March 4th marked the 10th birthday of my blog. I tend to wax all nostalgic on birthdays and anniversaries, so I thought maybe you’d like to take a stroll down memory lane with me, beginning with my blog’s birth story. (Every proud momma likes to share the birth story, right?)
The Blog Birthing Story
It was the morning of March 4th, 2008. I had adopted our 4th child, a toddler, only two months prior. Due to her erratic sleep schedule and the need to acclimate our new baby into our family, I was mostly house-bound. Because of the adoption, I was taking a break from the weekly Bible study I led in my home (a “break” that sadly became permanent, as we never could re-coordinate our schedules to make it work), and I was desperately seeking an outlet to write, teach, and connect with other women.
In 2008, blogs were new-ish. I only read one faithfully–Lysa Terkeurst, who is now an internationally sought-after speaker and NYT Best-Selling Author. But, in 2008, Lysa was a mom with children at home and a growing ministry called Proverbs 31.
Every day at 8 am, after I got my little ones off to school, I’d put my baby into the high chair for breakfast, sip my coffee, and log onto my laptop to read Lysa’s funny and encouraging posts. I looked forward to it every morning.
One day while reading, I said to myself, “I could totally do this.”
At the time, I was up to my eye-balls in studying the concept of hearing God’s voice. So, I decided that would be the focus of my blog. All the cool “hearing God’s voice” blog titles were taken, so I settled on a title I sorta hated: “God Speaks Today.”
Within about an hour, I created my new blog on Blogspot, wrote an introductory post, and hit “publish.” Then I sent an email to all my real-life friends telling them I started a blog and asked them to come read my one post.
And just like that, a blog was born.
Later that day, I asked Jon, my husband, what he thought about me starting a blog. He said, “It’s fine as long as it doesn’t stress you out.”
He knows me so well.
What’s Changed in the Last 10 Years
Blogs were online journals (thus, the name “Web Log” aka “blog.”) Most bloggers posted daily or several times per week. We shared the everydayness of life. We mused. We rambled. We posted horrible, tiny, grainy photos, many of which we lifted off “google images” without any thought to copyright. We treated blogs the way people now treat Facebook and Instagram. (I sound a lot like my dad when he used to talk about the price of bread and gasoline during The Great Depression.)
Readers left comments–blogs were very community oriented.
Bloggers all read each other’s blogs. We all became fast friends. Finding new blogs and leaving comments was a daily practice for me.
Social media was barely a thing. I had no social media accounts and swore I never would.
The iPhone had just been released, but I didn’t know anyone who owned one.
I had dial-up internet and a landline.
I was saying goodbye to my 30s (and also my toned thighs and wrinkle-free face), and looking ahead to my 40s.
I had 3 children at home, ages 1, 6, and almost 9. I had been married almost 15 years.
I had big aspirations of quickly growing my blog and publishing many books. I naively thought the publishers would line up and fight over me. (I wish I were kidding about that.)
Blogs are now more of a professional writing space. Most bloggers only post weekly or less. Instead of blogs, writers post their everydayness on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Many bloggers who started in 2008 have abandoned their blogs and disappeared. Others have gone on to publish books, host podcasts, release online courses, and start businesses. I am one of those few blogs who falls somewhere in between.
Everyone has a smartphone and is, thusly, glued to their smartphone. People read everything on their smartphone.
Readers rarely leave comments. Bloggers do not have time to read anyone else’s blogs because the online noise has reached unprecedented levels.
In 2010, I started AND ended a second blog (The Amazing Adventures of Fitness Friday Girl). In 2012, I redesigned and renamed my blog from God Speaks Today to The Scoop on Balance so I could write about everything. I also moved from Blogger to WordPress.
I am saying goodbye to my 40s and looking ahead to my 50s. I do not recognize my legs or the middle-aged woman who looks back at my face in the mirror.
My children are 11, 16, and almost-19. My oldest child moved out last Fall. I will be married 25 years in October.
In the last 10 years, I have realized parenting and marriage is so much harder and requires so much more of my time and energy than I ever dreamed. Therefore, blog-growing and book-publishing has mostly taken a back seat. During the last several years, I stopped trying to win the affection of publishing houses and instead purposed to be quietly and privately faithful to what God has placed in my hand–namely, my children, my marriage, and the women in my community.
I have taken several extended blog breaks–one lasting 6 months–to regroup and reassess the value and viability of blogging.
Some of my original readers from that very first post still read my blog. I am still in touch with many of my blog friends from the early days. I have met several of them in person.
I write in a few different venues now: this blog of course, my Facebook page, a local church newsletter, and my private journal. I wrote a 31-day fitness series that became my first e-book. I wrote a popular blog series that grew into a Bible study, and eventually became my first self-published book called Finding Your Balance (released September 2017). I’m really, really proud of that book. Like, super-duper proud. 🙂
I just checked and the traditional publishers are not yet lining up at my front door. *sigh* But I’m okay with that. Moving forward, I’d love to find a literary agent to represent me. I’d love to start a podcast. I’d love to do a lot of things I don’t really have time to do. #balance
What I’ve learned:
- For a writer, blogging is about the best thing going to provide an ongoing worldwide (!) platform to get a message to people. It’s miraculous, really.
- I’m thankful for the early days when only 25 people were reading. I said some stupid things back then, was too sarcastic and was too in-your-face. Writing daily for a small audience helped me to find my writing voice and learn to filter my opinions. I’m kinder now, I have a stronger filter, and that’s a good thing.
- Be very careful how quickly and haphazardly I slap something up on the Internet. I never know when it will suddenly go viral. And most likely, it will not represent my best writing. Awesome. (See stats below for proof)
- Speaking of viral posts, people on the Internet can be very mean. Moderated comments are a beautiful thing and provide a way to protect my online space from negativity and hate. (If you leave a mean comment, it will never see the light of day around here.) (You can disagree with me. You just need to say it respectfully, is all.)
- The regular readers of my blog are the kindest, most encouraging people on the Internet. And I mean that.
- I need to write every post like it’s someone’s first impression of me–because for many people, it is.
- Always ask the question, “Does this add value?” If not, don’t publish it.
- Guard my children’s privacy–they grow up and read the blog. And so do their friends.
- Every time I think I’m done with blogging, I walk away, realize can’t live without it, and come running back. (There’s a country song in there somewhere.)
The Scoop on Balance Trivia
I love looking back at my stats and seeing what struck a chord. It’s never what I think, which is so funny to me. I only have blog stats that go back to 2012 when I switched from Blogspot to WordPress. Nonetheless, here are a few fun facts.
Number of posts written: 805 (Actually, there have been more than this, but I’ve deleted most of the bad ones.)
Number of approved comments on the blog: 7046
Number of comments caught by my spam filter: 572,155
Top Referrer: Facebook, by a LONG shot. Well-over 1 million people have come over from Facebook alone. This also explains my complicated relationship with Facebook–I can’t quit you.
Top 5 Posts of all Time:
- What to Do When Someone Is Mean to Your Child This one wins by a landslide. This post went viral (mostly on Facebook) and continues to be my most-viewed post EVERY SINGLE DAY, 3 years later!
- More on Mean Kids This was the follow up to the first mean kids post, where I respond to many of the issues addressed in the hundreds of comments.
- Recipe: Balsamic Vinaigrette I think this one gets traction from Pinterest. All I know is my top 3 most viewed posts have nothing to do with “balance” or “hearing God’s voice.” I don’t know.
- I Want to Adopt But My Husband Does Not, What Should I Do? This one is part of a series on I wrote on adoption. I love this series so much because adoption is about my favorite thing in the world. I’ve had the honor of praying for many mommas who reach out to me after reading this post.
- Fitness Friday: P90X3, The First 30 Days (A Preliminary Review) I don’t know what to make of this, except that a lot of people want to know if P90X3 is a good workout. (the answer is yes) Also, notice the variety in subject matters thus far–apparently, I have not found my blogging niche.
Top Google Searches that Lead to My Blog, in order (some make sense, others do not)
scoop on balance/the scoop on balance
peanut butter power balls (this is a good recipe!)
what to do when someone is mean to your child
p90x2 results women
i want to adopt but my husband doesn’t
paul ryan shirtless (If this is wrong, I don’t want to be right)
society’s image of perfection
god speaks through people
90 s gx jeans (I don’t even know what this means or why it leads to my blog)
god places people in our lives
michelle obama flexing (I covet her arms, that’s why)
hot wife (obviously)
interesting facts about flax (I’m sorry, why again aren’t the publishers chasing me down!?!)
Whether you’ve been here for 10 years or 1 day…Thank you for showing up! You are the reason I keep coming back. I love writing for you. Here’s to 10 more years.
For my blog-birthday, I’d love to hear in the comments how you found my blog and how long you’ve been reading. Are any of you here from the early days? Who remembers The Amazing Adventures of Fitness Friday Girl?