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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Moms Without Blogs is 1 TODAY! The Top Ten Things I've Learned in my First Year In The Blogosphere

I remember it like it was yesterday.

Sitting at our kitchen table last October clicking around Blogger and trying to figure out how to upload the most basic photo to insert into my header. Jotting down my first post without even realizing it was a post. Trying over and over to cut and paste what I had written in "compose" mode and having no clue why it wasn't working.

I had no idea about anything. I just had an idea to start something. And that's where the idea began and ended.

But what I really had no idea about was the vastness of this universe called the blogosphere. That there were so many voices that had come long before I had. Drawn to this white space of creativity and expression for reasons both similar and unlike my own. That there was a vibrant community alive and well within my computer. And the more I clicked around I realized my teeny, tiny, miniscule blog space was just the teeny, tiny, miniscule tip of a massive iceberg.

It was all so mind-blowing. And it still is to me really. But I try not to think about it too much. I try to remain focused on my initial reason for creating this space.

When I dove in headfirst to this scene that I did not know existed, I can honestly say I had no idea I would learn so. damn. much.

So on this one-year anniversary of the creation of Moms Without Blogs, I've decided to embrace the power of the Top 10 List and share with you the....

Top Ten Things I've Learned In My First Year In The Blogosphere

Disclaimer:
I do not claim that any of the things I've learned are universal bloggy truths that we all must learn. This list is a reflection of my personal journey and I'm telling it as I have seen it and experienced it and learned it.
I also will say that this list highlights things I've learned around the mommy blogging/women/parenting blogging community because well, that's my general scene.

10. Sitemeter, Google Analytics and Feedburner mess with my mind so I generally don't pay much attention to any one of the evil trinity.
Really though. In the early days when I first found out about Sitemeter, I remember checking it obsessively like logging in on my iPhone while stopped at a red light on my way to pick up my kids from school. In retrospect, this was insanity and the time I wasted doing it makes me laugh. Sure, it was a small thrill to see the details of someone in Kentucky who spent 48 minutes looking at my blog but in the end, it amounts to zippo. Google Analytics is good for something when I'm in the mood for graphs and pie charts. But Feedburner? Nothing but pure evil and still makes no sense to me today. I've learned to ignore most of these number-related tools and it has greatly increased my level of bloggy happiness.

9. Blogs with 1) black backgrounds OR 2) super-cluttered sidebars OR 3) word verification enabled OR God forbid, all three combined, give me a colossal headache and no matter how good the content, I tend to stay away.
This one is tough to admit but I've learned that when things bug me, they bug me. And there are so many little things that can bug me in the blogosphere. I had no idea. I need to visit blogs with as little "bug-factor" as possible to maintain my bloggy happiness.

8. I hate memes.
Sorry I do. I did partake in the beginning, I will admit. When I first heard about them and was asked to participate in one, I was all "Huh. This is weird. This game-playing aspect of blogging. This high-school-esque banter. But I guess I'm supposed to do it. To join in on the fun." Well, memes are generally never fun for me. I guess what's really not fun is doing anything that anyone else is expecting me to do. And where I start feeling obligated to do something. Obligation. I have tried my best to remove it from my blogging journey. So goodbye memes.

7. Holy shit. There are some serious egos cruising around. And big egos love drama.
I'm not surprised that I learned this really. If I think about it for one second, of course there are some serious egos in blogtown. There are serious egos everywhere IRL. And the blogosphere is just a microcosm of the world. But wow. Some of the arguments and drama that I have witnessed about some issues that just come down to personal preference is so wild to me. The ownership so many of these egos feel towards the female/mom blogging community in general baffles me. The need to post and comment and tweet and soap box about every friggin' issue under the sun from ad campaigns to breastfeeding to blogging rules and regulations is fascinating to me. I will admit that the drama is fun to peek into from now and then but really, it's another thing I tend to avoid.

6. No one wants to admit how much money they're making from blogging.
This one kills me. And it was the one huge glaring omission from the blogging conference I paid to attend. I did not start this as any sort of money-making mission. But as I got more involved, the thought did cross my mind of "Huh. I wonder if I could ever make any real money doing this or some variation of it. Maybe I'll pay to go to a conference and learn more about that aspect." But learning it at BlogHer was not to be.

Sure, some blogger will admit that they make a little money here and there from this and that but no one will say "Yes, I make 50K a year from blogging. Or 5K. And this is how I do it." There are so many moms who are starting a blog in the hopes of making some money and it would be great if one of our bloggy leaders would step up and get honest about the money-making aspect of blogging. It all remains a mystery to me. And a number of these conferences, it seems, prey on new bloggers to entice them with the chance to acquire real "business" knowledge. But I'm not sure if the business knowledge attained provides the end result of women and mothers being able to actually make some decent cash from their writing and blogging efforts. It all seems like a big self-perpetuating machine to me.
Anyone care to enlighten me on this aspect?

5. Numbers mean jack-shit.
I've said it before and I will say it again. Does the number of followers, comments, subscribers really matter? To me it doesn't. No one has ever been able to tell me why numbers matter. Or why I should care. Except for the feel-good ego-stroking aspect of "Wow, people dig me."

But what I have learned is that people who follow and subscribe don't always really dig me. Or they did for one day. And now they are done with me but they are too busy or too nice to unsubscribe or unfollow. The point is I have learned to not look to numbers to bring me happiness because it's too topsy-turvy of a road. Looking externally for validation doesn't really work for me in the blogosphere. Looking within is where it's at.

4. The blogosphere loves vibrators.
Okay I'll be honest. I have never used a vibrator. And because of that fact, I am in the extreme minority of the blogosphere. Or it would seem that way. I was given a vibrator at BlogHer and I have yet to put it to use. And women were climbing over each other for goody bags with vibrators at BlogHer. Maybe I'll be doing the climbing next time if I ever pull mine out of my drawer.

I have learned that if you use vibrators and write about them or if you don't use vibrators but write about them and try to give one away, people really dig it. Or it would seem that way. I have not been able to jump onto the vibrating bandwagon as of yet but perhaps change is coming. But I most likely still won't feel the need to write about it so I guess you'll never know.

3. The number of sad, tragic stories is staggering and I need to keep my distance.
I cry a lot when it comes to stories of life and people and tragedies and uphill battles of gigantic emotional proportions. I absorb these stories into my soul and I think about them. A lot. These stories affect my daily outlook on life and I can not tell you how many times I have been clearing the kitchen after dinner with tears streaming down my face and my kids asking me "What's wrong, mama?" only to try to explain to them why I'm crying and eventually give up because they're just too young to get it.

I remember after one story early this year that really hammered me emotionally, a good bloggy friend told me that maybe I need to be careful about getting so involved with these types of stories. That was a great piece of advice for me. I want to help. I often give. But I need to limit my emotional involvement with heavy stories of loss and sickness. Within the blogosphere, there is a supportive community ready to reach out and help so it's natural there will be voices seeking that support. I have learned that I can do my part sometimes but not all the time. It's not possible for me. And that's okay.

2. I can meet super cool people online who can and may become some of my dearest friends IRL.
This is a big one for me. I would have never ever thought this could be true one year ago today. Meeting friends online? Oh, that's for desperate people. That's probably what I would have said about the subject one short year ago today. I remember making my first phone call to a bloggy friend and it wasn't weird. at. all. Or desperate. It was completely natural and the beginning of a real friendship.

It's hard to describe the phenomenon that is meeting a friend online through blogging but it happens. And it can be the real deal. And it's happened to me.

And the number one thing I've learned in my year on the bloggy planet is:

1. Trust in the vision.
I had an idea a year ago. Just an idea in its infancy. To create a space that would proclaim to all of the average moms like me that it's cool if you don't have a blog. That it's okay to admit you struggle. And maybe to carve out a little niche of like-minded women who battle with feelings of inadequacy and wonder if we're alone in it all.

I always wanted to have other women involved in this place and I had no idea some of the women would be my closest and oldest friends. And my friends have blown me away with their voices that I did not know they had when it came to the written word. Their stories are always raw and fresh to me and they remain unaffected by the rules of the blogosphere. I love their posts because they remind of what the best of blogging is to me - a place for creative expression and community.

As with most things in life, I've learned that it's so damn easy to get off track and let other voices and influences and insecurities and shiny things distract me from my vision and my intent. But creating this space has been an almost daily reminder for me to trust in the vision. Not only this vision but others that are within me. New ideas and goals and dreams that I plan on trying to chase. This blog has taught me to not be afraid of planting the seed of an idea even if I am not exactly sure where it's going. The path may curve out of sight for a while but I'm getting better at looking within and keeping my eye on the original vision and staying true to the goal.

It's been an awesome year here at Moms Without Blogs. Thank you for reading when you do and for being a part of a community that has become essential in my growth as a mother and a woman and a creative soul.


27 comments:

  1. Happy Anniversary, Lee!I can so relate to all your factors! I was also clueless when I started, and only slightly less clueless when I retired!
    Cheers!

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  2. And this is why I LOVE this blog. I could have written most of this post, (well, not with you inimitable style), but you validated my thoughts in so many ways. I'm still too insecure to stand up for myself as much as I'd like...but I haven't hit the year mark yet...I did learn quickly to dump the number counters. I think I was making the number grow faster than anyone.

    #4 I can't even LOL enough
    and #6 hm, I never knew...
    #2 the main reason I keep on blogging. I would have stopped long ago with out the bolstering I have received from some special bloggers.

    :)

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  3. AMEN- on all counts! I'm right there with you... Holy Hell- since I just went to Wordpress, it's like going back to Kindegarten as an adult and failing- like Billy Madison or something!

    Happy Blogoversary- so glad to have met you out here AND IRL. AND you popped my Trader Joe's cherry, ya know. I am now ADDICTED to the dark chocolate pretzels!!!

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  4. #4 made me choke on my Chick-fil-a breakfast biscuit.

    Oh how I adore you! Every one of these, spot on.

    P.S. I'm off to make a "No Vibrator Solicitation Allowed" button to put on my sidebar - want one ;-)

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  5. Amen, amen, amen to #7! (About the blog egos.) That cracked me up, cuz it's sooooo true!

    And... don't hate me Lee, but in defense of #8 (the memes), I always have fun, fun, fun with those and I break the rules all the time, but it's still fun, fun, fun!

    I wish I could get over the numbers thingy though. I admit I let it get to me. Too much!

    My blog is an exercise of creativity for me, but it sure is nice to know when others are "getting it" too!

    Great post Lee and Happy Blog-birthday to you!

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  6. According to your list , it seems I have about 4 strikes against me. (crowded side bar, do the occasional meme, share tragic stories , love vibrators) but you still visit anyway!!

    If I could figure out a way to make money from non-visitors/followers...I'd be rich!!

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  7. Our blog is only a month old, but I find that anything longer than 3 long paragraphs I just won't read. Too long to hold my attention unless it is FAB! So, cheers to you...I read the whole thing. Really honest and funny and insightful. Enjoyed it a ton. My question is this...I'm following 50 blogs right now. I enjoy it, but also feel like I need to to continue building a community. Can't figure out yet how to pace myself during the week. Any suggestions for that? Ideally I try to take the weekends off. Come on by our blog sometime. Holly at lifelaughlatte.blogspot.com

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  8. oh lee. how lucky we all are to have found you and your little corner of acceptance and imperfection and coolness. i think to celebrate this day, we should all make tuna sandwiches for dinner.

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  9. Fantastic post. I agree with everything. Seriously.

    Good lord I am a fan of you and of MWOB.

    xoxoxoxxoxo

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  10. You are so, so, so cool.

    (and number 7 is my favorite.)

    Happy blog birthday, love.

    xo

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  11. Happy Bloggity birthday, this is my first visit here, but I shall return. Great top ten list.

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  12. Bravo Lee & Congratulations - one year and the vision is still number one! :)
    Let's all toast to our inadequacies and the fact that our kids & spouses still love us anyway! (hopefully)
    I think we'll celebrate with tuna sandwiches too, like Deb's family.

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  13. Wonderful post, as usual, my friend.

    It reminds me of just over a year ago...sitting at dinner (on our inaugural "cougar-fest"!!) and you telling me your vision for this blog. And here we are, a year later and you've done it. You have completely created this special, non-intimidating, REAL space for REAL moms. Moms who aren't "perfect" but aren't alone in our imperfection.

    You're right, numbers do not matter one iota. But you are touching so many lives through this little blog of yours. Feel proud today....you deserve it.

    Here's to year two..........

    :-)

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  14. Lee,
    Thanks for the top ten list-how true
    The sad stories stick with me, too
    I have a hard time forgetting some hellish detail I read about some horrific tragedy-guess it's the curse of a big heart.
    this blog stands out because of a certain tone or style that many others lack

    nice to know all these hilarious ladies and checking in to read comments is superfun......Keep up the good work


    oh & the vibrator thing- silly! my new scorpio husband is waayyyy tooooo jealous but hubby # 1 was into it; I think I'm too shy now
    but the ladies of the blogosphere sure aren't

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  15. It sure has been an awesome year and I wish you many many more.

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  16. You are an awesome chick! After reading your top ten I feel like we could have been besties in another life.

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  17. You are one of those amazing writers who I swear have been blogging forever. Congratulations on one year of blogging. These are excellent words of advice to anybody— not just those who are starting out.

    Many happy returns of the blog!

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  18. Happy Bloggy B-day! Fantastic post! I like #8-I did a meme once and have concluded that they are evil. As for clutter...how do you know if there is too much? I guess I never really thought about it. Anyway, keep up the great mission you are on...it rocks!
    Hugs
    NLSM

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  19. 1 Year! Awesome. Well you really have something unique and special going here. Not everyone acquiures as many readers so quickly as you have.

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  20. Congratulations on your "blog-o-versary" :) I TOTALLY agree with you on #4. I guess I'm a "blog prude".

    By the way, you should be VERY proud of everything you have been able ot accomplish in the last year.

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  21. I can hardly believe it's been a year! And after reading this list, it surely seems as if you've been blogging for much longer. You are wise beyond your years my friend. I couldn't agree more with nearly every item you've listed here. I cannot wait to see what's in store here in the years to come. You have a wonderful space here.

    p.s. I felt the same way about the making money aspect at BlogHer. Oh yes, and I hate meme's too :)

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  22. Congrats on one year! I'm so with you on #4. All I got was a free calculator that I do use while writing bills. That's much too boring to write about.

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  23. Happy bloggy b-day. :) I love your list. I'm still a newbie (just shy of 6 months) and your list seems to reflect a bit of what I've noticed so far. I love how you describe how your non-blog moms who write here don't care/aren't affected by the blogland 'rules'. So glad I found you!

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  24. I remember when you started...a post about Halloween.

    You had me from day one, my dear. ;)

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  25. Here you are one year later, being exactly who you are. And you are so freaking great.

    Of course I love all your ten things.

    I'm so so so glad I've met you here.

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  26. I read your list shaking my head in agreement the whole way through. As usually I love how you kepp it real around here.

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