Last week I read Danny Brown's post "1,000 Blog Posts Later--An Introspective" and it resonated with me on several levels--particularly the part about being fluid, and the part about it being ok to be wrong. When I started blogging about eight years ago, it was back when blogging was just a fun thing I liked to do and I did it with no self-consciousness at all because nobody read it. I wrote about whatever I felt like, only when I felt like it; I cussed and wrote about personal stuff and just had fun. I didn't worry about offending anyone, or what potential employers would think about me if they read it, or really anything at all--I just wrote because I enjoyed writing.
At that time I was web content writer and spent a ton of time reading and learning about web content development, since I went into the job not even knowing what html was and ended up having to learn how to create websites from a text editor. I spent hours every day reading and learning about web stuff, which somehow turned into spending hours a day reading and learning about social media stuff. I figured I may as well meld my obsessive tendencies and my love of writing and created Mizz Information, thinking maybe I'd get some freelance writing gigs out of it. Little did I know that Mizz Information would not only pan out in terms of the freelance writing, but that it would pave the way to a new career, bunches of speaking gigs (something I NEVER would have dreamed I'd do, and to this day still don't love doing), lots of new friendships and even an award. As I wrote and wrote, I became first less self-conscious then, as my writing got me into hot water more than a few times (sadly I've switched comment platforms twice and the posts that had a bunch of dramatic comments are all, now, minus the comments...just as well), more self-conscious until more often than not, I would start to write something, wonder how it would be perceived or affect my current or future jobs, and hit "delete" before posting.
When you blog about one topic for over five years, being fluid is, I think, a big struggle. People read this blog because they want to learn about social media, I'd think, so if I get bored or disillusioned with social media, I guess I better just start a new blog about something else. I write because I enjoy the process of thinking and writing....but seriously, how many times can you write about the same topic before you become stale and even you aren't interested in reading what you've written? And of course, once social media became more than just an abstract concept I read and wrote about but also my day (and night, and weekend) job, the time and enthusiasm I had for blogging would wax and wane and the last thing I felt like doing in my free time was more blogging and thinking about social media stuff. I hit the blogger burnout wall more than a few times, and wondered what the hell I was still doing writing about this stuff, week in and week out, when really, who cared about my musings anyway? Was I writing for me or was I writing for some ambiguous "them"?
The answer? Who knows. I still haven't figured it out, and thinking about it just stresses me out so I'm actively trying to stop analyzing and just write whatever I feel like writing about. As the blogosphere becomes more and more crowded, especially with the current content marketing craze, my advice is to not worry too much about sticking to a theme or a topic in fear that your readers will desert you if you veer off-topic. Passion is what keeps people reading, so following your passions--even if they change over time--and writing about them instead of a pre-determined topic, I would think, will keep current readers interested and attract new ones. Or at least will keep your blog fresh and keep it fun to write, instead of a burden and a chore.
Which gets to the being wrong part. One thing about blogging is that it's a permanent record of how you're feeling at a certain point in time. If you read this blog, you know I'm not shy about making my feelings about certain things known in no uncertain terms. I'm a lot more forceful in writing than I am in person--for better or for worse--and my strong opinions about various things have earned both praise: "I love how you tell it how it is!" and, um, not praise: "we would hire you but frankly, you're kind of a loose cannon and we worry about that." I have a good friend now who I met as a result of me voicing strong feelings on this blog--to this day we joke about how I, in so many words, called her a pimp for telling bloggers how to make their blogs more PR-friendly. Back then, I was ferociously protective of my writing and couldn't imagine "selling out" in the form of sponsored posts or reviews. These days, as I have gravitated towards reading more fashion and lifestyle blogs, I sometimes want to kick myself for having taken such a hard stance on selling out because these days, sometimes the idea of getting free stuff to blog about or even having someone provide content or products for review doesn't seem half bad. And who knows how I'll feel next week, or next year. You too? Or the reverse--maybe you started out doing all review and sponsored posts but are feeling boxed in, or the time you're putting in is exceeding the amount of money you're making and you're thinking it's time to re-evaluate? Go for it. Change course, take a break--even if it goes against what your blogging philosophy used to be.
So, long story short, after reading Danny's post I wondered how many blog posts I've written here on Mizz Information--surely not 1,000? I went and did an inexact tally (I confess: finger counting was part of my method) and I've written more than 400 posts. That's a lot of writing. I've gone through a lot of changes during the course of those 400 posts; it's only natural that my writing would have changed and will continue to change. So here's to the next 400 posts--and to seeing what kinds of things I'm writing about when I get there.