Happy Birthday, blog! It was three years ago today that my first post went up. Today’s post is my 500th and it feels like a good time for reflection.
I started blogging because I needed an outlet for writing when I was working a job that bored the crap out of me, the only job I’ve ever had that didn’t require me to write. I needed something challenging and fun, an expression of creativity that was all my own. And it’s served me well although there was a big learning curve. A few things I’ve learned along the way:
Just because you’re putting something on the internet doesn’t mean people are reading it. All the time I hear from people who want to start their own blogs. And the reservations are always the same: fear of making mistakes. But you know what? When you first start writing, no one knows about it. There’s no audience. There’s time to get comfortable before you decide to alert anyone to your presence online. And then, forever, you have to point people in the direction of your blog to get them to read it. (And then, forever, you’ll still make mistakes. And you fix them. No biggie.)
Blogging is WORK. Yes, it’s creative. And it’s fun. But it’s demanding, time-consuming and is like having constant homework. One can choose to do the work or not. Personally, I believe that if you’ve developed a readership then you owe it to them (and yourself) to stay active. I don’t believe in “writer’s block.” But I think that lack of motivation is very real and can be a tough hurdle. And like any hurdle cleared, we are better for overcoming difficulties and getting the job done anyway when we just don’t want to.
It’s not easy to make money off your blog. Think it’s going to be an extra source of income? For some it is, but for many of us it costs so much money and time that it never evens out. There’s also an integrity issue. Could my blog be making more money? Yes. If I took even 10% of the opportunities I was offered this place would be so crapped up I wouldn’t want to put my name on it. And if one is simply looking to make money, then that’s okay. It’s all in the intent. I figured out pretty quickly that this gig was better suited to me as a hobby. My financial goals are pretty low and easy to reach, paying for my hosting and some other blogging incidentals.
People are nice. When you put something out there you open yourself up to criticism. It’s bound to happen. But for the most part, people are pretty cool and will be supportive of any endeavors that we put our hearts into. I’ve had some hurtful comments on my blog that left me reeling. But when I compare those negative comments to the favorable ones, I realize what a small fraction the bad is.
The best part of blogging is the community. Bloggers, no matter what they write about, have something in common: The desire to put something out there and the determination to do so. That is something so fundamentally appealing to me, the idea that people will pour themselves into a passion project and really work at it. I’m drawn to people with a strong work ethic and an inclination for creative expression. People who are a little brave, a little driven, and maybe a little crazy. So many of my friends are bloggers and it’s enriched my life in a way that I never imagined.
So how has Mad Betty done in three years? Pretty well, I guess. It’s opened a lot of doors for me professionally and personally. It’s not the world’s biggest blog or even Austin’s biggest blog. And it never will be. But I have a group of loyal readers that I’m grateful for and it’s made me a more disciplined in the way I approach both work and my hobbies.
My top ten most regularly visited posts, excepting TV recaps, which do pretty well:
1. Cheap Eats in Austin
2. Uchiko Social Hour
3. Why You Should Go to Uchi for Social Hour
4. First Look: Radio Coffee & Beer
5. Dang Banh Mi
6. Shishito Peppers
7. The Highs & Lows of Popovers
8. Standard Process Cleanse
9. Ramen Tatsu-ya
10. Kin & Comfort
My post with the most pins is Szechuan House. My most controversial post is Why I Forgive Lance Armstrong. Random old post that I love: Cool Yule, Fool, because I love the photos of my Christmas ornaments.
Some goals for the future
-Put more thought and effort into my social media. I have an embarrassingly low number of Facebook fans because I’m too proud to ask anyone to “like me.” I can’t make myself care about Facebook too much, but this page has caused me to lose out on a few cool opportunities.
-Redesign. Sometime next year I’d like to correct a few things I was too uneducated to ask for in my initial design. Better social sharing icons, more editing capabilities, and most importantly, a responsive theme.
-This is the hardest one for me, but I’d like to use this platform to show more vulnerability and maybe grow a thicker skin. My favorite blogs to read are deeply personal and authentic. It’d be nice to go there…just once in a while.
Anyway, it’s been a great three years. Thank you for reading, from the bottom of my heart.