Here’s your plan, baby. You’re going to build this blogging career layer upon layer, like a tantalizing dripping sandwich they only serve in ancient deli’s on the East Coast. You will whiz and zing around people’s palates and serve up some mouth-watering truth bites that will satisfy a NATION of readers. Your name will drip off their lips as they spray your word crumbs all across the Internet. Wash your hands, baby. It’s time.
Buy a website. Host it. Spend approximately 40 kazillion hours online outfitting it with all the necessary sidebars, social share tools, newsletter blasts, subscription emails, and the most amazing header, font and logo that has ever existed. Perfect. Go to write a post, accidentally do a Wordpress update, and watch all the custom work you put in turn the layout into applesauce. Your website is now a deconstructed pie that got farted in, fucked and then stuck to the bottom of the oven. Cry then pay someone who knows what they're doing 40 kazillion dollars to fix it all.
Create and populate a Facebook Page for your website. Oh, and a Pinterest account, Twitter account, Instagram account, BlogLovin’ account, Google + account and a YouTube account. Update them all every time you write a new Blog Post. Oh, and be active and engage with all accounts and remember to be yourself but more interesting with better smelling hair and definitely much more clever and measured.
Join eleven Closed and Secret Facebook groups to help improve your reach, share links, bemoan your lack of ideas and share funny stories about wanting to kick your website in the cunt. Spend so much time Liking, commenting (no, LOL doesn’t count) and reading other blog posts that you forget to make dinner for a week or change your tampon. Receive so many notifications on your Facebook App you have to turn them off but then you panic that you’ll miss the notification that could lead to your next BIG BREAK so turn them back on and create a smoking hole in your phone where that App used to sit.
Submit all your best work somewhere else. Oh, but 99% of the sites don’t pay and some never ever send you a response even though you follow their instructions to the TEE. But you do it because if you do get accepted, you’re left with a flickering light in your gut that not even the most stressful stomach juices can douse. YOU ARE LOVED. Your bio is fucking STACKED. Ride that wave hard until the next rejection because then you are the grossest piece of shit hack writer in the universe. (Oh, and here’s how to get Huffington Post to even side-eye your best work: Catch two butterflies on the first Monday of a summer solstice. If one has a black teardrop on its left wing, smash it along your palm’s life line until the Little Dipper’s sixth star blinks at you 7 times. Stomp your right foot and whinny like a lost unicorn. Wash your eyes with apple cider vinegar and sniff peyote under a 400 thread count duvet cover while listening to Baby Einstein in reverse half-speed. Type in an email address that does not exist and send your opus as an attachment. You should hear back within the year.)
For your Blog Content, you need to post every few days or the Internet will forget you immediately. Play with a mix of sponsored content (but make it sound like you actually sincerely love the product), Lists, HOT CLICK BAIT that will cease to be relevant in 12 hours, and stories that are uniquely yours but also universally relatable. You can lie about showering if you like. Nobody likes a Mom who admits she showers.
Attend conferences. Pay airfare, hotel and conference fees so that you can show up and sweat through six shirts because as a blogger, in real life, you are the opposite of good or funny or cool or comfortable in your own skin. Making coherent words come out of the overly-lipsticked hole you don’t use when you type is HARD. In fact the whole reason you became a blogger versus an Academy-Award-nominated actor or car salesman, is that face-to-face you present as a dipshit. And there is no Command-Z when you’re wobbling on heels you never wear, telling someone how good they smell and accidentally creepily asking their room number while crushing your 5th glass of free wine. (I’ve never been to a conference. Is there free wine? Can you exchange a blog post for a glass of free wine?)
Make blogger friends. They need to be good writers but not better than you, or at least not better than you in the same wheelhouse of blogging. Otherwise, this fun cycle commences: OH MY FUCKING GOD, SHE/HE IS SO GOOD AT THIS AND I AM A DISCOUNTED AIRPORT HAM SANDWICH. I’m never writing again. Laptop closes and Netflix fires up. Tears, sulks, hot baths and cold shoulders to your family who have done exactly nothing wrong.
That family? You need to ignore them. Except for when they do something blog-worthy and you share all their dumpiest secrets online in exchange for clicks. Make sure you exaggerate it enough to include necessary SEO words and phrases. You’re also going to need to ignore your friends except for when you want them to share your links, read your Blog or vote for you in a Blog contest.
Tweet properly. Not too many links, funny but not dumb, cool but not try-hard, and under 125 characters so it can be properly re-tweeted. Join Triberr, Hootsuite and Just Unfollow so you can take any and all spontaneity out of Twitter and become a sweaty hunchback watching accounts, lists and numbers as your spine hardens into a brittle C.
Beat the Facebook algorithms. Post at optimal times. Write a catchy lead-in along with the link to your Blog and make sure an image appears. Like it as your page. Make sure everyone you’ve ever met Like’s your page. Don’t post too often. Don’t abandon your page. Ask questions that will encourage engagement. Go hard with hot topics. Vaccinations, spanking, co-sleeping, breastfeeding, gluten free fads, solid foods at three months, Moms with abs – throw them out on the wind like you don’t know the atom bomb they will unleash. Share anything that mentions wine. (Facebook Page Fact #1,476: Moms like wine.) And when all else fails, frantically scan your middling page views and crawl back into a Facebook group and moan about the Facebook rules and changes and forget that Facebook was invented for college students to exchange dick and nipple pics.
Create and watermark amazing Pinnable images to insert into every post. Don’t accidentally use an image you don’t own because 14 months later you will receive a piece of mail demanding your first born child because you once used a licensed photo of a piece of bacon with googly eyes that belongs to someone else.
Turn your writing, a skill or talent that you’ve always loved and secretly snuggled with, into a barking hard-edged hustle that drains your soul and ceases to be a joy. Story telling is now a fast-paced game of not knowing where the fuck you’re going, but sprinting there anyway because everyone else is already there. All while being a supportive wife, nurturing mother, dedicated employee, fun friend and healthy human being.
Don’t choke. You are a business and a machine and your life’s happiness and success is attached to every word you write as a blogger. Don’t fuck this up.
I fucked it up. I got swept up in the pull and allure of it all. All I ever wanted, all I ever really loved, was telling you stories. That tiny kernel of pure good got buried in my insane pile of SHOULD, DON’T, DO, RUN, MORE and NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
And if I'm being honest I wanted to be noticed. I'd been blogging for five years before I looked around and thought, "WAIT, I'm doing this all wrong."
I wanted to be read.
I wanted to be loved.
Positive reinforcement is the moss and lighter fluid that stokes my writing. I don't write for me anymore. I write because THEM over THERE are crowing about successes that I want. It's all so wrong.
I thought after a recent getaway to Miami, away from the hum and fury scrolling past my hungry eyeballs, I'd be back with a fresh fire in my fingers, refreshed and ready again for all of this.
I wasn't. I'm not. When I was away from the Internet, I didn't feel like everybody was partying without me. I felt like I was in control. Present. Me.
To all the incredible and patient and dogged bloggers who get this shit done and just write and make it look so effortless - thank you. I'll forever pick at your crumbs and enjoy every scent, syllable and tune your words sing to me.
I'll be here still. As per my patented yell-then-jump method of living, I don't know what this big bold declaration actually means as far as my output. I do know I want my words to tromp out at a pace that feels right. I do want to be a Blunt Mom as long as they'll have me, because they are my favourite women in the world who just happen to be fantastic bloggers too.
I do know I need a little bit more of me back. To feel and live a little more outside of the Internet. Smooch my husband, eat food with my fingers and demand my friends TRY THIS, and listen to my kid with all of my attention. Make it so I never look back and regret the time my face bathed solely in the glow of the laser-blue laptop screen. (This will last for 14 seconds, but I have to try.)
Because all I ever wanted to do was tell you a story.
And I never fucking liked sandwiches anyway.
*edited to add ~ Jeezum crow. so many of you have Oprah high-fived me and been so fucking lovely and supportive with this post. All day I've floated on cotton candy soles and wished I could mouth kiss all of you. I can't wait to get back to writing on my terms. Thank you. So so much.