Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Things I've Learned in My FIRST Year of Blogging

It's My Blogiversary!

My blog's first birthday!

I remember writing my very first post, on a hot July day last summer. I had officially made the jump from "working mom" to "stay at home mom of two under two".

I started From Meredith to Mommy so that I had a place to share the stories that I always seemed to have. I had a friend who I spoke to daily, but I needed to give her a break from my sagas. I didn't have my coworkers anymore, and my conversations with other grown ups were frequently interrupted with the needs of two little girls.

I also knew that I wasn't doing a great job about documenting this stage of my life. Stages and moments and conversations fade so quickly. Memories age badly, and there were so many moments I didn't want to forget.

And most importantly, I wanted to connect. I'd started really reading blogs when I was nursing Reagan. The biggest draw was the "I'm not alone in this" feeling. My kids weren't the only ones doing certain things, I wasn't the only mom feeling certain things, and I wasn't the only mom reaching out into the internet world.

Here's what I've learned in my first year of blogging.

1) Blogging and writing are two different things. 

At first, I was only writing. Basically, I was journaling, just online. I wrote, and that's it.

During this past year, I became a blogger. I still wrote, but I started networking and promoting. I joined Twitter, made a Facebook page, started using Pinterest. I joined Blog Hops and Link Ups, joined sites like BlogHer and Circle of Moms. I'd say the time I put in is pretty evenly split between writing and all the other stuff that goes into being a blogger.

2) You need a support group.

Oh man, do you need friends.

At first, I didn't know how to find blogging friends. People who could mentor me, answer my questions, and help initiate me into the blogging world. It was tough for me to be so forward, emailing strangers, commenting on posts, really putting myself out there. But a few months ago, it paid off and I found a truly wonderful, supportive group of bloggers.

3) You find stories everywhere.

I NEED this shirt.

Every time I have writer's block, life happens, and boom, I have a story. Yes, sometimes they're not fabulous. i had someone tell me recently that she only likes my blog about half the time. I've become OK with that - NO ONE writes amazing things every single time. Sometimes you write because it was momentous to YOU. But motherhood and life in general are full of stories, and irritating moments are so much easier to bear when you think "wow, thanks for the awesome topic"!

4) You figure it out as you go along.

I would see blogs with all sorts of fancy widgets and plugins and want to replicate that. Yes, there are great designers out there. However, Adam and I had a deal that I would not lose money blogging, so those aren't quite my style yet.

So I Google. I ask questions. I try things. I take feedback.

I didn't like the generic look? I figured out how to change it.

I wanted a logo instead of a snapshot of me? I spent a few hours experimenting.

I couldn't find a picture for a Facebook cover page? I figured out PicMonkey.

I wanted social media buttons? Google helped me find the steps to try it.

Sometimes I had to dig into the code, which was truly terrifying. I was honestly terrified I might lose the whole thing a few times.

I got frustrated. I was irritated at how long certain things took me. 

But I figured it out. And that made me feel better, because this blog is really mine.

5) You will find your voice.

I think I've just about found mine. I'm comfortable with the way I write. I'm confident enough to know where I fit and know where I don't. There are some places I could try to break into that I'd have to change that voice, and I'm secure enough now to simply say "that's a great opportunity, but it's not a fit. Thanks anyway".

Happy Blogiversary to Me! Looking forward to another year of sharing my stories, my thoughts and my opinions. Can't wait to see what the next year of growth brings.

If it's anything like the first year, or if the growth of my kids is any indication, a year from now I'll be looking back at today with awe.

Thank you to those of you who have supported me from the very beginning, and thank you to those who've joined me along the way. Most of all, thank you for STAYING and reading. Without you, it's just me sending words out into the abyss. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I hope you stay around for the next year!
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