As of yesterday I’ve been blogging ten years. You can read my first-ever post here if you’re so inclined. I concluded my post by writing,
If my verbal meanderings inspire you, I am thankful. If they push you closer to the throne of grace, I rejoice. If they stir up your ordered world, I am humbled. May these meanderings bring joy to the Audience of One and inspire you to do the same.
I wrote these words before I was published, when our family lived on foreign soil in the little village of Le Rouret, France, outside Nice in the foothills of the Alps. Leaving for France represented a death to me. In my mind I thought my dream of publication was over.
But I had been wrong. God saw fit to graciously allow me to write there, and several of my first published books came from my teeny tiny office tucked into the corner of my bedroom.
This was taken in our dining/living room of our tiny villa. And, yes, my husband’s hair was spiky and blonde (for a very short season). I’m getting emotional looking at this picture, just knowing what we endured, and that we came back to the United States and stayed together. The difficulties we endured there actually pulled us closer.
I shared my heartache and joy on what was then Relevantblog on the blogger platform. Truth is, those two and a half years were the hardest of my adult life. And I lost most of myself on French soil amid trials upon trials. If you want to see the “glam” of missionary life, read some of my very first posts, and I’ll quickly change your perspective.
Returning to the states, I processed much grief, some trauma, and birthed a new tagline: turning trials to triumph. You can see the progression of my sites here, where I moved from trials to triumph to living uncaged.
All that being said, as I write this, I’m utterly grateful to you who have stuck by me as I’ve figured out this blogging thing. As I look back over a decade of content, here are ten things I’ve learned that may be of help to you as you start your own decade journey.
One. It’s all about the reader.
I used to write about me-me-me, which made sense in the inauguration of the blog. Essentially web logs (blogs) were designed as online journals. But eventually the thrill of that wore off and readers wanted to read words that changed them, not detailed one’s life. So I shifted. To you. To your needs. Your pains. Your stories.
Two. Vulnerability is invitational.
My most trafficked and commented on posts were the ones where I threw my hands heavenward and got into the mire about my current life. When I’ve shared the hard stuff, I began to realize I did so in order that you wouldn’t feel so crazy or alone. The more vulnerable I am, the better you feel because you realize your own battles aren’t only yours.
Three. Another person’s path doesn’t dictate yours.
I have often failed at this. I attended a blog conference a few years ago and armed myself with winning strategies from other bloggers. I tried to retrofit their vision onto this place. It didn’t work. I’m not them. They aren’t me. And that’s okay. I will not make much money from this space, nor was I designed to. But I am called to share the things on my heart as they hit me.
Four. In heaven, God’s not going to display your pageviews.
Thank goodness! He’s more concerned about our obedience to what He calls us to write. Sometimes when Jesus spoke, He frittered away His fan base. And He didn’t care. He simply told the truth. It’s not about your pageviews, it’s about lives impacted for the Kingdom. It’s about fidelity to the things of God.
Five. Your voice is valuable.
Not someone else’s cool voice that everyone clamors for. No. Yours. Mine took me nearly a decade to find, and now that I’m comfortable hollering that voice, I enjoy sharing my heart in my own Mary-shaped way. Be you. Be blessedly, awesomely you.
Six. Choose small; tend large.
Focus has been my bane these many years, and I’ve made ten thousand mistakes by not focusing. I tend to choose large and tend small, which exhausts me. (Cue last summer’s sabbatical). But to choose small (find your niche) and tend the heck out of it makes a more successful blogger. The older I get, the more I see how powerful focus is.
Seven. Tribal trumps isolation.
I would not have made it ten years of blogging without other bloggers around me. I adore blogging, but it can be an isolating endeavor. I’m grateful for blogging conferences and the amazing friends I’ve made. Besides all that, friends have made me sane. It’s not pretty in this crazy head, and if I don’t process my muck outside myself, I get nutty. That my blog is sane is because friends untangled my words.
Eight. You have permission.
If something hasn’t been done before, you have permission to write it.
You have permission to take a blogging break, despite what experts warn against. It’s your blog and you have permission to write it as you wish.
Nine. Responding to the Spirit matters.
Looking back, my most impacting posts came from the times the Spirit wakes me up in the middle of the night and won’t let me go. This post about abusive churches came from such a time. If you have been pestered by the Holy Spirit to write something, be assured He has someone in mind who desperately needs those words. Respond. Write. Then let the outcome go.
Ten. The One who heals gets the fame.
This gig is not about me. It’s not even ultimately about you. It’s about the One who heals. Jesus has healed me in so many ways, and because He has, and because He is powerful and amazing and chock full of love, He deserves all the fame. Fame for humans is a strange delusion. Covet it for yourself at your own soul’s peril. Seek for ways to highlight His fame.
So what about you?
What have you learned in your blogging journey? Or for those of you who read blogs regularly, what do you love about blogs? What makes you crazy?