I went in to write my annual “blog-versary” post to commemorate ten years of blogging and it hit me: Not only is this ten years of blogging, but I started this blog on the dawn of a new decade. Ten years ago this week — on December 21, 2009 — I published my first blog post and Leah’s Thoughts was born. I like to think of it as the day I began writing my own story.
At the time, I was 34-years-old and a fairly new mom with a 2-year-old daughter. I was working in a marketing/communications job at San Diego State University and the extent of my writing was drafting admission letters, student email notices, and recruitment materials. I was starting to feel stifled in my life and had the urge to get thoughts out of my head. I wanted to pursue a writing career, but I didn’t have anything published in my name. Personal blogging was still somewhat of a new phenomenon in 2009, so I thought to myself, “Maybe I’ll start a blog and then one day, I can quit my day job and become a full-time writer.”
Blogging in the Last Decade: “An Industry of Cool”
In one of my favorite movies, “Almost Famous,” the character of Lester Bangs (played so brilliantly by Philip Seymour Hoffman) warns a young William Miller of the future of rock journalism. “They will ruin rock and roll and strangle everything we love about it,” said Bangs. I think of this line often when I think of what blogging has become over the last decade.
I started Leah’s Thoughts when blogging was simply about chronicling stories. There was an honesty, purity and rawness to the writing and sharing all that on the Internet. Over the years, that’s changed. It’s became much more about pageviews, sponsored posts, and making money off your blog. Bloggers started to create content based on money for promoting products. Moms who used to share about holiday traditions were now incorporating product placement and photos of Cool Whip and Sarah Lee baked item into their photos and traditions because they received payment for those posts. One blogger – who didn’t even own her own home – wrote an entire post about mortgage insurance because she received compensation for it. Blogging networks started popping up and would award large sums of sponsored content money to bloggers with high pageviews and strong social media follows. Suddenly it became a game of chasing “likes” and “follows,” and less about sharing stories.
Just like what Lester Bangs said about rock journalism, the brands, PR companies and many bloggers changed blogging and took away so much of what we loved about it. The authenticity was gone and all that was left was “fake content” that was more about making money.
While I did get a few free products now and then and wrote about them (books were a big one), that’s never what Leah’s Thoughts has been. For me, writing this blog has always been a way to tell my story. I look around now and very few bloggers are even writing anymore. They’ve given up their blogs or gone to Instagram “micro-blog” posts. I enjoy writing those Instagram posts too. But I still find tremendous satisfaction writing here in this space, and sharing my life’s journey with you all. And, I think, my stories here still impact and help people. And for that reason alone, I don’t want to give this up.
Lessons About Myself Through a Decade of Blogging
In the last ten years, I’ve published 577 blog posts. I’ve shared a lot here in my blog … about my struggles and joys of motherhood (from trying to raise a tween to transitioning to a toddler bed). I wrote about moving my life from Southern California to Indiana, leaving my secure full-time job to start my own freelance writing business, my running triumphs and lessons, and I still have much more to write.
In preparation for writing this post, I went back and re-read several of my posts and I noticed a few things about myself. What strikes me most about myself over these last ten years is that I feel I’ve evolved so much. And I think it’s clear in my writing. Some of this blog content seems so “young” and naive. I guess that’s not surprising; I was young. And as I’ve grown, my thoughts and words have only gotten more reflective and deeper. I think that’s the most striking thing from my early to later blog posts. I’ve toyed with the idea of removing some of the older content, as re-reading makes me cringe. But that wouldn’t be real or right either.
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” — Douglas Adams
A friend told me that, after reading several of my early blog posts through now, it seems like I was searching for something throughout these years. That became abundantly clear to me as I went back and re-read these posts. I wrote a lot about feeling like I was on the “verge of something big” or I wanted to discover something about myself. I didn’t know what I was seeking at the time, but I believe that, in moving to Indiana and discovering so much about myself, I have found what I was looking for.
Some of you have been reading here since the beginning. And to those of you, thank you! And to new readers who have joined me along the way, I am thankful you stop by from time to time. As long as I have stories to share and thoughts on my mind, this blog will stay an real and authentic place.
Here’s to the past ten years … and to the future, whatever stories I may write.