This one should be titled “How I Became An Overnight Sensation In Just 16 Years”
My first blog was started in 1995, at least four or five years before the term “blog” was coined. All of the pages were hand-coded HTML, because there were no services like Blogger or WordPress back then. I’d put together the site as the online presence for a company I was starting up. I knew nothing about building an online platform, no one did, but I figured that if I kept posting new content I’d attract an audience who would later buy the products I put up for sale. I never considered that the company I’d planned would never get off the ground, or that the blog itself could be the product.
I bought my first domain in 1996, and I gained some small level of notoriety as a blogger. I made a little bit of money, but never considered blogging as a potential career. I was thinking too small. I did it for fun, while I failed to get that “real” business off the ground. I got sucked into an uninspiring corporate day job. I blogged to keep my sanity. I blogged to have a creative outlet that my job didn’t provide. I blogged because I was failing to see how dysfunctional my life and my career were, let along recognize the obvious ways out and into something fulfilling.
The posts that were the most popular were the ones that were personal, where I revealed my authentic self and related my experiences, my triumphs, and my tragedies to the readers. I struggled with that. I made a lot of friends, brought in a lot of new readers, and got a lot of support, but it didn’t feel right. The blog had a topic, and I was straying from that topic. In an attempt to keep things focused, I split things up into two blogs, one for the original topic and one that would be a personal, vanity blog. They both started to tank pretty quickly. I failed to recognize that blogs, like the social media that would come later, where about building connections with people.
Again, this was still practically the Stone Age as far as the internet goes. Heck, we still capitalized the word “Internet” as if it were a revered thing worthy of the status conveyed to a proper noun. I didn’t know what I was doing as a blogger, and the people who did were either visionaries, tripping over success by accident, or some combination of both. I still didn’t see “blogger” as a career. I had the soul-sucking day job and a marriage to focus on. The blog continued to be a sideline, and the results were predictably hit and miss.
In 2009, when the Great Reboot happened, my blogging shifted back to me. I had lost the desire to write about the topic of choice, because I was going through Serious Stuff. I was also not entirely comfortable talking about the Serious Stuff, it was too close, too soon, too real, so my blogging during the next couple of years, frankly, wasn’t very good. I couldn’t quite walk away from it, but it was running on autopilot. My focus was on putting my life back together, and I did.
The feedback that I received, though, was that the people who hung on weren’t following the blogs for the original topic any more. They were following the blogs to hear my story. They were rooting for me. They had been tracking the things that I’d gone through, the way I kept my head up and kept going, and they found it inspirational. A lot of people wrote me and told me about the tough times they were going through. They had clung to my blogs as a life preserver, in the same way I did. I was encouraged to not give up blogging. I was shown the potential of being a blogger as a career.
After a year of throwing mud at the wall, trying to find my niche, I realized that the seemingly random things I was passionate to write about did have a through line and a common theme: creativity. Writing, cooking, sometimes simply surviving day to day, week to week, require creativity. Setting goals and making the plans that will achieve those goals requires creativity. Whether you’re doing creative work professionally or, like me when I was in the corporate world, doing it for fun, intellectual stimulation, or emotional healthy, we all need creativity.
So now, for the first time ever, I’m being intentional about blogging. Not to sound all New Age-y, but I want to tell healing stories, rather than focus on things that don’t need to happen. I want to connect with my readers, and share information and tips and yes, experiences, that can help people foster, develop, and maintain a creative life, whichever way and in whatever form that creativity happens to develop.
I hope you’ll come along on the next phase of this journey.