Three years ago today, I posted the first article on this blog. It was a pretty simple piece – short, and more of an overview of what to expect in the days ahead.
Three years later, and it’s interesting to look back and see how I’ve changed in that time, both in style and in views on a variety of topics. While I’ve been blogging on and off since 1999, this blog is the one that I’ve made my own, if you like (with you guys playing a huge part, obviously).
So, if you’ll allow me, I’d like to take a little look back at some of the changes, and see how things have developed since that little post back on September 30, 2008.
It Takes Time to Find Who You Are
When I first started on here, I had a different “voice” than the one I have today. Okay – let me rephrase that; I was probably guilty of trying to please too many, as opposed to pleasing myself first.
I’d write some posts with nothing but traffic in mind, or the approval of certain folks in mind (although I wasn’t averse to calling out even back then!), when I should have been writing what was in my head instead. That’s not to say that I didn’t care about what was in the posts – far from it.
But, naively perhaps, these posts seemed to be going with the popular point of view, as opposed to having the balls to disagree with other stuff I was reading because it belonged to someone from the “in-crowd”.
My, how times have changed…
I’m not sure what the tipping point was. Heck, I’m not even sure there was a specific tipping point – perhaps I just got tired of reading lameness, or felt there had to be a better way. Either way, I’m a lot happier now than I was in my early days on here.
If there’s something I’ve learned from that time that I hope you can, it’s that it’s always – always – better to write for you first, and everyone else second. Be true to you, and you’ll be true to your readers.
People Come And Go And That’s Okay
As bloggers, we often put a lot of stock into numbers. Readers; visitors; subscribers; social shares; comments, etc. And there’s nothing wrong with that – after all, we all like to see that the blood, sweat and tears that goes into our blog is worth it, and social proof from numbers is a great way to see this.
Yet we can let these numbers become too important, and that can see us lose sight of who we are and what we want to say.
Instead of writing naturally – and being better bloggers because of it – we begin to look at subscriber counts, and fret when we lose readers. We wonder whether we should be writing differently, or going for list posts as opposed to thoughtful ones.
But we need to stop thinking this way – because at the end of the day, the numbers are meaningless if they’re false.
If you’re writing a post just to get X amount of retweets, or Facebook shares or whatever, you’re probably straying from why you wanted to blog in the first place.
Anyone can write for traffic – but writing for validity and genuine thought? That’s the gold right there.
Besides, there are a ton of reasons readers won’t like your blog – celebrate them, and allow that freedom to let you hang out with people that actually care and want to be with you, as opposed to those who’re just looking for the easy stuff.
It took me a while to realize it but damn, it’s liberating!
It All Comes Back to Being a Person
When I first started blogging many years ago, I wrote about anything and everything – technology, video games, favourite actresses, TV shows, and much, much more. There was no real rhyme or reason to my various blogging endeavours back then – just a desire to write.
One thing I do recall, though, is that because of that scattered approach, I never really let the topics get in the way of who I was – I simply wrote what I was feeling, and that was it.
Jump forward to September 2008, and perhaps the first 8-12 months of this blog, and for whatever reason, I seemed to get mired in the technology and platforms as opposed to what people could do behind them.
Ironic, really, given the goals that I laid out in my first post.
I’m not sure why this happened – perhaps I felt that was the approach I needed to take, or perhaps I was suckered into thinking that’s what people wanted to read (it’s what the most popular blogs were doing, after all).
But, as I’ve found out time and time again, and not just from blogging, people connect more with stories of real people, doing real things, with real results. And that’s what turns my blogging mind on, if you like – being genuine over generic, either from a writing or reading standpoint.
Simply put, being a human being and offering your frailties as well as your perfection (or perceived perfection, since no-one is perfect, not even Batman).
Everyone Has Different Favourites
Sometimes you write a post and you think, “Damn, I nailed that!” – and then no-one reads it! Or, if they do, they don’t let you know, since you don’t get any comments or your social shares are way below some of your other posts.
Again, it boils back to the numbers mindset and why we need to get out of that – because at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. What we might think is some of our best work can be seen as lame by everyone else, or vice versa.
And that’s natural – we all react to different things in different ways. We all have different emotional switches – and that’s okay. It’s what makes us an individual – and that carries across into blogging as well.
So, don’t worry if you feel some of your best work has been bypassed, or some of your favourite posts have disappeared with a whimper instead of a bang. As long as you’ve enjoyed writing it, and garner pleasure and satisfaction from it, that’s all that really matters at the end of the day. And there’s always tomorrow to start anew.
Besides, blog posts are evergreen by nature – there will always be someone that finds your masterpiece. And if it can touch just one single person and make their life better because of it, that’s a million times more satisfying than a thousand retweets or Facebook Likes.
Having said that, hehe… here are some of the posts I’ve been most proud of here, whether they’ve been read or not:
- The Kids Are Alright – because a community came together and made some very ill kids extremely happy. Thank you.
- You Don’t Have to Die to Live – because opening up about my suicide attempt helped others open up too.
- Pale Blue Dots – because it’s just a simple post with a simple message that seemed to connect.
- Response to Barbara Talisman – because it was an amazing show of how people can care about something they’re emotionally invested in.
- Virtual Stalking – because it encouraged people to speak up and take action.
- Could This Be Your Child? – because it made for uncomfortable reading on a rarely-discussed topic and a thoughtful discussion in the comments.
- A-Listers Behaving Badly – because this guest post was the most commented on here for a reason, and helped bring the protagonists together in agreement.
So there we have it – three years of change, evolution and learning.
It’s been a fun ride so far, and it wouldn’t have been anything like it has been without you. It doesn’t matter if you’re a one-time reader; an infrequent commenter; a long-time subscriber or otherwise – every word you read means the world to me, and I sincerely appreciate you coming here as opposed to anywhere else you could be at that given time.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride so far, and here’s to many more together in the years to come.
Happy anniversary – thanks for allowing me to have it!