This is my 1,000th blog post for Stephany Writes. I started this blog in September of 2009, just as I was beginning journalism school. I was nearly 22 and had started and stopped so many blogs before settling on this one. And this one stuck! I found community here. I came out of my shell and explored writing in a deeper, more vulnerable way. Through this blog, I learned more about myself – who I am as an individual, what I believe in, and where my power lies.
Over these last 1,000 posts, I have…
- …been a journalism student, a theater intern, a preschool teacher, a marketing assistant, and an SEO writer.
- …been in relationships, dated around, and tried to become satisfied with myself as a single girl. At least for now.
- …moved multiple times. Once to downsize when I was in school, another time to upgrade once I was finished with school, and a third time to move in with a friend I met through work.
- …traveled – mostly by cruise ship. This blog is where I have archives of every single cruise I have taken – from my first one in May of 2011 to my latest one in March of this year. And, later in 2016, it will document my 9th cruise.
- …welcomed new family members, like my littlest nephew and my stepdad.
- …lost family members, like my father and my grandma.
- …discovered what it means to be an introvert, an ISFJ, a highly sensitive person.
- …written and written and written and written. Week after week, blog post after blog post. I’ve been here. Writing. This is my safe space, it is my haven. I feel connected to this blog. I feel delighted by its presence in my life.
I’m not a famous blogger. I don’t have a hundreds of readers. I don’t make any money from blogging. But it is enough for me to have this space to be vulnerable about my life, this little ole life that seems so tiny and so minute in comparison to the great big world out there. It is enough to have the readers I do have – many of which I am proud to call my friends. It is enough to know that people are reading. It is enough to know I have touched even one life with my message.
And so, for this 1,000th post, I wanted to bring you 1,000 blogging lessons I’ve learned over these past 6.5 years.
How about 10 lessons? I think that sounds more concise.
1. Ditch the rules.
Rules don’t exist. Your blog can have a niche, but it doesn’t have to. You can write five days a week, or you can write whenever you feel like it. You can make perfect Pinterest pinnable images for every post, but it’s not necessary. Follow the rules that feel good and authentic to the type of blogger you are and forget the rest.
2. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.
Being vulnerable comes in many different forms for different people. Not everyone is comfortable sharing as much about themselves as I am, but don’t be afraid to open yourself up and be honest about your struggles and your pain. This is what makes a blog real and truthful. I don’t want to read a blog where everything is puppies and sunshine – I want the gritty, messy truth of being human.
3. Keep your dirty laundry off your blog.
Believe me, I made this mistake early on in my blogging days and it came back to bite me. Family drama, workplace strife, friendships falling apart… these are better dealt with privately, not publicly. (And trust me: your blog is more public than you may think.)
4. Always take the time to visit your readers’ blogs.
Take the time to get to know your readers. Visit their blogs, comment on their posts, add them to your RSS feed. This is how you find community and make friends. My blogging friends are such a huge part of my life, and that’s because I took the time to get to know them.
5. It’s okay to keep your blog small and unmonetized.
There’s no shame in not wanting to grow your blog to thousands of readers. It’s okay if you don’t feel like putting ads on your sidebars or writing sponsored posts. And? It’s okay if you do. If you want that, awesome. Go for it! But don’t feel like you’re not doing enough if having a little blog with a small following is what you want.
6. Blogging breaks are a necessity – and stop apologizing for them.
You’re going to have to take breaks from your blog because real life always comes first. Life gets busy and blogs have to be put on the back burner. I’ve taken week-long and month-long breaks – and I no longer apologize for them. I love my blog and I love writing, but the real life stuff comes first. If that means I step away from blogging for a while, so be it. My blog never comes first.
7. You are under no obligation to publish mean comments.
You just aren’t. This is your blog and you get to decide what is okay and what is not okay to be published on it. If it’s a comment that is trashing you or someone you love, that adds nothing to the discussion, that seems to be trolling you, delete.
8. But don’t be so thin-skinned that you don’t publish any dissenting opinions.
Just because a comment offers a different opinion or viewpoint, it doesn’t make it a mean comment. Usually, these types of (respectful!) comments bring about good discussion or allow me to open my mind up to a new way of thinking. Sometimes, they give me the truth I needed to hear but wasn’t ready to admit to myself.
9. Invest in your blog.
You don’t need to pay a fortune to maintain your blog, but consider investing in a professional design and hosting services. My current design cost $35 on Etsy and my yearly hosting fee is minimal, compared to the fact that my blog never goes down or has major issues. I like investing in my blog; it feels good. And a beautiful design just makes me happy!
10. Blogging should always be fun.
This little blog of mine, this space with 1,000 posts, is not meant to be a chore. It’s not meant to make me famous, get me a book deal, or allow me to quit my job. It’s a hobby, nothing more. It’s something I do for the pure love of community and writing. Once it stops feeling good, then it’s time to shut off the lights and call it a day.
But I can promise you, that day? Isn’t coming anytime soon.
So here’s to six-and-a-half years and 1,000 blog posts! I can’t wait to write 1,000 more.
And thank you, dear readers of mine. Whether you comment on every post and know me personally, whether you never comment but read everything I write, whether you just stop by from time to time, I am so very grateful for you. I don’t know if this little blog would have made it to 1,000 posts without your comments, your guidance, your love, your support. It feels good knowing my words are reaching people and making a difference.