It’s hard to pinpoint when my blogging journey began. Originally, I started blogging in high school because that’s what all the cool kids were doing. None of the cool kids actually read my blog and my posts were entirely silly and dramatic, but that’s the actual beginning.
From there, I graduated to a Blogspot blog in college, where I wanted to share my collegiate journey which eventually evolved into more blogs about my teaching internships.
But what I was doing then wasn’t what I, personally, consider blogging. Blogging is about way more than simply writing down words. That’s called a journal, even if it is for public consumption. Blogging is a way of life. It is about community, connection, inspiration. It’s about finding people who inspire you. It’s about writing down the scary stuff just in case it might help someone else. It’s about the blogging community – this incredible group of people I would be so lost without. The blogging community has changed my life.
My real blogging journey started with a WordPress blog I called Season of Singleness. I started that blog in the Summer of 2008 and I posted sporadically, as was my M.O. On average, I posted a few times a month and it was with that blog that I started writing writing. I wasn’t simply sharing the day-to-day happenings in my life, I was writing about my passions and triumphs and failures. I didn’t write for an audience so my posts were my journal entries to the world. I knew nobody, save for my mother, was reading my blog so I just wrote for me. I think I was most true to myself on that blog, true to my beliefs and my passions and writing down an honest story of my life.
Then I started receiving comments. Not many, but one or two here and there. I followed the links back to their blogs and it was as if a whole new world opened up for me. I started reading their blogs from beginning to end and while their lives were drastically different than mine (one was a newlywed while the other moved across the country for college, something I could have never fathomed myself doing at that time), I found such inspiration in their blogs. They blogged frequently, usually five times a week and I began clicking on the commenters links to find myself in an entirely new world – the blog world.
It was then I decided to switch back to Blogspot with a new blog, that I called Classy & Sassy. (Go ahead. Laugh.) This is when I had a bit of a blogging crisis where I wanted to change my blogging style, wanted to find readers and grow my blog. I started commenting like a fiend. My posts became more “meme-style” and about comments than sharing my journey.
But something was still missing. People weren’t commenting. I didn’t have hundreds of readers. I hated the way I was blogging. What was I doing wrong? I was following the formula that successful bloggers before me had told me to do! Leave comments. Write on a schedule. Ask questions.
I finally decided to scrap that blog and start fresh with a new blog. I racked my brain for what to call it. For what would set me apart yet was inherently, wholly me.
It was perfect. I was just beginning a new journey of journalism school, where I would fulfill my needs to become a full-fledged writer. It was 100% me.
I started Stephany Writes in August of 2009 and I’ve been through my own ups and downs with this blog. I’ve struggled finding my voice and being true to my journey. I wondered if I was being too vulnerable, opening myself up too much. My faith has been through riotous changes over the past three-and-a-half years which has been showcased on my blog.
But I found success with this blog. I have found success in all different ways – not just in how many readers I have or how many comments I receive – but in the way I share my journey. In the things I write and the way I (hopefully) inspire people. I’ve opened myself up on this blog and while yes, I admit that sometimes I do write for the readers, I also write for myself. For what I want to write about and what I want to say. Even if it means opening myself up to criticism.
The formula for what makes a blog a success is unique to each blogger. I had to go through a lot of growing pains to find the formula that fit for me. I knew I didn’t want to blog just to blog. I wanted to share my personal journey, write about topics most people shy away from, and connect with people. I’m not going to lie to you: I love receiving comments and getting feedback with what I write. While there are bloggers who have been blogging for 6 months who are more popular than me (and I don’t consider myself popular at all!), I had to stop comparing my journey to theirs. Just because they can get 50 comments per post doesn’t mean their way is better. Our ways are different. And do I even want that? I’m really not sure. The readers who comment on my blog now are people I know. I know their journeys. I connect with their stories. They are my friends.
The bare bones of making your blog a success is this: share your story. Connect with readers and find blogs that inspire you. Comment, comment, comment. Be true to yourself and don’t be afraid to stretch yourself as you write. Be vulnerable. And above all, remember why you blog and what keeps you going.