No, YOU Go Find YOUR Niche.

Find your niche. Find your tribe. Find like-minded people. Niche niche nichey niche Mc Nicherton. If you blog, if you Tweet, if you are friends with other bloggers you know that one of the first pieces of advice you get while blogging is to “find your niche” and stick to it. “Find your tribe”.

What the fuck are you supposed to do if you don’t HAVE a niche? What if you are niche-less? That’s how I view myself and my blog. I don’t have a niche. I’m not crafty, I’m not crunchy, I’m not fashionable and I don’t do a lot of giveaways. I try to be funny but I can’t be funny all the time. I don’t know how humor bloggers do it because sometimes, I’m just not frigging funny. So what the hell is my niche? Where is the place in the blogging world for those of us who are niche-less?

If you know me in real life, you know that random is kind of who and what I am. I have always had a very random and eclectic sense of humor, taste in movies, taste in music. I like all sorts of different things and I laugh at really off-the-wall shit. My coworkers never know what the hell I’m going to say. I don’t even know what the hell I’m going to say most of the time until it comes out of my mouth and then I’m like, “That was the most random shit ever. What the fuck, brain?” and it’s like “LET’S GO PLAY HOPSCOTCH WITH A WOLF.” and I’m like “…………….”
I consider myself kind of strange and I have a hard time fitting in with real people so finding a “tribe” on the internet? Pffff. What the fuck ever. People probably read this blog and think I’m a lunatic. One minute I’m talking about my beautiful toddler and the next I’m dropping F-Bombs and cursing my fat rolls and mustache. Where the hell is the niche in that?

Maybe my niche is “random”. Keeping you on your toes. Making you feel like you’re trapped in a windowless room with a crazy person and a hungry wolverine. My brain is like a little hummingbird that flits about from subject to subject and I guess all of you reading are just stuck with me and my niche-less ass. Thanks for sticking around through the Crazy. I really do appreciate it.

Social Media Detox

I haven’t been blogging much lately. I haven’t been Tweeting much lately. I haven’t been on Facebook much lately. I opened my Google Reader this evening and screamed in terror at the number staring me in the face.

The Internet and I have been strangers lately. I don’t know if it’s the medication, or the fact that I’ve been busy but there’s been a shift in my life. Where I used to spend a lot of time online blogging, Tweeting, and chatting and feeling disconnected from my “real” life the opposite seems to be happening now. I’m not blogging every other day. I’m not obsessively checking my blog’s stats. I’m not eyeballing other witty bloggers and Tweeters with envy, wishing that I had their following and their traffic. I’m feeling very disconnected from the little Bloggy Bubble I’ve put myself in for the past year or so.

Okay don’t get me wrong, I still wish that I were as funny as The Bloggess pretty much every time I read one of her posts, and I do get a tad green with envy when I see someone with one million and forty comments on something they’ve written but I’m not obsessing over it anymore. I think that I’m done. I think that I’m done worrying, stressing, and trying to achieve something that I just don’t think I’m cut out for. For a while now, I’ve been envious of “bigger bloggers” and the opportunities they get. Followers. Sponsorships. Free products galore.. And my jealousy and envy have been making me feel inadequate as a person. I’ve felt like I can’t “run with the big dogs” so to speak. That I don’t have what it takes and it’s been hurting my self-esteem. Laugh if you will but it’s easy to feel rejected when you try your best at something you like to do and it doesn’t seem to be enough to get you where you thought you wanted to go.

And you know what? Maybe I don’t have what it takes. Maybe I would with a little more effort. And maybe, just maybe, I don’t care anymore. Don’t get me wrong; this post isn’t bashing bigger bloggers or those who gets  fabulous opportunities because it’s awesome that others are getting all that stuff, and they totally deserve it because they work their asses off to build their blogs… I just.. I’m not in that place anymore. Do I get a little bummed when I don’t get a lot of feedback on a post? Sure. But I’ve found myself stressing out a lot less about it and just blogging when I feel like I have something to say, a story to tell, an anecdote to share.

People began reading my blog for a reason. Whether it was because they thought I was funny, because they empathized with my story and where I was in life or because they just felt invested in my journey but I feel I’ve lost sight of myself in this blog. I know I’ve written posts similar to this one but I’ve just felt sort of a shift inside of myself and don’t really care if I’m popular anymore. The blogosphere can feel like a big popularity contest, complete with cliques and snobs and all of that high school bullshit. It’s easy to feel inferior and let that actually affect you as a person. I’m done with all of that. If you like me, you like me and if you don’t, you don’t.

Thank you to everyone who has been reading, and continues to read my words. The fact that you care about me, what’s going on in my life, or even the fact that you like reading my attempts to be humorous means a lot to me. Everyone likes to be heard and I’m no exception.. But if things are a little more quiet around here, don’t be surprised. It’s all good, I’m just waiting until I have something to say.

Not to say that I won’t still do the occasional review or giveaway, of course. When something cool comes along sometimes you just can’t resist.

 

 

Oh, Look. I Have a Blog.

I’ve been Internet AWOL for a few days. So much in fact that one of my best friends, Megan, texted me today.

I’m sure you’re okay, but you’ve been quiet online so I wanted to check in.

Two things. One: Megan is awesome and an amazing friend. It’s too bad she lives all the way up in Chicago. She did come visit around New Year’s though. She actually spent her birthday here, and rang in 2011 with us. Two: I think this means that I Internet too much, no?

I remember this happening around my due date with Nellie. I’d go a day, sometimes even just a few hours, without being on Twitter or Facebook and suddenly my phone would blow up:

Are you in labor?
Did you have the baby?
YOU DIDN’T TWEET ABOUT YOUR LUNCH TODAY. YOU’RE IN THE HOSPITAL HAVING HER RIGHT NOW AREN’T YOU?

I was simultaneously flattered at the concern of my friends, and a little embarrassed that I Internetted so much. But as I mentioned in a previous post, Internet + Me = BFF. Megan was right though, I haven’t been online much lately. Thanks to our awesome friends (and part-time Nellie sitters) Ryan and Michelle, we now have a second vehicle. The entire 5 1/2 years that Josh and I have been married, we have shared a car. And let me tell you, that’s fun. Let me also tell you, that was sarcasm. Sharing a car wasn’t too bad when it was just us but when we threw conflicting work schedules and a baby into the mix? WEEEEEEE. Ryan and Michelle had a car they weren’t using and were going to sell. They are awesome, and told us we could use it until we were ready to buy it. Because they rock. With the acquisition of a second vehicle comes more hours at work for me, which leaves less internet time! Once I get home from work, we’ve got to do the dinner thing and spend some time together, we’ve been taking walks and then by the time we get Nellie to bed we are both tired. I’ve also been reading She’s Come Undone (which is a complete and utter lesson in emotional exhaustion, let me tell you) so that’s been taking up a lot of my free time.

But here I sit this evening, Josh is off playing Warhammer and Nellie’s in bed. I had dinner and am relaxing and trying to catch up on blogging. I’ve got a few exciting things happening regarding my blog and work and hopefully will be able to share them with you soon! BlogHer 2011 is just around the corner. I’ve got to secure my funds and get my things booked and start shopping for a few cute outfits! I’m so excited! San Diego here I come!

 

 

 

Back to Blogging Basics

I got to thinking last night about blogging and how long I’ve actually been doing it. This blog is only about 3 1/2 years old (it used to be called Hope Springs Eternal and I started it after the miscarriage I had in December of 2007), but I’ve been writing in an online journal – a weblog – for over ten years now.

I began blogging in March of 2001, at the tender age of 17. My platform was not Blogger nor WordPress, but LiveJournal. After Nellie went to bed last night, I started browsing through my old entries as I do every now and again. I chose this month in 2003; eight years ago. I was nineteen years old, and had just landed a job at the Chili’s that was slated to open downtown. I was so excited and proud of myself. My personality wasn’t too much different then than it is now; I still had a very random sense of humor. I treated my LiveJournal much like many people treat Facebook now: I dumped whatever was on my mind at the time into my journal.

“ZOMG, I got the job at Chili’s!”
“ZOMG, they want to make me a trainer. I’m so excited!”
“ZOMFG FUNNY INTERNET VIDEO.”
“I HEART SPAGHETTI ALWAYS.”

I did write about my day-to-day life, which during the time period I was revisiting consisted of living with my (then) boyfriend, going out to eat, watching movies, and spending time with my newfound group of friends. I stumbled across one entry that was basically:
“I went bowling tonight with my group of bowling friends. This one friend of mine, Josh and I competed against each other to see who could beat the other one. He’s usually better than me but we tied this time! OMG!”

Little did I know that “this one friend of mine, Josh” would one day be my husband and the father of my child.

I thought about all of the people I’ve met on the internet in the past ten years. I began thinking about the people I’ve met on the internet even beyond that. Connecting with people through the web has been a part of my life and of who I am since I was twelve years old. To some, that may seem kind of pathetic and even sad but I’ve never viewed it that way. When my home life was intolerable and depressing, the internet was my escape. After I moved out and lived with my boyfriend and found that life wasn’t what I thought it would be, LiveJournal was my therapy. Writing was cathartic. I’ve made lasting friendships via the internet; people I still keep in touch with but whom I’ve never met face to face. I’m happy on the internet, connecting with people all around the world. I think about people in particular who stand out in my mind, some of whom I only spoke to once or twice but for whatever reason left a lasting impression on me.

I wonder where those people are now, what their lives are like. If they’re even still alive (you never know). I think about the people I interact with on a daily basis via my blog, Twitter, and Facebook and wonder if we will still be speaking in ten more years or if they, too, will fade into the cast of characters that have come and gone during my days on the internet.

I read through my old entries, remembering the events that passed eight years ago. I read my writing, which was honest and unedited. I thought about my writing today, and how I’ve struggled with this blog and tried to keep my words genuine and not forced. I’ve failed a lot. Going public with this blog took a lot of the personal touch from it; it’s hard to bare your soul in your writing when you know that your coworkers, your friends, and your family read what you have to say. I am not ashamed of the things I write or feel but it’s still a very strange feeling to have someone come up to you and say, “So about your blog post yesterday…”

Part of me feels like I need to get back in touch with that nineteen year old girl with so much on her mind. I need to channel her sometimes, and just write. Write about what’s happening in my life. What I’m feeling. What I’m doing. I’ve gotten away from that, and that’s the whole reason I started a blog in the first place. Not to make money, or to get sponsorships, or to have people drooling and clapping over my words like cracked out fangirls. I started this blog to do what I’ve been doing for years and years, and that’s express myself and connect with people that I would never, ever be able to connect with if it wasn’t for the internet. I’m not saying that sponsored posts aren’t nice (they are, and I have one coming up Monday) but they’re not the reason I started blogging.

If you made it this far through this slightly rambly post, *internet cookie*. Thank you for reading, for continuing to come back even when I have nothing to say. Thank you for caring about my little space of the internet.

Blogging Laryngitis

Lately I feel as if I’ve been losing my voice. Not my speaking or singing voice, but my blogging voice. I feel like I’m losing a grip on my blog, on my writing and I’m not sure how to wrap my fingers back around it. It’s intangible; a feeling more of an actual thing. I think it stems from the fact that since I changed names, I’ve lost traffic. Comments are down. I have a handful of people who loyally comment (THANK. YOU.) but I feel like my blogging voice is going unheard.I lost 4 Facebook fans in the past week and it’s got me really down in the dumps. I know, I know, blogging isn’t all about the traffic but it’s nice to know that people are reading what I’m taking the time to write.

Maybe I just don’t have anything to say that anyone wants to hear? Maybe I’m having a blogging identity crisis. What is my blog for? It used to be my outlet to vent my sadness and anger toward my miscarriage, and then a place where I documented our struggles to conceive again and the heartbreak that came with it.

I had so much to say during my pregnancy. Funny things. Irrelevant things. Touching things and now that my precious daughter is here? I feel like I’ve gotten Blogging Laryngitis. My life is pretty typical of most moms with children my daughter’s age.. I work, I drive my husband to work, I shuttle Nellie about to and fro.. Occasionally crazy or funny things happen that I blog about..

But what do I blog for? There’s only so many sappy letters to my daughter that I can write before even I want to puke. I’m no photographer, I am not crafty nor thrifty, and I couldn’t care less about fashion. So what do I blog about? What is my niche? I’m constantly questioning myself: “Do I blog too much? Do I not blog enough? Are my posts too long? Should I include more pictures? What is the perfect time of day to post to get the most comments? Will NaBloMoPo get me more readers? Make me lose some? Will giveaways make people love me?” It’s enough to drive anyone crazy. Part of me wants to drop NaBloPoMo.. But I’ve had several projects on this blog that I’ve done and have let fall to the wayside, that I absolutely have to finish this one. Even if it makes my traffic drop and my readership fall.. I have to finish it.

Am I the only one out there who feels as if they are tapping the microphone and saying, “Is this thing on”? This post isn’t me fishing for compliments, or trying to get people to comment and tell me how much they love my little slice of Internets. I guess it’s just me being honest and confessing that sometimes I wonder if I’m accomplishing anything at all by writing here. I want to say something earth-shattering.. Ground-breaking.. I want to write one post that people share over the internet and say, “Wow. What a voice. What a writer. This must be read!”………I want to be influential. It’s so easy to get lost in this vast, seemingly endless sea of bloggers. Sometimes, I just feel like I’m lost at sea, waiting… For what, I don’t know. Just… waiting.

Send Out the Search Party

So I’m guilty of doing what a lot of other bloggers do: Obsessing over my blog’s traffic. I can’t help it. Once I installed Google Analytics, my life was pretty much over. I used to obsess over the slightest fall, and cheer over the teensiest rise in traffic.

One amazing thing about Analytics is the ability to tell where your traffic comes from, including terms people type into search engines. I’ve come across some really weird stuff that made me question the content I post here, and also, made me question my humanity a little.
I made that last part up, but whatever.

Here are some of my personal favorite terms folks have used to find my blog.

  • “hope springs eternal blog” – This one is pretty basic and the term that has the highest rate of folks using it.  Pretty harmless, pretty obvious. My blog used to be called Hope Springs Eternal, so this one kind of explains itself.
  • “hope springs eternal blog twilight” – This is pretty specific. Once I blogged about how ridiculous I found Twilight to be. Maybe I offended someone and they repeatedly had to go back and read the post and feel angry, but they couldn’t find an easy way to get to it? *shrugs*
  • “origin vitamins” – I used these for maybe 2-3 cycles when we were TTC. They turned my urine an alarming shade of yellow.
  • “$450 human touch foot & calf massager giveaway” – ….. what? I’ve never given away anything that is retailed at that high of a value, nor have I ever given away a foot or calf massager. So.. I’m not real sure about this one.
  • “angry badger face” This one probably pulls up this post. I love the fact that someone can Google “angry badger face” and pull up my blog.

It’s all downhill from here, folks.

  • “bengin ass boots.com” – boy, I bet these people were disappointed. I guarantee my blog was not what they were searching for.
  • “can a kid poop a bullet out”– I think you have more pressing issues to attend to than searching for things on Google, my friend.
  • “eating my face off”– it’s nice to know that my blog is well received by the zombie community.
  • “isn’t motherhood supposed to be fun?” – That’s what they say. Sometimes, they lie.
  • “she farts” – It’s true.
  • “smell her boots” – Again, not real sure that my blog is the droid you’re looking for, Mr. Boot Fetish.

As you can see, it’s a pretty strange and random selection of terms used to find my blog. It never, ever fails to make me laugh. And cringe. And sometimes throw up in my mouth a little bit.

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A New (Blog) Home, A New Look For Me!

You may not notice, because things don’t look very different around here but I am no longer using Blogger! I made THE BIG SWITCH to WordPress with Kelly at Twenty70Hosting! I’m really excited and looking forward to seeing what WP has to offer me! I know I am going to revamp some things here and there, so be on the lookout!

Last weekend I finally got a haircut. I visited a local salon that uses Bumble and Bumble products, which I’ve been wanting to try forever. A good friend of mine told me to take before and after pictures, so I did.

WARNING!!!

The following image may frighten small children. Please ensure that your little ones have left the room.

BEFORE:

AAAIIEEEEEEEEEE

AFTER:

Look! A Human Being!

Not bad, eh? A dude cut my hair and I was totally nervous, because apparently I’m a Hair Sexist. But dude did a rockin’ job and I really liked the B&B products he used. He used the Curl Conscious line, with the Surf Spray.. I’m going to be buying trial sizes of the Curl Conscious to try to see if I like it. I’m not going w/ the full sizes because they are… Oh, about $20.00 a flipping bottle. Yeah,  no jokes.

So anyway.. I’ve been quiet because I didn’t want to make more work for Kelly when it came to switching everything over, but now I’m back, baby! I have a few great blog posts up my sleeve and am really excited about some things that may be in the works for me, blog-wise. Oh, and I won’t be around Saturday because on Saturday I’ll be guest posting at The Lame Sauce! I AM EXCITE.

The Outsider

Ever feel like you just don’t fit in?

Yeah, that’s been me my entire life.

Ever since high school, even when I was in social clubs like drama and choir.. I just felt different. Like there was something about me that just didn’t mesh with other teenagers. Was it the fact that I came from THE MOST DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY EVAR? (You can read about the dysfunction in my family on a guest post I’m doing for a friend soon) Perhaps. I had to grow up really quickly so while my friends were chatting excitedly about prom and dresses, I was worrying about whether my mom would be having a good day today. During lunch, while girlfriends were gossiping about their latest crushes I was wondering if she was going to try and commit suicide again. Now.. On the exterior, I was well-liked. When I was in the midst of a rehearsal, or choir practice people loved me. I was the Funny One. The Witty One. In my high school years, people compared me to the likes of Daria and Jeanine Garafalo with my humor. I also had the ability to be bubbly and energetic. Not “AH MAH GAH, BECKY, LOOK AT HER BUTT” cheerleader bubbly but I carried my own special brand of effervescence. But I always felt an underlying feeling of… Just not fitting in.

My feelings of insecurity carried on into my adulthood. When I entered the work force at the tender age of seventeen (a movie theatre) I was convinced none of my coworkers (almost all male) liked me. I had a few female coworkers who I didn’t get along with much. I never have gotten along with the majority of girls; guys just “get me” more. I look back and realize that I was accepted just fine, although I do think that the guys I worked with didn’t quite know what to make of me. We were all very young, and I was what I now know is the “cool chick” that guys like to hang around. I don’t know if they were used to that then. They were used to the girly girls who flipped their hair and snottily refused to clean their counters. Who would bat their eyelashes, and sweetly ask one of the other boys to do it for them. Me? I was scrubbing and dismantling popcorn poppers with the best of ’em. Why should I try and make someone else do for me what I am perfectly capable of doing myself?

I hopped around to a few other jobs. I fit in well as a waitress in a restaurant. I hated the work, of course, but I fit in well with my coworkers. Life changed, I got married, and grew apart from my single female friends (who I wasn’t ever BFF with anyway). I have a handful of good female friends, and one that I consider my best friend no matter how much time goes by in between us seeing each other. She lives in Chicago and her name is Megan.

As an adult, I am very aware of my personality. I don’t try and mold and shape it to whatever I think is appropriate anymore and sometimes, that makes me feel like even more of an outcast. My sense of humor is really, REALLY random and off-the-wall. I quote movies a lot and in a circle of “normal people”, that doesn’t usually fly very well. I try and jokingly throw out a quote and am met with blank stares. Awesome, now I look like a freaky weirdo. I don’t try and quickly recover myself by talking about the latest episode of Dancing With the Stars, because I just don’t give a shit about Dancing With the Stars. I like Supernatural. And Firefly. And Quentin Tarantino. I go on ranty tirades that often have no point and make no sense. I snort when I laugh.

I have a small group of my “geek friends” who get me. Plus my husband. He, of course, gets me better than anyone I’ve ever met. My geek friends and I can throw down with movie quotes. They understand and embrace my randomness and love me for it. They don’t care that I’m loud, horse-laugh, and tell pointless and rambling stories. I love them for that.

Even here, in the blog world I feel like an outsider sometimes. Like I can’t run with the best of them. I feel like that awkward girl all over again in high school. I don’t have a beautiful, cleverly decorated home. We live in a 2 bedroom apartment (which I love because it’s our space) and share one car. Neither my husband nor I are college-educated and we never will be (I have no desire to be). My photography skills are nothing to write home about. I can write, so I think that keeps me in the blogging circle well enough. Sometimes I forget myself and try and be a Joiner. I do the reviews and giveaways (which I have no intention of stopping.. They’re surprisingly fun and anyone who thinks less of bloggers who do them can SUCK IT. THERE I SAID IT. I get free shit, I help others get free shit out of them, and I help companies get exposure where they might not get it without a review. WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE.). I do the cute, weekly “Wordless Wednesday! Thankful Thursday! Mookie Monday!” and whatever else weekly memes are running rampant in the blogosphere. And I forget myself… Why I blog. Why I write.

Because even at twenty-six years old and with high school almost ten years behind me, I still feel insecure though I know that I have a voice in the things I write. My worth as a writer, or as a person, doesn’t lie in how many comments I get on my blog.. How many followers I attain (though it is pretty exciting to see a new face pop up) or how high my Analytics traffic spikes from day to day. It’s really easy to feel lost and unheard in this vast, seemingly endless circle of blogs. Everyone wants to be seen, heard, and acknowledged. I try my damndest to reply to my friends’ blogs, even if it’s just a nice, hearty, ‘LOL!’ because it means I’m paying attention. I know how good I feel when I am acknowledged and I want others to feel the same way.

What’s the point of this post? I’m not really sure. Maybe this is just my vulnerable “I’m a real live human being, not just words on a screen” post. I’ve been feeling a little blue lately, and I wonder if it’s a result of being at home with minimal human interaction for the past 12 weeks. I’m starting a part-time job soon which is wonderful. I can’t wait. I get to take Nellie with me, which is even better.

So I guess the point in all of this is that sometimes, I feel just as insecure and just as much of an outsider as I did in high school. I guess those feelings never really do go away, do they?

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