4 Lessons I’ve Learned In 4 Years of Blogging

Me in 2010, the day I embarked on my blogging journey. Hey there, iPhone 3!
Me in 2010, the day I embarked on my blogging journey. Hey there, iPhone 3!

Today my blog turns four. Four years ago, if you would’ve told me that I’d have a blog that would last for at least four years, I would’ve responded with, “what’s a blog?” Back in 2010, I knew nothing about WordPress, barely anything about Twitter–I was just looking for a way to create writing samples.

Fast forward to today and I can’t imagine a life without blogging. It’s become my strongest passion and something I absolutely love. It’s through blogging I’ve been able to connect with all types of people from around the globe, trade stories, learn new recipes, receive book recommendations, and simply be entertained. Blogging has opened my world to a whole new slew of people, events, and thoughts. It’s helped me tighten my writing and allowed me to continue to view the world through a critical lens.

As I sit here in my college friend’s apartment in Washington DC, a city I haven’t been since I was a newly 21 year old intern in the House of Representatives, I reflect on what I’ve learned in my years of blogging. Here are the four lessons I’ve learned in four years of blogging:

1) Don’t think, write.

Often times as writers, we stop ourselves before we start. We come up with an amazing idea and then toss it out the window before a post comes to fruition. I’ve learned that when an idea strikes my mind, I should just go with it. As my Creative Writing professor used to tell us back in college, don’t stop yourself before you even start. Get those ideas down and you’ll find that it will become a wonderful post.

2) Share the love.

One of my favorite things about blogging is reading and commenting on other blogs. I love sharing the posts I enjoy reading and promoting other talented and well-spoken people. You can’t blog in a bubble, you must be a part of the community!

I’m also a fan of getting people to start their own blogs. I know so many people who are talented and would benefit from sharing their opinions with the world. Just recently, I helped my friend get his wine blog up and running.

3) Get out of your comfort zone.

Say the toughest thing. I’ve found that some of my best posts have come when I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and discussed hot topics, particularly when it comes to politics and education. Those posts have fostered interesting discussions and have helped me to strengthen my own opinions and arguments. It’s also fun to get out in the field and research a completely new topic and see where it takes you.

4) Frequency is key.

In order to maintain the community surrounding your blog, you have to post! The number of posts I wrote in 2013 decreased significantly from the years prior and it definitely made a difference in the number of visitors that came to my blog that year. I saw a lot less traffic in 2013 because of that fact. This year, I’m making it a goal to post at least once a week.

Here’s to another year of blogging!

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Get to The Next Tree

ImageLife is crazy. We all know this. I know I’m not the only person in the world who’s spread too thin, working two jobs to make ends meet, not striking the perfect work-life balance, lamenting that time passes too quickly. I haven’t even written a blog post since April! (Though, in my defense, I’m convinced time passes faster in New York City  than in the rest of the country and that New York is actually on another planet, in a different dimension, but that’s a whole different story.)

Anyway, amidst the craziness that is adult life, I find myself easily caught in the trap of thinking about all the things I haven’t done or wish I had time to do. I haven’t even made it to a baseball game this summer (one summer I went to 11), I haven’t been to a Broadway show in months, there’s a stack of New Yorkers on my kitchen table that are unread, I haven’t even put away my clean laundry! I don’t even want to think about the pile of dishes in the sink or the fact the recycling needed to go out last week. Not to mention since moving to New York over a year ago, I still haven’t found a local doctor to call my own or a budget that works! I can’t remember the last time I had a lazy Saturday where I laid in bed watching Netflix and eating chips and salsa. Vacation, what’s that?

When I’m feeling bogged down with too many tasks and not enough time, it’s easy to justify doing nothing. I don’t have the perfect, well-crafted idea for a blog post, so I’m just not going to write one. Ever.

I don’t have the perfect closet organizer to maximize the space of my closet and I really don’t even wear half my clothes any more but I’m too tired to separate out all of the clothes into bags to give away, so I’m just going to chuck all of my clothes into the corner of my closet, on top of my shoes instead of bothering to put them away neatly.

I used to get to the gym and train five days a week, sometimes with a personal trainer,  but I’m too tired to get up in the morning so I’m just going to go to the gym never.

I have dinner plans, but I’m so tired and have to work early in the morning, so i’m just going to go to bed as soon as I get home from work and not even eat at all.

This kind of thinking, while seemingly logical, gets me nowhere. And is nonsense. Life doesn’t need to be in such absolutes!

In situations like these, I’m reminded of the advice imparted by my old swim coach. He used to tell us the story of the marathon runner running his first marathon. Instead of thinking about all 26.2 miles ahead of him, he just focused on making it to the first tree in his line of vision. Once he arrived at the first tree, he looked to the next tree, then focused on getting to the next tree after that. And then the tree after that. Until finally, he made it through all 26.2 miles.

I don’t need to accomplish every major task in one sitting, I just need to do something that will get me to that next tree. I don’t need to write a masterpiece every time I sit to write a blog post, but I need to put something on my blog, especially if I’m going to call myself a blogger. Your next piece of writing doesn’t have to be the next Great American Novel, but you still need to be writing if consider yourself a writer.

It’s so much easier to justify inaction, especially when feeling overwhelmed by wanting to do more than time will allow, but you do have to do something that puts you in the direction you want to go in. Remember, as Lao- tzu says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Just get to the next tree!

14 Pearls of Wisdom From the 20 Something Bloggers Summit

“You know you’re a twenty-something blogger when your friends and family think you have imaginary friends.” – Jenny Blake, 20sb summit keynote speaker, author, and coach.

This past weekend, I attended the 20 Something Bloggers summit in Chicago. Featuring two days filled with informative sessions and vibrant speakers, the 20 Something Bloggers summit taught me more than I could have ever imagined about blogging, building communities, connecting with brands, coming up with creative content, and vlogging. Not only did I learn a lot, I also connected with other bloggers and creative minds. There is nothing more energizing than spending time with creative, motivated and smart people who share similar passions and goals.

We got free tacos from the Gap taco truck.

Even if you’re not a blogger or very active in the social media space (or a twenty-something), you can still benefit from some of the pearls of wisdom that came out of the 20 something bloggers summit. Here are 14 pearls of wisdom that I compiled from the seven sessions that I attended at the summit:

  1. Progress begets progress. (via Scott Belsky, keynote speaker)
  2. Ideas don’t happen because they’re great. (via Scott Belsky)
  3. Organize yourself with a bias to action. (via Scott Belsky)
  4. When trying to make a point, think about the craziest thing you could do to get that point across and then go from there.
  5. Push yourself. Stretch outside your comfort zone. Do it over and over again.
  6. Think about yourself in a year from now. How would you feel if you hadn’t made any changes to your life? (via Jenny Blake)
  7. Big goals require blind faith. (via Jenny Blake)
  8. Embrace uncertainty.
  9. Know your personality. Some people are not suited to work remotely. They get distracted by laundry and cats.
  10. When you get to where you want to be, don’t stop networking. Keep building those relationships.
  11. Offer a new viewpoint on something that people experience regularly.
  12. Take a break when you get stuck.
  13. If something spectacular is happening, don’t lose the moment by introducing yourself.
  14. Just do it. Make it happen.
The free Vera Bradley bag from Day 2 was nice, too.

I hope you’re feeling motivated after reading these words of wisdom. If not, perhaps you should read these. Or go for a jog. Anyways, I’m feeling energized after attending the 20 Something Blogger Summit and I’m hoping to take apply some new ideas here on my blog. So, sorry in advance for some of the awkward vlogs I’ll be posting in the near future.

The First Annual Best of Milwaukee Web Awards 2011

I had no idea I was even nominated for two of the Shepherd Express’s Best of Milwaukee Web Awards until someone tweeted me to say they had voted for me in the category Best Personal Blog. Voted for me? When I mentioned this fact to another friend and fellow avid tweeter, she replied, “Yeah, you were also nominated for Favorite Twitterer.” The nominations came as a surprise, but who doesn’t like being nominated for your favorite local alternate news source‘s web awards?

Last night’s web awards were a good time. Aside from enjoying complimentary hamburgers, wings, and beer samples from Lakefront Brewery, it was fun to be around the friendly, creative Milwaukeeans who do great things on the web. Milwaukee has a great social media culture. I’ve only been blogging and tweeting for a short while, but through that, I have met so many interesting and innovative Milwaukeeans. Interacting with so many different people on Twitter has made the city of Milwaukee feel like a small town (which most of you non-natives probably think it is anyway).

The Best of Milwaukee Web Awards were all in good fun and if anything, I am inspired  become an even better blogger and tweeter. It was an honor just to be nominated. I ended up being the first runner-up in both the Best Personal Blog and Favorite Twitterer categories and my name was printed in the latest issue of the Shepherd Express. Not too shabby.

Hats off to M.A.A.R.S. Attack for winning the Best Personal Blog title (as well as Best Tumblr and Best Band with an Online Presence) and Burp Blog, for taking the title of Favorite Tweeter as well as Best Food Blog. Here’s to another year of tweeting and blogging!