On September 13, 2014, I started this little thing called I Am Katie Jo. (Read my very first post here.)
With lots of help from some design and program savvy friends, I was pumped that my site looked, in my opinion, significantly better than many other beginning blogger sites out there.
In the weeks leading up to my site launch, I hustled to prep content and refine all the details to make sure it was Perfect with a capital P. I also continually checked in on a few my favorite blogs to make sure that what I was doing aligned with their sites, since they’ve had immense success as a blogger.
I was thinking about I Am Katie Jo all the time and reading article after article about how other bloggers got their start. This helped me develop a vision of where I wanted my site to go.
Boom. Then it was launched.
Thanks to Facebook and people’s natural curiosity to check out new things, I had 40 people almost instantly sign-up to receive email updates for new posts, and I had close to 4,000 visitors in my first three weeks. I was ecstatic. Game on, I thought.
Ok, I’ll stop with the background story there because any seasoned blogger reading this will know that’s plenty of information to point out what was wrong with the way I started my site. I should be embarrassed to write about it, but I’m not because it would be selfish for me to keep valuable lessons to myself.
In fact, I’m fairly confident I could write a 5,000-word piece about the things I did wrong and what I’d do differently, but I don’t have time to write that (at least not today) and most people don’t have the patience to read long-form journalism anyway. Instead, I’ll default to the condensed, brutally honest version.
The #1 lesson I learned from my first year as a blogger is this: You always have a choice.
After I started my blog, I began letting it dictate how I experienced things. For example, I’d be frustrated if I didn’t get great photos at an event or if I thought I had great shots of a house project and then uploaded them onto my computer only to discover the quality was poor. Trying to pull together a blog post from subpar images would end up annoying me and ultimately jade the experience – both the enjoyment of having attended/done the project and writing about it.
The reason for the inherent pressure on myself to have perfect photos? Other blogs, of course. Nevermind that the blogs I compared mine to had been in existence for three, four or five plus years. Not, three months.
You know the old saying “Comparison kills complacency”? Yeah, it’s real and it’s relevant.
Instead of just doing what worked for me, I had a severe case of Comparison-itis. And I was letting other blogs create my content calendar and frequency of content for me. I was posting roughly once or twice a week (because I read that’s the minimum I should do) for about nine months.
Then summer happened, and everything caught up with me. After long days/weeks at the office and long weekends working on house projects, I was less and less interested in sitting in front of computer screen during my downtime (whatever that is), and I was opting for a nightly walk or reading instead.
But blogging was suppose to be my “passion”, and here I am finding excuses not to do it. And the worst part was that I felt guilty for not doing it. Just like someone who is out of shape feels guilty about not working out. They know they should do it but they choose not to. It’s vicious cycle.
In the meantime, all of my favorite bloggers kept pumping out more perfect content. Never missing a day or an opportunity to take another perfect photo.
Barf. This isn’t real life.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate photography (my career is in the creative field) but in real life, inconveniences happen. Priorities need to change. Every coffee shop visit isn’t photogenic. Every weekend isn’t perfectly planned. And you know what? That’s ok.
Not that the people who make their internet life out to be perfect are bad people. I do know some of them, and they’re great. I’m just saying that having a blog has forced me to take a good, hard look at myself to determine who I am and what my voice is.
People visit my site because they’re genuinely interested in reading about what I have written. They could care less about Suzy Q’s blog who also has that recipe or visited that place or likes those running shoes.
There are hundreds of bloggers out there who quit their 9-5 job to “follow their passion” of blogging. Passion is nothing without action so I admire their courage to invent themselves on their own terms. However, I swear some of them would trade hours in the day for more “likes”, comments, clicks or shares, and that’s just not what blogging is about… those things are sometimes a bi-product of good content. (Notice I said “sometimes” because there’s plenty of great content out there that doesn’t get shared and vice versa.)
It’s a bizarre world we live in where a person would rather obsess about making sure the images they’re taking at an event are perfect enough to paint a pretty picture for the world later verses enjoying the moment while it happens.
In my honest opinion, authenticity will always prevail. The blogs that do well are the blogs that are genuine, and people can sniff that out from a mile away. I believe opportunities will present themselves naturally by being 100% you everyday, all day.
Going forward, I have made the commitment to myself that what I choose to share on I Am Katie Jo will be determined by me and only me. I’ll decide the frequency at which I post, what I’d like to post about, or if I’d like to post at all. If I don’t want to post, I won’t. If I want to share something, I will.
Before I let my blogging content be determined by what other bloggers were doing, my real reason for wanting to start my blog was to share with friends and family the incredible renovation project Bryan and I were about to take on. Funny enough, those posts already get the highest readership… maybe that’s the algorithm god’s way of saying I should run with it.
That said, in the next year of I Am Katie Jo you’ll see 90% house renovation projects and 10% other life events peppered in here and there. For those who were most interested in the lifestyle stuff, I hope you’ll still stick around to give my house renovation content a chance. If not, a simple search for “#healthylifestyle” on Instagram, will yield all sorts of content for you.
In closing, I was about to write some fluffy comment along the lines of “If this post helps one blogger, then I’ll consider it a success,” but that’s irrelevant because it has already helped one blogger, me. Writing my blog has helped me. And as a bonus, it has also positively impacted countless others. That, my friends, is what blogging is all about.
From one blogger to another, if what you’re blogging about isn’t making you a better person, then find a topic that does or walk away and find a new hobby. It’s advice that’s applicable to whatever you’re doing in this life. You always have a choice. You set your own limits. Now go get ‘em.