Oh my gosh, you can just write on the internet? Like a journal, but online? And… you’re telling me other people will read it?
SIGN ME UP.
Ten years ago, I discovered blogspot.com.
As an avid journal keeper and message board frequenter, a Blog (short for weblog) would bring those two hobbies together. I could journal and connect with other people online?
I needed a name. Something clever. I looking up to Baby Rabies and The Feminist Breeder, after all.
They had influence before the term influencer existed. I have no idea if they were earning money in 2008. Earning money off my blog wasn’t even on my radar. They had people read their writings.
That’s all I wanted.
Since I knew my writings would be all over the place, and since I listened to the Kid Kraddick show every morning, I named my site, Random Myn. It was a play off a segment on the show called Random Man, featuring Big Al Mac.
I didn’t have any kids, so you know what that means? I had time. All the time in the world, I now realize.
I started writing. And writing. And writing.
I met other women from across the country. I became closer with my “mommy message board” friends who also blogged.
I found my village.
After a while though, the blogosphere changed. We went from “Grab My Button” (which means put my logo on your web page because you like me) to Passionfruit Ads. My friends, whom I love, added “Sponsor Me!” tabs to their menu.
I rebelled. I would only swap buttons. I’d never buy them, and certainly never SELL them. I even had a blog post titled, “Sponsor me? Nah.” In that post, I said, “I just want to write, and have people read it.” I have felt that way ever since I penned my first story when I was eight-years-old.
Reluctantly, I joined linkups. That’s what my friend Victoria said grew her blog. I actually met a couple of cool people through linkups. I met Kristen Mae back when she was Abandoning Pretense and commented on my post where I referenced the movie Rad when I was writing about spin class. Some of you are going to really love me for that. And some of you are going to wish I would just get to the point.
Okay, so I started taking steps to “grow my blog” by doing all the things bloggers did. Hosted a linkup. Participated in linkups. Joined Twitter parties. In 2010, I attended my first blog conference. It was there, that I learned about “Finding Your Niche.” (settle a debate between my husband and me: is it pronounced nitch or neesh?)
As girl-who-writes-whatever-random-thing-pops-into-her-mind, I couldn’t imagine finding a niche! Seriously…nitch or neesh? I hear both each time I see the word.
Some niche examples offered:
Well, yes. I want to write about all of those. Except fashion. I don’t fashion.
After a while, I was a woman on an island. I didn’t want to do all the things to grow my blog, but I wanted to be in the blog world to connect with other moms and writers… and especially fellow mom writers.
Some of my blog friends either went onto bigger and better things by utilizing those methods. They started getting brands to give them things for free with a select few actually earning actual money for their content. The ones who didn’t want to grow like that pretty much stopped writing altogether. It was understandable, but a bummer nonetheless. I still miss reading posts from The Stauffer Shenanigans, Fine Wine & Diapers and a few of my other old school blog buddies. Thankfully, I keep up with some of them on social media.
Since I didn’t want to grow an audience, I didn’t keep up with the growth rate of those who did. Then, the women I liked who didn’t want to turn their blog into a business all but disappeared.
At the “Niche Mommy” conference, my group was asked, “What is your goal with your blog?”
I immediately blurted out, “To write, and have people read it.”
I still remember their expressions. They were nice women, but they could not hide the confusion and borderline judgement. In unison, their faces screamed, “Why is she at a blog conference if she doesn’t want to make money off her blog?”
I get it. But the owner of the conference commented on my blog and personally invited me. That felt cool. Sure, she was just marketing her conference, but she found me. Someone was looking for bloggers in New Orleans and she found me. I was findable!
The renewed hope that I still had an audience made me want to go learn all that I could about blogging. Turns out, they were mostly teaching about making money off your blog. I respect and appreciate women who have used their blogs to support their families.
For so long, I thought that’s what I had to do. Either go big or go home. So I went home.
I never wanted my blog to be a thing I financially benefitted from, or worse, became financially dependent on. And let me say, I support women who do just that. I celebrate your success. I follow your affiliate links and share your posts. This is truly a “good for you, not for me” situation.
Now, I’m here, starting fresh 10 years after I published my first post on my own blog and five years after I published my last. I don’t know what, if anything, this website will bring me.
All I want to do is write, and have people read it.
These days though, it’s even harder to cultivate and connect with people online. You have to position yourself as an authority and a thought leader. You have to be curated- even if your goal is to be authentic. You have to brand yourself.
I’m not a brand. I’m a person. A brand is a persona. I don’t have a persona. I am a person. A whole person.
This time, I’m not going big or going home. I decided I was either going to put myself out there, as a whole person, or I wouldn’t bother trying to spread a message.
My message has a lot to do with self-knowledge, self-love and self-acceptance, which all require being true to yourself. If I am going to be true to myself, I cannot in good conscious brand myself.
My brand persona would be me, but she would only be a version of me. Not the real me. Let me give you a visualization:
Both of these photos are me. But one is branded me, and the other is actually me.