Ten years ago, I started my first blog.
As far as blogging origin stories go, mine isn’t that exciting. A friend from a Harry Potter fan forum recommended the hobby and I followed her advice. Clearly, this girl was onto something because while she and I lost touch years ago, I’m still here.
I don’t know if I’m very good at blogging. Frankly, I’m not really interested in being good at blogging. I couldn’t care less about statistics, follower counts, and publishing content on any kind of schedule. Blogging, for me, isn’t about performance. It’s something I do for myself. I write because I love it and don’t want to stop.
Over the years, blogging has taken on a variety of forms and functions. Keep Your Feet has been whatever I needed it to be at any given time. During my final years of college, I talked a lot about transitioning from one stage of life to another and figuring out where to go next. When I was solo-trekking across Europe, I wrote about my travels. These days, you’re likely to find me gushing about whatever book I have recently fallen in love with. I’ve written for a variety of reasons over the years: to process, to clarify, to share, to remember, and to grow.
I didn’t start my blogging journey on Keep Your Feet. I’ve actually bounced around quite a bit. When preparing to write this post, I did some sleuthing and can confirm that my original blog from 2008 still exists on the Internet. As I read those initial posts penned by my fifteen-year-old self, I was a bit shocked to see how much I’ve grown. My writing has shifted and changed as I have.
Since ten years feels like a significant milestone, I thought I’d share some nuggets of blogging wisdom I have acquired over the years. This is by no means a conclusive list, nor do I claim special expertise. However, the act of writing this post has helped me reflect on how and why I blog the way I do, which has been a fruitful line of inquiry. Enjoy!
1: Keep Your Drama Off the Internet
This may seem obvious. I started blogging as a teenager, though, so this was one of my early lessons. While I don’t think I ever crossed any serious lines, it’s important as a young person to learn what is and isn’t appropriate to share online. This is applicable both in the blogging sphere and on social media.
You may think your friends don’t know about your blog, but they do. So, if you’re going to be dramatic, don’t be dramatic on the Internet. Teenage Amelia learned this the hard way. I still remember one incident in high school where I posted some frustrations I had with friends on my blog. The next day, they all started commenting. Ironically, the issue was never addressed in person.
My friends had more insight back then into what is appropriate to post online. I was in marching band in high school and, every year, the underclassman give each senior an award. When it was my turn, one of my close friends gave me a beautiful Moleskine notebook. As he explained the gift to both me and all the band parents lined up in the auditorium, “Some things shouldn’t go on the Internet”.
He was so right. I wish I had been as wise back then. I was careful as a teenager, but time and maturity has taught me that the Internet isn’t a diary. Some things are best said in a journal or vented to a close friend. If you’re personal blogging, it is so important to find a way to discuss life’s happenings without hurting the people in your life or making them uncomfortable. Which brings me to my next point…
2: Respect the Privacy of People You Care About
When talking about real people, DO NOT USE NAMES. Just don’t do it. The Internet is a public space. The people in your life don’t deserve to be discussed without their consent. If someone in your life gives you permission to name them, that’s a different story.
I once lost a good friend and roommate over things said explicitly about me on a blog. The fallout was deeply painful for both of us. While I think we’ve both come to a place of forgiveness, I wish none of it had happened.
If the nature of your blog involves writing about people in your life, respect their privacy. If you’re not certain how to discuss someone, err on the side of caution and don’t mention their name. If it’s a family member, talk about them as your mom, dad, brother, sister, cousin, etc. Refer to your roommate as your roommate. My favorite example is my friend who referred to her boyfriend as her “gentleman caller” a la Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie. There’s ways to talk about people while respecting their anonymity.
3: This is Your Space
There are a lot of bloggers out with great advice about how to reach your fullest potential as an online content creator. I’m not one of those bloggers. What I am going to tell you is that your blog is your personal corner of the Internet. Having a space of one’s own is wonderful thing. You have the freedom to make all kinds of choices about the aesthetics, content, and organization of your site. Use that freedom to create the blog you want to have.
If you want to stick to a theme, pick one. If you need a place to philosophize about life, write about that. If you want to share your creative writing or art, please share! If you’re inspired by the posts about how to create a polished product, make money, and build a following, go for it. If placing parameters stresses you out, break the mold!
I realize the “you do you” mindset is wishy-washy. But, really, there is no right or wrong way to blog. Everyone with a blog has their own reasons. What works for one blogger’s style and purpose doesn’t work for everyone.
Personally, I don’t like to limit myself to just one thing. I take an open-handed approach. My blog, as mentioned earlier, is whatever I need it to be at any given time. There are drawbacks to this. It means I don’t post consistently. It means my topics are all over the place. It means I don’t draw a lot of followers or interaction. I’ve gone back and forth a lot over the years over how I want to go about blogging and, ultimately, this is the approach that works for me the best. It has me writing from a place of fullness and creating content I’m proud to share.
4: Ask Yourself: Why Am I Here?
Why do you have a blog? What is your purpose? What do you hope to accomplish?
These can be tough questions to ask. Several years ago, I took a free WordPress course called Writing 101: Finding Everyday Inspiration. Each day for a month, I received an email with a writing prompt. It began and ended with the same question: Why do you write?
At the beginning of the course, I didn’t really know how to answer that. My entire life, I wrote because I had to, because I was good at it, and because I couldn’t seem to stop. Revisiting the question, I concluded that I write because I’m a writer. It’s part of who I am. I may never be published in a traditional sense, but I never want to stop writing. That’s why I blog. It gives me the chance to keep using words.
If you’re a fellow blogger, I’d love to hear your answer to this question in the comments!
5: Use Your Blog to Fuel Your Passions
This seems straightforward, but write about things you’re excited about! Passion is contagious. If you’re excited about what you’re doing, it will show. Of course, there is no guarantee this will draw followers. Some of my favorite posts I have ever written have hardly gotten any views or interaction. I am completely okay with this. Every once in a while, I go back and read those old posts and they remind me why I’m here.
Like any worthwhile thing, blogging takes time, effort, and sometimes feels like work. However, I think you will enjoy yourself more if you’re excited by the things you write about.
6: If You Don’t Feel Like Writing, Don’t Write
Writer’s/blogger’s guilt is no joke. When explaining my blog to people, I can’t count the amount of times I’ve added “but I don’t post much” as a disqualification. It’s as if we have to be constantly writing to justify calling ourselves writers. We feel guilty, like we’re trying to be part of an exclusive club when we’re actually just posers.
Writer’s guilt is no joke, but it’s also complete garbage. Just because you’re not posting does not make you less of a blogger. If you have a blog and are using it in a way that brings you life, that is enough. If you’re writing, you’re a writer.
That being said, there have been times when I just haven’t had the time or energy for blogging. My creative bucket takes time to fill and if I’m mid-semester or in a busy time at work, I just don’t have anything to give. That’s okay. I’ve been at it long enough to know that I’ll always come back.
It’s okay to be a writer and not write. Unless you’re blogging as part of your job and are contractually obliged to publish regular content, it’s okay to step away for a week, a month, a year. If writing isn’t working, you are allowed to step away for as long as you need. You’ll come back when you’re ready and will be a better writer for it.
7: DO NOT Lose Your Account Information
Hang onto those login credentials for dear life, friends.
If I could remove my original blog and revert all the posts to drafts, I’d do so in a heartbeat. The writings of my fifteen-year-old self don’t need to be read. While I didn’t write anything harmful, if anyone I know now finds that blog I might die of embarrassment. I’m a very different person than I was back then. However, I lost my account information long ago. I don’t even have access to the email associated with that blog anymore.
8: Don’t Be Afraid to Start Again
Sometimes, you find yourself on a blog that no longer reflects your reasons for writing. Maybe you started out blogging for personal growth and your journey has taken you in an unexpected direction. Maybe you started off with a theme and want to switch things up, going from travel writing to parenting advice. Maybe you just need to try something new.
Starting fresh can be scary. It means walking away from all that you’ve worked hard to build, both in content and following. When the time is right, though, it’s worth it.
I transitioned away from my original blog to Keep Your Feet because I needed a fresh start without the baggage and backlog of my teenage years. My old site just didn’t fit anymore. I wanted a place that reflected who I am today without the shadow of who I used to be. Someday, I might grow out of this space. Already, I’m a very different person than I was four years ago when I moved here. As long as the ethos of Keep Your Feet remains true to where I’m at, I plan on sticking around. My open-handed approach seems to be working.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my ten-year-blogaversary post! If you have any thoughts on anything I’ve shared or pieces of wisdom to add, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Thanks for reading!