I have been blogging since 1998–which was really before blogs were called blogs. In those days it was simply an online journal where I wrote about my life as a single mom living and working in Massachusetts. I had really wanted to create my web site over a year earlier, but I kept on getting cold feet. I was afraid of putting myself ‘out there’ and I felt vulnerable to the criticism of others. After a few months of procrastinating and reciting a litany of why I shouldn’t put up an online journal I finally just did it and brnwebgrrl was born. I rationalized that I would just not tell anyone I knew about it. I set up my first web site on the free servers at fourtune city. I simply wrote from my heart a few days a week and almost immediately started getting positive feedback. In fact, as I look back, I’ve never received any negative feedback from my online writings. I remember at one point, there was an error on my site and I lost some of my work, so I decided that it was time to get my own domain name. One of my readers was a web site designer, and she designed a site template for me in exchange for a link back to her site. I kept that blog unchanged for about nine years. Just this past fall I put my blog on a new domain and set it up using wordpress–no more coding html by hand.
During those years I met the man who would become my husband through that blog. My readers followed the progress of our relationship and when I announced our engagement, they were all happy for me. I happened to mention in one of my posts that I was going down to Crate and Barrell to fill out my bridal registry. Well imagine my surprise to discover that some of my readers had purchased wedding gifts for us through the registry! When our first child was born, we also received baby gifts, prayers and encouragement as well.
When my marriage ended in a very messy, surprise divorce a few years later, my readers prayed for me and offered their support as I dealt with the depression and pain of betrayal and getting back on my feet as a single mom again. I am still in contact with some of my readers from that early blog, including Michelle, who lives in North Carolina, who has stayed in touch with me to this day.
I also got an email once from an agent who was interested in my writing. That was very encouraging, but because of some of the drama in my life at the time I was not able to pursue that offer.
For me, the main benefits and rewards of participating in the blogging community has simply been the feeling of being a part of the blogging community. We sort of made things up as we went along in the early days. Blogs and bloggers came and went. We freely linked to each other and commented on each others blogs. We’d send emails when it had gotten to be awhile since the last time someone posted. For me blogging fills a deeply felt need to be heard. When you create a blog you create a space for dialog with the outside world. You share your words and others receive them and comment or not. You get a glimpse into the lives of the writers of the blogs you read and find things that resonate with you or not.
With the advent of paid blogging the vibe of the blogosphere has changed a quite a bit. This is my ‘working blog’ and I use this as a platform for my writing when I am working with clients for my writing services. It’s not about me, rather it’s about the many topics that I write about in my work. But I still have a place in my heart for the personal blog–the online journal that expresses an individual voice desiring to simply be heard above the noise of modern life; where the reward is the ability to be heard and validated. The benefit is being able to share that experience with other bloggers and readers.