No Matter How Fast You Grow, Never Forget Your Roots


East Pyne class room Princeton

When you hit publish on that first blog post, you often play to an empty room.

It’s OK, though. You’re all geeked about going live, all proud of the fresh banner you crafted on a free banner-making website, ready to line up the subscribers and readers and comments. But usually, those first 17 or so posts get the kind of lunch crowd Babu got on Seinfeld for his café.

That empty room gets more crowded over time.

You make a comment here, share someone’s post there, and your subscribers list grows. The couches are full, and you bring in a few folding chairs from the garage. Squeeze in, double up on the love seat. You see friends sign up for updates, and eventually, people you don’t even know.

New friends show up on the subscribers roll call, from great reads you’ve recently found, such as Snoring Dog Studio, Menopausal Mom and Crazy, Sweaty, Mommy.

You wind up with loyal customers, the ones who always get the corner table and order the special, like Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama, Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life, and Laurie @ The Adventure of Writing. You get to guest blog in incredible places. Incredible writers write on your page, too.

But on a slow page-hit weekend like this, you look back a little.

You remember names from the beginnings, those lean days when double-digit page views were reason to celebrate with root beer and pizza. When you saw those blogs with awesome writing and incredible engagement. You drew inspiration from those blog writers, ideas, encouragement, hope.

Sometimes, when the new friends and small successes define your page, you forget your roots.

When that happens, it’s not too late for a homecoming.

As any blogger knows, each new friend and experience carries you another direction, in overlapping movements that sometimes drift from where it all began. Here are five blogs – and five writers – who helped to direct me to where I am now.

1.Jenn @ Another Jennifer

Bologna license plate

Jen is anything but Another Jennifer. She wrote a guest post for me about her experience driving the Wienermobile in college. Instant.credibility. Jen also remembered a comment about Garlic Parmesan wings that became my first recipe guest post on her page.

2. Renee @ Because Life Doesn’t Fit in a File Folder

George Wilson Buffalo Bills prayer

Renee left a comment about her responsibility for the Buffalo Bills losing a Super Bowl because of what she said in a testosterone-filled upstate-New York Laundromat. She made a believer of me – of her role in Bills history, and in myself, with every engaging comment she left for me.

3. Ilene @ Fierce Diva’s Guide to Life

When a writer like Ilene, with her photographic memory, quotes you back to you, you take notice. Her guest post for me, about five places she’d never take her kids, packed the house. The challenge to attempt a worthy value with my return guest post felt like it lifted me to a new level.

4. Chris @ The Mom Café

Chris brought her best, I brought mine, and we posted dueling blogs that revealed the answers to the questions that plague us about the others’ genders. We uncovered most of the answers the universe would allow, on topics as diverse as feminine hygiene products and men’s listening skills.

Did you say something, Chris?

5. AnnMarie @ Queen of Chaos Mom

Roosevelt Stadium abandoned 2

Here’s how early AnnMarie got in: A comment she left led directly to a column post about the day Grace pulled my pants down at soccer. It’s like the Charlotte Bobcats fan who called the team office to ask what time their game started that night. The Bobcats asked, “What time can you get here?”

What early blog connections helped shape who you are today?

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58 Replies to “No Matter How Fast You Grow, Never Forget Your Roots”

  1. This is so interesting. I was just thinking the other day about a blog I used to read in the beginning, and we commented on each other’s blogs. Now we don’t visit each other anymore, and I kind of wonder how she’s doing. Though, a few early blogs I found are still really important to me now. We’ve actually established a closer relationship and introduced each other to other bloggers and have a whole network going. I have learned a lot from them and grown as a – gasp – writer! Thanks for this reminder to reconnect.

    PS: I originally found you through AnnMarie. 🙂

    1. Love knowing that connection through AnnMarie! I think you should check out that blog you told me about. Sometimes, we just drift, and it isn’t intentional, but our blogs change a little every day.

      We change a little as bloggers every day.

      I’m glad you commented. You were an early influence, too, and I’m glad we circled back around to each other’s pages after a little time away.

  2. I really like this post, Eli. You really captured those feelings when you are new and just starting, and how exciting those first small successes are. I am familiar with a couple of these blogs, but I’ll be sure to check out the others.

  3. A great post Eli and thanks for the plug. I can relate to the empty room. I started blogging in June 2011 and became excited when I started getting spam. Well at least somebody was reaching out to me. The sound of crickets chirping in the background became commonplace, and then I realised it was all in my ears anyway. A few linkedIn followers began checking out my work and it went out from there. Catchy tags and the addition of photos in my posts helped launch me into the blogosphere.
    Let’s get down to business Mate, now that I’m at the corner table I’ll have the steak and chips thanks. A great post Eli.
    Cheers
    Laurie.
    Oh I tweeted this, hmm or is that tooted? I’m not sure.

    1. Hey, you’ve earned your spot at the table, brother. I appreciate that you visit so regularly. And what would I do without these exchanges with my favorite bloke?

      Steak and chips sounds perfect, too. And yes, you tooted … but that was before you even logged in your computer. Let’s leave it at that.

  4. Nice. I’m still catching up from the flurry of last week and have met so many amazing new people, but was just thinking the same thing…I need to spend some time over in my Reader, checking in on some old friends and see what’s happening! Thanks for this…great post!

    1. You’re one of those who falls in that in-between category for me. I was glad to find you, but have lost touch a bit. So here’s hoping this comment gets that fixed!

      I hope we all will check in on some blogs we’ve drifted a bit from!

  5. Thanks for the shout out, Eli. It’s an honor to have a seat at the corner table. I hope you’ll share the booth again with me some day. I loved guest writing for you & your guest post for me was beyond awesome.

    Love your reflections on how far you’ve come and where you began. And your early diners? Total rock stars! I absolutely adore Ilene. She is one fierce, talented lady.

    I’m still in my first year of blogging, but I’ve already made some amazing connections. I hope those roots take hold deep because I can’t imagine this journey without those special people. As for you, there’s always an open table for Coach.

    1. I’d be the kind of owner who would want to sit at the corner table with my favorites, yes. I could be talked into sharing a Cubano or Monte Cristo sandwich in a heartbeat.

      I’ll definitely take that table at your place, too. I smell KitKats. I can’t believe how quickly you earned that chair at the corner booth, by the way.

      What are you, Kenyan?

  6. Aw, shucks. Thanks for the props, there! Blogging is like cultivating friends – some stay with you, but things change and you move on to others. I’m so glad I did start blogging because this journey has been wonderful. There are a lot more people with magic in them than I ever thought. There are a lot more people who love words than I thought existed. And I’ve learned so much. Here’s to the journey!

    1. Your blog still has that new-car smell for me. Glad I found it! I have incredible skills at finding the good ones.

      You’re right, it’s all kind of fluid, but I hope that some of us can drift away a little and still call back and find a welcome spot. I might not get to every post of my favorites, but when I do, I’m going to dive right in.

      Yes – here’s the the journey. I’ll tip a Rum and Coke Zero to that.

  7. I love those early feelings, when the connections start to…connect. It’s like magic. I think for me, The Dose Girls were early supporters when I didn’t really have a clue. (not that I totally do now) And Ilene was another one for me. I think we bonded on twitter. It all blurs together about how it all went down, but all I can say is that I’m grateful that it did go down. And there’s so much more to see.

    1. There are connections that stay strong, others that stay on the fringe, but they’re all important. I think you know you fall into a select category for me, and there’s about two of you in it.

      The support out here is incredible. The acceptance, the validation, even if you’re not looking for it, you get it. It’s a network I wouldn’t be around without.

  8. I guess I’m more of a “one hit wonder” – there were those who commented nearly every day – and I commented back…I still comment but they’ve moved on to bigger and let’s face it, better things! But I still love that they took the time – and I take the time b/c I choose to, not b/c I want something back. I’m also a creature of habit -when I like something or someone, I hold on to it. Relationships are worth the investment. 🙂

    1. There’s no bigger and better than you, Jen. You’re one of those that I connected with early, since, and often. You’ve stuck close, and that dysfunctional trait works very well for me.

  9. I love this, especially since so many of your early friends were mine too!! The only one I don’t know is Renee and I will definitely go visit her. The others are regulars on my blog and I on theirs!
    Thank you for the shout out as well. I am very glad to have found your blog — you know I love chatting with you! Even though I don’t coach soccer, I do love the sport and my role as photographer on the sidelines. I admire your coaching philosophy greatly! You will always have a spot at my table!! 🙂 Enjoy your big day today!

    1. Renee’s a must-read. You’ll love her.

      Glad to have given you the shout-out.

      I’m getting nervous about tonight … but Marie is quietly confident. I’m going to follow her lead.

  10. Great post!!! I think that I just keep adding to the list but the bloggers that were some of my first real connections are still some of my very favorites!!!

    1. I do too, Kim, and I’m glad you’re in the mix for me. I know I don’t get to everyone’s every post the way I’d like to, but there are some, like yours, I’ll always be back to, at some point.

  11. Aw, look at you sharing and spreading the love around! So fantastic. This is why I love the blogging community and would actually move into my computer some days if I could.
    I still follow quite a few of the blogs that I first followed. They are a constant source of inspiration, amusement, and support either through humour, or simply that they “Get Me.” It’s never been about the numbers or page hits for me. I haven’t checked my stats in forever. It’s the connection I enjoy.
    Sadly, I can also think of many that don’t blog anymore and I wonder where life has taken them. It’s a big time commitment for sure, but I am glad to still be here. To still have many of the same wonderful people along on the journey, and feel blessed each time a talented new member (like you!) joins the bloggy caravan.
    My one area of big improvement is that I do want to start inviting more people into my own blogging space to share their journey. In the past, I found most were not interested in Guest Posting, but I think the tides have changed in recent years.

    1. i like the idea of moving into my computer – so long as I have access to at least one foodie site.

      You’re in that rare circle, too, Rory, in that I found you early on, and you’ve been close by ever since. Don’t even get me started on that stellar guest post.

      It is a big commitment of time, to blog, but I can’t imagine not having it.

      Guest posts are the most. You just have to ask around. And I try to look for those who I know will put their heart into it. You know, write like a champ, share like a Socialist, comment like a … wait, what comments a lot?

      Anyway, if people knew you could have the kind of experience I hope you had on my page, I bet they’d do it in a heartbeat.

  12. What a great ride down memory lane, Eli! I have to say, the blogger that originally inspired me to start blogging has turned into quite the train wreck, so I won’t be citing her by name. In the end I think I learned a lot of what not to do from her!

    1. It was a bit of a trip. I, like you, found influence in a blogger or two that I eventually left their pages for good. It’s a learning experience, and every day means you could discover another blog you wish you’d found long ago – which perfectly describes yours to me.

  13. Love the way you wrote this – and it is so true – the feeling of being in an empty room. I love many of those blogs that you mentioned so it shows the special kind of bloggers they are. I have a hard time keeping up with everyone, but I do enjoy all the interaction with others that I have. It really adds to my daily life.

    1. Maybe it’s that way for stand-up comics, too, that empty room. There are some bloggers that help you establish yourself, whether they know it or not.

      Yours is one I’m so glad to have found through other bloggers, too. When the circle widens, the entire experience is enriched, and I’m grateful for the role you play in that, too.

  14. Absolutely awesome post, Eli, an perfect timing! As I’m about to write my own reflective post on my past year of blogging. But wow, you set the bar high and knocked this one out of the park! So I will use this as inspiration. Daily I always remember and give thanks for all of those who have helped me. I self-taught that to myself early on but it’s also the way I was raised in life. Loved this read and thank you! 🙂

    1. Thanks Mike. Looking forward to your take on it – these tend to be from the heart, so i’m sure yours will sail far and long, too, my new friend.

      This post is an opportunity to acknowledge support, old and new. I’m glad I found your blog, too, and you’re a welcome addition to a blogging community I hold in the highest regard.

      Thank you, Mike!

  15. I love this post. A good friend of mine recently said how much she has enjoyed seeing my blog grow and how funny some of my very first posts were in comparison to now. She’s a great friend and had encouraged me to blog in the first place so she’s allowed to critique! I love that you shared so many of my favorite bloggers here (Nicole, Michelle, Chris, Ilene) and I think I found you through one of them! So glad I did. Great post!!!

    1. Thanks Allie! I’m in awe of those who would care enough to notice a difference in our work – it’s humbling isn’t it? Maybe they should make a blogging Mt. Rushmore and put Nicole, Michelle, Chris and Ilene on it.

  16. I can so relate to the feelings that you expressed here about the early days. I can’t believe I’m coming up on a year of blogging. Michelle at A Dish of Daily Life, Kate at Another Clean Slate, and Joi at Rx Fitness Lady supported me early on and still do. I recently connected with Another Jennifer and The Mom Cafe. Thanks for sharing, Eli.

    1. I think we all start out with the empty room, but find it’s not as awful as it seems. I’ve been at this a couple of years, and the stats are pretty high, probably, of bloggers calling it quits in the first year.

      Glad you gave props to such awesome bloggers in your comment, too. Yours is new to me, and I look forward to reading more and seeing you back!

  17. Entering the world of blogging can be daunting at first. An empty room that gradually fills up give us the chance to find our unique voice – by learning from other bloggers and/or getting into our own groove.

    1. It can, to put your words out there – what if they’re met with silence? Those early posts with minimal audiences do teach us, don’t they? They’re our dress rehearsals and practice runs. I like that way of looking at it.

  18. I love looking back at my early post to see how my blogging style has evolved. It’s also fun to see who was reading and commenting then. I think it took a lot longer than 17 posts for me to have commenters, though! 😉

    I originally found you when you guest wrote for Nicole!

    1. Do you ever revise those old posts when you look at them? I fix the broken images (they are usually some), and check out some of those blogs of commenters back then, too.

      What kept you encouraged to keep going, Debbie?

      Writing that guest post for Nicole was one of the smartest things I’ve done on a computer screen.

  19. AWWWWWWW!!!!!! I was secretly hoping you would mention our little shindig!!! I am HONORED- so deeply honored that you haven’t forgotten about little ol’ me, while you have raised yourself to new heights!!!

    You. Aw you. XO BC. Always.

    Whenever you get a break in your game, let me know and we will go for round TWO!

    1. How could I not? It was fun. I do regret having drifted a bit from one of the most influential blogs for me. I envisioned this post as kind of a homecoming.

      I’m definitely ready for round 2!

  20. How the heck did I miss this post?! Thank you so much for including me! You should be proud to know that my husband now makes the garlic parmesan wings on a regular basis (football season requires a lot of wings, of course). I’m hungry just thinking about them. And I think your back and forth posts with Chris Carter were pretty much epic. I’m in some excellent company with all the bloggers you mentioned!

    1. You’re a busy blogger, that’s how. I honestly hoped it would get us back in each other’s circles, because I miss that. One of the best things that happened to me blogging early on was that you remembered my reference to garlic parmesan wings, and pinned it to me.

      It became my guest post to you, and it’s been wayyy too long since I’ve whipped up a batch.

      CC and I probably upset the balance of the universe with our give and take, for sure. I estimate an increase in greenhouse gas emission, but at least 12 endangered species saved as a result.

  21. Hey Eli,
    Nice post, made me go over my archives and look at when I got my first comment. It does take time right but before you know it, you have bloggy friends and your favorite blogs too. Here’s hoping we become friends too 🙂

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