This weekend I’ll be going on my last trip of the year related to social media. (I think.) As I get ready to pack my scruffed up suitcase to head off this Friday to New York, I’m feeling nostalgic. And infinitely grateful. I can’t believe what blogging has done for me.
More than eight years ago I read about these things called blogs in Fast Company and I thought, hmm, sounds interesting. I could maybe do that. I paid a few bucks and started writing.
Fast forward eight years later and this is what happened to me just this year, thanks to blogging:
- I got to be a community leader for the UN Foundation and ABC News’ Million Moms Challenge, supporting maternal health around the globe.
- I was able to speak at SXSW alongside Debbie Bookstaber, Kristine Brite McCormick and Beverly Robertson of the March of Dimes.
- I did grand rounds at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Women’s Mental Health. Dude. Me. Talking to Harvard physicians and reproductive psychiatry experts about postpartum depression. Crazy.
- I attended the Mom 2.0 Summit for the first time, and was honored to be recognized alongside the wonderful Stacey Ferguson and Katie Granju by Hallmark for work helping others through social media. (The conference was fantastic by the way and I can’t wait to go next year.)
- I got to be a community leader at Blissdom.
- I started writing Something Fierce.
- I did the closing keynote at the Type A Parent conference alongside talented ladies Cecily Kellogg and Tanis Miller.
- I got to speak to Emory University med school students, healthcare providers in New York, perinatal healthcare providers in Boston, and public health workers in Colorado about postpartum depression.
- I got to speak at BlogHer ’12 Healthminder Day about how online community can improve offline health, using the PPD community as an example.
- I was a keynote speaker at Conversations with Coca-Cola. I used to work at Coca-Cola, so to be able to go back there and join in with my favorite brand to speak with bloggers was awesome.
- I was able to sit on a stage with one of my social media heroes, Elisa Camahort, and speak at the Marketing Health and Wellness to Women conference.
- I somehow landed on the More Fierce List with the likes of Queen Elizabeth.
- I was able to attend the Mighty Summit and spend the weekend with a gaggle of women who blew my mind with their level of creativity, entrepreneurship and generosity.
- I worked with 30 other incredible bloggers and the Shot@Life team to help 10,000 children receive life-saving vaccines as part of Blogust.
- I was a roundtable leader at the Aiming Low Non-Conference.
- This weekend, along with a bunch of amazing people, I get to be a UN Foundation Social Good Fellow at the Social Good Summit.
All because of blogging. I share what has happened to me this year because it’s freaking incredible what this community has done for me and the experiences I’ve been able to have thanks to social media. Ridiculous even. I want to cry about it. And laugh. How is it that this community that didn’t even exist a decade ago has allowed so many of us to make friends, make money, find personal support for whatever it is we are going through, spread awareness of important issues and causes, help others, and use our voices? I feel like I owe so much to so many people. The readers of Postpartum Progress. The parent blogging community, so many of whom are so supportive and display such generosity of spirit. I feel like I picked the bestbestbest group of people to get to know and hang out with — you — and I’m lucky to tweet and Facebook with you every week. If I could, I’d make you cookies and bring them to the blogosphere conference room.
People always ask, how do you become a long-term blogger? How do you get to do the things you do? I’m not sure I know. I don’t think there’s a single formula. If I can pass on what I’ve learned from others and over these past few years of experience, though, this is what I’d say:
Be passionate about your topic. It’s my passion for spreading the word about postpartum depression, fighting stigma and supporting moms with PPD that has sustained me when my traffic sucked and no one wanted to advertise and I felt like I was blogging in a sound-proof booth. (P.S. I still feel that way some days.) You have to care a lot about what you’re writing about to be able to keep going year after year.
Be creative. You can’t just “build it and they will come.” You have to come up with new ideas. New ways of looking at things. Innovate as much as you can.
Surround yourself with good people. That’s how I feel about everyone from my fellow speakers at conferences this year, to the people I met at the Mighty Summit, to my fellow Babble Voices writers, to the readers of Postpartum Progress, to my friends in blogging. They all make me want to elevate my game. They remind me to try and be a decent person whenever I start wandering off the tracks, which we all do sometimes. I try to spend as little time as possible with negative people or angry people or people who want to drag everyone down or make everyone look bad.
Don’t have any expectations. Just do. Worry about the process and not the outcome. I blogged for a good seven years before new opportunities started to come my way, and I was happy to do it because I love the subject matter and I love my readers. LOVE. THEM.
Give as much as you can. As Liz Gumbinner said at the Mom 2.0 Summit, comments matter. Sharing matters. I don’t have the same amount of time that I used to for reading everyone’s blog posts and commenting or retweeting or sharing them on Facebook, which stinks. I’m trying to do more, though. Liz reminded me that the blogosphere is symbiotic. We should be there for each other.
Know that getting on a list doesn’t equal fame and fortune. Don’t think that because you get a great opportunity, or appear in a magazine article, or land on a Top Whatever list that it means you’ll suddenly be famous, or be able to sustain your entire household off of blogging alone, or that the world will now be sunny and bright and perfect on a daily basis. I’ve had some nice things happen after which I thought (erroneously) that there’d be an easy road from then on out. Hah! To be honest, not that much changes when these things happen. My traffic is usually the same the day after as it was the day before. It’s steady work and consistency over time that has grown it.
Get out from behind your computer. As someone who suffers from anxiety, it is very easy for me to hide behind my keyboard. It wasn’t until 2010 (I started Postpartum Progress in 2004) that I actively started attending conferences and going to various events. It has made a world of difference, and I can’t recommend it enough. Meeting people in person changes the relationship in a very positive way, even if you already knew each other online. Get out there!!
Recognize it’s not all about money or numbers. I don’t have the numbers some bloggers have, and I don’t make the money some bloggers do, but it doesn’t mean I’m a failure. Or that I’m not influential. Same goes for you. Influence is about more than your monthly pageviews, and money isn’t the only reward. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely expect to be paid for my work and you should too, it’s just that I do get a lot of personal reward from things like the emails I get from readers.
So, in gratitude for this year of wonderful experiences, I just wanted to share my thoughts. This is, of course, what I think, and I’m sure many other people in social media have differing thoughts and suggestions. And I don’t have 1 million Twitter followers or Facebook fans and I don’t make anywhere near enough money to sustain my entire household, so maybe you shouldn’t listen to a thing I’m saying. All I know is I’m happy. And fulfilled. Thank you, social media.
I’d love to hear about what blogging and social media has done for you, too. Please share what has happened to you this year as well!
Don’t miss a moment – make sure you add Something Fierce to your RSS reader by using this link. If you’re a pregnant or new mom (or dad), be sure to check out Katherine at her blog on postpartum depression, too. And, you can follow her on Twitter as she tweets inane things about her day.
Photo credit: © Yury Zap – Fotolia.com