The spring blossoms of April herald my blog’s second birthday, a useful time to pause, reflect, gather lessons, vision ahead.
And celebrate, of course! Very few blogs make it past the six month mark. I’m almost as old as the Minimalist Woman!
Thanks to you – my extraordinary readers at Always Well Within – there’s a purpose to my words!
When I starting blogging, I lived within a small, cozy blog cocoon. “Thrilled” described my response to having even a few visitors to my blog. A single comment brought sublime joy. My intention was to share, serve, and be of help. As naive as it may sound, I had no notion of “professional blogging” and felt no pressure to get ahead in the blogosphere.
Blogging Year One: Obsession and Addiction
But that was bound to change! timethief, a favorite blogging mentor, often spoke about the place of social media in blog promotion. There are more than 72 million WordPress sites alone in this world and that’s just one part of the action. The chances of someone finding your blog is akin to finding a needle in a haystack. Hence, social media as one “essential” aspect of blog marketing…if your wish is to have readers.
Somewhat an introvert, I strongly resisted. I clung to the notion that “content is king” and didn’t put my toe into the swirling online social stream until 4 or 5 months into blogging. In retrospect, it was senseless not to start right in.
The result of social media engagement was two-fold. In the early days, I made fast friends with amazing people like Zeenat Syal, Tess Marshall, Robin Easton, Annabel Candy, and many other incredible spirits. I felt so much enjoyment and nourishment from my new social media engagement.
But, I also got sucked into the whirlwind of blog marketing seduction, the endless stream of alluring posts, courses, webinars and the like on how to grow your blog bigger and bigger and bigger. I went from an innocent beginner to obsessed and stressed in no time at all.
“Post three times a week, post everyday, guest post like mad, comment on 25 blogs a day, put the right elements above the fold, create snazzy headlines… “ There’s truly no end to blogging activity unless you draw the line yourself.
Not only that, blogging and social media can be chemically addictive! The “likes” and the “stat spikes” can trigger your brain’s reward system, unconsciously making you want more and more validation. Until suddenly you find yourself sneaking a peek online at all times of the day or night. Blogging addiction is a contagious disease that descends upon many first-year bloggers. Fortunately, blog obsession can be reversed.
Blogging Year Two: Gaining Sanity and Perspective
Just one problem – for me – when it comes to blog marketing. I’m not good at following the rules. I don’t like to shine apples. I’m adverse to hardcore marketing. So I was caught in a constant state of ambivalence, feeling angst the whole time.
Now, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a professional blogger, selling products on your blog, following sound advice on blogging better, or wanting to be a successful blogger. And, I’m not implying that insincerity is part of the blog success formula. There are many genuine, heart-centered bloggers that go for the gusto precisely because they care. As Zeenat Syal unabashedly says in her heart-centered blogging series,
“If you are a writer or a blogger or both, there is the constant need to be able to put your thoughts into the best possible words. You want your writing to be impactful, to be helpful, to be understood and of course you want it to spread far and wide. In other words GROWTH is what we are aiming for.”
At the same time, it’s reassuring to know that there are even famous bloggers that do it wrong relentlessly.
But here’s a secret: my ambivalence goes beyond blogging. As one friend recently put it, it’s like my feet have wings. There’s a deeply rooted ambivalence about treading on this earth, not uncommon among highly sensitive people. But I am activley getting my feet firmly planted on the ground!
But first, year two was all about regaining my sanity around blogging, allowing myself to blog at my “level”, and finding my own blogging path. As part of the process, I took a week-long digital sabbatical. This question bubbled up:
“It’s easy to fritter away one’s limited and, thus, precious time captivated by social media and the illusion that we are being of help. Are we really helpful or is it just ego’s game?”
After the digital reprieve, I devoted a month to simplifying and realigning my digital engagement. The Step-by-Step Guide to Overcoming Digital Overwhelm was born.
My sanity more or less recovered, I take blogging far less seriously and blog with greater ease.
Blogging Year Three: Waiting to unfold!
What will year three hold for Always Well Within?
As life is constantly unfolding in new and unsuspected ways, I don’t truly know! But it might be time to get over my ambivalence…
These are some of the thoughts, urges, and possibilities that have been rising up of late:
1. I’m more aligned than ever with the intent of Always Well Within: to help my dedicated readers discover greater happiness and freedom.
2. I’m enchanted with being “true”.
“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.” – Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
“One true word” may be one motto for my third year blogging. These words are actually part of Hemingway’s advice on how to get started when you have writer’s block. This is not my challenge, but the idea of being “true” speaks to me.
3. What does being “true” mean?
There’s always an element of untruthfulness in each of us because we live, to some degree, in delusion. As we gradually strip the delusion away, we become more and more true. “True” to me means staying aligned with my heart’s purpose and writing from my core rather than being motivated primarily by externals.
I write spontaneously. Sometimes, I’m compelled to create a piece that may seem formulaic, but it helps and inspires me in the moment so I think it might help you too. Then there are times when my writing tends to be esoteric. My knees shake and I wonder if people will disconnect. Or I write about dead birds, not your most alluring of topics. My writing is likely to continue as this eclectic mix. At the same time, I care about meeting your needs.
4. I don’t want to contribute [too much] to information overload.
People are literally drowning in information, which is now a “product”. They often don’t know what to do – there are so many options – or who to trust. Ironically, there’s no time to apply all this online advice because they are so busy reading or writing more.
I believe in the power of balance and stillness. To gain more “traffic”, the strategic advice is to post shorter blog pieces every day. But, I would like to see a world that enjoys the quiet in-between spaces and want to be part of creating that. At the same time, I realize each person is responsible for discovering their own information comfort level.
Some of the best bloggers – Gail Brenner, for instance – post in-depth pieces once a week. This is the style that I prefer to short daily posts, as I find the volume of the latter overwhelming. Generally, my style is to write longer, in-depth blog posts, but sometimes I write succinctly too. I will probably be posting once a week and sometimes add an inspiration piece mid-week.
5. I’ve enjoyed blogging on WordPress.com but it may slowly be time for a change.
Blogging on WordPress.com is easy, the support is good, and new readers are funneled in your direction. But a hosted platform has limitations.
So I’m contemplating moving Always Well Within to a self-hosted format some time this year. That’s a huge step as it means losing all the Google juice I’ve built-up over the past two years. It involves asking people to resubscribe to the new site, which typically means a good number of readers melt away. But, perhaps the recent hiccups are signs that it’s time for a fresh start and greater freedom,
6. Then there’s this little part of life called making a living: Envision Writing
I’m delighted to announce my new writing site: Envision Writing. I’m a seasoned professional freelance writer who specializes in creating compelling content for individuals (professionals, solopreneurs, creatives) non-profits, and small businesses.
Please take a look at Envision Writing. Check out my writing services, portfolio, and testimonials. I would be delighted to have you as a reader there too. Yes, I plan to also blog there. Am I crazy to attempt two blogs? We’ll find out.
Know someone who needs a writer? Please consider sending them my way.
The urge to be a writer began in my childhood. Although I’ve taken detours, writing has almost always been part of my life. Now, as one of my blog readers, you’ve given even more meaning and purpose to my weaving with words.
Thank you for being here quietly in the background or actively commenting, voicing your unique insights. Thank you for sharing my posts on your favorite social media sites and spreading the word about Always Well Within. Thank you for encouraging me and sticking with me. Your presence makes all the difference in the world. I’m committed to continuing to write valuable content for you.
What Would You Like to See on Always Well Within?
The whole point of Always Well Within is to help you improve your life, transform troubling emotions, and find a greater sense of ease and happiness. How can I focus my articles to be of more help to you?
- What would you like me to write about?
- What would you like to see more of on Always Well Within in the coming year?
- What would you like to see less of on Always Well Within in the coming year?
I would love to hear your thoughts…as long as they don’t involve video blogging! Feel free to share your blogging lessons too. If you have trouble commenting due to the new WordPress.com commenting policy here’s the secret: use your real name, blog url, and a fake email. This way you will still receive a link back to your blog.
I see life as a profound healing journey. I’m so glad you are traveling along with me.
This year, when I can pull myself away from writing for you, I’ll be making time to feel the grass under my feet, bathe my shoulders in the sun, listen to the nightly coqui symphony, and remember: it’s all a quickly passing dream.
If you enjoyed this article, may I ask you to share the link with others on your favorite social media sites? And, I would love to connect with you on Google+ or the Always Well Within Facebook Page With love, Sandra