I didn’t realize that creating a blog would also create controversy.
Three years ago, my life changed quite dramatically. I left my teaching position out of medical necessity. Several years before, I had been diagnosed with a chronic neurological disease. My ability to get the job done was becoming a real challenge. Teaching is a demanding profession, even for the young and healthy. The people around me were starting to worry.
It was hard to go, but the decision was made for the right reasons and was a positive one, physically. Mentally, and emotionally, I had some sorting out to do. It took about a year to work through that stuff.
One sticking point in my adjustment was finding a personally gratifying endeavor. I had plenty to do; I wasn’t bored by any stretch. But, having a purpose is different from being busy.
My family is, and has been, incredibly supportive. My daughter and I talked through my interests and desires; she is also a writer (a better writer than me) and encouraged me to write via the Internet. Initially, I thought I would write about my teaching areas of expertise: a blend of math and science; but, I found it to be incredibly difficult. It wasn’t my current life. It didn’t seem to fit.
So, what did fit? Well, I was traveling a lot, because I really couldn’t do that before, except during summer break. I was also getting back to my love of cooking, and gardening. These were things that I squeezed in before. Now, I had time to fully engage. I was sketching again, and decorating the house. Could I share my experiences?
Another big change happened. My kids both went off to start their adult lives. My husband and I had a new lifestyle as empty-nesters. Even though the kids were hundreds of miles away (in opposite directions, I might add!), they called and texted, and we stayed together as a family.
One thing I noticed was that they still needed advice about daily living. Some of it was comical (“Okay, mom, how do I put a plant in a new pot?” “Why are my bananas rotten after a week?”) and some of it was stressful (“I’m in the emergency room.” “My hearing aid doesn’t work and I have finals next week.”)
The idea for a lifestyle blog came to me suddenly. I could write about things that we do on a daily basis; but, things that might help someone – maybe my own kids! Blogging about daily life could be a family archive, of sorts. Something that would outlast me, or, at least the me that exists right now. It could be a part of me that my family would always have.
I started reading about blogging, and listening to marketing podcasts. I looked at other blogs and made mental notes about what appealed to me. Then, I signed up on WordPress, chose my first template, and started writing, photographing, and sketching. I had found my new “thing.”
My daily routine changed once the blog launched. First, I was not as physically active by virtue of the fact that I was writing more often. That wasn’t good, as my disease demands physical activity in order to delay progression.
Also, I was online A LOT. Trying to gain followers on social media, learning how to use the platform, editing photos and sketches, all took time. I wanted to be, and was determined to be, a success. In my mind, that meant lots of followers. I got caught up in looking at my stats a dozen or more times a day.
I asked my social media friends to like and follow my blog. That is when I learned that personal blogs can be controversial.
Many people did follow, and some are loyal readers. Hooray!
I was more surprised, however, by those that did not.
My thinking back then was, why is it so hard to press a “like” button? It doesn’t cost anything. If you aren’t interested, that’s alright, you just don’t read the post. I didn’t feel like I was asking a whole lot.
One of my nieces gave me a peek into another way of thinking. She suggested that blogging was kind of self-centered. My husband concurred. My reaction was surprise. I had never thought about blogging that way. I thought about it as sharing and connecting, not “Look at me, look at me!”
As I pondered this revelation, I also considered ways to be gracious about promoting the blog. I stopped frequent postings on my personal timeline. I spent more time reading other bloggers’ work, and tips about blogging.
The readership of A.Joann continues to grow, though not at the rapid pace I once expected. I have rethought my posting frequency, and time spent blogging versus everything else there is to do.
I am still confused about what it means to be a successful blogger; or, why some people don’t want to hit the “like” button. But, as I mature as a writer, I feel sure that the answers will come – as they always do.
Why do you blog? How do you measure your success? Please share your thoughts and a link to your blog. If you are so inclined, backlink to A.Joann. Let’s keep the connections going!
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