I skim through the third post, stopping to read anything in bold. My middle finger races to scroll down the page, allowing my eyes to take in the entire blog within a few seconds. Once again, I am very impressed by what I see. My index finger now takes center stage as it scrambles to 'Join this site!' and add another quality Christian blog to my growing list of wonderful writers.
Task accomplished, I click on the tiny gray x at the top of the page, and the blog disappears. In its place is a different blog, also linked to my favorite. After skimming only two posts I discover that this is just another 'coupon blog,' which can be very helpful... but not to a fifteen-year-old who rarely shops for anything food-related. My finger skips right up to the x and a third blog appears.
This is my routine. I open a long list of recommended blogs from a favorite site, all in separate tabs. Then I set to work: this one I like, this one I don't, here I can follow, here I have to subscribe. On down the list until I've gone through all my tabs and now have double the number of blogs in my 'following' list than before.
But throughout this routine, I often find myself jealous of many bloggers. This one has 200 followers; that one has 500 Facebook likes; this one just reached 1,000 subscribers! But here I am, with 5 followers. I've had this blog since December; those successful people I follow have had theirs for around a year or two. Am I doing something wrong? Should I wait a while longer? Is there some sort of 'growth spurt' every successful blog goes through? Is mine coming up?
Today I decided to read those successful ladies' advice on blogging... to make money, to gain followers, to update friends and family, to glorify God. Advice on how to prevent scaring away new readers; advice on beating writer's block. All these steps and tips and how-to's that helped them - or that they wish they'd started out with. After five such advice posts, I was feeling slightly overwhelmed.
Then, just skimming through my favorites' most recent posts, I realized something. I discovered the key ingredient I was missing. Several key ingredients, actually.
For one, the right purpose. I was blogging because I am a writer, and with the Internet community skyrocketing it only seemed natural for me to blog. I was blogging because I was unsuccessful in my publishing adventures, and if I could gain a following then maybe I could start building a following gaining readers, and maybe be recognized in the 'real world.' My blog was about getting noticed.
They were blogging to share advice - to help other mothers, daughters, sisters, friends. They were blogging to let others learn from their mistakes. They were blogging to share what they knew and had learned about God. Their blogs were about helping others and glorifying God.
The other difference was the focus. I was focused on blogging 'right,' following the rules, sticking to the steps, the hints, the how-to's. I was focused on sounding like a 'normal blogging teenager,' subconsciously forcing myself into that rhythm found in young adult novels and Spark Notes and Teen Ink. My focus was on being 'myself,' when really I ended up being 'the ordinary teen.'
They were focused on sharing what they'd learned, on giving others their advice. They wanted to show how to avoid the same failures or achieve the same success they had reached. Their focus was on helping, aiding, ministering.
And there was one other thing missing. It seems small, and it's easy to overlook. Really, though, it's the most important part of those successful bloggers that I was missing: prayer. They started out asking God to help them. They prayed for their inspiration; they asked the Lord to guide their words. I set out simply to share my opinions with the world, whether or not anyone wanted to read them. They set out to let God make a difference through them. And He has already used them to teach me.
So today I'm moving up. I'm not forsaking this blog - it's still young, with plenty of room for more reviews and ramblings about life. Without a place to hear myself think, I might go crazy - and paper and pen takes so much longer than typing it out in a blog. But in order to grow in the realm of blogging - not to grow in followers, but to grow myself - I am starting a fresh blog. No longer will my purpose be to gain followers. No longer will my focus be expressing myself.
My new purpose, my new goal, my new aim - the mission of this new blog, you could say - will be to help others. My mission will be to share and minister and let others learn and grow with me.