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So, that's what we did. I'll be honest and tell you that neither of us really knew the scope of possibility. It was a very naive process that stunned us both with the immediate response it received....and continues to receive to this day. It would not be an understatement to say that in the first week of Authentic Blogger existing, we were getting an enthusiastic response that was slightly overwhelming, but also exciting. I can't count how often Duane and I emailed, texted and called with "Did you see that?" or "Oh my word, LOOK at how many members we have today!" or "Turn your laptop on and Google us - we exist on the internet and it's beyond cool!" comments.
There have been growing pains in this first year of existence. We've learned as we've gone along, and we've made mistakes here and there. I am happy to say that we have only had to permanently block/ban two people in this first year, and those were people who were attempting to use our forum to spam members. We have been very clear from Day One about our Mission Statement. Authentic Blogger is an online forum created to offer a community for writers/bloggers of all walks of life, where you can meet fellow writers, grow your readership, learn helpful tips, and strenghthen your writing skills.
We feel that it is important to be authentic in the blogging world, and that means that we do NOT embrace the "if you follow me, I'll follow you" mentality that is so prevalent in the blog-o-sphere. If you fall into that category, Authentic Blogger group might not resonate for you. We want people to READ our blogs. If you're out there focused on merely collecting empty names and not doing any reading of the blogs you follow, how can you expect anyone to spend time reading YOUR content? With that in mind, we encourage authentic interaction. Join our group, post your blog links each time you write a new article, meet fellow members and visit their blogs. If you find content that you enjoy, write thoughtful comments on that blog and follow them. Reciprocating in this authentic manner, we feel, is the best way to grow your readership and market your blog.
So, perhaps now you can all see why I smiled when I found that paper is the traditional gift for a one year anniversary. What could be more apropo for a blogging/writing group anniversary?! Granted, the process of blogging is an electronic format these days, rather than applying pen to paper in the old fashioned sense, but I still smile at the paper gift idea. Whether we scratch away at antique vellum with quill pen, or we write with ball point on lined paper, or we tap away on an LED screen with desktop or laptop, or we use the increasingly popular Smart Phone (I'm still resisting that trend myself), writing is writing. If you are a blogger, writing is part of your very essence.
You probably wake up each day with thoughts to write about. You probably have inspiration hit in the most unlikely moments and locations, requiring a frantic search for a scrap of paper to jot the thought down before it can disappear at the whim of the Writing Muse. You probably wrestle with words, juggling and adjusting, tweaking in infinetesimal degrees until the flow suits your preference. Many of you may dream of being published one fine day. Many of you are also completely satisfied with the process of just blogging. Lots of our members have multiple blogs they manage. Some of you might even make a business out of that type of social media consulting.
Bottom line, if you're a member of Authentic Blogger Facebook Group, you're a specific type of serious writer who cares about the way you craft your blogging image, and who also cares about the way you build your readership. Our concept resonates with you and you are the reasons our group is still flourishing and growing today, one year later.
Duane and I had big dreams for Authentic Blogger when we founded the group. In the past year, some of those dreams have shifted, some have been discarded, and the way we do things has changed several times. There have been many moments of outright hilarity as we wrestled with myriad blogging tools and concepts, and the shared humor kept us going. More changes are inevitable, because Life is always evolving. My personal wish for the group is that we continue to grow, slowly and surely, attracting similar bloggers who have an equal wish to meet authentic, creative souls. I also envision Authentic Blogger growing to a larger presence that will provide even more opportunities for all of our members. How these hopes and dreams will manifest is yet to be realized, and that's half the fun of it for me.
For now, I am thrilled to say that one year later, Authentic Blogger still exists and is continuing to succeed. My partnership and friendship with Duane continues to thrive. My relationships with many of our AB members are equally strong. Indeed, I have established friendships with many of our members that I am confident will be lifelong connections. The blogging world has provided amazing, unexpected opportunities for me with my personal blog, and with Authentic Blogger. Many of these experiences are ones I couldn't have imagined for myself, and believe me, I have a great imagination! So, a final wish for the future of Authentic Blogger is merely to continue along the same path we've already established. Growth, surprises, success, friendship...and writing. I want all of those and I am positive they will occur.
To each and every one of our Authentic Blogger members, I say a sincere and appreciative Thank You for giving us a chance, for sharing your creative talents regularly on our wall, and for continuing to tell your blogging friends about us. To my AB partner, Duane, thank you for sticking with it, even when it required you to take some deep breaths and add another ball to the pile you were already juggling, and thank you most of all for the shared laughter! To Dave Roy and Anahid Boghosian, our two wonderful admin friends, thank you for being in the wings, ready to pinch hit for us and join in the ball juggling!
If you're a blogger, or if you enjoy reading blogs, and you stumble across this post in one of the numerous places I'll be routing it, take a moment to visit Authentic Blogger Facebook Group and join us. I promise you'll be happy you gave it a try.
We are in the week approaching Christmas, and I find it lovely that Duane and I chose, out of the whole calendar year, this particular season to create Authentic Blogger. I think it is a time when the harmony and universal consciousness is at a higher vibration, and I'm sure the date we chose to create this group embued it with a bit of extra sparkle and energy. Season's Greetings to everyone, from the bottom of my heart. I look forward to many more years of blogging and friendship with all of you.