It was almost 9 p.m. The date: 07/11/16. I had just published my ‘official’ first blog post. Official because, though I’d created the blog almost two weeks before its actual public ‘launch’, only three people knew of its existence. I’d wanted to test a few themes and get a bit acquainted with WordPress before publishing ‘proper’ posts and spreading the word.
I had initially planned on publishing earlier that day and the post I’d had in mind was Life is but a Journey but my friend/editor delayed in informing me that she had sent back the edited work. That delay ended up being an advantage as the idea for that first post began to form in my head. Do you know, that post turned out to be my favourite for a while? Well…until I wrote What Pastor Kayode Said.
Anyway, there I was, iPad in hands that shook violently as I attempted to take a screenshot of that first blog post to share on Instagram. I took the screenshot, cropped the picture, went on Instagram to upload…and froze completely. My heart pounded wildly and my breathing actually began to feel laboured.
A voice in my head kept saying, “You don’t have to tell anyone about this, you know? Nobody knows about it yet so you still have a chance to just delete what you’ve published and go about your life like nothing ever happened.”
I considered doing that for a moment. Less than a handful of people actually knew and if they’d asked why I didn’t go through with the blog, I could have easily come up with a random excuse. There was certainly nothing they could have done about it.
Well…*grins broadly*…I believe this post you’re reading is a testament to the fact that I didn’t listen to the negative voices in my head because amidst the uncertainty and fear was also a savage determination.
Alas, Oma’s Serendipity has made it to a year! Whooooop!!
*cue atilogwu beat*
*vigorously shaking body to the beat*
I know many bloggers and their mamas usually do typical posts of all they’ve learned or accomplished within one year of blogging, but I know one more of such a post ain’t gonna hurt no one, no? So, on to it—8 things I’ve learned from one year of blogging.
1. Not to seek validation all the time
As soon as I’d decided to start blogging, I made up my mind to not look for anyone’s approval. Approval or validation is not entirely a bad thing. You need a certain level of it to move forward, after all, especially in business or blogging—expansion comes from people liking what you do. But I’d decided that even if I didn’t get motivation and encouragement from those closest to me, I would still go ahead with it.
This, for me, has been the biggest achievement. I learned that no matter how much preparation you think you’ve put into something, fear and doubt may still cause you to stall—momentarily…or permanently. I had done so much research prior to the proposed launch date as well as written a number of posts and yet, when the time came for me to publicise the blog, I almost let fear take this away from me.
What if I’m wrong?
What if people don’t like what I have to say?
What if my writing is crappy?
What if I’m boring?
Truly, starting this blog taught me what it really means to ‘do it afraid’.
Blogging has made me bolder especially when it comes to voicing my opinions. I used to be so shy and worried about sharing my thoughts on certain topics—on the blog, publicly on social media or in face to face conversations.
What if people don’t agree with me?
What if I can’t adequately articulate my thoughts and people misconstrue what I say?
What if my opinion is different from what is popular?
I also remember when I never used to publicise as much on social media or tell people about my blog because I lacked so much confidence. Though I’m still not as assured as I’d like to be, there’s a noticeable spike in my confidence—confidence in myself, in my work, in what I have to offer…I’m also confident of my journey.
4. Consistent practice makes you better.
Remember my post on The Cycle of Competence? The more you apply a skill, the better you become. It’s inevitable.
No one will manage my blog for me, no one will write for me, no one will publicise for me, no one will create blog graphics for me. The onus is on me to do all that. Yeah, a few people may help or share if they feel so led, but the bulk of the work required to take my blog to greater heights is on me. Me.
In relation to this, I’ve also learned the true meaning of commitment—being committed to something means showing up even when you don’t feel like or you’re not in the mood.
This, I developed from the beginning. Even when I felt no one was reading or that no one cared about another blog/blogger, or that I wasn’t getting enough likes on Instagram posts publicising a blog post, I made sure to not let that stop me from blogging anyway. Even when I got no comments or likes on blog posts, I blogged anyway. It doesn’t mean that the lack of acknowledgement by people didn’t get to me. It certainly did. I simply chose to forge ahead in spite of that.
7. I’ve learned that it’s OK to not see the full picture all the time.
I didn’t know where I was going or where this route would take me. I had plans but I didn’t know where those plans would lead; however, my conviction that this is something I should be doing was unbelievably unshakable. Sometimes, you just need to step out in faith without having to wait for a voice from above to thunder ‘My soooonnnnnnnnnn. Thiiiis is whhaaaat you should dooooooo!!!’ or ‘My daughterrrrrrr! Thiiiiis is wheerrreeee you should gooooo!!’
It’s like I need to stop watching too many Nigerian movies. Eish!
Anyway…my point is you don’t need to have every, single thing in place. The best time to start is now. The best place? Certainly from the beginning. Start with what you have. Start with what you know but if you can afford to, get more informed and even more so once you begin your journey. You’d be surprised how life would be waiting to show you it already had things in place for you to just take that first step.
8. I’ve learned to trust my lane
From my observations, it seems like gossip, fashion and beauty blogs gain traction more quickly than, say, inspirational blogs. I mean, who doesn’t like looking at pretty ladies slaying in pretty clothes? And who doesn’t like to hear which celebrities are fooling themselves? But I stood by my love for sharing my thoughts on topics covering personal development, inspiration, life in general and of course, literature. And it’s certainly paying off.
So, this is a medium to encourage new/new-ish bloggers—don’t pick a niche simply because it’s popular or that’s how you think you’ll grow the fastest. And even if you’re a blogger and the niche you’re interested in seems to already be saturated and you’re worried about your presence being swallowed up by the crowd that’s already there, go for it anyway. As long as you’re truly passionate about it and you’re willing to put in the work, there’s room for you.
This goes out, not only to bloggers, but humans in general. Follow your passion, then trust your lane. Not only would it be more sustainable, that’s where you’ll add value the most.
I’ve shared in my Blogger Recognition Award that this blog was a ray of light in a really dark place and I’m extremely proud of myself for coming this far. I’m proud of my work. I see how much my character has been built up and I’m proud of the person I’m becoming. Some people may think it’s premature for me to be so dramatic about this—it’s only been a year, after all and it’s just a blog. But in addition to every other lesson I mentioned previously, I’m also learning that every milestone, no matter how seemingly small, should be celebrated.
I don’t know how long I’ll be doing this for or where it will take me but I’m thankful for the journey so far. I’m grateful to the Holy Spirit and His inspiration. Sometimes, I read my work and it doesn’t seem like anything that came from me. Whenever I get stuck on what to write, how to phrase or rephrase a sentence, or I forget a word, ‘Holy Spirit, what do I do?’ or ‘Holy Spirit, what’s that word, again?’ has always been the solution. Without fail.
And from the bottom of my heart, I thank everyone who has come on this journey with me. I thank everyone who reads, shares, comments, critiques, bugs me with ‘No blog post this week?’ I’m so thankful for the awards—the aforementioned Blogger Recognition Award, a Liebster Award and two more blogger awards, which I haven’t published yet. I’m thankful for the unlikely people and places I’ve gotten support and encouragement from. I’m grateful for the few people whose phones I hijacked and subscribed to the blog by fire and force. Thank you for not unsubscribing! Haha!
And if you aren’t subscribed, please do so before leaving because…*cue Liam Neeson’s voice*…I don’t know who you are…I don’t know where you are…but I have a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a
not so very long career. I will look for you, I will find you…and I will subscribe for you.
So, here’s to my blog and its continued growth and success. Cyber cheers everyone.
Thank you all so much. Thank you! You all are sparkus!
*blows kisses dramatically while doing the queen’s wave*