“If I knew then what I know now…”
That’s one of those annoying phrases we hear entirely too often. Unfortunately, once in a while, it actually applies quite well. Like today, as I mark the ninth birthday of this blog.
Some people enter into a project with a strong, solid plan that takes nearly everything into account. Their plans are so detailed and thorough that not only is there a potential “Plan B,” but also a “C,” “D” and “E,” just in case. Others start a project with a little bit of a plan, but are afraid to plan too far ahead for fear of being locked into something that can’t work. And then there are those who just jump in feet first with no idea of what they’re going to do.
I was in the middle in 2004 when I began my blogging adventure. I wanted to churn out some Andy Rooney-like pieces on an occasional basis — maybe once a week or so — and amuse the masses. I wasn’t sure that anyone would ever find them, but I planned to write as if someone would.
Some bloggers are so doggedly determined to “express themselves” that they go overboard with self-importance: they aren’t interested in what anyone else has to say and don’t care whether their readers like what’s written or not. These are people who probably shouldn’t be blogging.
I never had the guts not to care whether people liked what I wrote. I wanted everyone to enjoy it. I didn’t expect everyone to agree with everything I say, but I at least wanted people to find something here worth reading.
But looking back, from nine years to the date that I published my first post, I think about that little phrase that begins, “If I knew then what I know now….”
What I wish I’d have known then, what I wish I’d have done a better job of creating and cultivating for all of these nine years, was a stronger sense of community. Because I think successful blogs have community in common, no matter how else success is actually measured.
People need to feel like they are welcome to walk in the front door and stay a while. And that they’re welcome to not only listen, but speak right up and join the conversation. I knew community was important back then, which is why I started things like the Saturday Six and the Sunday Seven, to give people a real reason to interact in a fun, non-threatening way, hoping they’d then interact with the “heavy” topics, too.
But it’s only been in the past couple of years that the importance of community — the true importance — really started becoming clear.
If I can’t build a place where people not only want to interact, but actually do, why would I blog? I could just pick up a little notebook and scribble down thoughts that only I’d ever see. And I’d be doing the internet a favor by saving data space.
I’ve got a band of regular readers, some of whom have been reading for a long time. I don’t always know why they keep coming back, but I’m glad that they do. And I’m glad that they’ve found a sense of community here.
More than that, I’m grateful that they’ve helped build it.
Because let’s face it: a blogger can walk in with a big plan to build community, but if his readers don’t grab a virtual hammer and start building it alongside the blogger, community can’t truly happen.
So I thank you for reading, and I thank you for being part of the community here at my site. Happy 9th birthday to us all!
Before you go, I have to ask a couple of questions. If you’re normally a lurker, please step out of the shadows just this once. If you’re a regular commenter, then you already know how to do your stuff!
How long have you been reading this blog and how did you find it the first time?
Happy anniversary! Nine years is a long time. Congrats for sticking with it.
I've only been reading this blog for about a month, but I love your writing style. That's what keeps me coming back.
The earliest post I have that refers to your memes is from December 2006! Obviously, that's how I started reading you, but I stick around because you're fun, funny, and not boring. And I like reading the comments because you seem to attract good people.
Here's to 9 more years for you!
Congrats on the longevity of your blog buddy. I've only been reading for a little while, but I continue to enjoy your content.
Congratulations! Nine years is very impressive. I only found your blog about a year ago, and I thoroughly enjoy it. Thank you for your willingness to share your talents with others.
Congratulations! I have had mind for 5.5 years and am constantly amazed at how many posts I have written and about what I have written too. While I have only just started following, keep up the great work!
First, congratulations. I have jeans that aren't that old. LOL...
You might find it fun to figure out how many words you've written...an interesting fact. Also, you might want to start an "evergreens" feature in which you bring back earlier blogs - perhaps rewrite or add an addendum - because in OUR WORLD a lot happens in nine years!
@profkrg Thanks, Kenna... I really appreciate the kind words!
@mosie1944 Thanks, Mosie! I'm glad you did stumble onto it!
@Michelle_Mazur Thanks, Michelle!
@psalm23 Ha! You're too kind, and I agree with you: I'm not sure how, but I do seem to attract good people...thanks for being one of them.
@TedtheThird Thanks, Ted!
@HaveSippy Thanks so much!
@TammyL Thanks, Tammy...it's always nice to see someone keep coming back for more. I appreciate it! :)
@dadofdivas Yes, it's amazing to me when I look at the number of posts that are on the blog. Hard to believe it's been this long and that I've written this much, yet STILL somehow find new things to talk about! :)
@BruceSallan HA! Thanks, Bruce. Is there an easy function to count words? Or a plugin? I'd hate to even think of trying to find a way to calculate word counts from thousands of posts...but now you do have me a little curious, I must admit!
I've thought about doing some sort of evergreen idea, but didn't know how well it'd be received. I'll reconsider...I definitely like the idea of a "have things changed?" approach to updating old posts!