It’s been no secret that I’ve been struggling with the blog so far in 2018. While other bloggers are making goals and planning total blog domination for the New Year, I’ve been stuck in a rut, desperately looking for a sign to point me in the right direction.
I’d toyed with the idea of starting a blog (not that I knew that was what it was called) for years. My chosen subject area always changed depending on what was happening in my life – during my pregnancy with Miss Mess I very briefly wrote a blog called “Moogle and Me”. I think it’s still out there somewhere.
Finally, on New Years’ Eve 2013 I opened up WordPress (can’t remember why I chose that, but I did) and A Mess In A Dress was born. Of course, it wasn’t called A Mess In A Dress at first. I think I changed my blog name two or three times in the first couple of years, but the theme was always the same. Trying to rebuild and rediscover myself.
In case you haven’t been reading from the start (Man, you missed out on some angsty stuff), here’s a condensed history. I had just separated from my husband, I had two children under 4 years of age and I was lost. The first two years of my blog were a form of personal diary, just me spewing out my thoughts and feelings in a desperate attempt to figure out what the hell was happening in my life. My blog helped me to process things in a way that didn’t involve lots of complicated discussions with other people.
The early blog was DARK! I kept it a secret from almost everybody except possibly my best friend (and I think some people may have stumbled upon it, but if they did they wisely never mentioned it) Honestly, it sometimes makes me cringe when I think of some of the things I wrote and that some people (thankfully only two or three) actually READ those early posts.
Still, there was one thing that came through all of the turmoil and drama that followed in the next couple of years. I discovered that I actually LOVE to write. It’s therapeutic, it’s an outlet for my creativity and it’s rewarding. While the darkness may have faded (thank God!), my love of writing and blogging never did.
Over time, my life changed and with it, so did the blog. My husband and I were reconciled and he moved back home. I was happy again (not everyday maybe, but certainly more than before) and the tone of the blog started to change. Instead of writing moody, depressing posts about my problems, I started to tell stories of my day-to-day life and the adventures of my family. It was a much happier corner of the internet.
Although I’d been blogging for a good long time, I didn’t really have any sense of self-promotion, networking or growing my following. I wrote a post, published it and waited to see what happened. I took part in a few WordPress blogging challenges and met some very nice bloggers, but none that I really connected with.
I joined Twitter (because apparently that’s what you’re supposed to do) but didn’t have a clue how to use it. Then one day, I’m not entirely sure when or how, I stumbled upon the “Blogging Community”.
Now, I have a love/hate relationship with the blogging community (which I’m planning to write about one day), but I can’t deny it can be very useful. I started to see other bloggers, to work out where I fit in the grand scheme of things. I saw what I liked and what I didn’t. I found awesome groups like The Girl Gang and East Midlands Bloggers, which in turn helped me to MEET other bloggers. People who understood why I spent all of my free time staring at screen, trying to find the right words.
Then on May 6th, 2015 (I know the date because I wrote a post), I took a deep breath and announced my blog on my personal Facebook account. I deleted A LOT of the old posts first, some of which I wish I’d kept) and then I opened it up to friends, family, school mates and general Facebook stalkers. I anticipated backlash or mockery but none came. A couple of people even emailed me to say they loved reading it and to keep it up (which is always nice, I should send some of those emails myself)
A quick rebrand, a big leap into self-hosting ( I know NOTHING about websites) and here we are – A Mess In A Dress in all it’s current glory was born.
Even after I’d started to learn more about the blogging world and all it entailed, it still took a LONG time before I really started to feel I was getting noticed. In May 2016, I went to my first ever blogging event (East Midlands Meet up, in case you’re interested) and it was really only last year that I’ve started to receive invitations to brand events (not many) and offers for collaborations (not often).
Hopefully, I’m a long way away from the end of the A Mess In A Dress blogging journey. I may sometimes find it hard work, and it often feels like I’m putting in far more than I get out, but I’m really not ready to say goodbye any time soon.
I know I don’t have the time or resources to be as dedicated as some bloggers, which probably means I’ll also never be as “successful”. Some days, that bothers me. It’s hard to feel like you’re putting your heart and soul into something and it isn’t recognised.
And then I have an evening like tonight, where I take the time to look back and see just how far I’ve come and then I’m exceptionally proud. I need to remember that this journey started with just me and a computer, a blank screen and a lot to say. What makes A Mess In A Dress special and unique is that it is uniquely me and my voice (and my family, as they become more and more involved). So I do have something to offer that nobody else does, and as long as I’m still enjoying the process then I should definitely keep going.