My Blogging History

Recently I have been thinking a lot about blogging and the blessing it has been to my life. So this week I am going to share my thoughts on all of this. Beginning with… my very own personal history of blogging. πŸ™‚ 11 years ago I started my very first blog. I had a Xanga way back in high school (anyone else?? anyone? Christopher had one too!).

xanga{source}

I started it as a way to keep in touch with my friends while I was back in the States in the summers. I actually hardly updated it that first summer, but I enjoyed the little writing that I did so when I got back to China, I just continued the blog. I made some wonderful friends through the internet during that timeΒ back when the internet was still scary and the only people on it were stalkers. Okay, obviously that’s not true, but that was definitely the stereotype about “making friends online” at the time. But I met some amazing Christians during that time who really challenged my faith and my beliefs. And I am still friends with several of them today. πŸ™‚ So blogging and becoming friends with people I’ve never met has been pretty normal to me since I was a teenager. πŸ™‚

teen rach on laptopMe in 2000 just after we had moved to Wuhan, China. I actually didn’t start my blog until 2003, but this is the only shot I have of me from those years on a computer so it seemed appropriate.Β {ps. hello awkward years 13 year old Rach}

When I graduated high school the next year and went off the college, I definitely wrote less, but I would still update every now and then. By the time I graduated college, there was this thing called Facebook and essentially I had begun microblogging there without realizing it. I shared my photos and stories there all just in shorter form. But then I got married and I needed a place to store my recipes.

rach cookin

I was a newly wed and cooking up a storm all the time. My mom and sisters and I were constantly emailing each other back and forth with recipes and our adjustments to them. I realized it would be easier if I just started a blog where I could keep the recipes publicly so we didn’t have to keep up with all the emails. So I started a blog over at webs.com. Had there been a Pinterest at the time, I probably never would have started it. So for probably the only time I will ever say this… I’m glad Pinterest didn’t exist yet at that point. πŸ˜‰ I shared recipes as I made them and I would write out random thoughts on Fridays. I would link the posts to my Facebook and that was all the community/readership I was looking for at the time.

buying a house

Then in 2010 we bought a foreclosure. And we spent the summer fixing it up and videoing our progress as we went. We shared the videos on Facebook and I realized how much I had missed sharing my life with people and hearing them respond. So that November, almost exactly 4 years ago, I started this blog.Β I still post recipes sometimes, but it isn’t the focus of this blog. It has sort of morphed into an “our life” sort of blog along the way. If we’re eating it, making it, traveling to it, experiencing it… I want to share it with you. And I’ll write more later this week why blogging has become so important to me. But for today, this is just the history of where I came from with blogging. πŸ™‚

Β comments

Early in this particular blog’s life, it kind of exploded. I easily had anywhere from 50-100 comments on each post. And I loved it. I loved feeling heard. That people were reading my thoughts and responding. And I read every blog of every person who commented on my blog. And I would leave comments back. But there were SO many blogs to keep up with that I found myself getting everyone’s stories mixed up. And I would speed read through posts just trying to keep up instead of letting relationships develop.Β I enjoyed all the comments and attention, but blogging for me wasn’t about building a big popular blog. {not that there’s anything wrong with that. I mean, I love me some Pioneer Woman!} For me, I wanted to share my life and then in turn get to know my readers. So I started picking and choosing favorite blogs. Ladies who I had a lot in common with. And I pursued those relationships. There was a time when I reguarly (attempted) to read well over 100 blogs. Today I keep up with 30 and most of them don’t update every day.

rach blogging

So yes, I have far fewer comments now. But IΒ know the ladies who comment on my blog. I know about their passions and hobbies and families. I talk to Christopher about them in passing and he knows who I’m talking about. It is no more unusual for him to hear me talk about a blog friend than it is for him to hear me talk about a friend here in Memphis. You ladies are a part of my life. There aren’t just 100 bloggers who I struggle to keep their stories straight anymore, these are some of my best friends. πŸ™‚

So tell me, what’s your history of blogging? Why did you start? Do you still blog for the same reason you started?
Love Rach

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49 responses to “My Blogging History

  1. Oh my, Xanga! Yes, I had one I think between 2004 or 2005-2009 or something like that…. so strange to remember that! I used mine as more of a record of my weight loss attempts, but it was neat how it wasn’t so “blog stat” crazy… it was just writing and having others respond back. I love your blog because of your community and heartfelt-ness (if that’s a word). Some people think having online friends is a weird thing… I think it is a really beautiful thing, and can be in many ways just as impactful as a face-to-face friendship. Have a great week, Rachel! (p.s. You made the awkward years appear very non-awkward!)

    • Haha! You are kind, but believe me, if you could see that photo a little more clearly you’d definitely see just how awkward I was. Ah, the days of the afro… how I don’t miss them. πŸ˜‰

      I love that you had a Xanga too! It’s funny how that seems almost like another life time ago, but it really hasn’t been that long in the grand scheme of things. I definitely agree that friendships developed online can easily have the same amount of impact on our lives that in person friendships have! πŸ™‚

  2. AHHHHHHHHHH XANGA =<3 ❀ ❀ ❀
    I actually met my ex boyfriend through xanga. i had one from 2002 all the way through like 2013 when they shut it down. (they now have a new one, but it doesn't make sense to me)

    and i'm with you on the "blogging friends" thing. i read a lot of blogs (ok, try to, if you look at my unread amount on bloglovin it would make you cringe) but i definitely have those that i go through and read their posts (even though those can pile up too haha) because i love them (YOU!) and want to hear about their life, and enjoy conversations!

    • ​I love that you had a Xanga too! I didn’t know you met your ex boyfriend through it! I’ve known a lot of people who met their boyfriends/husbands online, but you are the first that I know who met them through Xanga. Definitely unique. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet your husband through blogging! πŸ™‚

      Haha! I definitely have those times when my Feedly piles up with unread blog posts (today) so I hear ya. πŸ™‚

  3. That’s what I like best about you Rach! You try to actually “KNOW” the people whose blogs you read! You are such an amazing woman who I adore so much and who has taught me a lot through her blog posts! I’m so glad I landed in your blog as I started writing a few years ago! Enjoyed reading and watching all your life stories πŸ™‚ Let them keep coming πŸ™‚

  4. Wow! You have been blogging a long time. I used to have a LiveJournal and I laugh at some of the crap I used to post on there haha

    • Oh yes! Live Journal was the other big one! I had a lot of friends who had those. Xanga and LJ… kind of like Blogspot and WordPress now. πŸ˜‰ Funny how we all tend to gravitate to one of two big options. πŸ™‚ I know what you mean about some of the ridiculous stuff you used to post. It makes me grateful that I didn’t have Facebook when I was a teenager!

  5. I definitely remember when you would get about fifty comments on each post! It was insane and I thought it was pretty much the coolest thing (coming from someone who maybe gets a comment or two on my posts, haha).

    I used to follow about 100 blogs as well, but you’re right – speed reading + commenting was the name of the game. So I also picked my favorites and I think I follow about 20 now. Much easier to keep up with!

    I’m SO glad you started this blog and post often. It always makes my day a little brighter!

    -Tia

    • I thought it was pretty cool too. But I honestly couldn’t remember people’s specific stories. I had to write notes to myself to remember that so-and-so was married to Jim and so-and-so had a baby named Sam, etc. I just couldn’t keep all the pieces together. Plus the comments I got back then were mostly fluff or short little “Cool!” comments. I’m grateful to be in actual conversation with my readers now! And I’m thankful for you, Tia! It has been so cool to watch you grow up over the years and become a successful lady! πŸ™‚

  6. 30! Wow! I think I keep up with 3 haha. I have fallen off the bandwagon, but I have to keep up with some of my favorite people!

  7. I absolutely loved reading about your relationship with blogging. πŸ™‚ So cool. I am honored to be one of the 30 you keep up with. You know that you were my first non-real-life blog friend. And I couldn’t have asked for a better one. ❀

  8. What a sweet post! I loved this! I’ve never heard of xanga, actually. I think while you were on xanga I was still on AOL Messenger using some embarrassing screen name of course haha

    That’s pretty cool that you’ve been blogging for so long, and also interesting to learn how much your blog has changed since the beginning! I love that you don’t try to appeal to the masses, but rather just share aspects of your life and through that have developed a core group of readers/followers. The blogs I like reading are the ones where I know I can have a genuine interaction with the reader, and your blog is one of them!

    As for my blogging history, I started blogging about 8 months after moving to Argentina. I was having a really tough transition, feeling quite bad a lot of the time, so I thought to make myself feel better I would write a blog to force me to focus on the positives in life, and share those things. As a result, it gave me motivation to do more things. For example, I was never interested in cooking, and starting my blog gave me the motivation to cook and share the successes I had in cooking. Now I love it, and can’t believe that before I would just eat sandwiches all the time haha

    As for now, my blog touches on a little bit of everything—anything and everything I am interested in, as well as what’s going on in my life. I enjoy writing posts and wish I had more time for it! I cherish having readers coming back to read more of my posts, and love that I have “met” so many people from all over the world!
    Hope you’re having an awesome weekend! xx
    PS–sorry for the novel i just wrote

    • Oh girl! I got AOL IM my first year in college. We didn’t have access to it in China while I was in high school which is why I didn’t have it then. But I totally had a lot of serious conversations with Christopher (my then friend, who became my boyfriend, who I married). I was reading back on some of our conversations recently and it was pretty embarrassing, haha! So much drama back then! And shameless flirting, haha!

      I love hearing how blogging has blessed your life! How it has grown your love for cooking and made the transition to life in Argentina a little better. πŸ™‚ I know we haven’t known each other long, but I have really enjoyed getting to know you through your blog this year! You have such a fun spirit! πŸ™‚

      And hey, novel-length comments are always welcome! πŸ™‚

  9. You have quite the blogging history! I used to have a Xanga too! I recently tried to look it up to see if my words are still floating out there in cyberspace, but I guess the website died and my posts disappeared with it. And I don’t know how you kept up with so many blogs! Some people scoff at the idea of a full-time blogger, but for someone who truly wants to network and create a massive following, it REALLY could be a forty-hour-a-week endeavor!

    • I was only working 2 days a week at the time, that’s how I kept up with so many blogs. πŸ˜‰ Though truthfully, I didn’t keep up with them well. And it really was draining so much of my time. I’m glad that I’ve cut it waaaay way down. It definitely would be a 40+ hour a week job to do blogging full time as a career! I’ve seen several people who do it and it’s great for them! But it’s just not my cuppa tea. πŸ™‚

      Also, sad day about losing those Xanga posts! I bet there were some real treasures buried in there! πŸ˜‰

  10. Ok- I loved this! Loved hearing your history with blogging! I’m a newbie just on my fourth month and about a month ago, I got the same way- speed reading, exhausted to many comments from people who didn’t seem to know or care about the content, so like you I’m re working it, wanting people who genuinely connect with me and my writing and those that I feel the same. It’s been much more enjoyable. Would love to hear tips on how to grow a blog or any blogging tips in general would be amazing!

    http://www.hollandsreverie.blogspot.com

    • Oh girl, I don’t know that I’m the best one to be giving advice on growing a blog, haha! Obviously my following has shrunk significantly over the past couple of years. But it’s definitely a much better quality now. This may not help you, but here’s how I found my favorite blogs:

      I started by searching for blogs that were written by ladies similar to me. When I found ones I really connected with, I’d leave a comment on their About page to say hi and then a comment or two on their last couple of posts. If they responded with a visit to my site and commented on a post then I’d add their blog to my Feedly. For about a month I continue reading their posts and commenting. If they only comment once or twice on my blog posts in that time frame, I remove them from the Feedly. Not to be mean and not because I didn’t like them, but because I am looking for friendships. When I do find that blogger who begins to comment frequently on my blog then I pursue that relationship. If I’m looking for more blogs to follow then I check their comments and start clicking through their readers. Typically if I had a lot in common with the blogger, then I usually have a lot in common with their other readers as well. So it’s an easy way to find blogs that I’m interested in. And I start the process over (commenting on their blogs and seeing if they respond). This won’t get you 100 comments on every post, but it will be the beginning of some amazing friendships. πŸ™‚ I hope that was helpful!

      By the way, I know I haven’t known you for long, but I really do love your blog. Your photos are gorgeous and your family is beautiful and I love the way you write about life. Keep it up! πŸ™‚

  11. Blessed to be a part of your “blog life” girl! πŸ™‚ I had a Xanga back in the day, as well as an Open Diary? I think that’s what it was called… so funny!

    • I haven’t heard of Open Diary, but that’s so true of what it is, haha! Especially back in my teen years when I had so many emotions pouring out all the time. πŸ˜‰ I’m glad you are part of my blog life too! It has been fun watching you experience the beginnings of marriage and now this sweet new life! πŸ™‚

  12. I loved this!!! You are one of the very few bloggers who reads and replies to each and every one of your readers’ comments. And not only that, but you have taken the time to look at my blog and comment as well. Whenever I receive a notification that you have commented back, it truly makes my day and I cannot wait to read it. I totally agree with you on the importance of building relationships. When I first started blogging, I dreamed of having thousands upon thousands of followers. However, the more I tried to gain popularity on my first blog, the more I realized I wasn’t writing about things of substance or things that mattered to me. Keep up your awesome posts. You really do make an impact! πŸ™‚

    • ​Thanks so much for your kind words! You are so sweet, Amanda! I have loved getting to know you these past few months! I’m so glad you found my blog. πŸ™‚ I’m glad you are finding a good balance so that you can write about the things you enjoy! Smart lady!

  13. Awwww, I forgot about Xanga! πŸ™‚ I didn’t use it for long in college (and stopped for years before I decided to begin a WordPress account), but I do remember writing a bit and posting some pictures. It just seemed to be like the ‘thing to do’ at the time.
    When I officially started to use WordPress, my goal really was to challenge myself to write every day, since I wasn’t writing for my job. Blogging turned out to be SO much more for me though. I have made amazing friendships along the way, and I’ve learned even more about myself… and my writing style too. It’s been a great adventure, that’s for sure! πŸ™‚
    And I never had the amount of comments that you do, but there was a time that I was reading a TON of blogs in the hopes to expand my blog. I stopped doing that as well. Now I read blogs that I truly enjoy reading… and that’s it! I focus on the people and relationships as well, and it’s SO much better. πŸ™‚

    • Aww, I bet you used AOL IM more, though! Right?? It was sooo the thing to do back in ye olden days before Facebook and social media took the world by storm. πŸ˜‰ Ah, the good old days when phones were connected to walls and we twirled the cord around our fingers while our siblings yelled at us to get off the phone so they can get online and check their email. πŸ˜‰ But moving on to the 21st century… haha!

      I’m so glad you started your WordPress site! It’s still crazy to me that I’ve been reading your words for four years now! You are my longest running blog friend and I love it! πŸ™‚

  14. I honestly think we all go through that stage of “Oh I need x amount of comments, and need to read x amount of blogs”. Thats natural.. or at least I think so? Ha! I know for me personally, blogging became more than blogging when I just accepted whose pages I truly enjoyed reading & if they related to my life in an way. With doing so, I’ve formed wonderful relationships with ladies & have even had the pleasure of meeting. It truly is crazy what the effect of blogging has on your life.

    Alongside of friendships I’ve formed, its been a great source for Joshua and I’s family & friends to stay in contact and up to date with what’s happening in our lives since were oceans away.

    • Yeah! Blogging is definitely helpful when it comes to keeping far away family and friends updated. That’s exactly why I first started blogging all those years ago! πŸ™‚ It’s amazing how it becomes so much more! I’m so glad you have found so many amazing relationships from the blog world. I have definitely enjoyed getting to know you recently! And I am definitely loving reading about those sweet sweet baby girls! πŸ™‚

  15. I totally had a Xanga!! Hahaha. Almost forgot about that. I loved hearing your blogging story. And I’ve totally made some online friends too. πŸ™‚

  16. Rach I LOVE this. And thank you for sharing your story. πŸ™‚

  17. YES!! I had a Xanga…oh man those were the days. I also used to be much more attentive to my blog, and would get around 50+ comments on my posts, but then I got busy and started blogging less. Now I am much happier with the smaller bloggers that I have actual connections with. LIKE YOU! ❀

    • I’m just glad you are blogging less and not quitting entirely! I mean, I understand when bloggers need a break or life changes and they quit blogging, but it always makes me sad when someone I’ve known for a long time fades off. You know that I’m definitely still reading! πŸ™‚ I am thankful for our THREE years of friendship! πŸ™‚

  18. quality over quantity (as far as commenting goes) every single time πŸ™‚ i didn’t start blogging until last year, but it kinda makes me wish i started sooner. i love having a visual record of daily life, and the people you meet are so, so inspiring ❀

  19. Oh girl, I love this post!! I think it’s so cool that you’ve been blogging for so long. I definitely had an Xanga in high school, but I think I only posted on it a few times. I only really got it because most of my friends had it πŸ˜‰ I also had a livejournal account later, but I didn’t make a habit of it until I started my current blog. And I’m totally with you when it comes to wanting to actually KNOW your readers. It’s so much more fun and meaningful to have actual blog friendships than to try and keep track of a bunch of random blogs! Also, if you notice a bunch of creepy searches through your archives in your analytics, that’s me looking up the “most commented” posts you listed haha.

    • Haha! And we all know why you REALLY started blogging regularly (coughSTEVEcough). Tell him I am eternally grateful. πŸ˜€ And girl, those search terms are nothing compared to the craziness I see sometimes. The search terms that bring people to my blog really make me wonder about the world some days. πŸ˜‰

  20. Pingback: Why I Blog |

  21. I started blogging in 2006 I think….I’m not exactly sure because I stopped and started and used several different sites and I can’t remember any of them!

    I’ve been on the space that I have now since 2008 and blogging the way that I do now since 2012. It’s been great! I’ve put myself out there the last few years and decided to connect with other bloggers. I talk about them all of the time to the point where my family rarely has to say “WHO?!?! Are you talking about? Do I know this person?” now! πŸ™‚

    I loved reading your story and seeing pictures throughout your process. You made the right decision to tone it down on the reading even when it meant losing “followers”. I can tell you, I discovered your blog after a comment you left on mine once upon a time!

    • I know what you mean! I definitely talk about my friends from the blog world just like I talk about my in person friends. My husband knows the names of some of my blogger friends’ spouses and pets even. πŸ˜‰ And yes! I definitely think toning it down on all the speed reading/commenting was a good choice for me. I just couldn’t keep up with everyone’s individual stories. It has definitely given me more time to invest in a few friendships instead of a hundred. πŸ™‚

  22. i loved this and the post after it. i talk about other bloggers to my friends too–like i really know y’all and hang out with y’all irl!

  23. haha! I never had a Xanga, but I do remember when it was a popular thing πŸ™‚ I actually had a small period of time when I got about 50 comments on each post. It really was a lot of fun! But you’re so right: it’s so much work to keep up with all of it, and I have definitely gotten less comments over the last 6 months or so, but I’ve had more time to really read and comment on the blogs I love, so it’s not a bad thing in the end. (Although who wouldn’t love to be PW blog famous!)

    • Yes! It really is a lot of work to keep up with! And I’m sure there are some bloggers who can do it and keep up with all their readers, but I just wasn’t one of them. I found myself making notes about different bloggers (“she is married to Sam, she has two kids: Finn and Belle, she PRed in the April race… etc). I just couldn’t remember it all on my own. I enjoy having a smaller readership now just simply because I know all my readers. I know about them and there is a two-way relationship there, you know? πŸ™‚

  24. Holy cow, that’s a lot of comments! I don’t have as much as I used to, but now I have stronger relationships with the ones that comment πŸ˜‰

  25. I feel like in stalking your blog BUT I read the post you just wrote about how your friends in Memphis didn’t know you blogged and I started reading some of your posts why you blog and it’s so interesting!

    I like that you chose less blogs to focus on friendships rather than on numbers and comments.

    I never knew God would use my blog to give me some of the friends I have today but I’m so thankful!

    I also know that several of my blog readers have faithfully prayed for me and encouraged me during our time in Myanmar.

    It’s been fun to read your journey so thanks for sharing.

    • Haha! I’m totally okay with you stalking my blog anytime! That’s what it’s here for. πŸ™‚

      I definitely have loved the community that comes through blogging. The two way relationship that develops. I’ve received so much support from ladies I’ve met through blogging. πŸ™‚ I’m so glad it has been a blessing to you as well! It’s incredible how friendships can form. πŸ™‚

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