When I first began to pursue blogging as more than just my private LiveJournal, I had no idea where to start. Sure, I knew that I needed to create a blog, use keywords that would make my content searchable, and have content that could interest readers, but that was about it. I had no idea how to get my blog out there, or build a community. While I certainly had the option of using Facebook as a tool to promote, I didn’t really want the people that I knew reading my blog.
I was in a time of self-discovery and self-revelation; I was learning who I really was, what I really stood for, and looking for a place to confess the things about myself that I wasn’t ready for the world to see – publicly anyhow.
That was when I found it, shining like a beacon on the internet, 20 Something Bloggers (20SB), a blogging community designed to help bloggers in their 20s share their content and connect with other bloggers in their age group. My first blog grew to over 500 followers; at least 20 people actively commenting, and through the community I was introduced to two of my best friends, Lana and Kandace.
I remained a fairly active member of that group for several years, and became re-engaged again during the launch of the first version of Arbitrary Scrawling. I connected with interesting and unique bloggers, and began to expand what I would consider my ‘blogging circle’.
So when the admin team of 20SB announced that the site was retiring, I was a little devastated. Having 20SB at my fingertips meant never having to worry about expanding my blogging community options, so I was still at a loss for how to connect.
For the first few months, I felt kind of helpless. I had a nice little group of people who wanted to read my blog, but how would I find somewhere else to have that same kind of community? I googled the heck out of it, and still couldn’t find the type of community I was looking for.
But then – then, things started to change a little. I started blogging a little bit more with a purpose, because I knew I didn’t have the same venue to get guaranteed views of my blog just because I was an active participant. It also meant I had to search harder to find another community (which I’ve found, YAY), and meant that I had to re-evaluate why I was blogging. Was I blogging to become a successful, popular blogger, or was I blogging to get the things I want to say out there, regardless of who might see them?
Realistically, every blogger hopes at some point they might become semi-famous, and that there will be a following of their blog. But if that’s the sole purpose for blogging, chances are, you’re not going to see that blossom as much. If you spend too much time investing in a space that is designed solely for what stats and things say viewers want, you have a tendency to lose the heart of the blog. And unless you’re solely doing an information based blog, that heart is just as important as your SEO and statistical evidence.
More than that, it meant I actually had to try, I actually had to start doing something. When you have a nice, comfy blogging community, it’s easy to get comfortable with where you are at, and to stop trying to grow your blog, stop trying to find other things you need to do, and stop searching elsewhere for other blogs to read or connect with.
I wouldn’t trade what 20SB did for me for the world. But now that we’re a few months past its closing, I can’t help but notice that when it comes to my blogging, losing 20SB was probably the best thing that could have happened to me.
It forced me out of my comfort zone, forced me to do more with my blog, and forced me to expand both how I’m sharing and how I’m connecting with other bloggers. There’s still times I miss having that ease of connection at my finger-tips. But when it comes down to it, I think being without is helping me find a stronger sense of direction.