Do you blog for service (& self-promotion) or blog for self-discovery?
Recently I’ve started to wonder about why we even have to choose. Why not both?
You see, while speaking at an event recently, I heard lots of people talk about being as “authentic” and “vulnerable” on their blogs as possible. Professional blogs. The ones that link to services + sales pages. And I agreed. To an extent.
But what feels like an authentic story to share, for some, may feel like blatant self-indulgence to another. When I started WordLove last year I wanted the blog to be, above all, a place of service. Hot tips. Useful information. How to’s + List Posts — the usual suspects. I didn’t want my personal life to be too front + centre. Not because I had anything to hide (seriously, you’re more likely to find me writing copy than partying on a Friday night), but because I wondered what was relevant. And god forbid, I blog about anything irrelevant. Like parenthood. Or marriage.
Somewhere along the way poetry snuck in. I blame Danielle LaPorte and Alexandra Franzen for that. Somehow writing poetry reminds me (and hopefully you) that WordLove is more than snappy tag lines + seductive sales pages. WordLove is so much more. And it’s only just the beginning.
Before WordLove, there were other blogs (and other dreams). There was Let Them Slay Dragons: a blog that would share my love of fairy tales, enchantment and include my hot tips about raising literate (and hopefully literary) children. There was Kate Erlenbusch: which I kept and might return to, one day.
And then there was the blog that changed my life. My first blog. The one that saved me.
It was my first blog. One I’ve been thinking about the way you’d reminisce about your first love. I started it as a way of articulating my frustration, loneliness and particular struggles as a rig wife.
Ah, my Rig Wife Survival Guide. I started this blog when my husband was living the Fly In Fly Out lifestyle. 3 weeks at home. 3 weeks away working on an oil rig. Which in theory was 3 weeks of hell and 3 weeks of bliss. But in reality was 3 weeks of hell, 2 weeks of emotional re-adjustment and 1 week of bliss.
How did I come to the truth of my reality? I started blogging about it. I started writing about what it was like to experience the emotions — the honeymoon highs and the can’t-take-it-any-longer-lows.
Articulating and sharing what I was going through presented a possibility of reaching out to another woman who might be finding it hard to express her experience.
And I’ll never forget that feeling of connection when someone I didn’t know — someone from another country — stumbled upon my little rigwifesurvivalguide.com and thanked me for my words. Naturally my ego jumped the gun and I fantasized about the blog being the #1 resource for rig wives. But life had other plans for me. Better plans. A decision and a new path I would never have imagined had I not started blogging in the first place.
What I was searching for while blogging was what we’re all searching for: the feeling of human connection. And that feeling of being seen, heard and understood just doesn’t come without the vulnerability.
I remember sitting in my car — iPhone perched in my trembling hand — psyching myself to hit publish, and post that first blog post on Facebook. It seems silly now. That I would be so fearful about posting something on Facebook. But at the time, it felt like the bravest, most thrilling thing I’d ever done.
Looking back, I’m surprised anyone bothered to read it. I’m thankful they did. Without a reader there’s no connection. Without a reader, there’s no relationship. Without readers there’s very little momentum.
How did blogging change my life?
In sharing my experiences I finally realized my true feelings. I hated my husband being away. I was sick and tired of putting up with a life I didn’t want. Through writing, and actually sharing it in public, I could reveal the truth hidden from everyday conversation. Suddenly the “yeah, you get used to it” and “ah, but we love the time off together” and “the money will set us up for the future” seemed like convenient lies I told myself and everyone around me.
For some reason, friends who knew me quite well, felt they learned more about me through reading my blog.
So finally, after only 3 months of blogging on that little rig wife survival guide, I found the courage to stand up for what I wanted. I found the courage to ask my husband to quit a job he’d believed would give him a nice, early retirement. He took a 60% pay cut. And in the months that followed I started to craft some new dreams of my own.
How did blogging change my life?
I realized I wanted to write for a living. I realized nothing made me happier (other than my husband & sons) than the thrill of writing an incredibly good sentence. And I slowly went about figuring out exactly how I could make money from doing what I loved.
I can’t even imagine how different my life would be if I hadn’t started that little blog. Perhaps I’d still be enduring a so-so life. Perhaps I’d be wishing away those three weeks when it was just me and two toddlers. Perhaps I’d have gotten used to it, eventually. Perhaps I’d have made it through the tough times. Or perhaps it would’ve ended in divorce… after the years of resentment.
Isn’t it funny how the small decisions we make — those tiny moments of following a deeper impulse — lead us to create a life that feels right. And dare I say, actually does feel authentic and vulnerable….
Maybe you feel the same about your blog. Especially your first blog. The really raw one. Maybe to label ourselves “self-indulgent” or “attention-seeking” as I’ve often labelled myself, really is unfair.
Because the truth is, if you want to be of service in this world, perhaps the best way to start is by following that impulse that helps you express who you are, what you feel and invites you to discover the path that’s truly yours.
So if you’re wondering if your own blog is self-indulgent, or irrelevant, or even too personal — trust that you’ll figure it out. This might not be your only blog. It may be your gateway blog to bigger and brighter things.
Maybe you’ll realize, as I did, that you’ve fallen in love with writing. Maybe you’ll have a shift in perception. Maybe you’ll blaze a new trail. One you would never have found, had you never bothered to blog in the first place.
I used to believe you either blogged for business or you blogged for self-discovery.
Why not both? Both lead to authentic connection — an act of creativity, which is an act of service. That’s a good enough reason for being in business. And that’s more than a good enough reason for starting your own blog.
P.S Please share your blog in the comments below. I would love to get to know you.