When I attended the Blogging While Brown conference a few weekends ago, I was interviewed by an employee for Comcast Xfinity that wanted me to share my experience as a blogger. The first question she asked me was how long had I been blogging and I proudly told her a whopping five years. The last question she asked me was how long did I think I could continue to blog, in which, I told her, for as long as I live. She had a puzzled look on her face and to diffuse the expression, I told her something along the lines of a quote that I love from Tyece, "writing is not how I make my living, it's how I make my life."
Everything EnJ started off Mommy-inspired, transitioned into an all-out random conglomerate of What Thee Hell into Let-Me-Just-Give-It-To-Y'all-Like-It-Is. Five years of just mess, redesigning, figuring it out, questioning what works for blogging v. what works for me. It hasn't been easy although some people make it look really simple with their how-to tips on up and leaving your job to focus on your brand. I know that I have a lot left to learn, do, fix, and say when it comes to blogging, but in five years, I've gained so much – knowledge, friends and genuine support. This post is about lessons, goals, my favorite posts ever, my favorite bloggers & their posts and surprises! Ready?
A Dedication Post. What I love about this post? I wrote this entire thing in my head on the day of Dr. Maya Angelou's transcendence. I had nothing to jot the thoughts down on but the moment I got home, the words spilled out like water in a matter of minutes. That's the power of influence someone has on your life.
A Real Post. What I love about this post? Misogyny and feminism on Twitter triggered the words behind this post. I didn't want to sugarcoat any of my emotions and this is probably one of the most honest pieces I ever wrote.
A Recap Post. What I love about this post? I'm all for progression and moving forward but sometimes we need little reminders of what once was, who we were before and past lessons to remind us to be grateful for growth, even if it does seem like a scary thing.
III.Top Five Lessons Learned in Five Years
You Aren't In This Alone
No one sits down with you as you relive the experiences, holds your hand as your type your stories or pats your back when you hesitate hitting Publish, but for every comment that makes its way onto your blog that contains the words helped, encouraged, pushedme or me too, it gives me comfort and reassurance that in this big ol' world we live in, someone else has run the same race – and won. It's the difficult posts that give way to those emails that make me cry and keep me writing. Someone's words once saved me and in five years, there have been people who have told me that the post with fifty-something views and zero comments, saved theirs.
Black Women Do Look Out For One Another
We get called a lot of things but supportive isn't one you'd find in the top five. In the blogging world however, I've found a community, a sisterhood more so, of women who are for building up one another instead of breaking down. Regardless of where we're at with our respective platforms, I have yet to come across a woman who acts superior on or offline as a writer compared to her counterpart. We're in this together and we're appreciative of any and every kind of support we get.
In A Fraudulent World, It's Still Important To Tell The Truth
I see it so much now – everyone is a life coach, relationship expert, knows the "real deal behind turning your blog into a business"... with no credibility. Sorry, not sorry. When it comes to blogging, there are a plethora of folks who reach a certain number of subscribers and feel as if they know it all and they give themselves these titles and stamps of approval with zero credentials. As a writer and a reader, I know that there are people, myself included, who read your work and hope that what they're reading is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help your reputation if you're caught out there being a fraud. Today, social media is #1 for exposing people and one thing I vowed to myself is to be real by being me. The connections I've made as a blogger have come from the side-eye worthy and oh-no-she-didn't-type posts and as uncomfortable as it can be exposing most of my life to the world, what comes easy is knowing that what I'm sharing is honesty.
Don't Underestimate Your Reach
Blogging gives you an audience bigger than what some of us can even imagine. My first event on August 9th, What Binds Us Together: Blogs x Bottomless Brunch sold out in tickets in exactly one hour and thirty minutes. Did it surprise the hell out of me? Absolutely. When I started blogging, I wrote, if not everyday, every other day, and my average views per week were at a 10. Yes, ten. When you see other up and coming bloggers make their way onto the scene with immaculate looking sites and you see that they have a ton of comments on just one post alone, you feel discouraged. People make it look so easy and all my hard work into growing a blog weren't producing any fruits of my labor. So what did I do? I copied and pasted someone else's talent and craft in efforts to get my blog where I felt it should've been. And that didn't go well or feel right, but when I put #4 into play, what I wanted came; more comments on posts, more emails in my inbox, more followers on Twitter, more people to connect with. There were people reading all along but never reached out until they could read something relatable. People are reading, which is good, but people want to relate which is even better.
Shut The Fear Up & Be Proud Of Yourself
We don't toot our own horn enough – for fear that we'll be labeled arrogant, that someone else is better or we don't deserve it, but over the years as I wrote down my successes and my struggles (more of the latter than the former) I've actually grown to appreciate and love myself more. I had the guts to do what people were fearful of yet I was revered for it, so I shed the layers, documenting my life for the world to see as I started to see myself. Blogging turned into this journey of self-discovery. Sometimes as I wrote, I'd fall into a trance behind the computer screen. I'd go back days, even weeks later, and read what I wrote and go, Girl, whet? Get it! I'd amaze myself and I think the older we get, the more we should practice patting ourselves on our backs for overcoming our experiences and having the balls to share them.
IV.Five Goals for the Next Five Years
All Events Everything. Who doesn't love a good networking event where you can exchange business cards and blog (horror) stories over drinks? It's time I meet the faces behind the support and have the readers meet one another.
Continue to Push the Envelope. More a-ha moments, more stories to share.
Let's Get This Bread. I'm down with Team Humble Beginnings, writing for sites for free but when your network grows, so does your net worth.
Write It Till Your Fingers Fall Off. Going over my blog, I notice a ton of gaps where there should have been posts, so from here on out, I plan on writing more. As much as I go off on Twitter, I see a ton of rants that can be potential blog posts.
Feature Some of My Fellow Bloggers. One of the hardest things as an up and coming blogger, is reaching out and gaining the support of your peers; the introvert in you prevents you from pushing a little harder, the fear of rejection stops you from asking people to simply read your work. I know – that was once me. As the blog roll continues to grow, starting in the fall, I plan on featuring some of my Blogger-Boos to contribute and/or spotlight.
V. Five Surprises
Gift Bag Giveaway! Weren't able to snag a ticket forWhat Binds Us Together? I'm giving away one gift bag to one lucky lady who couldn't make it. For a chance to win, all you need to do is share with me five of your favorite blogs (& why), life lessons or goals for the next five years in the comment section. The winner will be chosen Friday, July 25, 2014 at 11:59p.m.
I'm Writing A Book! I've started writing my first book late last year. I've decided to take the leap and just do it. I'm struggling on the decision to make it a fictional piece or a memoir but it revolves around the cycle of domestic violence in African-American families and how it affects the people that matter most – children.
Twitter Chats! I hosted my first chat last Monday with Kimberly Luxe of From A Wildflower called #wildlE (pronounced Wildly) and it was absolutely amazing (follow-up posts on Q&As soon)! Because of the great feedback, Kim and I thought that Twitter chats should be a monthly thing, so we're cooking up something great that you should stay tuned for!
I'm Submitting A Super Personal Piece. Any xoJane fans? I love xo's It Happened To Me posts and in my 2013 piece, I mentioned my father. Well, surprise, surprise, I think I found him last year after twenty-six years. The internet... what a scary, scary place.
The Presence Posts. Is it real? Is it fake? The answer is, it's half & half. Now the mystery lies in which parts are fictitious and which actually happened. Maybe I'll write about it, maybe I won't, but what I will say is, sometimes we write about things before they actually happen. Be careful what you wish for. Be careful what you write...
Thank you to all of you who read this evolving blog of mine. Happy Birthday to my baby & cheers to another five years of highs and lows, beautiful moments and blows, the posts that may not be safe for work and maybe even your soul.