The Advice that Built This Blog

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If there’s one thing you never forget, it’s your very first blog conference.
For me, it was the Casual Bloggers Conference.
I had only been blogging for about 3 months.
I knew no one.
I went alone.
And I felt alone.
Surrounded by women I was certain were better than me in every area of life—not just blogging.

Better moms. Better wives. Better writers. Better photographers. Just better.

That was four years ago.
Today, I only remember two things about that conference.

1. The pit in my stomach that didn’t subside until I finally pulled out of the parking lot and began the long drive home…
And 2. this quote:

That which is most personal, is most universal.1-Short Hair Curling DIY1

I can’t even remember who said it, I just know that when I heard those words, everything about blogging changed for me. In that moment, my reason became suddenly clear.

Up to that point I had been doing it all wrong.
I knew I wanted to blog.
I knew I wanted people to care about what I had to say.
I wanted what I did to matter.
I wanted to connect.
To maybe brighten someones day if even just a little bit.
But I didn’t know how to do it.
I hadn’t yet found my voice.

So I posted about things like my pillows.
And my knob collection.
Yes, I’m serious.
True story: I took every decorative pillow from my home, hauled them out to the backyard, laid them on the grass and took photos of them for a blog post about how much I loved pillows. Pictures of pillows …on my grass…

And then I wondered why people weren’t sticking around.
I wondered why I wasn’t connecting with my readers.
I wondered why I didn’t feel fulfilled.

So when I heard those words: That which is most personal, is most universal… I knew what changes I needed to make.   I grabbed my laptop and told Ben I needed to get away for a little bit to write a blog post.

Ben: But don’t you need to be home for that so you can take pictures of our stuff?

Silly husband. Little did he know that I was done lining up pillows in the backyard for a riveting blog post.
Not this time, I told him. I’ll just be writing for this one.
Then I left the house, went to Barnes & Noble and wrote THE post that changed everything.

For whatever reason, that simple quote let me know the story I needed to tell. So I sat down and wrote my secret. The secret known only to my immediate family members. The secret I had hid for 20 years.

I finished the post, saved it as a draft, went home hyped up on “writers adrenaline” and read the post out loud to Ben. His response: Are you sure you’re ready to post that? Then everyone will know. Just know, I support whatever you decide. I told him that I was ready. That this is what I need to do. And not to worry.

And then, with a trembling hand, I clicked publish.
In that moment, I found my voice.

My best blogging advice doesn’t come in the form of secret social media techniques, or networking strategies, or tips to maximize your monetization—although I could talk to you about those things until I’m blue in the face.

My best blogging advice, just like the theme of my blog, comes in the form of lessons learned throughout my journey.

So for a minute let’s forget about money, forget about popularity, forget about statistics—because I want to focus on finding FULFILLMENT through your blog. And I believe that being fulfilled in blogging (and in life) comes through finding your voice—knowing who you are.

Even though the quote says: That which is most personal is most universal, it doesn’t mean  you need to share the MOST personal details of your life in order to appeal to more people. It doesn’t mean you need to share your deepest secrets. It simply means that what you DO post needs to be YOU. You need to own it. Feel it. And be proud of it.

For some of us that’s in the form of sharing our biggest secret with anyone willing to read it. For others its sharing our talent of baking. Some of us craft or create. Some of us are photographers. And some of us are fashion gurus. So for our purposes of this post, I would maybe like to alter that quote a bit to say something like this: 

That which we are most passionate about, is most universal.

The more we love what we blog about, the greater the chances others will love it too.

***

When someone tells me they want to start a blog, or that they are in a rut with their current blog I have them complete the following task. I’ve even written about it past posts—I call it:

Ask WHY, set GOALS, and then define SUCCESS.
Take some time to yourself in a quiet place and answer these questions thoughtfully. Be honest with yourself–you’ll find your truth easier that way.

WHY: Why did you start this blog? Was it to make money, to make friends, to share ideas, to promote your business, to vent, or to tell your stories. Now, write down your reason {and be specific}–because there will come a day a few months down the road when you will forget why you ever started this whole blogging thingy–you will lose sight of your original vision, your original plan, your reason for doing this in the first place–and on that day you will go back and read what you wrote down today, and you will remember why this is important to you. Let your “reason” be the guiding force behind your blog content–don’t lose sight of what’s important to you, or your readers will know, and they will stop reading.

GOALS: You know WHY you’re blogging–but what do you expect to get out of it? Set clearly defined goals for your blog. What do you want your blog to accomplish? It can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish. Maybe you hope to create a place to store all your family photos and memories, maybe you want to launch the world’s most popular craft blog–in either case, create direction for your blog.

SUCCESS: Obviously you want your blog to succeed. But first, you must clearly define what success means to you. Maybe you will define success by how many followers you have, by how many hits you get a day or by the number of comments you receive. Maybe you will define success by touching the lives of your readers, by helping Mom’s grow their Etsy businesses, by how much money you make, or by how many new friends you make. In my opinion, these are ALL great ways to measure success–but ultimately it’s up to you to determine YOUR REASON.

For more stories that are personal to me, visit this page.

Ashley Stock
I'm Ashley. Sometimes I craft, occasionally I cook, everyday I write, and I'm always Momma. This is my blog. I keep it real while still seeing the rainbows and butterflies in all of life's lessons.
Ashley Stock
Ashley Stock
Ashley Stock

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Comments

  1. Wow! This post was divine timing for me. Thanks for the advice and constant reminders to be authentic and honest.

    • I couldn’t agree more. I literally had a conversation this afternoon with my husband and sister in law about what my blog is for and what I want it to accomplish. Thanks Ashley!

  2. love this post ashley. let’s plan a so cal meet and make it happen! xo

  3. Last year you spoke these words at Elevate and I remember connecting with them then just as I am doing now. I wrote a post last year, still with some concealment based on your speech and ironically posted the rest of it just before reading this. I think I was a follower of yours back when you posted about your knob collection because Im not sure if I have shared with you that you were the very first blog I followed on a regular basis, before I Knew what a blog really was and had one of my own. You and your words speak to me on a different level and I appreciate you. I thank you for being brave and bold and sharing your secret and for encouraging others to do the same because we are all going along in life with STUFF and things happening and things to share to help each other, but how can we use that for good if we don’t share it. Phew. anyway, thank you for sharing this today. I love your heart and I love you!!! Have a good weekend sweet friend!
    Chrissy

  4. Thank you for sharing this post (and your referenced post)! Both have been inspirational. I teared up during the referenced post. It is very universal!

  5. Thanks for sharing – great advice for bloggers and such bravery in sharing your truth. Now I am so curious …have you seen improvements since the post in the pulling?

  6. great advice for LIFE

  7. Shirley says:

    You are so sweet! I enjoy your blog every since I started reading it. You make my life a little happier when you post about you and your beautiful family. Those boys are so cute that it melts my heart. Please keep posting and I will be reading.

    God Bless

  8. I am inspired to be more personal and expressive in my writing. I read several of your linked in posts today and all I can say is wow. I’ve really been blogging seriously for the last year and I “hear” what you’re saying. Thank you.

    http://www.mysimplesignificance.blogspot.com

  9. Such great advice! People know when you are being genuinely yourself & they appreciate it …

  10. Hi Ashley,

    I’ve been following you on Instagram for a while and sometimes click over to your blog from there, but I don’t think I’ve ever commented before now. I had to take a hiatus from posting regularly (or much at all) a few months back due to work/life demands, and now that time seems to be clearing a bit to make room for writing again, I find that I’m questioning my voice, my perspective, what I have to give/to share, and is it even worth it. I’m contemplating a lot about the current state of my blog, and I was drawn to this post and your inspiring words just when I needed them. So, thank you. And thank you for sharing your secret too. We all have bumps, secrets, and scars, and I honestly believe that when we expose them authentically and with the best intentions, these stories are like gifts to those who need to hear them most.

    So nice to “meet” you, mama.
    xLara

  11. Kimberly says:

    Ashley I am so appreciative of everything you say. You have a lot to share and people want to hear it. That is probably the best advice you could give to atone who is wanting to start a blog or who is already doing it. Thank you for your words of wisdom. You are a blessing and I love you!!

  12. Ashley, I remember meeting you at that conference. You were not alone with the pit in your stomach; I had one too. So glad you found your groove and have used this space to create beauty ever since. <3

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