why i blog

I’ve been a blogger my entire adult life, publishing my first post in 2001 on an entirely different blog with an entirely different focus. Back then, blogs were called “web logs” or “online journals,” although I liked to call them “free therapy.” I fell in love with the platform instantly – the community it created, the posterity it promised. And although I’ve blogged for one trillion different reasons through one trillion different stages of life, my love for blogging has never changed:

In 2001, I blogged to find myself.
I was evergreen, a fresh Midwestern girl entering college in the fall. I was gifted a new computer as part of a scholarship package and although I’m sure my parents envisioned me using it to research statistics and bibliographies, I, instead, used it to write. I wrote every night during that first year of college, as a way of decompressing and discovering and emotionally vomiting on something that wouldn’t give me hand cramps or didn’t require ink refills. It was a beautiful time, and in keeping this nightly routine, I knew I wanted to write forever.

In 2002, I blogged to find people like myself.
There’s something emotionally jarring about your sophomore year of college. You move away from the convenience of dorm life, where everyone on your floor is your best! friend! ever! and you suddenly discover that, as a sophomore, friendships actually require a certain level of effort. To see your best friend, you no longer have to saunter across the hall to 4B in your bunny slippers. You must walk to the other side of campus, or God forbid, ride your bike across town to their apartment. Yes, as a sophomore, friendships actually command that you adorn proper footwear. So in 2002, I blogged to find a new community of friends; friends that didn’t require the need for a bus pass and bike lock. Friends that would congregate in the comment section of my blog, ready and willing to exchange ideas and thoughts and emotions. Friends likely donning bunny slippers, just like me.

In 2003, I blogged to find people unlike myself.
And then, all of a sudden, I realized I’d created a bubble. A thin film of content where everyone in my comment section was exactly like me. So I branched out, and I read other blogs and discovered new ideas, locations, attitudes. I became fascinated with alternative cultures and zip codes and people who didn’t shop at my local grocery store. And I became a better person for it.

In 2004, I blogged to become a writer.
It was that fascination with other lifestyles that led me to realize how much I loved the art of writing. How much I loved this platform, this blogging world that I’d unlocked. I’d had daily practice for years now, and I was honing my craft. I began submitting articles to publications, even scoring bylines in one of my favorite national reads. I blogged to practice sentence structures, the rhythm of words. The harsh sting of negative comments. The transfusion of ideas. I blogged to write.

In 2005, I blogged to avoid therapy.
The year I married my husband and moved to Los Angeles was the hardest year of my life. I took a job as a temp and floated around aimlessly for months while trying to navigate the 405 through my morning dose of tearful eyes. I was terribly homesick and existentially lost, battling weekly panic attacks and mild depression. So I blogged. I blogged to remember my roots while establishing new ones. I blogged to grow.

In 2006, I blogged to research.
By 2006, I’d landed my dream job as a copywriter at a boutique ad agency in L.A. And when the art director that was seated next to me suffered a nervous breakdown and fled the office one Tuesday morning, I raised my hand to take his place until a proper replacement was found. And I immediately began Googling ‘how to be an art director’ and cataloging hundreds of graphics and images and typography and kerning techniques until seemingly overnight, I understood the beauty of design. And I kept all of these images in one place: a new blog I called Design for Mankind. A place free of my thoughts, words and emotions, yet not void of myself.

In 2007, I blogged because I was obsessed.
I had entered the newlywed stage of my love for design, still working as an impromptu art director while unearthing a world of art, photography and interiors. I was completely enamored, spending endless weeknights sifting through artist links, international design journals and falling through the rabbit hole of the Internet. And as the readers poured in, I realized that there were others like me, either having already discovered their creative passions or those that were just beginning to stumble their way through it all.

In 2008, I blogged to share.
Something happened when readers would arrive at Design for Mankind. They would comment, and I would return the favor and visit the space they had carved out for themselves in their own blog journey. Some were blogging because they, too, were obsessed. Others were blogging to find themselves, just as I had back in 2001. Some were blogging to research, avoid therapy or become writers. Yet despite the many reasons, all were sharing parts of themselves. And I wanted to share, too. I began sharing business knowledge I had gained in college and in my years of marketing/advertising studies. I began sharing more detailed aspects of the people behind the work I had been featuring over the past few years. And most of all, I began sharing myself, snippets of my own words here and there, in the independent online magazine I self-published entitled Mankind Mag. It was refreshing. I had found my own version of creativity.

In 2009, I blogged to hide.
And just like that, I retreated. My husband and I moved back to the midwest from Los Angeles for family health reasons. And my personal life suddenly became a bit more complicated, a bit more heavy. And I could no longer pour myself into such a beautiful world of creativity when I was feeling so very… sad. So I continued to feature work from others, spotlighting their talents and qualities and immense creativity so I could keep my own in the dark. I co-founded a new media consulting firm with a good friend, hoping that if I could focus on others and give, give, give – that maybe my own passions might return. And for some reason, day after day, I continued blogging. I needed to.

In 2010, I blogged to create.
My husband and I began rebuilding (literally) a life for ourselves in Indiana, and with that re-birth came inspiration. I began documenting pieces of my life again, slowly, sharing creations of my own. Renovations, tutorials, advice, design projects. My home was my playground, and my blog became much the same. For the first time in months, I was having fun at work. And I wanted others to do the same.

In 2011, I blogged to teach.
I began traveling the country to teach creativity workshops, hoping to inspire others that were stuck somewhere along their journey. I was busy, working continuously, but it was rewarding. I was happy, seizing moment after moment. I recognized that blogging was a catalyst for more opportunities – to do more, help more, envision more. And that blogging looked differently for everyone at any given stage of their lives. Yet we all had something to share, and that’s why we all continued to blog.

In 2012, I blogged to discover.
I’ve been writing, in some form, my entire life. Harriet the Spy-esque composition notebooks, secret letters to pen pals, freelancing for shelter publications. Blogging, still. And I suppose I am blogging to find out what happens next. To see where this form of “online journaling” will take me – where the boomerang will return to once it leaves my fingertips. Maybe someone featured in this space will sell their first piece of art from one of my readers, planting a seed of confidence and creating one more much-needed artist in this world. Or perhaps another blogger will realize that she’s been blogging for all the wrong reasons, or all of the right reasons, or maybe for no reason at all except the only reason that matters: because she is.

UPDATED:

In 2013, I blogged to connect.
As a new mother – frenzied and confused – I blogged to find a community with answers. I searched forums and Googled phrases and joined newsletters, hoping for a voice that would stand out among the crowd and teach me how to grow into this new stage of life. And the voices came – some in tiny whispers, others in loud booms – but of course, they didn’t sound melodic when jumbled together. They created dissonance, and I realized the only voice I was supposed to listen to was the one in myself.

In 2014, I am blogging for me.
It’s selfish, perhaps. But this year, something shifted. I began blogging for me again. To connect with myself, my own voice, my own story. To document this time of growth and learning and perspective. To think deeply about the legacy I want to leave my daughter and to allow myself the grace to grow into that new version of myself – one that isn’t measured by pageviews and valued by comments. One that is littered with intention and thought and gentleness with words. One that is slowly realizing she was made fearfully and wonderfully, created for a purpose.

One that is finally understanding the importance of telling your truest story, for many years to come.

  • Thank you so much Erin for sharing some of your ‘intimate’ thoughts and journey. Your words have inspired me to reflect upon my own path of blogging. You were one of my first blogs I read!

  • I have to sheepishly admit that I usually start skimming if a blog post is longer then a few paragraphs but this totally sucked me in and kept me there! Thank you for sharing your story. I have followed you here for a while and never made the connection that you made the journey from the midwest to LA and back! I have had so many similar experiences and it is so nice to be able to relate. x sarah

  • this was a very motivating post…thank you for being personal and writing something that hits a spot in my heart :) i am probably unlike you yet i still really enjoy your blog and you have inspired me to be a better photographer and designer.

  • Erin, I can’t tell you how encouraged I am after reading this! I’m in my third year of blogging and I’ve been feeling discouraged at how blogging has changed for me as I enter different stages of my career and seasons of life…but this is such a beautiful reminder to keep at it, even if the reasons change! Thank you for sharing and for being such an inspiration! xo

  • This is a wonderful and inspiring post Erin. Thank you for your frankness and honesty. For someone who is blogging and often wondering why I want to do this, I am glad to know that I can blog for me, and the blog can change with me.

    xx
    Monica

  • This is SO beautiful. Love to read about how life has changed for you, and how blogging reflected that each year. I can’t wait to look back on my own journey as reflected by my blog. Inspiring!

    • Thank you so much for your thoughts and feedback, guys. Indeed, every day/career/moment is a true journey – I’m so happy that I can share mine with you guys. :)

  • Hello Erin,
    I’ve enjoyed watching your journey unfold, retreat, unfold, blossom, expand…over the last several years! I think you bring an authentic, humorous, interestingly curated voice to the blogosphere! Anyway, thanks for sharing the personal bits and continuing to put a human behind the blog.
    best wishes!!

  • This is absolutely lovely. And so true. I started blogging to avoid the mundane of my day job (as a researcher at Lucky magazine at the time), and now I blog out of obligation to the readership I’ve cultivated these past six years.

  • Can’t tell you how much I feel for this post and how much I needed to read this at this very moment in life. For the last year I’ve been in your 2010 and although I might be taking a break soon, I’ll be back because I’m evolving through my blogging. Here’s why.

    I have two blogs-one 3.5 years old and another nearly 1.5 years old- about different topics although much the same in my mind. I’ve had compliments on my writing voice but have slowly started to wonder what it’s all for. Because I love what I do and I cherish putting my all into the two passions. My oldest blog came in 2008 when I was at one of my adult lowest points. We, my husband and I, had just moved from one Midwest town in Indiana (our homestate) after college and after a long time trying to find “adult careers,” to another Midwest state, Minnesota (where I really didn’t wish to be and continue to have mixed emotions). I tried to get back into my degree field since I had moved for my husband’s job and couldn’t get my toe in the door (later realized I wasn’t fond of that path anyway) then I couldn’t find any job. Living in the middle of nowhere while sharing a vehicle with a person who needs it the majority of the time doesn’t make for an easy transition. Skip the scene where I pull my hair out and run screaming down the middle of the street…I began blogging to save part of my sanity and to share, find people like me and vent while doling out recipes with my stories. I found a few very great people, all of which are bloggers around the world, and it led me to having the gall to follow another passion instead of beating myself up over not doing anything with my degree or being unable to afford to go back for my Masters. Almost 4 years later, a food and DIY/home reno/furniture refinishing blog, and furniture salvaging/design career later, I find myself much happier and evolved by my own doing (with some help from my blogger friends).

    But I’ve been at the point of almost letting go off my oldest blog…the technical problems have been enough to bring me to this point, but in reality, more for the feeling that I’m no longer connecting as I was with my readers and a (no shame) sort of dropoff from feeling accomplished through recognition for my work. I very much agree on the ‘because I am’ revelation and feel inspired and invigorated once again. Blogging has also helped me focus on my life goals and more than ever I sense it could actually happen-move to Oregon, go a little off the grid but close enough to urban living to aid the foodie in me and creative enough to take my furniture designs further. Thank you for sharing-you’ve found a new reader.

    • I love your story, Annie – thank you for sharing this part of your life with us. And yes, keep up the blogging. It’s a wonderful tool – in so many ways (as I’m sure you already know!)! :) Hugs to you.

  • this is just a great post. i feel like the last few years have been so weird for me in terms of blogging. i guess i expected my motivations and style to stay the same but it doesn’t and can’t. thanks for sharing.

  • This post is both comforting and inspiring – it’s a great example that your topics or reasons for blogging can evolve, you don’t have to know what, why or how right now. It also doesn’t have to stay the same. It makes me ponder why I blog, so thank you for sharing!

  • It was really lovely to read about your blogging reasons changing as I am currently at a cross road in my life and was a bit at sea about changing bloggin direction. Thanks!

  • WOW! What a great post! Very enriching as I’ve started my very first blog this Summer after years of reading a lot of blogs! Glad I landed here (thanks to Pinterest!).

  • What a beautiful story! Sheer magic. Kudos for fulfilling your dreams and sharing them with us.

  • As a newbie to the whole bloggosphere, I find your whole journey to be very inspiring. Thank you for sharing your path.

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  • Enjoyed reading your resonating post as it highlighted all the reasons I personally like to post the things I do on Facebook. I’ve been using it as a personal blog of sorts, also to connect with artistic, scientific/professional (I’m a physician) and politically like-minded as well as friends and family. This year I branched out to include acquaintances from a longstanding Lithuanian community (lots of great old photos shared) to discover that a few do not appreciate (and make a point to mock, almost intimidate, certainly criticize in an unfriendly/antisocial way) some of my posts. I certainly welcome any discussion and debate, regardless of one’s perspective, and always attempt to engage in a polite, adult, thoughtful and intelligent manner. I always felt not technically savvy (or important) enough to have a blog but love reading, thinking, writing and interacting with all sorts of people. What do you think about using Facebook as a blog? I see many do.

    • Hi Vita,

      I agree- I think FB is just another outlet for many people to share thoughts, so in some ways, it’s a blog just like ours!

  • Thank you for this beautifully written post. I have just found you via AltSummit speakers, and was touched by your journey and your writing. I started blogging 2 years ago but hit a huge personal road block that is so hard to navigate that I’ve been afraid of my blog–afraid I will share things I’ll regret. I’ve made nice with blogging and am pushing myself creatively again. Thank you for your honesty. I am excited to travel your blog.

  • What a fantastic post! I like this-My home was my playground. I can tell the same. And all this headlines for this years I can put in my two years of blogging. Very good post. Must to think about this stuff…

  • It’s been years that I am following you and I haven’t seen this post before…
    I’m happy I’ve found it now.
    It’s such an inspiring story.
    For a long period, I was obsessed by images and design. I was looking at blogs everyday and wanted to discover more and more artists and new designers. Then, suddenly, it was too much.
    Too much of beautiful images. Too much photos, too much fashion.
    I was sick of it.
    But your blog is different because your blog is not just about fashion and design.
    There is a meaning behind that. And it’s continuously there, even when it’s not obvious.
    With this post, I understand better why.
    It’s a journey. And it never stays the same.
    I am really happy to follow your path and I wanted to thank you for sharing your story!

  • I’m not sure how I got to this post, though I think I was wondering where in the (literal) world you are and so followed the rabbit here, to Indiana and your blogging history. [I’m a hoosier myself, born and raised, with mad basketball skills to prove it. Or at least, I had em when I played last, 10 years ago]. I have been feeling a lot of resonance with your posts lately–precarious input/output-inspiration/overstimulation balance, incorporation of so-many-kinds-of-creative inclinations, lots of thinking–and I was just wondering as to how you might categorize the 2013 reasons-you-blog so far… or do you reserve the synopsizing for year’s end?

    Thank you for your thoughtful thoughts. Here and throughout.

    Cheers + Greetings to you.

    • Ah, thank you for your note, Vanessa! I suppose time will tell (although I’m thinking this has been my favorite year yet!). :)

  • Loved this post. I’m not much of a blog reader…I usually prefer a good book. But in discovering my creativity these last few years I’m branching out and trying new things. I have tried to start two different blogs, neither one successful because on some level, I’m afraid. I’m afraid to show you me. And once I put it on paper, on the internet, it’s there. Me, out there for all to see.

    This blog is inspiring. I will not let fear guide me. So in my next blog – due Thursday, I WILL show “me” to all who care to read. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Debora
    6opinions.blogspot.com

  • Hi Erin! This what a great post for me to read right now! I think that reading about the way writing/ blogging has always just been a part of you is so meaningful to me, as I am now getting more confident to post & also so compelled to write & share, just because, no matter what. Who knows where it’ll take me, but hopefully somewhere great because right now, writing & thinking of writing feels pretty good! ;)

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  • Hey Erin

    I kept scrolling down to read more of your journey even after your article ended. I actively ‘sought’ your words, and that is the best compliment any writer can receive, in my opinion! #HUGSdear

    I now have tears in my eyes. Tears of regret, for not pursuing my passion sooner. Tears of familiarity, for I too have crossed similar treacherous rivers in my life. And finally tears of hope, that I can start blogging any time and chart a whole new journey of my own. All is not lost. In fact, nothing is lost.

    I want to write because…I want to write! LOL

    Thank you for inspiring, energizing and rejuvenating me, dear! Muaah

    Kitto

  • Wow! Loved this one, too. I am having a hard time getting started with blogging. So much I seem to want to keep private. And in Japan, it’s definitely not a culturally approved thing to call too much attention to yourself or stand out in the crowd. That’s why I checked your popular post about what you are afraid to tell us before I came to this one… ;-)

  • Your journey is very inspiring Erin. I’ve being considering blogging for a while and your story made me feel more motivated to do so! Thank you very much.

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