Why it Was Time for Hollaback

by Rachel on April 22, 2010

So, last night, I was thinking about the other blog I started, Hollaback Health, and what it means to me. I mean, thus far, I’ve sort of avoided saying, “This whole thing was my idea.” I’m more community focused and just interested in getting things done; I’m personally not going to gain anything by taking credit for it. But then I realized that as the blog starts to grow and we get more readers, I wanted to give a bit more background on who I am and what I was thinking when I organized it.

My intention wasn’t really to criticize how anyone does healthy living; we all know that you can be a healthy vegetarian or a healthy meat-eater. Yoga might get your rocks off, but maybe you prefer swimming. Hollaback Health isn’t about how you live so much as how you blog.

Click here to watch the video on YouTube.

And I realize that while putting my face on it is probably going to get me labeled some sort of spinning-obsessed version of Regina George, I want to be clear that I started this in response to the feeling that I was being left out. When I started Shedding It, I had no health blog friends. No one linked to me. No one read it. No one told me how to get more comments or how often I should post. No one told me that I didn’t have to post certain things or, more importantly, that I could post certain things. I felt like a very small fish in a huge pond. To me, blogging felt like the high school cafeteria and, well, I was eating lunch in the bathroom.

My passion for blogging and social media and the blogging success I fought for, tooth and nail, doing it all alone, led me to want to create some sort of solution. When faced with that situation, I always say, “What do I wish I had known or had available back then?” Well, keeping with the idea of high school, I was a freshman and wanted some older, more popular girl to take me under her wing. I wanted to feel like my voice mattered. The problem for me (both in high school and as a blogger) was being different. How could I connect with other bloggers if I was so vastly different from them? I was afraid that being up front about certain aspects of my life would get me ostracized.

After a year of health blogging and social media boot camp and five years of blogging/new media, I finally felt like I was in the position of that older girl. (Although still not really cool; like maybe STUCO president at best, not Homecoming Queen. Actually maybe more like that senior who cuts class to have sex in the projection room above the auditorium. I don’t know. I was a mess in high school…) Anyway, I wanted a way to say to other bloggers, new and experienced, “Come on in! Let me help you! I know some things you may not be aware of! Don’t join the Mathletes — it’s social suicide.” And I wanted to be able to say these things about Twitter, Foodbuzz, SEO, Tumblr, Thesis, and perhaps most importantly, creating good content. After authoring two blogs — and, FYI, my original college blog, The Spartanette, is on its way to becoming a book — plus helping numerous individuals and brands with their online presence, I think I can truly speak on this topic, and I now know that blogging success comes when you combine passion, writing skills, great ideas, and technical know-how.

So while the idea of Hollaback might seem like a clique, to me, putting the Hollaback badge on your blog and deciding to actually post on this site really means something. It doesn’t mean you eat certain things or don’t eat certain things or that you drink heavily. (Yeah, I know a lot of us like our drank…) It means that if faced with confrontation over what Hollaback stands for, you’d be ready to say, “Fuck yeah!” as opposed to, “Well…maybe…” So my thinking is that you shouldn’t want to put the badge on your blog unless you get that and are comfortable representing that. I’m not discouraging individualism; how you choose to be a bad ass is different for everyone. But I think we’re all mature and experienced enough to know that in most groups, even though all the members are different, we respect certain over-arching ideas. I’m extremely laid-back and have no desire to start girl drama; this site isn’t a virtual burn book. But similarly, Twitter isn’t the girls’ locker room, and there is a comment feature on this blog for a reason. Let’s talk. Let’s have a real conversation.

I hope that everyone will consider that just because you don’t have the badge on your blog doesn’t mean you can’t read the site and take something away from it. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t e-mail us questions or leave comments. I truly love blogging and helping people improve — and finding ways to improve myself! So I think that all I can hope is that you come seeking knowledge, wisdom, or inspiration. I read tons of social media blogs and yeah, there are times when I think, “Oh shit, I totally do that!” But instead of getting defensive, I fix it. I take the suggestions and see if it helps. We all have things learn but it’s so important to be okay with change and not get so comfortable (or so scared of failure) that we stop trying to be better.

And, you know, it matters. It does change thing. My blog gets better every time I work at it. There’s no glory in it in and of itself. It’s all behind the scenes. But then there’s the moment when someone is like, “Your blog just seemed really great this week!” and you’re like, “Well thank GOD those three hours I spent learning to take better food pictures paid off.” It’s subtle, but it does make a difference and it will build your readership; I’ve seen this transformation happen to the many other bloggers I’ve talked to and worked with.

Anyway, if you were been unsure about what Hollaback Health means or why it’s set up the way it is, or even who to call a bitch when you’re talking shizz, here you go. I’m Rachel. It was my idea. And I’m proud of it enough to put my face on it.

That’s really all I’m going to say on the topic because I think getting too caught up defending yourself is a waste of time and a distraction and useless. (Oooh that reminds me, I need to write a post about handling negative comments!)

I hope that clears up any confusion, and, with that out of the way, I’d like us all to get back to the business of making blogging awesome. Let’s spin gold, homies!

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