When I first created this blog, the template title appeared, and it read: Just Another WordPress Blog. And to be fair, that’s exactly what it was. It was just another blog, amongst the millions others. I had created Just Another Blog that would probably never ever get discovered. Even though that was a depressing truth, the exciting thing was that it was all mine. One person might read it, or 10,000 people, or no-one. I didn’t care. I wanted an online diary, and an online diary is exactly what I created.
As it’s nearing towards the end of 2014 (WTF – where did the time go?) I started to get a bit reflective, as I normally do around this time of the year. It’s that time where people start thinking what have I done, what have I achieved, where is all this going? The main source of finding out what had happened in my life even last month was by going on this blog and going through my old posts from the year. This blog serves as a memory bank, and that’s only one of the amazing reasons why I urge everyone to have one.
Obviously as blogging has become a bigger industry in it’s own right, there are elements of monetization around content, sponsored partnerships, advertising deals and of course the “free stuff”. Two of the myths that annoy me the most is that 1) bloggers are all materialistic and 2) if you have a blog, you’ll automatically get an endless truckload of freebies. It doesn’t work like that; and I truly believe that if you ever start a blog for that reason alone, your blog will not last. It is about so much more. That was another reason I wanted to write this post, is to celebrate the real reasons to have a blog. It’s about having a place you can call your own, connecting with like-minded people; all that other “stuff” comes in later, and only as a bonus.
So here are the other reasons why blogging is amazing:
It goes beyond the blog post
Back in May, I blogged about my favourite book of the year The Opposite Of Loneliness by Marina Keegan, a talented young writer who tragically died in 2012. After blogging about the book and championing it for months, I made friends with the wonderful press officer at Simon & Schuster and we chatted about the book over email each day and she shared my blog post. We became friends. Later this year, I went along to a Waterstones event where Marina’s friends and family talked about the book and about Marina. I went home and blogged about how incredible the evening was, and then to my utter delight I was invited by Marina’s family to do a reading the next night at Blackwell’s bookshop in Oxford. This demonstrates that writing about something you love can in turn lead to meeting the people behind the project. To go from blogging about something to being part of it was amazing. It was an evening I’ll never ever forget.
Out of the blue emails can make your day
Sometimes I wish it was compulsory for everyone to have a penpal. I love receiving emails from people who are in different countries, or who stumbled across something and they wanted to share their thoughts with you. Yesterday I received a virtual wave from America saying she enjoyed something I wrote and explained why it has resonated with her. Sometimes I think there’s nothing better than a lengthy heartfelt email. In a world where we are all busy and stressed and frantic, receiving little bursts of positivity in my inbox is one of my favourite things.
Cringe experiences can make great blog posts
I am often more likely to do something because I know I’ll want to write about it afterwards. For example, when I read my teenage diary in a room full of strangers, it was petrifying at the time, but so so fun to blog about. I read the cringiest diary excerpts from when I was 14, chubby and confused, but it is HILARIOUS. The buzz of being on stage, laughing at yourself and having a room of friendly faces encourage you to relax and enjoy it was something I’m glad to have done.
Meeting Internet friends IRL is the best
One of the most AWESOME things about having a blog is getting to meet people at blogger events, or natural connections made by chatting through Twitter which often leads to meeting up. I’ve met LOADS of people through this blog but I’m especially thankful to have made friendships with Laura (@superlativelyj), Jamie (@photogirluk), Daisy (@notrollergirl), Sasha (@libertylndngirl), Plum (@plumtweets), Zoe (@ZozeeBo), Megs (@Wonderful_u), Elizabeth (@elizabethmoya), Olivia (@livpurvis) and Alex (Alex_Cameron) who even took the naked photos of me. The blogging community is an amazing thing to be part of, and everyone’s invited. I even got to meet LENA frigging DUNHAM, Caitlin Moran, and the lovely Dawn O’Porter a few times this year. (And so many others I’ve definitely missed people out- to those I have, I’m sorry and I love you!) It’s been amazing year for connecting with awesome women.
You become braver
Every time you hit “publish” you are putting a little bit more of yourself out there into the world. People can like it, love it, not care about it, dislike it. Either way, you are saying “this is what I think!” and every time you hit that button, it gets easier and easier. I remember that nervous feeling every time I’d written something personal, or intense, or opinionated and worry that it was out there in the world, for people to respond to. But the truth is, it’s made me surer of myself, of my thoughts, and I’ve learned that I love starting a conversation. Obviously it’s amazing if people agree or relate to something, but even if it someone disagrees I find it interesting to chat it out.
Your writing gets better over time
Writing genuinely is like playing a piano. You have to have the passion in the first place, the determination to keep doing it, and then practice does really make perfect. Having written this blog for nearly four years and writing at least once a week, I know that my writing has improved, it’s impossible not to. I usually blog on here when I’m half asleep so nothing is ever perfect, but you learn to have an opinion on things, how to write quickly and efficiently, and how to edit. Blog posts don’t have to be perfect, it’s just doing it because you want to that counts.