Lessons of Blogging

It has been over eight years since I first created a blog. My first post is too embarrassing to link to, but it was a montage of peace signs found around Philadelphia. Not much has changed. Over the years, I’ve written about culture, nightlife, nature, traveling abroad and random tidbits. I’ve tried out three hosting platforms, various styles of posts combining images and sometimes longwinded recolections of life events. A few years ago Katie and I teamed up to create a shared journal: Live Seasoned. The quality of past (and not so past) posts and photos sometimes make me cringe, and I probably have more typos living on the web than hairs on my head, but whatevs. I love sharing ideas and starting conversations not only with Kate, but with all of you.

jai-live-seasoned-nola

Here’s what I’ve learned:

Write about what you love – even if everybody ignores it. It happens more often than not. You’ll pour your little soul into a blog post, finish it up at 2am and deem it the best damn thing you’ve ever written. Twelve people will look at it and only four will make it through the entire post. You’ll cringe at the bounce rate, but you’ll do it again next week and your heart will feel happy. Five years from now you’ll get a random email of thanks from a stranger for that blog post and you’ll think, ‘well, at least it has 13 hits now.’

It’s takes effort to be authentic. Just like waking up every morning and striving to be an individual, it does take some effort to remain authentic. You’ll fall into a rut where every post and picture on your IG feed looks the same and you’ll think, ‘oh, maybe I should love pineapples too! Everyone else loves them..’ NO! You do not have to love fucking pineapples, if clementines float your boat, you post about clementines.

Your audience decides which posts do best, you do not. Even if you want everyone to love volunteering, they probably won’t. You want to draw attention to slave labor in Thailand? No one cares. They want what they want. Give it to them, but don’t stop posting about the things that matter to you. If it’s important to you, it’s important to someone else too.

People love the shit out of selfies. Feeling vain every time you post a selfie? No? That’s good because people eat that shit up. You’ll have to get over it. I did. Well, I’m trying. I still grumble about it to friends, but I no longer hide behind my camera, I step in front of it as well and guess what? People love that shit! They want to see you, the voice of the blog, they want to know you, so let them.

Likes mean nothing, but sharing means something. It’s true. Liking a post on social media is great, but it’s the comments, sharing and back-links that give your site traction. Be thankful for all of it, but really let back-linkers, commenters and sharers know how much you appreciate their ongoing support.

You’ll wonder why the fuck you spend so much time writing a blog. You will. There is SO MUCH STUFF on the internet. Sometimes it seems like you’re just throwing more shit on the pile, but as long as it’s good shit, helpful shit, shit that will improve someone’s life in some way, you should keep adding it to the internet. Keep creating.

You may take a teensy break. Or you may stop writing for months at a time. That’s okay. Don’t apologize for it. Life is important, you may get busy living it, but when you have a second, come back to your blog. Your readers missed you and they want to know that you’re still alive.

Be prepared to be googled and judged solely on your blog content. Sometimes I forget that everyone googles. Shit. When you post insanely personal blog posts about breakups and IUD insertion, expect colleagues, clients, long lost friends, people you met randomly for five minutes, and even potential employers to google you and see those posts where you laid it all out there. They will see them and they’ll bring it up in person and it will be awkward as fuck.

You will try to censor yourself. Write, revisit, and re-write, but don’t silence yourself. Feeling vulnerable is completely natural, but we all appreciate truth. Be brave! Also, use spell check.

There are things you could and should be doing to improve your blog. Get over it. Put forth the effort or let it marinate for a bit, but don’t feel bad about your blogging efforts.

Do you. Whatever your blog is, whatever it becomes, you do you. You’re even allowed to curse.

Photo by the lovely Jai Morton.
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