Let me catch you up ever so quickly on how my “I am not a blogger” self got into this platform that rocked my mission:
Seventeen years ago I was a teacher.
Sixteen years ago my first born son was born blind.
Twelve years ago my second son was born blind.
Five years ago I started a non profit with moms like me to cure this blindness.
Two years ago my friend and business coach Sue Guiher encouraged me start blogging to grow my reach of my mission and let my voice be heard far and wide. “Blogging? HA!” I laughed. “I’m a speaker and a non profit exec – NOT a blogger,” I snickered (and threw in an eye roll to emphasize the ridiculousness). “Just give it a try” she said.
Now, truth be told everyone that knows me knows I have no trouble finding words. The 140 character limit of Twitter causes … stress… chest pain… and sometimes requires a glass of wine to ease my frustration of going in the red every. single. time. For the love of God I can’t even say a simple hello in 140 characters. My Facebook posts are often like mini-blogs. My Instagram posts look more like wordy brochures. You get the picture. But blogging? Blog-ing? I never considered my ramblings to be worthy of a written platform (and if my high school English teacher reads this, she’ll no doubt cringe re-living the pain of my learning how to properly organize and create my senior research paper. Pure hell, for both of us.)
Sue knows I like a challenge, and she is pretty darn good at knowing which tools will work for entrepreneurs, so not surprisingly she convinced me to join her Blog-A-Day Challenge – where you literally had to write a blog each day for 100 days straight. 100 days. In a row. Holy sh@# what the hell was I thinking? Not only did I have to figure out how to set it up online (I will do a whole ‘nother post ’bout that “endeavor”) but I also had to figure out what exactly my message was and how to convey it in a way that people would care to read it. I couldn’t use my typical hand gestures, or facial expressions, or voice inflection. OMG I was like a batter with no bat, a swimmer with no pool, a dancer with no… OMG sorry, on tho the point…
I was nervous that people wouldn’t care about my reflections. I was scared I’d sound like an idiot. I was afraid.
I started anyway.
Lucky for me I started in Sue’s contest where others were just starting out as well. Our instructions included not only writing the entries, we had to share them with the other participants AND we had to read each other’s blogs and post comments. It was definitely a challenge to do all of that while in the midst of growing a worldwide research foundation (not to mention the kids and the laundry!). It was hard to find the time to dedicate to it.
I found the time.
I wasn’t able to post and read and comment every single day, but I did post most days and I did read and comment often. The participants were from all over the world so my message was reaching way outside of my network. And interestingly enough, making the commitment to write as close to every single day as possible helped me fine tune my “style” and see what resonated and what bombed (apparently some things that are really funny in my head don’t always translate well in my written words – oops) But the best part is that in less than two years my email list grew from about 100 or so “obligated” supporters (my family and friends!) to over 3000 new contacts that wanted to hear from me! What the what?
I wrote about raising blind children. I wrote about what it was like to be on this journey. I wrote about my fundraising, my recruiting research, and about being a mom. I used social media to send my posts out and started finding communities that wanted to hear more. My mission was growing and people were taking notice.
Since I was posting my blogs on social media, many of my connections were reading them and were aware that I had become… wait for it… a Blogger! I was only a few weeks into the challenge and got a message from a friend/colleague that is a rockstar in the rare disease and genetics worlds: author and blogger Ricki Lewis. In addition to her own books, blog, and numerous professional journal articles, every Thursday Ricki posts at the popular weekly DNA SCIENCE blog at Public Library of Science Now that I’ve proven just a bit of Rick’s “rockstarness” you can imagine my O-M-G-ness reaction when she reached out to me and asked me to guest blog for her DNA SCIENCE on PLOS in honor of Rare Disease Day! I’ll just give you a sec to let that set in. New blogger. Invited to write for mega-blogger. Hashtag pinch me. (You can read my entry here.)
Just recently in February of this year, as the annual Rare Disease Day was approaching again, two powerhouse companies asked me to guest blog for them to educate their audiences on my work as a parent trying to fund and find a cure for a rare eye disease. You can read my contribution for Spark Therapeutics’ A Shared Vision here and Vencore Health here.
And then the big leagues: I was invited to write for The Mighty, a community of “Real People. Real Stories.” addressing issues in the disability community. With over 2000 contributors and 100 million readers, I was a bit excited to share such a platform. Read my first entry here and let me know what you think!
The Holy Grail of Writing
So where is all of this leading? Well I mentioned I am now getting great speaking gigs (my first love!) to share my message of guiding children, blind and sighted, to achieve their own personal greatness. And I am really enjoying growing my audience for my non profit. But most interesting in all of this is what is happening now as a result of all this writing, sharing, and spreading my message: I am working on my first book! (I think my aforementioned English teacher just passed out!) Yep… me… the non-writer, non-blogger, non-literary whatchamacallit is writing a book – and I already have people signed up on a pre-list before the pr-order. Life is kinda funny like that, huh?
The Unexpected Impact
My blog posts have never gone viral (yet!). I have not been featured on major blog/mainstream media outlets (Dude, totally wouldn’t mind that at all!) But by constantly working to deliver information to my community that needs it, I am in turn getting invited to connect with people I need to reach on my mission. As the folks I am looking to serve find out about my messages through my blog, I am getting speaking gigs – and the best part is that the extra effort it takes me to write is actually helping me structure my talks better! All of this is helping me fulfill my purpose of helping so many people do what I did: move out of darkness, and into greatness.
Who’s gonna take their own Blog Challenge????? Let me know and share your blog with me!
PS – Need more motivation? Check out these resources:
Social Triggers – good thoughts on why you should blog.
Social Media Examiner – tips on how to write stuff people love to read.
Young Adult Money – 30 Ways To Improve Your Blog
Sue Guiher’s Blog-A-Day Challenge