What I’ve Learned A Year After Quitting My Personal Blog, and Why I’m Still Going To BlogHer
In March of 2004, I typed my first blog post. I hit the publish button with equal parts trepidation and glee. I was eager to share the story of my struggles to become a mother and join the community of women also facing the same hurdles to parenthood.
It worked. For the next two years, both telling my story and being part of a community sustained me. In fact, it saved my life. It taught me the warning signs of the terrible disease that killed my twin sons (and nearly me). It held my hand as I struggled to move past the terrible loss of my boys. And it lifted and cheered me when my daughter was finally born. My internet community was a huge part of my life.
In 2007 it launched me into my freelance career and owning my own business. It hasn’t been easy — trust me on this — and I made plenty of mistakes along the way. Today I’m happy, settled, and have a solid income doing work I enjoy. What I don’t have anymore is a personal blog. That decade long chapter of my life was finally shuttered in 2014.
What I’ve Learned About Myself and About Blogging This Year
I Don’t Have “It”
I wrote about why I quit here, but a year of distance has brought new lessons. I can see now that I don’t have what it takes to be a successful blogger. That magical thing that makes a Dooce, or a Rage Against the Minivan, or a Scary Mommy, or an Awesomely Luvvie, well, I’m missing it. I don’t have that perfect comic timing, the excellent writing, or picture-perfect storyline. As I struggled to grow my business, it became clear that my personal blog wasn’t going to grow, and it began hurting me professionally. Letting it go was the right decision to make.
I Was Suffering From Blogger Burnout
Blogging was perfect training for being a professional writer. I learned how to beat writer’s block and how important it is to write every day even when I don’t want to. My audience was my “boss” and I didn’t want to let them down. But by 2013, I was exhausted, and it showed. Posting slowed down, and my posts were lackluster at best. Blogging felt like a stone around my neck. Stopping was the best thing I could have done for myself.
About Those Trolls
One of the greatest gifts I received in my early years of blogging was being able to listen, with an open heart, to people with different points of view. Over time differing opinions became open hostility and personal attacks. It created, as they say, a “hostile work environment.” A year of distance from the trolls (and no longer falling for their gaslighting) has offered a wider perspective. They are no longer bogeymen (or, in my case, bogeywomen). They are the internet equivalent of street corner lunatics; a bit irritating when they get loud, but harmless.
Mom Blogging Can Be Insular and Divided
Getting some distance from the mom blogging community was eye opening. It’s a powerful and influential community, and many members are changemakers. But they aren’t the only ones. Today I can more clearly see the revolutionary and important work done by women bloggers — many of whom aren’t moms.
And mom bloggers are a bit isolated. As I’ve gotten to know people who work “next door” in the digital space, I can this more clearly. It turns out that much of the blogger/brand dynamic doesn’t matter outside of the mom blogging community. In fact, most people in the digital space don’t even hear about it, and if they do, they don’t care.
Lastly, this year has also exposed the deep divisions in mom blogging. The black community is in the midst of a public war, and black bloggers are sharing their stories. But many white bloggers have stayed silent. The silence is deafening.
So Why Am I Going to #BlogHer15?
BlogHer is important, and in some ways more this year than ever. The merging of BlogHer and SheKnows has helped BlogHer evolve into a place for women in all forms of digital media. The agenda and keynotes of this year’s BlogHer Conference reflect this change in the best ways. I can’t wait to learn new stuff. It’s going to be a powerful year.
But more than that, BlogHer reflects all that is good about the internet and I want to support that mission. BlogHer is a resource of great writing and information without being a scary place to participate. Unlike sites like Reddit, BlogHer has dedicated time and resources to managing their community, and is a safe space for women.
I’m excited about attending the conference with fresh eyes and experiencing it in a new way. In my heart, I’m still a blogger. Lately I’ve felt myself longing to explore my creativity with writing again, and I have some ideas about what I want to do next.
In 2008, the BlogHer conference opened my eyes to the myriad possibilities of being a woman writer. In 2014, BlogHer helped me see it was time to let go of my personal blog. In 2015, I expect it will show me the best new ways to navigate the rapidly changing digital landscape. I know BlogHer will fuel my passion once again, just like it did the first year I attended. I might be a bit more seasoned and jaded, but I can’t wait. And that’s a great feeling.