So, September 15th will mark the four-year anniversary of The Ink Loft! Can you believe that I’ve been blogging for four years? I was amazed when I discovered that a couple months ago. I haven’t always been a steady blogger, but I have cherished this blog and the wonderful people I have met because of it.
The fifteenth doesn’t actually fall on a Friday this month, but rather on a Thursday. Thus, I won’t have a post specifically on the anniversary date itself. However, I’m celebrating all month long! Instead of the usual two Friday posts, you will be getting one every Friday this month! They will include a couple of guest posts that I’m very excited about. This post marks the kick-off of the celebration and will include a giveaway (at the bottom). Since an anniversary is, by its very nature, a bit nostalgic, I decided to discuss some of the things I've learned over these past years in the form of a letter to my younger self.
Dear Younger Me,
I see you there, so excited to start your new blog. I remember the work you put into picking the perfect title, the frequent calls for help as you set everything up, the little flutter as you hit "Publish" for the first time. You're so ready to take on the world, so sure that you have it figured it out. Well, guess what? We've made it to four years of blogging! Can you even imagine that? I know you can't, you who are just considering what to write for your second post.
It's been a crazy ride. Things haven't been everything you think they will. We've changed. We've grown. You know what?
Your writing will get so much better. If this is all you'll get from blogging, it will be worth it. You know you're not perfect now, but you can go so much higher. The practice of putting words together post after post will result in writing that is worlds above where you are now. Your posts will be better written, and so will your stories. Keep writing. This blog will be some of the best writing practice you'll have.
All you're thinking about right now is having an outlet for your writing and gaining followers, but you're going to enter a whole new, incredible community. You don't realize the friendships you stand to gain and the advice you're going to have available to you. You're going to meet so many amazing writers. You're going to make like-minded friends.
Courtesy of Pixabay
You remember your time on the OYAN (One Year Adventure Novel) forum? Of course you do. That was one of your favorite parts of high school. You're going to encounter something similar here. There's such a camaraderie among Christian writers, and it is wonderful to experience it. Take the time to make those connections. Comment. Follow. Engage. It will be completely worth it.
For all the good, though, blogging won't be a perfect experience. Sometimes you'll have no idea what to post about. It's going to be Thursday night, you'll have a blog post due the next morning, and you'll be having a panic attack. It will happen. More than once. And it will drive you crazy. It's okay, though. There will be lapses. Truly, though, it's not the end of the world. The best thing you can do is push through, try something different, figure out a way to boost your creativity. You're going to feel guilty sometimes because you missed a post. Let it go. Find a way to be better. But don't beat yourself up about it.
The crippling blank page…
You're also going to find that, sometimes, those lapses of a weekly post turn into multiple weeks or even months without a post. The unplanned breaks are going to put a knot in your stomach. You're going to feel like you're a failure; you're going to wonder why you ever started blogging in the first place. It's going to hurt, and it's going to feel impossible to fix.
It's fixable, though. And, the thing is, breaks can be a good thing. A hiatus is not automatically an evil. Sometimes you're going to need a break from everything in order to reset and be better. What you're going to learn as you keep going is to be upfront with your readers. They're people, too. Many of them blog. They understand. No, they're not automatically going to hate you. Just let them know what's going on. Don't disappear. Announce it. As you keep blogging, you'll start taking social-media-free weeks. They're so helpful for us. And all we have to do is tell our readers. They'll understand.
So, don't view breaks as a problem. Learn to use them for your benefit.
Look how much you've learned already. You know what else you're going to discover? There's always something to learn. Blogging is a very different animal than what you think it is right now, as you start out. You're going to make some poor design choices. You're going to use too-small text and unreadable colors. But you're going to learn. You're going to discover that less is more, and you're going to simplify things. You're going to include pictures in your posts; eventually, you'll even start making covers (and love it!). You'll learn that successful bloggers do certain things. You'll teach yourself to make layout changes and learn something about graphics. You're going to discover that there's always something new you can learn in the world of blogging – search engine optimization, social media buttons, html coding. Four years later, there's still so much for us to learn. We're still learning. Still growing. And that is awesome.
You're going to get overwhelmed, though. There will be times when you think you have to master everything all at once. It's going to make you clutch your head and want to scream. You're going to get jealous, wishing that you had as many followers as someone else. You'll wonder if you should post more often or write about different topics. It will be maddening.
Over time, though, you're going to learn that you're the only person who can be you. Each blogger is unique. We each bring something different to the overall picture. So, sure, there's always something you can learn. Be open to that. Don't let you get lost in the process, though. You have to be yourself, and you have to let your blog be what it's supposed to be. We're still working on that, four years later.
We can learn certain skills that successful bloggers use, but we need to apply them in a way that fits us. Don't make your covers carbon copies of everyone else's; what would be the point if all our covers looked exactly the same, anyway? Maybe we're not meant to have a large audience; if we're letting God use us, though, we will have the right audience. Let your blog be unique. Let your voice shine through. Let God use it to say exactly what He wants it to.
You're come a long way, younger me. You're going to change so much. It's going to be an amazing journey. Enjoy each step. I hope that I'll be able to read about more amazing things from us four years from now.
Now, what anniversary is complete without a giveaway? I'm very excited to give away the following to one lucky winner!
1 Casemate 400-Page Leatherette Journal, 7 x 9.5 inches – I have a journal very similar to this, and I absolutely love it. The cover is soft yet firm, and the pages are the perfect size for writing in.
1 Set of Multi-Size Sticky Notes – I use sticky notes all the time, to leave myself reminders, to put something on my wall organizer, or for many other purposes. They're very versatile, and with multiple sizes, the variety increases!
1 $10 Amazon E-Gift Card – Everyone loves gift cards, and I'm very happy to be able to offer one with this giveaway.
So, tell me: did anything from this post resonate with you? If you're a blogger, what have you learned from the process? Let me know in the comments!