Blogging is an opportunity.
Back in 2011, I started a marketing blog.
I was working as a freelance copywriter, and looking for a way to get new assignments. I published several posts each week. I wrote guest blog posts for Forbes, Copyblogger and other big-name outlets. At its peak, my blog received a few thousand hits each day.
The validation felt really good.
Then I took a full-time marketing job, and didn't need the marketing blog anymore. In fact, the marketing blog became an annoying obligation. I kept it going for another year, posting more and more sporadically, until I gave birth to my first son and decided to throw in the towel.
Now I have two sons, the same full-time marketing job, and less free time than ever before. I have no need for new freelance clients. But I do have a book project that's finally taking shape, and I feel this burning urgency to get it out in the world.
So once again, I've returned to blogging. Not the occasional journal entry or photo roundup, but blogging with intention and a clearly-defined strategy.
Only one problem: I've had to start at square one. And this time, I don't have as clearly defined a topic as "marketing," nor a wealth of wisdom to impart. I have only a desire to share my story and a hunch that blogging is a good way to do it.
Ira Glass gave a great speech about this process that turned into a viral video. I'm sure you've already seen it. In the speech, Glass says that at the start of any new project, people experience an uncomfortable gap between where they are and where they want to be.
"We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this," he says. "It's only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions."
I feel like I'm at that starting point. Again.
And that's created growing pains. I feel a deep ambivalence about what to write, and how to write it, and how often. I feel ashamed of this ambivalence, ashamed of myself for struggling in this way. Shouldn't I know better by now? Why is success taking so damn long? Am I just a fraud?
I don't have answers to any of these questions. I don't have a clever takeaway that you can tweet to your followers or pin for later, something I definitely would have included on my marketing blog. I can only share something that gave me some much-needed motivation this morning: a quote from Allison K. Williams in her blog post for Brevity:
"[The] first value of blogging [is] connecting with your audience, and with other writers. Not 'building platform,' although that’s a nice side effect, but genuinely interacting with people who care about what you say, and finding out what they care about. To learn what you, as a person with the ability to write, should be examining about yourself and putting into the world on behalf of every reader who has the same story and needs to tell it, but doesn’t have the words, or the bravery (yet)."
Allison's words made me realize: I've been approaching blogging as a means to an end. A way to grow my numbers and my ego. And by doing so, I've been overlooking blogging's other benefits, like its ability to forge connections with people on a similar path, and spark meaningful conversations.
Those connections and conversations have always been the most rewarding part. Heck, they're the same reasons I'm writing the book that necessitates the new blog.
Blogging isn't a marketing obligation. It's an opportunity.
An opportunity to hone my craft and connect with others. An opportunity to, as Allison puts it, "put out work regularly without being precious about it."
When I frame it this way, being at the starting point doesn't sound so scary. I'm starting a grand new adventure.