work that I hate, I consider taking a little break or finding a new way of approaching it.
Despite how much I love writing, I feel it takes a lot of bravery (and sometimes convincing) to put my thoughts into words, and then to share them with the world. I’ve learned so much about risk taking through pressing publish on pieces that rocked my core. Writing about somebody passing away, or somebody putting my heart through a hamburger grinder, or somebody loving me, or trying to love me, or not being able to love me the way I want them to…All terrifying, and all part of being human.
And I’m going to stop there, because these really are the most important things Findingravity has taught me in the last two years. Having this blog and being a part of something growing has been extremely cathartic. I’m not sure how this blog will evolve in the future, I just know that it will. I’ve tinkered with the idea of some rebranding accompanied by a potential name change, but that’s all much further down the road. For now, thanks for being on this crazy roller coaster with me! I mean it. I think you’re all great people, and I wish I could high five each and every one of you!