What I’ve Learned from 4 Years of Blogging

Somewhere in or around April 2010 is when I began blogging. I’ve been cleaning house on my old posts. Right now the oldest blog post in my archive is this one. Some of my old posts are downright embarrassing today. My blogging voice, direction and purpose have all changed since then. So please accept my apologies, when or if, you stumble across one of those horrid uncleaned posts.

I wasn’t sure what I would write about today as I celebrate: 4 years, 500+ posts, 3,800+ comments. The answer came to me this morning as I reflected on my blogging journey, especially all the changes going on with this platform.

There have been many times that I considered discontinuing my blog, and times when I posted infrequently because I wasn’t inspired to say anything, but every time I’ve come back. And I’ll keep coming back as long as that itch is still there.

Whether you are a new reader or a long-time reader, again thank you for your interest in what I have to say, thank for your conversation and thank you for your support. Without further adieu…

What I’ve Learned from Blogging

What I've Learned from Blogging

1) Blogging is a lot of work. If you want to start a blog to make money, please just don’t. You have to really want to do this. You have to be passionate about blogging first. Then, you might make money, but you might not.

2) You will question yourself daily when you blog. You have to be your own writer, editor, content curator, marketer,  photographer and more – all in one. The questions can stall your creativity, but you have to press on and publish. You will probably make mistakes, publish typos and the like – you are human and you have to be OK with being imperfect.

3) Not everyone will like or read your blog. You will receive nasty comments. You will also receive the ones you read five times over, then send to a friend for her opinion, and finally decide the comment is a constructive criticism. You will also read and comment on your favorite blogs for months or years, thinking that person has the same interests and would read your blog too – instead you never receive a comment in return.

4) Blogging teaches you a lot. It teaches you to write daily. It teaches you the tech side of running a website and it teaches you a lot about social media. For those reasons alone I continue blogging. There is so much I never would have learned had I not started this blog.

5) People say they blog for their readers. They are lying. I blog for myself and for my readers. Question anyone who says the former.

6) Be more open with your blog. For about four months my blog was 100% anonymous. Then I told close friends and family. About a year or two into it I posted my blog on Facebook. Today I blog under my own name. It helps me tremendously with accountability and helps build my own personal brand. You are putting in an inordinate amount of time and effort into your blog – share it with others. It’s not as scary as it sounds.

7) Blogging comes with great community. From in-person to online, I’ve tested out different blogging groups. For the most part bloggers are normal, real people. Yes!

8) Don’t take yourself so seriously. This goes a bit back to #2. But I really mean it. I struggle with this still today. Yes, the internet lives forever. But the joy of a blog is you can go in and edit that typo or apologize in a comment for what was confusing in your post. The world will not end. So please, go forth and write.

 

Is Facebook the Next Myspace?

I’ve been asking myself more and more lately if Facebook is the Next Myspace. I hear the same from others and I realize I’m not alone. I’ve had several friends deactivate their Facebook accounts in exchange for other social media platforms. They seem to be doing well. No regrets. Haven’t come back. I think the majority of my Facebook friends, however, just aren’t posting as often.

Or, if they are, their posts are simply hidden or not visible. It’s really a crap shoot, to be honest. All I know is I don’t like the changes, and more and more I find myself logging onto Facebook, leaving and feeling empty. Wow, that sounded dramatic. But I think you know what I mean. I don’t find much benefit to using the platform anymore. So why bother?

Is Facebook the Next Myspace?

Dear Facebooksource

It doesn’t do what it was intended to do (when I first joined 10 (!!!) years ago in 2004), keep me in the loop with friends and family. And when I post I often receive little to no response. I can’t tell if my posts are that awful (unlikely) but more so that Facebook is hiding, moving or controlling in some manner what I’m posting on there.

I’ve been an avid Twitter user now since about 2009, so I’m continuing to grow my following there. Lately I enjoy using Instagram the most, followed by Pinterest for saving “must reads” and “must do” projects I come across. As recently as a few months ago I debated creating and publishing a Facebook page for my blog and/or writing business. I drafted the page but today it sits unpublished.

Why? For one, the changes I mention above. I also read a convincing post by fellow writer Dianna Huff on why she was shutting down her Facebook Page, and now just this week I read about how having a Facebook Group instead of a page may be a more viable option for larger communities. I keep hearing more and more from bloggers with Facebook Pages that their pages are dead and dying, interaction is minimal and they are questioning if the effort is even worth their time any more.

I don’t have a group large enough to support a group, so in the meantime I plan to spend my time on cultivating and creating an email list. I would like to improve the offering for the email list here on my blog (click here to sign up to receive posts in a weekly digest), and create a brand new list for my writing business. Stay tuned for more information on both.

I don’t plan to deactivate my Facebook account but I’m really starting to limit my use. I have it set so I still receive notifications for that rare message, post notification or event invite. The irony? I still sometimes post my blog posts on Facebook. Can’t shake the habit.

All this being said, I think Facebook is still a viable platform for some brands, the larger ones, the physical space business owners who need a presence on the platform and even online shop owners who sell tangible goods. But for people selling a service, or brand, it’s just not working so well anymore. Did it ever work?

Dog Friendly Races in Cleveland, Ohio

*This post has been updated and republished for 2014. It includes all 2014 dates, links and a few new races too!

Are you a runner? Do you race? Do you already run with your dog at home? Maybe it’s time to consider a dog friendly road race. I ran my first 5K last year with my dog Lulu. This year I am hoping to run another. We don’t run for competition, but just for fun. If you are looking for some tips on how to get your dog started with running, first check out my post on How to Prepare Your Dog for a Race.

I wasn’t able to find any cohesive website listing dog-friendly races in Cleveland, so instead I gathered my own list of races. I hope this can be a resource to anyone wanting to race with their pet this year. This list includes races in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio – along with a few dog friendly organized hikes and walks.

All of these races are also open to those who do not own or race with their pet. Pets are required to be leashed at these races – and on their best behavior. Many of these races support pet adoption causes too.

Dog Friendly Races in Cleveland, Ohio

Dog Friendly Races in Cleveland OhioLove A Stray Fur Fun 5K
Sunday – April 27, 2014
Avon Lake, Ohio

Ranger K-9 5K Race & 1-Mile Pooch Parade
Saturday – May 3, 2014
Cleveland, Ohio

Run Puritas 5K & 1-Mile Fun Run
Saturday – May 3, 2014
Cleveland, Ohio

Freedom Dog Fest 5K Run and 1.75-Mile Mutt Strut
Sunday – June 1, 2014
Aurora, Ohio

The Greyt Race 5K Run and 1-Mile Dog Walk
Sunday – June 1, 2014
Rocky River, Ohio

Marlene Watt Memorial Event (5K, 2-Mile & 1-Mile Dog Walk)
Thursday – June 13, 2013 (2014 date not confirmed yet)
Ravenna, Ohio

Muddy Paws (10-Mile, 5-Mile & 2-Mile Run Dog Run)
Saturday – July 5, 2014
Peninsula, Ohio

Dirty Dog Run, Walk or Wash (5K, 1-Mile Dog Walk & Dog Wash)
Saturday – July 19, 2014
Avon Lake, Ohio

Nature Center Hike & Run 
5K & 1-Mile Pet-Friendly Hike
Sunday – September 21, 2014
Cleveland, Ohio

Tom Madzy Short Run & Family Dog Walk
Sunday – September 28, 2014
Berea, Ohio

Monster Mutt Dash (5K Run & 1-Mile Fun Walk)
Sunday – October 12, 2014
Berea, Ohio

Eaton-Euclid 5K Walk/Run and 1.5-Mile Doggie Dash
Saturday – November 1, 2014
Euclid, Ohio

Am I missing any Dog Friendly Races in Cleveland, Ohio?
Please let me know in the comments and I will add to the list.