I recently received notice that I’ve been blogging at WordPress for 10 years. Ten years! I haven’t been at this particular blog for ten years and I haven’t been blogging for the entirety of those ten years. But still, a decade in blogging is quite an achievement.
It all began with a blog about running. I quickly discovered two things. 1.) I was never going to become a marathoner. 2.) For me, writing about running was even more tedious than the actual running.
Then, I went on to start a blog about homeschooling, which I enjoyed. Both the writing about the homeschooling and the actual homeschooling. But I was missing something writing about only one part of my life. So, I decided to start another blog where I could write about anything and everything that crossed my mind. I called it Sincerely, Slapdash.
The concept was pretty simple, I would write scathing and sarcastic opinion pieces in letter form. See, what you may not know is, I have a certain knack for letter writing (you can see for yourself by clicking here and here. Oh, and here and here too). I was on the local news as a kid because of a letter I wrote about my mom. I also once brought a Volkswagen mechanic to tears because I wrote such a blistering letter to the dealership about the quality of care our Jetta was receiving. Ok, I don’t think he cried, but I’m sure he was close because, hot damn, that letter was brutal.
And my nom de plume for the blog was ‘Slapdash’ because the whole operation was put together in a bit of a haphazard fashion. I didn’t really think the whole thing through. I abandoned the letter format of the blog early on. But, I kept scathing sarcasm. And it worked, for the most part. I wrote. A few people read it. It was nice. I was even Freshly Pressed once, back when WordPress ‘pressed’ posts instead of ‘discovering’ them.
Then, I got sick for a few years. When I came back, I came here. Back to WordPress. And made this blog to tell you all about my tumor and the many things it taught me.
So, I’ve been doing this for awhile, this blogging thing. I’d like to say I know my stuff, but after ten years I feel like a newborn. The blogging world I left behind is not the blogging world my tumor and I have been born into. It’s different now. But still, I’m back in the game and, between what I knew then and what I know now, I think it’s safe to say I know a thing or two about blogging.
When some people find out I do this they confess something to me. I’m thinking of starting a blog. I have to be honest, when I hear that, I cringe a little bit inside. Now, don’t get me wrong. I always smile and encourage outwardly and most of me means it inwardly, but I also kinda die a little bit. And maybe roll my eyes and let out a little sigh.
I know, I know, I want to say, because I’ve heard it before. You want to start a blog as a creative outlet and you don’t care if you have any readers. You think it’ll be FUN! But I have to tell you, I’m on to you. You’re full of lies. Even if this is the truth, it won’t be for long.
See, inside every human lives a tiny, feral narcissist frothing at the mouth waiting for the next hit of dopamine. If you really wanted to do this for fun, as a creative outlet, if you really didn’t care to have readers, you’d just put it all in a scrapbook and shove it under your bed at night. But you don’t do that, do you? No. You want to start a blog.
And when you say that what you really mean is you want is to be The Bloggess or Luvvie or The Pioneer Woman. Deep down you’re already visualizing what you’ll wear to your TED Talk or how you’ll pose for your book jacket photo. Admit it, you’re designing your Target dinnerware line as you read this, aren’t you? You have visions of sugarplums dancing in your head except that it’s you dancing after you sign your book deal and finalize the logo for your lifestyle brand.
Even though most of us bloggers won’t admit it, we want the same. But that’s not what blogging is. At least, that’s not what blogging is for the vast majority of us.
And for me, blogging has been ten years of essentially NOTHING. No book deal, no dinnerware line, no TED Talk, and not one dime. Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve made almost $25 in the two years at this blog, but WordPress doesn’t pay out until you’ve earned a sweet, sweet Benjamin. At this rate I might be able to cash a check in time to get my early bird senior discount at the Sizzler, assuming the planet lasts that long.
It’s not as if I don’t work, mind you. Blogging takes time, even if you’ve decided you’re just going to do it as a hobby. I have at times spent, I shit you not, over a half an hour just trying to find the right featured image for a blog post. Add to that the the time it takes for the writing, the editing, social media sharing, submissions to other publications, and I’m making approximately 1/8 of a cent an hour. No, scratch that, after I pay WordPress for my domain each year, I’m really in the red. So, effectively, I pay to write and give my blog posts away for free.
When you’re a blogger you’re not just paying to write and give away your blog posts for free, you’re paying to write and give away your blog posts while numbskulls on the internet tell you how shitty a writer you are. Or how wrong your opinion is, even when it comes to your own illness. I never knew how wrong my feelings were about my own experience with being sick until I started writing about it on the internet. And that’s after they tell you what a whiny triggered snowflake libtard you are.
And when the pain of paying to write for free so a jackwagon with an ax to grind can tell you how much you suck has subsided a bit, you can take some time to peruse one of the numerous sites that pay their writers. Go ahead. Read one of the countless articles and opinion pieces written by people who have the personality of wallpaper glue and keep mixing up their theres. That’s when the pain comes shooting back and brings with it an eye twitch or a neck crick.
Once you’ve accepted the fact that you’ve used your precious time to pay to write for free while idiots mock you and you’ve read every internet article riddled with typos written by someone who got paid, you can check the status of the pieces you’ve submitted for publications and marvel at the number of times one writer can see the word DECLINED and not suffer a debilitating, life altering stroke.
But, take heart, you will get through all of that and still want to keep blogging. And just when you muster up the gumption and sit down at your computer to have at it again, that will be the exact moment the dog will throw up or dinner will need to go on the table or someone in your family will decide they just have to tell you all about that time they saw the caber toss at the Highland Games in 1983.
Then, you’ll get up to clean the puke or cook the dinner or pretend to be riveted about the obscure sporting event and you’ll forget all the brilliant ideas you had swimming in your head just a few minutes ago.
Do that for two, five, ten years with little to no pay, no book deal, no dinnerware line. Do that, all that, and still want to keep doing it at the end of the day. That’s what you need to think about when you’re thinking about starting a blog.
What about this blogger, after ten years at it? What do I think? I’m ok with it. I have the big picture in mind. The hefty dose of reality sets in from time to time. The crippling depression soon follows. As much as I dream, I know that I will probably never reach Bloggess status ever in my life. I’m not going to be the next Luvvie. And even though this isn’t a cooking blog, I wouldn’t mind a Food Network show. But I know I’m not Ree Drummond.
I am me, though. This is where I use my voice. I put in the hours and learn from the time. This is on the job training. With every blog post I like to think I improve. After I scrape myself up from the next rejection I realize I’ve developed a thicker skin. After ten years of writing I can admit I might be good, but I can definitely make room to be better.
I may never be Luvvie or Jenny or Ree, but I could eek out a meager living as a writer. It will require more time than I imagined, more humility than I ever thought I could muster, and some humor. The humor is a must.
When you tell me, I’m thinking of starting a blog, I’m still going to smile. Truly, though, I wish I could tell you, these are the things I’m really thinking. The things I wish I could tell you.
Sure, be a blogger. Do it! But don’t talk to me about it until you’ve given it this kind of time.