[Tangent: GOD KNOWS I LOVE NOSTALGIA!] Those were my main motives...no real agenda or expectations. I knew shit about blogging at the time, so needless to say these 500 rambling tangent-filled posts have taught me some really unexpected things. [Tangent: By no means am I an expert...AT ALL, but I often get a lot of questions from people who want to blog or who are new to the blogosphere and they usually want some kind of advice, so I thought I would heed the call.]
1. To grow as a blogger, you have to read blogs.
When I typed out my first blog entry, I went in semi-blind. There were a maybe two blogs that I followed with little regularity so I was working off the cuff. I consider this a blessing in disguise, because I was not influenced by anyone really except the voices in my head.
However, a blog is like a fish tank. It gets really stagnet if you don't change the water every once in a while and everyone since the beginning of time has said that to be a good writer, you have to be a good reader. These maxims are true as hell. So many tips and tricks are things I have just learned by observation. This is how I learned about handy widgets like bloglovin and disqus that have made staying in touch with my readers so much easier.
Also, I quickly learned that the more you follow others regularly, the more they will follow you. If you want some great ones to sample, go to my reading list and find a couple that resonate. They are all ones I read daily and endorse wholeheartedly and there is something for everyone...whether you are a movie buff, bike enthusiast, seamstress, mom or fashionista.
2. Embrace the community
This kind of goes along with #1, but it is a VERY important one. Although blogging is a solo sport, it is far from lonely. If you so choose, you can easily connect to others that share your enthusiasm for internet stuff. [Tangent: I try not to talk blogging too much with most of my friends. I feel like they would react in a similar fashion to how I react when my brother tries to talk football with me. My mind wanders and I just start humming the lyrics to old Disney songs in my head.] For this reason, don't be afraid to reach out to other bloggers or people that read your blog regularly. Making friends with virtual strangers is probably the most unexpected gift. The people I have met are incredible and so diverse and interesting. We truly rally like a community!
|some Nashville Lady Bloggers out on the town|
|blatantly stolen from LLadybird Lauren's instagram|
More than once a week I will get a tag or a link posted to my Facebook page of someone emails me to tell me a story that I might find funny. [Tangent: Especially in the disability world. When Lady Gaga got a gold wheelchair or when the story broke about the disabled Disney concierges, I was overwhelmed with people telling me, "YOU HAVE TO WRITE ABOUT THIS!!!" So I oblige because it makes me happy that people care what I have to say. That is all I dream about. ] I gotta say if you are a blogger and not using social media, please tell me your secrets!!! Because I have found Facebook and Twitter especially to be total game changers and they go so hand-in-hand with blogging that I don't understand how you can have one without the other.
|pardon my haggardness...it was 100 degrees...but here is me with Beth of "In case of Fire, Use Stairs" and Alicia from "Spashionista", (Although Beth is not a blogging friend, she's a college friend :))|
3. Google stuff
Despite the fact that I have a sliver of graphic design experience, I knew absolutely nada about coding and html and all that jazz, I just knew that I DIDN'T want my blog to look like a 1999 geocities site, but I DID want to do it myself. How did I figure out how to code buttons and get all the additions over time...GOOGLING! It will carry you so far. [Tangent: If Jeeves were indeed a real person, he would be so over me asking him so many questions.] Don't be overwhelmed, the processes are usually pretty step by step because other thoughtful bloggers have idiot proofed them.
4. Inspiration is everywhere
A lot of times people tell me they have writer's block, which I can fully relate to. Bloggers have all had weeks where they feel forced and like nothing they are writing is compelling. I guess what I have learned is that it doesn't have to be. Not everything has to be an opus. I have been inspired by everything from US Weekly articles to Facebook posts. Sometimes you don't wanna write about deep issue and feelings and stuff, you just wanna write about that weird commercial that is currently annoying the ever-loving shit out of you.
I look at it this way: Have you ever told a story to a friend or posted a status on Facebook that sparked a conversation and then later thought, "I had so many other things I could have added to that to make it more interesting." Bloggers have that chance to put in their two cents on anything! That is such power.
5. Honesty is the best policy even if people don't like it
I was always secretly kinda jealous of bloggers that had haters, because to me you can't say you've made it until you have gotten hate mail or pissed someone off. Sometimes you just wanna have your Beyonce moment where you toss your weave at the haters. [Tangent: Full disclosure, I don't have weave, but I would get some to have that moment!] Although hearing negative things is sometimes hard, it's par for the course. It's part of putting yourself out there, because internet trolls are real, ya'll.
Luckily most of the emails and comments have been incredibly supportive (especially within the disability community), but there are always those that don't love my weird sense of humor or who think in fact that this blog is being ghost written by someone not disabled and that the wheelchair is a marketing ploy. [Tangent: That one was one I heard early on and is still crazy to me. I've always laughed it off even though it is in reality incredibly offensive.]
Even though I try to choose my words thoughtfully and try not to be offensive, I don't stress too much over it. I curse sometimes. I use run-on sentences and lots of adverbs. That's one of the glorious truths about being a blogger; you have complete control and can present things any way you want. People will tell you that you are wrong or that your feelings are invalid...which is their right...even if it's wrong. All you can do is be honest and do the damn thing. I try to remember to just be natural and write the way I talk...The greatest compliment I can ever get is that my blog sounds just like me.
Hopefully I can keep it coming for 500 more at least...or until you all are begging me to shut up and get off the internet. In the meantime...