Sometimes, when blogging takes over your life, when your laundry is piled higher than your five year old, and there is not a single clean fork available, you rethink this blogging thing. You look at the hours you spend, when your children are awake, when your children are asleep, when your husband is waiting for you in bed, while you slave away at the keyboard, and your think... Is this worth it? Is pushing myself to the limit time and again worth it? I struggle with this sometimes as my blogging is a hobby. It doesn't make me money. And for a time I was trying to break into the blogging world for the money, but lately, it's more about writing and connecting with people. With readers, who eventually become friends. I think that's why Elevate was more to me than a blog conference. It was more than meeting a few of my blogging idols in person. It was the simple idea that these women felt very much the same way that I did...
I am doing this right? And for the right reasons?
Sarah, from Little Penelope Lane had a story of bravery and perseverance. She talked about raising a child with extras, and giving birth to a small business organically. But she also talked about using your words for a greater good. She talked about blogging your story, a story that's important to you, that may be important to someone else. Trust me when I tell you that Sarah's blog saves lives. Sarah told the story of a mother, who's baby had been diagnosed, inutero with Spina Bifida, and had wrote on the Baby Central message boards that she had made the decision to terminate. Others on the site at the time, linked Sarah's blog and a list of others, so she could read that Spina Bifida was not the end of her journey. Sarah said that she, and the cavalry of other blogging moms sent her IMs and messages. Then Sarah said she got the message that meant everything, The mom had decided against termination thanks to the cavalry. One life saved.
Today the story brings the same tears as it did that day. No one knows how their story will affect another, until we try. Until we write our story, share our story, and hopefully inspire others. At the end of Sarah's session, her message was simple, "Use your words. Tell your story. Make a difference".
Erin's session was fun and inspiring. You can't be around Erin without taking on some of her energy. And even though she says she blogs about nothing, she does blog about something. Happiness. Erin encouraged us to blog with purpose. To really know the Why. Why do we blog? Why do we take the time away from other things in our lives to do this? What is important about this? She asked some of us to share our "why". So of course I did, after writing it in my notebook. Yes, I took notes, ok, I'm a nerd! My "why" was simply, "To save mothers from themselves". I stand by that. I've had emails from mothers, thanking me for my honesty. Mother's thanking me for telling my story, as rough as it may have been. Thanking me for making them feel normal, or in fact a good mother. That my friends is my "why". It truly is the only reason I need. If I can connect with one mom a day, to take away her guilt, to take away some pain, or just let her know that she is not alone, then this blog has been worth every sacrifice.
Kimmie, oh, Kimmie. She started out with, "You are so much bigger than your blog". Thank you Kimmie. Because don't we forget sometimes? When our followers box stays and hovers at the same number? When a few followers on Facebook drop off daily? Why does any of this matter? It really doesn't. We are so much bigger than this. I am really bigger than my blog. My blog is only a piece of me, and while I'm always happy to over share, it's not all of me. I have a life outside of this. I have to remember that. This message couldn't have been more appropriate since I had just announced a Hiatus.
The picuture above was part 2 of Kimmie's message. She said that someone can only call you the "c word" so many times before you break. Let me just say that knowing that someone could think that of her makes me sick, and sad. Kimmie, with her story and spirit, are inspiring. She is right. My worth is not defined by what others think. I've had my share of negative anonymous comments. I'm sure there are lists of people and readers who do not like my brand of blogging, and that has to be ok. I don't blog for them. I blog for me, and sometimes for you. So that we can connect on a deeper level. Sounds lame, but it's really true. We must not forget that we aren't defined by negative comments or a drop in followers. We are define ourselves. What's in our hearts. And we can't allow others to take that from us!
Ashely's message to me, was simple and directly for me. I am blogging for the right reason. Her overlying theme: Ask why, set goals, define success. How I define success, may be different from how you define success. That's a good thing. When I started this blog I just wanted a place to feature and practice my craft, writing. I didn't set out to be the next Little Miss Momma, Sugar and Dots, or Living in Yellow. I set out to share my opinions on motherhood with the world... Or so I thought. Somewhere along the way, I felt like my writing wasn't enough. I needed crafts, and recipes, sponsors, and giveaways. And I got lost. My writing took a backseat, and the blog began to feel like a job and not so much as a hobby. So recently I took it all back. I looked at what I really wanted, and what I really want is to write. A book, a magazine feature, a newspaper article. To have my work published in print is how I'm defining my success. That's the path that I'm on.
Ashley had so many great ideas and blogging truths to share. Find your voice, and your niche. Be consistent in your voice. I liked that, because while your blog can always adapt to your life, your voice, who you are should never change. She started her session with the quote, "That which is most personal is most universal". Always be you on your blog, don't paint a picture of someone you want to be, or someone else entirely. It's really true. The times that I'm raw, honest, and sometimes letting you in on my horrible days, are the posts that get the most feedback. So it's important to be personal (within your comfort zone) and be honest. I can tell you that Ashley is 100% the person she is on her blog, which is really refreshing and kind of exciting. She also talked about setting boundaries with your time. Knowing that you can do anything but not everything. That is an important takeaway for every blogger. Also she said that when you feel like you need to pull the plug, quit the blogging world, delete your blog, take a moment to think about why you feel that way. Are you quitting for the right reasons? Take a look at what is getting you at that moment and reevaluate your goals. Wow, right? This was seriously like blogging 101.
I had some major takeaways burned in my brain from Ashley's session. The first:
Comparison is the thief of joy
This is not a competition. We are not competing for readers. Even if it seems that way. We are not. Readers come here for something entirely different than what they find other places. That's good, in fact it's great. Who wants to read similar content everywhere they go. No one wants to read Pride and Prejudice written by me, or Stephanie Meyer. They want to read it by Ms. Austen herself. So why would we go to blog after blog to read the same content? We wouldn't. So we have to stop competing with each other. Our blogs are ours. If we blog it, they will come.
The 2nd takeaway is just personal to me. Ashley was answering questions about comments. It seems that comments are on the decline. With a million ways to show love on Twitter and Facebook, comments on actual blog posts have been taking a back seat. So Ashley was asking about comments, and talking about how they are the best feedback. She also talked about anonymous comments. Her tip for ANON comments, Kindness. Yup, kindness. I'm going to have to try that. But at the end she said that SILENCE is the worst. Not a single comment on a post. And that shot me right in the heart. As she said, "silence hurts too". She is so right. After putting my heart and soul into a post, to have it met with silence is killer. I'm not saying that to invoke a commenting frenzy here, I'm just sharing, because as writers and blogger, your feedback means everything. And as a blogger, this makes me want to take the time to comment more. To let the blogger know, hey, I love this! Kindness people. At every turn.
This post was way longer than expected, so I apologize. If you haven't noticed Elevate did just what it said it would, Elevate me to the next level. It confirmed that I'm doing this for all the right reasons. It showed me that I can use my words and tell my story. It proved that I am bigger than this blog, and sometimes that means stepping away for a moment. It inspired me to never forget my why, to always remember my goals, and to always define success on my terms.
Like I said last Friday, I'm Elevated and ready to rock!