To recap: I started this website as a New Year’s resolution. Then, I blinked, and 5 years went by. Whoosh! Here we are, gals, guys, yogis, and Om Athletes. I’ve learned a lot along the way, about life, yoga, writing (eventually leading to the start of my book), and more life– much more than I could ever cover in today’s post– so I narrowed it down to 5 key lessons learned over 5 years of blogging. Together, we built a tiny, healthy corner of the Internet, and I want to thank you. Happy birthday, OGs!
1.) You are what you repeatedly blog.
According to Aristotle, who was known to give good advice from time to time, “We are what we repeatedly do,” and this lesson is a riff on that. Blogging, even in a niche area of interest, like yoga, street fashion, or food porn, reveals broader topics, themes, and ideas to which you gravitate most. Even if you’re not sure what you’ll mostly write about when you begin, you’ll come to know over time. When you look back over the months and years of your blog’s lifespan, you’ll notice trends and common threads. You’ll find or create a tribe–of friends, strangers, and strangers who become friends. You’ll learn more about who you are and what inspires you. This is fun.
2.) Good writing is good writing.
Good writing is fun, sharp, and inviting to read. Bad writing isn’t. This is truth.
3.) People crave connection (more than information).
I initially chose Om Gal as a pseudonym so I could be anonymous; however, I quickly learned that people crave connection above all else, and anonymity deprives them of this. With the exception of food critics or super snarky gossip types, veiled identities are counterproductive. Readers want to know that you are credible, too, but this isn’t what sparks their loyalty—it’s whether or not they can relate to you. Think of this as the Mitt Romney Effect. It doesn’t matter how topnotch your education, impeccable your hair, or robust your Swiss bank accounts and binders of women, people won’t vote for you if they can’t connect. To blog is to be a candidate for people’s attention, with countless others pedaling similar information. Unless you bond with your audience in a meaningful way, you won’t get the vote of their attention. To bond requires giving of yourself and understanding one another. This is heartening.
4.) Getting partially naked helps.
Everyone knows that if you want to have a popular yoga blog, you should do yoga in your underwear on it. I can’t quite bring myself to tart it up for online traffic, but I’m not talking about taking off clothes anyway. I’m talking about removing the airs we put on. Let readers see your realness and flaws (but not spelling errors; never that). No need to overshare your breakfast, air dirty relationship laundry, or divulge shadowy secrets of your CIA past, but keep a little kookiness or edginess about you. Bare yourself enough so that some life jumps out from your posts, past all the perfect vegan happiness puddings made with chia. This is terrifying (but also liberating).
5.) It’s super easy—just like running a marathon, giving up sugar, or sitting next to a crying baby for the duration of an international flight.
Which is to say that blogging isn’t easy at all. If you plan to do it with any level of consistency and quality, you’ll need marathon caliber endurance and focus. Like miles 16, 20, and oh god definitely 21 through 25 (26 is fine; you’re practically delirious by then), you’ll need to let go of heroic notions of looking or feeling good. You’ll have to get a little vulnerable (see #3) or cheeky. Sometimes, you’ll be a colossal bore or blank-page-blinking-cursor nothing, but try not to despair too much. This is part of the process of rekindling a creative fire to come back better, stronger, and bloggier than ever.
When you fall off the writing wagon, as though into a vat of ice cream off a diet wagon (or you eat all your favorite chocolate brought back from the UK by Irishman student Frank, plus the gingerbread yogis in Warrior 1 made by Julie, and homemade caramels from Carly who is always in the front row), you get back on. You plant your butt in a chair, as Anne Lamott would say, and you try again: to write (or eat) a little cleaner, leaner, and brighter.
A blog is like a crying baby you need to get creative at assuaging. It needs your attention, so you’ll shush, coo, and coddle. You’ll make funny faces or pray for the tech world to save you. “Oooooh, look, baby—an iPhone!” You’ll rock or talk or sing to your crying baby blog. This happened to me on a flight to Spain once—with an actual baby, not a blog; blogs didn’t exist then. The poor kid next to me was hysterical and practically writhing off her mother’s lap into mine, so I eventually went with it. I held her, and she quieted down. Maybe it was the change of scenery, a past life thing, or finally, blessedly, the right elevation to ease the baby’s eardrums. Either way, it worked, and we sat like that for the rest of the flight. Then, as now, I’ve learned that when we land in a tough seat, on an airplane or behind a laptop blogging year after year, it’s what we do next that matters most. This is life.