Indulge me as I celebrate 3 years of Empty House Full Mind. It’s been amazing!
On August 16 it will be 3 years since I wrote my first blog post. Three years, approximately 200,000 words. That’s as many words as two and a half novels. I’ve written posts about everything from bullying to Broadway, from friendship to, of course, empty nesting. This post is number 239, which means I’ve averaged 1.5 posts per week.
I’ve learned so much.
I learned about Facebook, Twitter, Google+, about the visual impact of Pinterest.
I discovered the dizzying world of:
- Google Analytics
- page views
- affiliate marketing
- sponsored posts
- brand connections
- product reviews
- PR pitches
I learned that in some circumstances I can -and should – be paid to write.
I learned about Facebook groups for bloggers, and began to connect with other people who blogged, and started to read their blogs. I had no idea how huge the blogosphere was. I was introduced to the reciprocal act of commenting and sharing. I found kind people who took a chance on me when I first started blogging and published my writing on their website. I found BlogHer early on and was overwhelmed when my first piece was featured there just two months after I began blogging. I found mentors to teach me about social media in a far more in-depth way than I knew I needed, and mentors to educate me about the appropriate and most effective way to use my WordPress dashboard and tools (the page break was a revelation).
I learned to write a blog post that was a good fit for my style – finding my voice, my rhythm as a writer. The more I wrote, the more confident I became and the more comfortable I grew with the act of writing itself. I never questioned whether I was good enough or talented enough – I just kept going.
I connected with:
- mommy bloggers
- coupon bloggers
- craft bloggers
- food bloggers
- personal bloggers
- political bloggers
- ranty bloggers
- health bloggers
- dad bloggers
- humor bloggers
- parenting bloggers
…and especially midlife bloggers.
I learned about:
- Twitter chats
- Facebook ads
- Facebook algorithms
- page rank
I’ve learned to trust many people and to be wary of others.
I’ve learned, sometimes the hard way, to listen to my instincts and follow my head, not my heart.
I’ve learned what I won’t share about, ever (sex, money).
I’ve learned what people want to hear about and what touches them the most.
I’ve learned, most of all, that the most important part of writing and blogging is generosity. Without it there is no way to succeed.
I’ve Done More Than I Could Have Imagined
I became a blogger for the Huffington Post. This was a big deal for me. I will continue to write for the Huffington Post – even though they don’t pay their bloggers – because I’ve had incredible opportunities come my way through it. Because of the Huffington Post I’ve been published in an anthology, been interviewed for CNN.com, been offered guest post opportunities on other websites, and had lively and entertaining conversations with commenters. I’ve had a few posts go viral with thousands of views and shares, which was thrilling. I will continue to publish there because it’s the largest platform for bloggers on the internet, and I’m proud to be part of it.
I started a Facebook group, with my business partner, that has grown to nearly 900 women – all midlife bloggers and writers. Everyday with these women is filled with conversation, encouragement and friendship – with a little friendly arguing thrown in the mix.
I partnered in the creation of a website for midlife women bloggers. When that website was shut down, my business partner Anne Parris and I hit the ground running and launched another one, Midlife Boulevard, in just one month. Talk about a whirlwind. We’ve published nearly 200 bloggers and over 700 posts since we launched in November 2013, and our traffic grows each month. We believe in the possibilities of what we’ve created, and we love what we’re doing.
I’ve appeared on HuffPost Live for segments on topics including Father’s Day without a father, drinking alcohol, and being a stay-at-home mom.
I was on the Katie Couric Show, talking about the empty nest.
More important than anything else I’ve done are the personal connections I’ve developed. I’ve made real friends who are part of my online life. I’ve met people who have grown from little avatars on Twitter and Facebook to human beings who I am connected to, not just by social media, but by true friendship. I’ve talked with people from nearly every state and from around the world. I’ve been sent gifts from friends I’ve never met in person simply because they knew I’d appreciate them, including an autographed copy of When the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini that I treasure.
And of course, above it all, I’ve found readers who come to my blog. There’s nothing more rewarding for me as a writer than knowing that I’ve made a difference in someone’s day with my words.
So thank you for your visits, your comments, and your virtual (or real life) friendship.
Even if you never say anything, I know you’re there.