In the four years since I started my blog, I’ve learned A LOT. I started this little old blog as a place to vent, or talk or just get my feelings out for better or worse. I was newly married, going through a rather difficult deployment experience and had no one to turn to. I discovered blogging and decided to give it a shot. I knew zero about blogging, this not so small milspouse community, or even what I was really going to do with a blog once I started one. Heck, I didn’t know much about military life in general at that point, let alone techy stuff like how to set the time on a digital watch; so creating a blog was something beyond the stretch of my imagination.
Here I am, four years later, and man alive, do I cringe at how little I knew back then and how much I learned the hard way. So, I’ll share with you some of the life/blogging lessons that came from my four years of trial and error.
1. People are mean.
I’m sorry to say this to you, but the reality is the Internet gives just about every mean person in the world a feeling of anonymity that makes him or her think they can say whatever they want. I highly suggest moderating comments as a result. There is no need to post the hateful things that will show up in your inbox on occasion, there is no need to respond, just hit delete and move on.
2. Grow a thick skin, or learn how to fake it.
I am not thick skinned in the least. I am highly sensitive and a MAJOR people pleaser. That means that three years after the single meanest comment I have ever gotten, it still pops up in my head and bothers me. But you know what? That person doesn’t know me and she used the cloak of an anonymous comment to be cruel. That makes her a coward in my book.
3. Which brings me to lesson three: Don’t allow anonymous comments if you can help it.
People will gladly post incredibly hurtful things when they don’t have to tell the world who they are. But people like that are cowards; so forcing them to put a name to their comments usually prevents them from doing it. That’s not to say no one will say mean things, but they are less likely to be absolutely horrible when they have to sign their name.
4. Blogging takes work.
Oh silly me and the silly idea I had that this hobby would be something that was easy. Of course, I’ve grown, I’ve matured, I’ve aged, and I’ve become a real blogger who wants to make an effort to blog. I like it and who doesn’t want a hobby they like so much that they want to do it all the time? But blogging all the time takes effort. For me it’s the effort to keep track of all of the things I’m doing. Who got what guest post, who is guest posting for me this month? Did I reply to that comment? I like to interact with my readers because they took the time to reach out to me. That takes a fair amount of time, but it’s so worth it in the end! I’ve made great friends and I LOVE to hear from people who tell me that they appreciate something I’ve had to say. Ego boosts are the best! And I get a real thrill from seeing something I wrote be accepted by someone I admire as a guest post. What a true honor!
5. Figure out who you are.
I still don’t really know who I am per se, but I do know who I am on this blog. That took some time. It took a bit of aimless wandering, soul searching and deciding what types of things I like to write about. Me? I like to write about my life. I enjoy the odd Top 10 list and what not, but I find that making fun of the stupid things I learn the hard way and observing my life are the areas I really tend to shine and enjoy writing about the most. It’s ok to wander, as long as you are narrowing down who you are to your blog audience.
6. Write what you know.
So cliché! UGH! I hate being cliché! But it’s the truth. Blogging makes you pretty transparent and it’s hard to write engaging things that people want to read if they can tell you are pulling it out of your A**. I’ve tried and failed abysmally at trying to write what I thought people wanted to read. I find that I enjoy my blog more (as do my followers) when I’m writing something I actually experienced, saw, or have some form of first hand knowledge about. The only exception is when you are popping off your opinions, but even then you either have to have facts to back it up or a really strong emotional argument.
7. It’s hard to become anonymous after the fact.
If you don’t think you want to share too much info, then start out restricting it. I have always had a fairly closely guarded identity, but it’s gotten more and more guarded over the years. And you know what? Spending months trolling your page for info that you might have shared when you were less guarded sucks. Trust me. So, I suggest started on the more conservative side of information sharing. You can always choose to share more later, but it is REALLY hard to unshare info. Error on the side of caution.
8. If you are a military spouse blogger, watch what you say.
This not only pertains to following OPSEC and PERSEC, but to things in general. I’ve heard of units trolling the Internet for information that breaks the rules. I’ve seen spouses get in trouble for over sharing information, even when it didn’t technically break the rules and, what’s worse, I’ve seen blogs taken down due to spouses sharing opinions that disparaged other branches, reservists/national guard members and other spouses. Think about what you are about to post and consider what types of consequences there may be for posting it before you hit publish. That really should go for anyone who is choosing to blog.
I’d love to make this a lovely, round list of 10 things, but I can’t really think of 10 more things that you won’t see on a list somewhere else. But if you really want a 9 & 10, how about this:
9. Enjoy it!
10. REALLY enjoy it!
It’s such a fun community to be a part of. And then it’s not really worth it if you find it stressful to do.