A State of the Blog Address

I decided the upcoming new year was a good motivator for me to make sense of this space and share all the thoughts that have been running through my mind for weeks now about what I’m doing here.

This is a “State of the Union” address for my website, if you will, but probably more disjointed and random and a lot less polished than an official presidential address would be. Bear with me.

There are opinions ALL OVER THE PLACE about what blogs should and shouldn’t be. Things like “if people aren’t commenting on your content, you aren’t doing it right” and “give people practical advice” and “ write more list-icles” and “find your niche” flood my brain every day. Then there are people who are all about telling stories and writing memoir-type posts, which is the total opposite. There are people who argue that you must adhere to a strict posting schedule so people know what to expect from you, and there are people who never plan that far advance and just write on a whim.

IT IS ALL SO MUCH.

I have always been a strict rule-follower, but I’ve also always been wildly stubborn with a rebellious streak. If everyone else is doing something just for the sake of doing it, I will probably not do it. (Like celebrate Halloween as grown adults, or watch the Harry Potter movies, or eat meat, just to name a few examples.)

I've felt the tug to do something just because one well-known blogger does it, or to revamp my site to look more like another writer's site, or to add buttons all over my sidebar because I see that everywhere... but I want to stay true to my style, my writing, my heart here. I want to totally redesign things on a whim if I feel like it (which I did last week, and I'm loving it!) or to totally go off the grid if that's what my soul needs to do too.


I so appreciate the wisdom and the advice and all the well-meaning strategies out there, but this space is my own sacred space, and here is what that means for me:

 

When everyone says, HAVE A STRICT BLOG SCHEDULE, I say no thank you. I do not always want to write on every single Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I do not want to feel forced to produce content when my heart is not feeling it. I do not make money from this, it is not my job, and I do not want to ever feel confined or burdened by it. I used to post a Story Seeker post every Wednesday, and then I didn’t have any more stories to share, so I stopped. It felt like I was letting people down at first, but nobody noticed or cared. I gave myself grace to put the project on the back burner and bring it back whenever I had another story to share. It’s been fabulous and freeing.

I hereby declare: there is no set schedule for this blog.


When everybody says GIVE PEOPLE PRACTICAL ADVICE, I say maybe sometimes. I am not a brand, I am a human. I do not always have practical advice to give. I do not always have strategies to sell. I do not always have nice, neat thoughts that are tied up in a perfectly packaged blog post. Most of the time, I just have stories to share.

I hereby declare: I will give advice when I have it. Mostly, I will give the best thing I have, which is my honest heart telling you the stories of what I’m learning.


When everybody says PUT A NUMBER IN YOUR HEADLINE, I say no thank you (most of the time). Yes, I’ve seen the proof that listicles are popular. Yes, I see them go viral every day. But guess what? I don’t usually think in numbered lists. Sometimes I do, so I won’t say never, but usually not. Usually, I think (and write) in fragments and run-ons and rambling stories with earnest prayers woven throughout, sometimes with bits of humor and all caps outrage, sometimes with no capital letters and no punctuation at all.

I hereby declare: I will write how I write, numbers or not. I will not try to fit into the formula of possible virality just for its own sake.


When everyone says FIND YOUR NICHE AND STICK TO IT, I say no thank you. I don’t like labels like that. I can understand the value of a niche as a brand or when a blog is a money-making avenue, but mine isn’t either. My space online is my space to share who I am, which is multi-faceted. I will share book reviews and stories other people write and links to vegan food I love and pictures from trips I take and random other posts as they come to me.

I hereby declare: I will give my site space to breathe and grow and expand beyond any one kind of niche.


I am grateful for this space. I am grateful every day for the freedom to express my heart and my mind in words, and to share them with the world. I’m grateful to live in a country where that freedom is protected and encouraged. I’m grateful that you are here to read these words, that you comment with your own thoughts, that you choose to make my writing part of your day. That’s hugely humbling and encouraging.

My heart for this space is that it would always be a true reflection of who I am and that it would always be glorifying to the Lord. I pray that it would shine a light on who He is and that it would never be all about me. I pray that it’s helpful, encouraging, uplifting, thought-provoking, relevant, and honest. I pray that it’s never a burden and that instead, it’s a source of joy and a home for rich community.

May what happens here in this new year be God-glorifying and may I do it all to the best of my whole-hearted ability. Cheers to the soon-to-be new year! I’m glad you’re here. I hope you'll stick around.


ps-- I'll be taking a social media break for the month of January as a challenge to myself and to break the addiction, but I'll be publishing blog posts through Squarespace and Buffer to Twitter and Facebook just so you'll know when I post something new here. 

Real LifeRachel Dawson