Ten Lessons in Ten Years of Awesomely Luvvie!
Ten years ago today, I was fresh off college graduation and still jobless at the time but one thing I was doing was blogging. The “weblog” I had created while in undergrad three years before felt stale to me. I felt like it was time for me to start fresh, so I deleted my Xanga blog that was in Comic Sans font (why, lawd?), logged on to Blogspot and started a new website. It was called: Luvvie’s Random Rants. My first post was titled “The Blog That Luvvie Built.” I made a quick intro of who I was. Two paragraphs and that was it.
It was on August 8, 2006. I didn’t know what I was starting with those two paragraphs. I didn’t know that it would change my life. I didn’t know that I’d be here in 10 years, saying “AND I’M STILL AT IT.”
“Luvvie’s Random Rants” got renamed to “Awesomely Luvvie” in 2008. In 2010, I moved it from Blogger to WordPress. And here we are. I wrote a long post about how my dreams have come true in ways even I could not have imagined. Read: About My Epic Week (I Interviewed Oprah), Dreams Realized and Lessons Re-Learned. It has been incredible.
Ten years is a long time, but I feel like it was just yesterday. Along the way, I’ve learned countless lessons. I wanna share ten with you.
Ten Lessons in Ten Years of Awesomely Luvvie
The first doesn’t matter most.
Being a pioneer to some field matters. Being the first does have its’ perks because you can claim OG status and you probably blazed trails. However, being first really stops mattering if people forget your name. You cannot rest your laurels in being first. Who came after you and did it better?
Do something long enough, you will get better.
When people say that they feel like I’m an overnight success, I tell them that it’s been a decade of sticking with it. I am one of the ones who didn’t quit. And because of it, I got better. As a writer, a cultural critic and a professional troublemaker, I started getting attention. Because listen. I came to the party early and I helped you clean up. Of course you’ll notice me.
Anything that you do for a long time will be something that you begin to be a BAWSE at. Why? Because consistency and practice will do that. If I have been blogging for 13 years and I still suck at writing and marketing and all’at, then maybe I should quit.
Let your work evolve.
Honor all parts of yourself and let the work that you do grow. When I first started, I wasn’t writing about race and politics. It was shenanigans most of the time. Had I gotten stuck in that box, not letting myself grow beyond what I initially began with, this site would be less whole and less true to me. This site wouldn’t have what folks have come to love the most.
This blog has evolved with me. And my changed beliefs, my maturity and my growth as a person can be charted through the last ten years. How you start is not going to be how you continue and finish and that is okay. You are human.
Let yourself find some chill.
Also, if you do something long enough, you will need to take breaks from it. There are over 1,500 posts on this site, and I prided myself in being the person who would drop commentary on things as they happened. And no matter where I was in the world, I would make sure I wrote, even if it meant I only got 3 hours of sleep. Lately, I’ve slowed down on that. Yesterday, someone commented on my FB page: “I miss you actually writing instead of posting pics with famous people.” Me: “I miss you paying me to write. Wait…” But the statement irked the hell outta me.
I’m sorry that I’m living life instead of being tethered to my laptop 24/7. Wait. NO I’M NOT. I am flattered that people miss my writing when I don’t write often. On the other side, I’ve spent most of last 4 months in hotels/airports. What I used to do was get to my hotel at 11pm. Spend 2 hours writing, some more time checking email and wake up for some event at 7am. I was burning out. I could not keep up the pace. It wasn’t healthy and it wasn’t sustainable long term. Most blogs that churn out content have more than 1 writer. And I feel like I’ve earned the opportunity to take breaks from writing. Plus, I wrote a book (I’M JUDGING YOU: The Do-Better Manual). I did that while traveling to 6 countries across 4 continents. So there’s tons of Luvvie writing to read if folks ever miss my work. But we need to know that it is okay to take breaks.
Expand your team of one.
Beyond blogging, I speak, I run a national nonprofit (The Red Pump Project), I travel, I do a lot of stuff. I am a multi-hyphenate because I’m multi-passionate and what that means is that I’m always juggling a bunch of plates. Some come crashing to the floor more often than I want to admit, and it got to the point where I had to stop being an empire of one. And I needed to do it guilt-free. Why? Because working ourselves to the bone is not a badge of honor. I wrote about this at length on a piece I wrote on Medium called On Firing Myself and Ending the Empire of One. Go read that.
Stand in your worth.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in having this blog and being a writer is how you have to stand in your worth. People will try to de-value your work, because it might not be something they can hold on to physically. Brands will try to pay you in “exposure.” Folks will tell you that you need them more than they need you. The times when I have said “YES” to “no” situations have been the times when I was most mad at myself because I always felt taken advantage of.
There are times when we are just looking to get our feet in the door. But it seems that the people who don’t want to pay us are also the ones who want us to give them everything. Or folks who got dollar menu budgets wanting caviar. It is okay to walk away from short term gains if they won’t be worth it in the long term.
Run your own race.
It is tempting to see what others in your field are doing, wondering if you should be doing the same. But when you look beside you instead of ahead, it slows you down. Folks too often think they are in competition with others, when the only race they need to run is theirs. Worry about yourself and do what is true to you. Because there is no guarantee that you can replicate someone else’s result even if you copy them. DO YOU.
Look back but don’t dwell.
It pays to look back from time to time, though. And see how far you’ve come. Just don’t stay in the past, dwelling on what could have been, what you could have done better or any other WHAT IFs. It will have you beating yourself up. Me, for example. I didn’t attempt to monetize this site until 2011. 5 years after I got started. Why? Because I didn’t think it was worth $$$. I could kick my own ass for not seeing that what I had was more than a hobby: it was a business. But when you know better, you do better.
Do what feels good.
What kept me writing through the years is that if I didn’t write, I’d dream words. Or I’d feel slightly cluttered. I just had to say the things I said. As my blog grew, people would suggest topics to me, and I’d take them on too, if I had a strong enough opinion about it. I wrote because I loved it. And no, love of something is not what allows you to make a living at it. But it does help the grind when that thing that is keeping you up at night is something you are really fond of.
Read more than you write.
One of my FAQs is “how do I overcome writer’s block?” Everyone will give a different answer but I make sure I always have something to say by reading more than I write. I read blogs, books, essays. I read my Twitter timeline. I read because it expands my world. I read because AMAZING writers inspire me to be dope at my game. I read because we cannot be creating in vacuums. That helps tremendously.
So. I am celebrating 10 years of this website, and 2 years ago, I did my Awesomely Golden party in Chicago to celebrate this blog’s golden birthday. I told myself that when this site turns a decade old, I would throw 10 parties around the country. I had NO CLUE that it would really be happening because I would be releasing a book. Talk about manifesting. My book comes out in 5 weeks!
I’m just excited that y’all have pushed me forward and upward. Thank you to THE BEST community on these interwebs: LuvvNation. Many of you have been reading my work for 8 years. We go together so tough and I love y’all. There are many newbies here everyday. I appreciate you too. Just know that you won’t be able to quit me now. We got a love thing already. I feel it in my shondo.
IT IS A CELEBRATION, SNITCHES!!!
Leave a comment telling me what city you’re from, how long you’ve been reading my site annnndddddd your favorite piece of mine.