By Javacia Harris Bowser
Photo by Deidre Clark
“Your core relies on your outer tribe and your inner scribe.”
—Tyece Wilkins, blogger at TwentiesUnscripted.com
In 2008, I fell in love. But this isn’t your typical “girl meets boy” kind of story. This is a tale of “girl meets blog.” In 2008 I started blogging and it was love at first post. I can’t really explain it. I certainly wasn’t new to writing. At the time I was working as reporter for a weekly newspaper. I’d seen my byline on the pages of major papers like The Seattle Times and in national magazines. But something about blogging was different.
When I found blogging, I found my voice as a writer.
Over the years I’ve started and ended several different blogs. I’ve blogged about feminism, fitness, and faith. I’ve blogged about pop culture and news. I’ve blogged about being a writer. I’ve blogged about being a teacher. The focus of my blogging has changed over time, but my love for blogging never has.
I am a true believer. And so I preach the gospel of blogging. I preach it to my students in the Women and Media elective that I teach at a local fine arts high school. I preach it to the women of See Jane Write, the organization and blog for women writers and bloggers in the Birmingham area that I started in 2011. I preach it to my best friends and close family members.
But sometimes I feel guilty.
Blogging is hard. Sure, starting a blog is easy, but actually maintaining one is tough work. One of the best ways to build a good blog with a strong readership is to be consistent. But one of the hardest things to do in blogging is to be consistent!
Because so many people—including myself—struggle with being consistent with blogging, I’ve realized that a love for blogging is not enough.
Business growth expert Jay Abraham once said, “Don’t fall in love with your business, fall in love with customers.” For me, this applies to blogging, too. Being in love with blogging is not enough. To stick with blogging, I must be in love with my readers.
The idea that a blogger should always keep her reader in mind can be a hard pill for writers to swallow. Writers are told again and again to write for themselves. And I definitely think we should. I definitely believe a writer should write about the things that stir her passions. But if a blogger is hoping to serve others with her writing, she obviously must keep her readers in mind, too. And I believe that without the support of these readers most bloggers will stop blogging altogether.
Whenever one of the women of See Jane Write asks me how to stay motivated to blog, I give a simple answer: Return to why. I tell them to always keep in mind why they started blogging in the first place.
My readers are my why. I started See Jane Write—both the organization and the blog—to empower women and girls through the written word. It is because of the women of See Jane Write that I never seem to run out of blog post topics. I’m always thinking of new things I want to share with them. And my passion for helping them pushes me to write those posts even when I’m struggling to juggle blogging with my full-time teaching career and family and community obligations.
The women I work with through See Jane Write all have different aspirations. Some of them blog in hopes of making names for themselves as writers. Others hope to turn their blogs into businesses. I tell them all the same thing: Whether you want to be the Virginia Woolf of literature or the She-Wolf of Wall Street, you need your wolf pack. If you are a blogger, you need a support system. You need a tribe. Your tribe will not only buy your book when it’s released, but they’ll encourage their friends to do the same. Your tribe will defend you against naysayers and Twitter trolls. Your tribe will be your first customers and biggest fans when you turn your blog into a business.
Your tribe can be your inspiration. Your tribe will keep you going when you want to give up.
This summer, while I was planning See Jane Write’s annual blogging conference, The Bloganista Mini-Con, my world was falling down around me: I was in a car accident, there was a tragic death in my family, and I began to struggle with such severe anxiety that it started to affect my health. No one knew all of this was going on—except my tribe. And they kept me going in spite of it all.
This love story is not a typical story of “girl meets boy.” It’s not even just a story of “girl meets blog.” It’s a story about a girl falling in love with the craft of blogging and finding her passion and the story of a girl falling in love with her tribe and finding her purpose.