This past weekend I attended Mom's Meet Wow Summit and something happened...I remembered WHY I started blogging and WHY I have continued blogging all these years.
It all started during the opening when I won an award for 18 years blogging.
Now a normal person would have been all over the place excited, but as we all know, I am not a normal person. I am an (almost) 32 year old female who has aspergers and social anxiety and was terrified to be on the spot. I looked around to see I was standing alone and people were applauding... for ME and for MY accomplishment of 18 years. As I looked down at my sister Amber in horror to be the only one left standing and the center of attention, she assured me, and I took a deep breath and spoke quickly, answering the questions about how long I have been blogging and where I started and accepted my prize. It was not until after I spit out my words, still in shock and sat back down that I really thought about the years.
I started writing in paper journals and diaries when I was 5. It never occurred to me when I started my very first digital journal on live journal and an Angelfire website way back in 1998 that blogging would become and stay my life. A lot has happened since I started. Life, school, relationships, family, children, jobs. I have re-branded 5 times, change domains 6 times and hosting 3 times. I never realized how much knowledge I would acquire and experience that I didn't even know I knew. Coding my HTML, writing my own scripts, doing my graphics in Photoshop... I've always built my sites from the ground up, all by myself. The one constant was that I never stopped telling my story.
Sometime while I was on bed rest and I was re-branding into a 'Mom Blog' the mom blogger world exploded and it became a thing. I met so many amazing women online. Twitter was born. Myspace died. Facebook was born. and Instagram wasn't even thought of yet. It was a suddenly a different world when it came to blogging. I went from 300 monthly page views to 30,000 seemingly overnight. Google changed the algorithm so blogs started coming in news results higher. Newspapers and TV stations started hiring bloggers for journalism and amazing opportunities arose. Brands started working directly with bloggers to put more product in our hands to get more "real world" marketing opportunities. Our blogs became our BUSINESS. We started to make money. Social Media marketing was born. My friend Amy at Resourceful Mommy created Twitter Parties. My friend Jyl created Mommy Gossip which turned into MomItForward and #GNO, a girls night out all hosted on twitter where women from around the world could chat and support each other. It was stuff like that that got me through bed rest, that got me through being a first time mom, that got me through the good times and the bad. I couldn't have done it without them. Without Tara from Feels Like Home or Cori from Everyday Cori or Tonya from Create - Celebrate - Explore I NEVER could have made it through. These women were there for me even though they were hundreds or thousands of miles away. They got me through sleepless nights, breastfeeding issues, postpartum depression, sickness. They celebrated with me at all the milestones and happy tears. It changed my life. Though as life has a way of doing, things changed, we talked less, and that's when the blog change happened.
More people I knew in real life started finding my blog and reading it and wanting to nitpick and judge things I had shared. Things strangers from all over the world were supportive of, people I knew right here were me tearing down for. It was tough to be bullied basically into silence. It was so bad about 70% of my old posts are actually hidden from the archive search right now just so they would leave me alone.
It gradually was less story and more product. and more sponsors. and more coupons and deals. and week after week, month after month it became more impersonal content and more BUY THIS. It was more content writing for other sites, ghost writing for brands and forgetting my blog was even here. Somehow on the way of building my business I forgot it didn't start out as a business, it started as my passion.
I miss Wordless Wednesday. I miss sharing the little quirks of being a parent. I miss sharing stupid rants on today's pop culture. I miss my notable newness posts where I shared everything that happened that week online and off. I miss being me and saying whatever it is that comes to mind. I miss the connection, the support and the love that comes from our amazing blogging community.
Later in the summit as I sat and cried my eyes out while I listened to Rachel Martin, one of my favorite inspirational mamas, I made a promise to myself to write this post and go back to being me. The sharing will outweigh the holding back no matter what the topic, "Because in speaking there is freedom."
I still deal with my severe chronic medical issues, depression, relationship issues, and there's always that worry that I'm "a mom who feels like she’s not good enough." and yes, I'm sure many people I know in real life will see the posts and go back to the way they were. I'll just have to cross that bridge when I get to it.
Yes I still have a ton of amazing products and brands to share with you, especially the awesome ones I just met at Mom's Meet. But I want the STORY to once again outweigh the commercials. The photos of happy children will outweigh the photos of products. The lists of what I did RIGHT today will outweigh the bad and MAYBE just maybe I will start to feel like myself again. Like I am doing something good again. Sharing our food and our crafts. Sharing our tears and our laughs.
No, I didn't mean to rhyme. I'm glad I did though because that's the silly type of posts I miss.
I don't always have professional looking pictures. I sometimes make grammatical errors. My blog design needs updated super bad and my aspergers makes me ramble on and on and on...
But that's okay. Because there are thousands of Moms out there that are the same way and those are the ones I'm looking forward to connecting with the most. CONNECTING. Not pitching products to. CONNECTING. As humans.
It's time to get back to sharing my story. I'm nervous but I am excited.
To those of you that have been with me at all the last 8 years here on my mom blog, whether it was Lovin' the Belly, Mom Loves Today, Pyle of Love or now as Maryland Mommy, thank you from the bottom of my heart for following my journey.
To the very select few of you that were around before that on the original erinjeany, even before it had a dot com, you are the real MVPs. Its been a long road and it's about to get even longer. I'm really thankful you have stuck it out and I cant even put into words what it means that you are still here.
After 18 years blogging lots of things have changed and they will keep changing, this time though they will be changing for the better! I can't wait to share where life leads us next.