Ye Olde Blog: A Longtime Blogger Looks Back

by Abby on January 30, 2012

Caveman chipping a B for blog out of stone5+ years, 574 posts, approximately 343,600 words: those are my blog stats. I started my first blog in 2005 to chronicle my adventures as a new mom-to-be. In the blog world, that makes me ANCIENT. I had written a few funny emails to friends and family about my strange pregnancy symptoms (my belly wasn’t growing, but my butt sure was). Someone said, “Hey, you should start a blog.” A what? A weblog, or an online diary, she explained, giving me a helpful book called Blogging for Dummies or something like that. I was intrigued.

I am a freelance writer by profession. That means I come up with story ideas and research publications that might be interested in them. (Web sites were just barely on my radar back then, and were paying little to nothing.) Then I pitch my ideas to editors, wait for a response, wait some more, sometimes get rejected, and sometimes get an assignment. Then I write the article, wait some more, get edits back, revise the article, wait for it to get published, then wait to get paid. Are you sensing a theme here?

So the thought of sharing my writing with the world, instantly, was strange and exhilarating. I could decide what to write and when to publish it. 575 words on shopping for maternity underwear that could double as a patio umbrella – boom! Published. 600 words on grunting my way through a circa-1989 prenatal exercise video featuring a purple Spandex-clad Kathy Smith. Boom! Published.

I never intended for the writing I did on my blog to replace the writing I did for publication. At the time – and in some journalistic circles, still — writing for free was considered tantamount to selling your baby on eBay. It simply wasn’t done. If you were a REAL writer, that meant you wrote for print and for pay only. So my blog was my “fun” writing, and I never even considered making money from it.

I DID consider that my blog would be so witty and well-written that hordes of readers would flock to it, attracting the attention of The Today Show and big New York City publishing houses that would offer me a lucrative book deal. I’m not gonna lie: that dream is dying a long, slow, painful death. Every “blog to book” success story fans the flames of fantasy again, until I check my Google Analytics and the dream dies down to a weak little flicker again inside my soul. Don’t cry for me, Argentina. This heart will go on.

Now, where was I? Oh, right. So my initial blogging goals were to

a) chronicle my pregnancy,

b) share my writing with the world, and

c) blog my way to publishing fame and fortune.

But guess what? Along the way, some of my goals changed. It started when I began to get comments. Wowza! People are READING my blog! It was a thrilling discovery. My regular readers were mostly new moms just like me, struggling along in their day-to-day lives, learning as they went. Yes! Thank you for saying what I’ve been thinking! I’m so glad I’m not alone! The connection with other people like me was unexpected, welcome, and real.

Blogging was not just a way to share my writing, but to actually connect with my readers as well. Do you know how many letters from readers I got in my first 10 years of writing for publication? Zero. ZEE-RO. Of course, that was in the dark ages before email and message boards, but still.

Another thing that changed was that once I wasn’t writing only to pitch, sell, and publish – once I got that “I’m only writing for pay” chip off my shoulder – I discovered something I’d forgotten over the years I’d become an impatient, jaded freelancer: I actually like to write. I LIKE writing. Just for the hell of it. And you know what real writers do? They write. Not just for pay or publicity. Not just when they’re inspired or someone asks them to submit an essay. That’s where a blog comes in handy.

Later, I would discover that you CAN make money as a blogger, and also that I like some of the technical parts of blogging, not just the writing. But those are stories for another post. Thanks for taking this trip down memory lane with me. Next time: less reminiscing, more practical advice you can actually use.

al fresco bloggingLINK O’ THE DAY: I thought this was an interesting post on blogging vs. blogging a book. Key quote: “Anyone can be a blogger, but not everyone can be a book author.”

INSPIRATION O’ THE DAY: Because I’ve been blogging for so long, I had been kicking around the idea of sharing the infinite wisdom I’ve gained over the years in a series of posts. (OK, more like what NOT to do; “learn from my mistakes” kind of things.) Then I read this post by @GDREmpress, “What it Was Like Pre-Blogging,” and I decided to write my own “Why I Blog” story first. Thanks for the inspiration, Alexandra.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Ali/Alessa January 30, 2012 at 7:27 am

When I first got pregnant, I subscribed to many mommy-blogs, including your first (Diary of a New Mom). I started to unsubscribe from a lot of them for whatever reasons, and since then many have come and gone, but yours still remains because it’s one I continue to enjoy very much (this isn’t meant to be a diss to other blog authors). I really love your style of writing. You often make me laugh, sometimes wince, but always glad to have found your blog 😉

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Abby January 30, 2012 at 8:17 am

TThank you, Ali! That makes me so happy. Some of my favorite blogs have gone away over the years, and it’s so sad when it’s one you really connect with.

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Alexandra January 30, 2012 at 9:13 am

It’s so sad when a fave blogger closes up shop.

I always feel I could’ve done something to make them keep going.

But, in my heart, I understand…it’s a HUGE time eater. But the thing is this: if it makes you a happier, less isolate, more fulfilled, mentally healthy person…then you have to take the end result into consideration.

Thank you for the shout out, so happy that you’re reading.

Xo

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Jo January 30, 2012 at 9:46 am

I just wanted to ditto the above. I subscribe to many blogs and love finding new ones to add to my list. Over time, some get booted off like a bad relationship (“It’s not *you*, it’s me…”), but I always look forward to your posts and have so enjoyed reading what you have to say. I love how you preach the truth about motherhood with such honest humor and it is obvious you aren’t in it for some kind of ego trip. Now that I think about it, the blogs I really love are written by professional writers/editors (though I suppose that’s sort of a “duh” moment). Thank you for writing and loving what you do. It shows!

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Lou Mello January 30, 2012 at 12:17 pm

As you know, I have been following quite a few blogs (like 25) for about a year plus and I have always found yours delightful. You know I’m not a new Dad or anything like that, I just enjoy good writing that is fun, witty, sometimes serious and sometimes sad. I do find that I am having to limit my followings and just don’t have time to find new adventures right now, just so happy to see yours pop up with a new story every few days.

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Abby January 30, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Thank you, Jo & Lou. Your comments prove what I’ve always thought. That all blogs are not created equal, and that the ones with the highest traffic aren’t necessarily the best written. And also, you never know who’s reading. I like hearing from people who aren’t new moms/dads, too, because they often provide much-needed perspective.

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Allan Blair Beaton February 2, 2012 at 6:56 am

Thanks Angie,

I always love reading your blog when I can. It’s like unplugging for me and gives me a sense of reality. Reading, listening, and watching your life mature and your precious family grow has been an amazing experience for me.

I think you are definitely a born writer. Your the special talented type that won’t ‘type cast’ their style or intentions. That’s really important to be authentic in such a digital landscape. Your tone and insights are really subtle and make for an easy going read every time.

I especially like the fact that you are like family to me and it’s just so great to have your thoughts in the first person. If I get busy, I can just flick back through and catch up. Your blog post is on alert for my FB profile! Anyway, well done you…Wife, Mother, Daughter, and one of my dearest friends in the world.

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