What Blogging Has Taught Me The Past (Almost) Six Years and the Future of “She Wears Dogtags”

An introverted adult who hates being in the spotlight started this blog.

A woman still figuring out what femininity looks like for her started this blog.

A daughter and sister with imperfect family relationships started this blog.

A wife and mother who does not believe households should be bound by gender roles started this blog.

A graduate student who never believed she’d go to grad school (or twice for that matter!) started this blog.

A war veteran who volunteered to serve twice overseas started this blog.

A Marine Corps veteran whose original adult career path plan did not include military service started this blog.

There are so many labels I can wear and that society expects me to wear as part of my life journey and then there are the paths I followed, this blog being one of those paths.

My blog is essentially a late entry Kindergarten student. Born on October 26th, 2014, it was born in my favorite month and I have no shame in stating it has become my second child and just like my actual child, I’ve learned so much about who I am in the process of shaping the development of this writing project.

To my newcomers, I hope you see this blog as a beautiful imperfect creation. I make plenty of mistakes, including being overly emotional in my writing. You’ll find entries sprinkled with four letter swear words. I have, as one professor mentioned during the progression of my graduate applied project, the penchant to take ‘bird walks’ and dear future friend, you’re in for a number of nature walks. I learn just as much by wandering as I do setting my feet down a specific path. With all of us spending more time in our home these days, I also feel the occasional wandering activity breaks up the constraint we feel tucked away in our respective residences.

Writing is a craft I am still perfecting and I hope you see every entry is designed to be a unique creation and reflection of my personal evolution. My first entry, The Project Begins, is probably a little painful to read but I was spilling with energy to unpack my military service experiences. By comparison, this past year I’ve confronted my money goals again and in the past few months expressed the way anxiety manifested itself as we deal with COVID-19 disrupting our way of life.

To my current readers, I owe you all a big apology. I discovered recently there were a significant amount of comments blocked as spam. This is a huge mistake for me and I recognize now I need to tinker with various features of this platform to tend properly to my readers moving forward. I am so sorry to anyone who felt I neglected the way this blog may have impacted your life or I should have expanded discussion on I was too certain matters. The downfall of this being a one woman show is I do not have a team reminding me this is still a business adventure and I must learn how to use the tools. One of my goals now is to make time each month to scout around WordPress more and figure out what all the buttons do and to look at least once weekly to capture any comments that might inadvertently be marked ‘spam’.

Captured in all my social awkwardness recently by my daughter

Becoming more competent with WordPress tools is not the only thing on my radar. I have two other things to mention about how I want to improvement engagement moving forward.

When I first started this project, I was pretty deadset against using ads. I will be using ads on the site moving forward. It does take up a good amount of my time to produce this content and after much reflection, I realize there are different ways I want to improve as a content creator and contribute to different organizations that are doing great things for veterans and persons in need. Relying solely on my 9-to-5 job finances as the only income stream to reach that objective will make this a much slower process than I care for, but I want to be upfront with everyone. At this point, I only feel comfortable permitting the ads on the website and not going the route of affiliate marketing. If ads work out as a supplementary source of income so I can serve you all better, I am willing to give it a try. If the ads don’t help much on the site, then I’ll trudge along at my current pace.

The other, perhaps more exciting news, is I am establishing a YouTube channel for She Wears Dogtags. My goal is to post my first video on or before August 1st. I hope the video messaging resonates with people who might not naturally seek a blog to read and/or those who would love to interpret various issues utilizing more of their senses. This past week, I had our daughter video me for the first time and now, I am in the process of editing that video. Will it be perfect? No. Am I scared to share this leg of my journey? Yes.

I believe we should embrace an attitude of lifelong learning. For this reason, I am willing to toss my story out there and my perspective on the world in order to continue serving others who are considering military service, who are currently serving, and those who now wear the title ‘veteran.’ Ideally, I also want to reach people who did not serve, perhaps never thought of serving but are curious about military service and life after one hangs up the uniform. I am an older veteran, having been out since 2007, and I recognize I will encounter people who likely will tell me I should get off my soapbox and let a newer veteran pick up this kind of mission. The thing is I want to be a resource because there are plenty of things that are generally consistent regardless of the era of service and with service being voluntary (at least in the United States) people who serve do not necessarily have family members who have faced a similar experience.

This is where I hope to come in. My journey is full of highs and lows. I am stepping up to this new mission with the same level of transparency I’ve developed over the years blogging. Things might be a little (or a lot) rough in the beginning, but you have my heart in this next phase as you do with my blog.

To better prepare for this journey, I am starting to listen to podcasts and YouTube videos for tips and tricks. I’ve already devoured a few episodes of “YouTube Creators Hub” on Spotify and some of Cathrin Manning’s YouTube videos. I feel eventually a weekly video is within my capabilities and I am accumulating a few sticky notes with ideas on how I want to organize the eventual content I will create. (Let’s just say a graduate degree in Social and Cultural Pedagogy and one in Public Administration did not prepare me to use WordPress, Instagram, Facebook, and now YouTube to speak the way I want to military service and society. I am seeking out educators now–and that’s not a bad thing!).

Before we end for the day, here’s how I hope to keep my social media diverse:

Instagram: Daily or most days of the week

YouTube: Weekly (eventually)

WordPress: Monthly

Facebook: Sporadically as I find what I’ve dubbed markers of service (usually vanity veteran or military branch license plates)

With these good things out on the table now, I want to close with a big thank you to everyone for dropping by. Your interest in my writing adventures–and future YouTube conversations–keeps me motivated when this path is anything but easy.

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