Before I started blogging in 2005, I was writing book reviews for Chicago Parent magazine. I felt like a kid in a candy store when the editor forwarded me a box of books that publicists sent to her office and she suggested I review whichever struck a chord with me. Not only did I earn a small fee for my reviews, but I received free books!
Coolest thing ever.
A year or so later, I was a voracious blog reader, and noticed one of my favorite writers (since "retired") mentioning that a company sent her free eyeliner that she wrote about in a post. Certainly, that's no surprise now, but in 2007 the concept of sending bloggers items in hopes of gaining coverage on their blogs was revolutionary.
And I thought it would be kinda cool if companies sent me stuff.
Eventually they did, mostly books in those early days. I won't lie, it was exciting.
Back in those days, I was an overeducated, but career-less stay-at-home mom with young kids. While it was fun to get things for free, the attention and "recognition" was just as exciting. Somebody noticed little old me and my tiny blog. Out in the real world at parks and stores with my kids, I was practically invisible.
Now if I get an email that along the lines of Dear Mommyblogger, We noticed you and want to send you stuff to write about on your blog, I typically roll my eyes and hit delete. But back them the social space was different. I was different.
As I learned about the opportunities and experiences my peers were being offered, I used that to shape my vision about what I wanted from blogging. Interestingly, Renee Ross echoed this sentiment at a talk she gave at Blissdom in 2010. Maybe many of us function on an, "I'll have what she's had" model, making our bucket lists based on what our peers have shown us is possible.
Loaner cars? Press Trips? Vacations, err, travel writing opportunities? Professional blogging gigs? Speaking at conferences? Consulting? Brand ambassadorships? Yes, please!
I feel like I've done it all. But I've never gone viral.
In those early years, I used to joke about doing the thing that would make my blog go viral. It never happened, and at some point it was clear that my wit alone would not do it. But if it wasn't my way with words that could make be go viral, it might have been a scandal, controversy or tragedy that catapulted me to center stage and I'm thankful to have steered clear of those.
I just plug away, writing, sharing, learning, building relationships and hopefully gaining a reader or two along the way.
My world is so much larger, so much more colorful than it was in 2005, when I barely left or even talked to people outside of my ZIP code. (Caring for young children can do that to you.)
Even so, sometimes I get bored, annoyed, astounded at both the ridiculousness and richness of my virtual life. I pledge to stop blogging, to stop attending conferences, but something always brings me back. (This also seems to be common among my peers.)
I started a new blog last year when we bought out house, the Reluctant Renovator. And while I enjoy chronicling the physical goings-on as we fix it up, I'm clearly not a "shelter blogger." I don't care about creating tablescapes, sharing tips for finding just the right accent pillows, spreading the word about the latest flash sales or arranging photo shoots to make my house look way cleaner and more organized than it is. With our major renovations nearing completion in the coming months, perhaps the blog will, too.
But I just can't quit this blog. Or even change to its proper domain name without the blogspot part, despite owning the url for years.
More recently, I started another blog, The Maker Mom. It has legs, it's going to take me places, I'm not sure just where.
Are you the kind of person who writes down her goals? I tend to be more of a "vision" person. I have managed to achieve many of my goals in the social space without putting pen to paper in the traditional sense, but maybe it's time for that.
I'm not quite sure what's next, but now that my family is (almost) settled in our new place, a home we hope to be in for many years to come, it's time to sink in some serious roots. I've been blogging for seven years. Seven years from now my baby will be in college.
In blogging and in life, it's time to make plans. Tell me, where have you been and where are you headed?