Get approached to blog about your experience going to the 2009 USEF Festival of Champions, not because you’re all that good a rider, but because you can write well, spell correctly and turn in consistent work.
Start writing. Be excited about how easy the ideas come at first. New boots! How to bathe a big gross gray mare! Go to the show and have your horse colic for the first and only time in her life.
Spend all night at her side, and when she’s out of the woods and you go back to your hotel room to catch a bit of sleep, realize that you have to share the story with others, because you’re a blogger, and you have to Tell The Story. It won’t be the first time where you feel like you owe a piece of your life to your readership. But don’t quit.
Keep writing. Tell stories about adventures in being a young, stupid trainer. Tell stories about adventures in young, stupid horses. Win some stuff. Get your butt kicked. Keep writing anyway. And read every comment, because they’re so few, and almost always from people you know.
Get tired of refusing people who friend you on Facebook, so start a public Facebook “athlete” page, where people can follow your blogs and stupid pictures of your horses and links to your sponsors and pictures of food you’ve cooked. Get 100 followers. Get 200. Get 500.
Get some bad news about one of your top horses—a devastating injury that will, eventually, prove career-ending. While you’re in mourning, stop writing about that horse. You can’t process it in public yet. Somewhere in that time, get a nasty 2 a.m. email from someone who tells you that it’s obvious you don’t love that horse, because you don’t write about her anymore. Be haunted by this email for days, and then start a file in your inbox to keep the happy emails, because you’ll need them to counteract the nasty ones.
Vow to stop reading the comments. Fail.
Flounder around between awesome coaches for a while before finally you find your person. Write about the joy of that find. Write about exercises you love. Write about shows you love. Write about products you love. Write blogs that you slave over for days, taking multiple drafts, that get less than 10 shares on Facebook. Bang out crappy little blogs in 10 minutes that go viral. Write stuff that’s banal, and be shocked with how pissed off people get about them. Write stuff you think will piss people off that doesn’t. Write stuff that you think will piss people off, only to have them get pissed about something else.
Get 1,000 followers. Get 2,000. Get 3,000.
Get clinics because people like your blogs. Have people stop you at horse shows to tell you they like your blogs. Be out on a first date with an ABSURDLY cute boy and notice that the hostess is staring at you; later, she will come to your table and ask if you are You, and that she loves your blog.
Get phone calls at home to call you nasty things. Get called abusive, incompetent, a braggart, a bitch. Be taken out of context, or completely misunderstood, or both.
Vow to stop reading the comments. Fail.
Shepherd horses and riders up the levels. Get older, wiser. See patterns from horse to horse, rider to rider. Apply what you learned from one to the next, and the one after it. Get a bigger toolbox. See your students, both two-legged and four, become more successful. Share their joy when they succeed. Share their misery when they fail. Gain perspective to not let either make or break you quite so much. Get incrementally better at applying that perspective to your own ups and downs (though really, not that much better).
Get better at the balance between what your readership gets to hear and what they don’t get to be a part of. Get better at making yourself understood. And yes, even get better at not reading the comments.
Be sure every month that this is the last good blog idea you’ll have. And then, somehow, miraculously, get another.
Hit 500. Keep going.
Want to check out some of Lauren’s most popular blogs over the years? Here are some of the greatest hits…
- Embrace The Suck – this one resurfaces quite a bit, and it’s about not letting setbacks discourage you
- A Trainer’s Manifesto – a heartfelt explanation of what Lauren wants her students to know
- Dressed In Overalls, Looking Like Work – all about the value of hard work
- Push It – an ode to the actual physical challenge of riding well
- Great Old Men – a tribute to schoolmasters
- Tie Me Up – this is one of those Lauren thought was an under-the-radar post that readers loved—all about creative fixes for equitation flaws
- Casting Stones – about some uninvited criticism
- Four Kinds Of Horses – Lauren describes the four “types” of equines she tends to see
- Under The Radar – about how future stars—equine and human—are out there right now
- Get Out – on turning out dressage horses
- No Kicking Of Cans – about nudging a horse past resistance
- Through Fire – about her relationship with coach Michael Barisone
- How To Make A Grand Prix Horse – this one’s self-explanatory and funny!
- How Do You Pick A Trainer? – questions to ask when selecting a trainer