Blog-O-Versary Giveaway!

October 26, 2009

A year ago, I sat at my computer and started what I considered at the time to be a lame hobby that I would probably quit within a month. I started a blog. I didn’t tell my wife I had started a blog until a month later, when I actually had 5 readers to show for it.

I’ve had a great time subjecting all of you to my opinions over the last year. I’m sure you are so much richer for the experience. I have also had a great time being subjected to your opinions of me in your many comments. You’ll notice among the changes around this site is a new ‘Top Commentors’ list to the left. All you have to do to get a prominent link to your blog on my site is try to topple one of my commenting champions!

To celebrate a year of blogging, I’m doing two things. First I’m having a Really Big Giveaway. I’ll be giving away T-shirts and other stuff from my store, as well as gift cards to your favorite restaurants and book stores!

How many prizes are there to win? Why, that all depends on you, dear reader! For every 5 new Subscribers, Facebook friends, Twitter-ers, or Blogger followers that join up in the next week, I’ll give out another prize to a random person! (Make sure I can contact you on Monday November 2, if you want to be eligible.) So you can help everyone win more prizes by telling more people about the contest all week long!

The second thing I want to do is share with you some things I’ve learned over the last year about how to be awesome at blogging (i.e. write a blog and have fun at it.) Lots of you are bloggers, some just starting out, some old hands at it. I’m trying to give back to you, my blog-friends, who have subjected yourselves to my opinions for a year with something that may actually be useful to you.

Lots of people try blogging. Literally, at least 1 new blog is born every second. Lots of people soon decide it’s not for them – maybe they actually make more money by working a job or something. In the last year, I’ve seen some great blogs, blogs that I looked up to, go dormant, much to my dismay.

So I’m trying to answer the question: how do you get what you want out of blogging? I don’t call it “successful” blogging, because that’s stupid. If you don’t know why that’s stupid, you don’t know what blogging is for, because you work for Sony or Pepsi or some other corporation that thinks it needs a blog because blogs are “cool.”

Here’s what I think is at the heart of blogging. I tried to have this mindset when I started blogging. Jon Acuff, Carlos Whittaker and Anne Jackson very eloquently stated the same idea at their Catalyst lab.

The heart of blogging is telling your story.

That’s so basic, but gets lost on many people. I started blogging because I read blogs I liked, and wanted to do that too. I’ve wanted to be like a lot of people. But I can’t be like someone I look up to. I can’t preach like a pastor I look up to. I can’t write someone else’s blog. I can’t be as funny as Jon Acuff or as nice as Carlos Whittaker or as sensitive as Anne Jackson. (My words, not theirs…that I know of.) I can only tell my own story.

A lot of us started blogging because we wanted to be heard. As our world gets bigger, people want to be heard more. We don’t want to die with no one knowing who we were. So don’t try to tell someone else’s story. Tell us who you are!

Bloggers are pretty keen at sniffing out phonies and ripoffs. That’s why I say tell your story. People will know if you’re telling someone else’s, and they won’t read your blog.

So the rest of the advice I can give you this week is all about how to tell your story. Because, blogging is great for telling stories. But believe it or not, it also does a lot of things to stifle your storytelling. That’s why I think blogs go dormant. And I want to hear those stories!

What do you think is the heart of blogging? What did you set out to do when you first sat down at your computer and published your first blog post? Don’t forget to tell some friends to sign up here! How many prizes will you win?

29 responses to Blog-O-Versary Giveaway!

  1. Such a great post! Congrats on your accomplishment. I'm coming up on a year myself on my first blog. Anyway, I think the heart of blogging is purpose. For awhile, my personal blog had no purpose except to be a place for me just to talk about whatever I wanted, which I don't think it wrong, but it had no purpose.

    Now it does. All I have to do now is get that purpose across to others. Now it's happy work!

  2. wow, thanks for the advice :)

    I'm approaching my 1st blog-o-versy as well (31st Oct) and I must say its been so rewarding :)

    I started my blog out of procrastinating in the midst of the exams period and essentially has become a way to have a voice and a media to like you said, share the journey of life with the blogging world :)

    I think the heart of 'successful' blogging is being true to yourself, being transparent (which is often kinda scary) and being open and respectful of the views of others as well.

  3. argh, sorry a few spelling mistakes there… *it has become a way to have a voice and a medium..

  4. My first go at blogging was way back in the day of Xanga.com. Remember those? I think it was the precursor to Myspace…

    Anywho, I then blogged for a while for my church as a contributor. But I was lame at it, so I didn't do it often.

    The blog I have now is over 2 years old and I'm pretty good at updating it a few times a month. It started out as a means to keep the newly computer-savvy grandparents up with the day to day of us and our kids. But then I met these crazy Jesus freak bloggers on SCL (present company included) and withe their influence and encouragement, my blog has morphed into more than just photos of my kids. Now I'm being snarky and sharing my life on deeper levels. It's been fun and pulls me out of my comfort zone, which we all need sometimes.

    I really like the direction it's taking. And I'm proud I've stuck with it for this long.

    Love your blog Matt, in case I haven't mentioned that in a while 😉

  5. Alisha De Freitas October 26, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    Congrats, Matt! Saturday was my one year wedding anniversary. I guess October 2008 had a lot of good things beginning :-)

  6. Yay! Commenter battles! This sounds like fun. Nothing like spamming…um commenting..yes commenting your way up the list

  7. Congratulations, Matt!

    I started blogging to share what is happening in my life with friends and family. When I started, family was about 300 to 400 miles away, depending on whether it was my husband's side of the family or mine. Now, all my family and all my old friends are 1800+ miles away. I just realized that I passed the 1 year mark this summer. My favorite writing has been a tribute series–inspired by God. I write what I would say to family members at their funeral. That way, they will know what I will say ahead of time and I already have something prepared ;-).

  8. I'm glad to say I was one of your first Followers! Your blog has grown into a real force Matt, and you should feel very good about that.

    I started blogging because I love to write and to express my humble opinion, so it was a natural outlet for expression. God has been so good to me, and I love to tell people too! I also love connecting with other Christians and hearing about their walks with Christ.

    Keep up the great work Matt!

  9. Congratulations Matt. I enjoy your blog (and I think a few others do as well). Keep up the good work!

    Don't know if you know this, but you were one of the 1st to comment on my blog and you've even come back! That little interaction spurred me on or I may had given up. Now I've passed the year mark too. So thanks for that as well…

    wv: ballso -a very unpopular TV clown who only lasted one show for obvious reasons.

  10. aByrdinHishands October 26, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    I started blogging because I wanted a forum to share what I am learning in my Christian walk. I know that by being open and sharing my experiences, it may give others the courage to open up and share their experiences as well.

    P.S. I enjoy your blog. Don't know if I'm an official follower, but I do have a link to your blog on mine for easy access.

  11. I started blogging because I dreamt that my daddy handed me a journal and told me to write. I always obeyed my daddy. I started my blog the next day.

    Happy Blogisversary. I found your blog through Sherri's blogroll, and later followed and added you to mine because I loved your humor and the openness in which you share.
    God Bless you!

  12. You have written some good stuff over the year. As long as you write, I'll read…

  13. Today is MY BLOGOVERSARY too!

    Who knew? AT the very same moment we both took this HUGE step into the cyber world.

    Your footprints are much larger than mine, but I'm glad to follow along.

    I think you're awesome!

  14. Not sure I ever quite figured out how to enter this contest, but I'm already a subscriber to your blog and a follower on Twitter, so I'm hoping this comment will do it! Thanks.

  15. Good stuff! I started my first blog a jillion years ago before anyone knew about blogs during a graduate course called "Weblogs and Wikis" in the freezing northern parts of Minnesota. It's amazing where blogs and wikis have gone since then!
    Feel free to give me any free stuff to celebrate your blogaversary!

  16. I started my "mom blog" because our two daughters (in their 20s) were asking questions about topics ranging from how to know when God is speaking, to how to roast a chicken. I figured that if they had questions like that, so would their friends.

    Plus, blogging gives me the opportunity to share what I've learned, and am still learning, without overly intruding in their adult lives. They can listen or not, as they please. 😎

    I'm eagerly awaiting your sage advice on how to improve my site!

  17. Matt @ The Church of No People October 26, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    Sherri – that's totally awesome!

    Barry – you're in the contest just by being a follower. Prizes are awarded based on how many new friends sign up this week. So yes, I'm asking everyone to tell their friends about me this week, and temporarily become my friend until the contest is over. :)

  18. My first post contained the following…

    "Texas is cooler than Arizona"

    My current blog was actually an attempt to write something less personal, essentially for public consumption by the people who would see me in my current leadership position. It's still that, to some extent. I love being open and transparent, so it's frustrating at times, but when I am able to distill the message down to something beneficial and vague, I've found it helps people relate it to their own lives. That's pretty cool.

  19. came thru twitter.
    my first time here and i'm gonna subscribe.

    congrats on one year!

  20. Congrats on a year! I started blogging because I found myself having conversations in my head and thought that I'd better do something about it. I thought about a pet, but didn't want the responsibility, so I started a blog instead. I didn't know if anyone would ever read it, but I knew there were things I wanted to write. I never expected to learn so much as I tried to corral my thoughts a little instead of just letting them run amok.

    I've been reading your blog for about a month now. Good stuff!

  21. Congratulations!

    I started a blog when a friend of mine was being falsely accused of a crime. The local newspaper was blasting him with accusations and unfavorable bias; they stopped printing my letters to the editor in response, so I tried to blog. It didn't really take off. I wanted some friends to join in but they claimed computer ignorance so I dropped it. Later I decided I wanted to write a book and I thought blogging would give me needed practice. So I picked it up where I left off. Not too successful yet, but I keep plugging away.

  22. I'm sensitive? See, you can be as funny as Acuff. :)

    Seriously, thanks for being YOU.

  23. Candace Jean July 16 October 27, 2009 at 4:25 am

    Happy Blog-o-versary, Matt! I have no idea how I first found you, but have really enjoyed laughing at your stories. Keep 'em coming!

  24. I can't afford facebook but I'm on space-kook.

    Do I win??

  25. Congrats Matt.

  26. Heather Sunseri October 27, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    I wish you could see me hitting my hand up against the side of my head like "I could have had a V-8." I needed this post today. Yesterday, actually, but today will do.

    When I sat down to write my first blog post, I simply wanted to write and communicate with other writers. I think it evolved into what it is now.

    Congratulations on your 100th post! I really enjoy your blog. It makes me laugh and think, not always at the same time.

  27. Heather Sunseri October 28, 2009 at 1:13 am

    Hey, Matt. I'm mentioning this post on my blog tomorrow. Thanks for the inspiration.

  28. Insight into someone's thoughts, reading their story, is what attracts me to reading blogs. Prior to blogs, and still, I've always enjoyed reading people's published journals (as opposed to stealing people's private journals for a good read).

    I think written words provide a unique ability to say things for which there rarely is the opportunity during daily conversations.

  29. Congrats on your blog-versary! I just celebrated mine and it was so much fun to give away goodies too!

    I started my blog as a personal therapy session….but it is so much more. I have been blessed with "meeting" so many awesome people and learning from all of them. Some of them make me laugh, some cry…..most of the leave me thinking and reflecting. (yours included)

    I know that I keep it as real as I can….and those are the blogs/friends I love to visit. People who are genuine and admit to the their struggles just like me…..they offer hope and inspiration.

    Keep on, keep on! I love this place. :)