I began blogging on July 1, 2007 on Blogger because I wanted to create a place on the internet that celebrated what was good in life and I was curious whether anyone would read the randomness that stumbles out of my brain.
Even in the halcyon days of 2007, social media and, more generally, the internet seemed to thrive on negativity and shrillness. The news, gotten mostly through newspapers, television and well-respected news websites, was often negative too. If it bleeds it leads isn't a new phenomenon. I was optimistic enough to believe that I could be a voice of change. Gosh, my naïvety was cute.
Little Merry Sunshine 1.0 mostly stuck to that mission, although my snark sometimes appeared. Slowly, but surely, I developed a pretty sizable email subscription list and social media following because I used Facebook and Twitter to promote my blog. And then in 2009, the Chicago Tribune featured me on the front page of their website as one of Chicago's Best Blogs. My readership skyrocketed and I felt like I'd arrived.
As proud as I was of that attention in 2009, it was the only third-party attention Little Merry Sunshine received until November 2013 when I launched Little Merry Sunshine 2.0 on ChicagoNow. With that move I became part of a community of more than 400 bloggers hosted by the Tribune Media Group (now tronc). My readership blew up again thanks to being listed in the ChicagoNow Directory in the Lifestyle Opinion section, being featured regularly on the ChicagoNow homepage, and having my posts being pushed out on ChicagoNow's social media channels occasionally. My fellow ChicagoNow bloggers also read, commented, and shared my posts, as I have always done for them. All of this put Little Merry Sunshine in front of more eyes than I could ever achieve on my own.
Joining ChicagoNow also meant that I had technical support for my blog and a community manager (Thank you Jimmy Greenfield!) who supported us through daily emails, blogging tips, and regular blogging challenges like Blogapalooza, to list just a few of the things he did for us. Want to guess how much of that I received by blogging at Google-owned Blogger?
The past few months have been challenging at ChicagoNow. We've gotten a new community manager (Hi Matty Schwer!) and many other changes have taken place. Some of my fellow bloggers have met these changes with great resistance and even aired their grievances publicly, which I find to be not only distasteful, but embarrassing. Bad mouthing ChicagoNow hurts all of us. In my opinion, Matty has been responsive, transparent and helped keep ChicagoNow sustainable. I'm not sure he sleeps because answers to questions come almost 24/7/365.
Change is hard, but none of us blogs because blogging is sexy. ChicagoNow no longer pays any of its bloggers, so anyone who hoped to make their first million blogging at tronc recently had a rude awakening.
Blogging at ChicagoNow and being affiliated with tronc has a multitude of benefits though. More than a few bloggers have gotten jobs or gotten books published thanks to their ChicagoNow blogs. Many of us are viewed as authorities and experts in our genres and been interviewed by a multitude of local, national, and even international news agencies.
Since joining ChicagoNow, I've been interviewed on WGN Radio, HuffPo Live, and I have an interview that will air next month on CBS2. My post, Elf on the Shelf Turns This Hater into a Believer, was part of an article on Huffington Post and shared in the newsletter of a Pittsburgh-based non-profit my cousin is part of (she emailed me shocked that my post had been shared and had nothing to do with it being included in the newsletter). Why I Can't Lean In to Ban Bossy, caught the attention of a journalism student at Medill who interviewed me as part of a class project. I've even been honored to have a number of my posts selected as one of the best posts of the month by the powers that be in the swanky ChicagoNow offices. I'm pretty sure this list isn't inclusive, but you get the point.
I've made friends with people I would never have known without ChicagoNow. This community has lifted me up through hard times and celebrated many wins with me. Finally, I've become a better writer.
Anyone who says they get nothing from ChicagoNow and tronc is simply mistaken and is ignoring the obvious truth.
I don't know what the future of ChicagoNow will be, but I know I have a blogging home here and here I will stay.
One last thing: Writing IS sexy and writers ARE sexy.
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