I didn’t get an RA position.
While there was a semblance of relief—that position entailed a lot of responsibility I no longer had to fulfill—I still felt not enough, not good enough to be an Resident Assistant. I walked out of the student center with the letter in my hand and started heading across campus back to the music building when the idea struck: I’ll just go to Greece instead.
I’d toyed with the idea of studying abroad since high school, but never thought it was possible. It was scary, it was expensive, would my parents be okay with it? Would I?
Long story short, I ended up going, and because I would not have regular contact with friends and family, I logged onto Blogger.com and started writing an update blog.
But that wasn’t my first foray into blogging: freshman year I started one as a class project in our goofy computer’s class. So that’s really taking me back.
I’m sure those blogs are out there somewhere and are, truly, embarrassing for all of us. But I had to tell you the very beginning, because yes, I’ve been blogging for a long time.
It wasn’t until 2013 that I really entered the blogging world with a URL called Savvywifey.com. In 2013 it was already getting hard to find a good domain name you could afford (what is with all these domain squatters?), and I picked Savvy Wifey because I was married and the blog originally focused on saving money. The blog did well, by the way. I was watching numbers climb every month and starting to have sponsors approach me—little ones, let me clarify. But I was still slowly turning this blog into something big.
But that’s why I started blogging four years ago. I saw that people were making money from doing it and I wanted to live that “dream,” too. It seemed so glamourous to work from home, write something for all the world to see, and then make money from it. I was still trying to find my place in the world and how I could contribute in a way I loved, and blogging seemed a great way to do that.
But eventually I burned out on talking about saving money, and wanted to switch to something I enjoyed more. And the readership fell off. All the work I’d put in making the blog something a specific readership would enjoy was null, and for years I became flaky in my main focus and inconsistent in my publishing. It would take years before I could channel a specific passion again.
So what have I learned about blogging?
Don’t do it for the money. Sure, you may very well make it a profitable career; bloggers are basically very affordable advertising for brands with great return and they love that. But if you start a blog solely to make money and then find yourself like I did—not enjoying producing the content—you’ll likely want to switch paths before you start seeing that serious moolah. Plus you may not be real with your readers when you’re spending all your time looking for sponsors, and that’s not what readers need.
Readers need help. Whether it’s a laugh, a tip, inspiration, or a whole new outlook on a problem, readers aren’t coming to you because they want you to make money. They come to you because you have an answer to their problem, and eventually they’ll also come because they love you.
Consistency is key. I could have bounced back from my train wreck of a decision if I’d only re-funneled my purpose properly, but also if I’d continued to write on a consistent basis. Readers would have had something to come back to every time they’d visit, and instead of finding some great new idea, they were looking at the same post I’d written a week…sometimes a month…ago.
There’s a piece of pie for everyone. Back in 2013, people were already saying blogging was a dead medium, and with millions of blogs in the United States alone, there was little possibility of anyone new becoming a blogging success. With what I’ve seen in the past four years, that’s simply not true. For one, while we love our Instagram, there’s no guarantee that it won’t become another Vine. We own our blogs, so long as we pay the rent. And plenty of people who started blogging after me are successfully impacting their readership. Plus, okay, loads of blogs are no longer active for whatever reason. So that’s made a little room on the blogosphere for the rest of us.
Blogs are where people go for help. Which I’ve already said above. Sure readers also ask for advice from friends and family (I hope, let’s keep it real world, y’all), but established blogs can give them more insight. And in an age where there are hundreds of diets and exercises and diaper rash creams, we need someone to cut through the noise and tell us straight.
I’m still learning but the past four years have been an eye opener for me. I’d say I wish I could go back and tell myself to stick with the topic, or keep publishing posts on a consistent basis, but that’s stuff I already heard from other sources. Apparently, I had to learn the hard way.