Blogging from the heart

Yesterday was my five-year blogiversary — five years of writing about my stuff and communing with an amazing community of people from around the world. I didn’t know what I was entering into when i wrote that first post on my fledgling Blogger blog. It was Denise who convinced me to start — our friendship had blossomed after I’d left a comment on her blog and she wrote me back, international penpals who became real friends in the truest sense. I still have the email she sent me on March 23rd 2006 that opened with the fateful line: “Oh Susannah… I really think you should start a blog!”

After a couple of weeks of umming and ahhing, i finally decided on a name — Ink on my fingers — and wrote my first post on April 12th 2006; when i switched from Blogger to Typepad a year later, I lost all the comments from those first months, which is such a shame as I’d love to read them again. This blog gave me space to remember. It gave me a reason to pick up my camera again. It rekindled my love of poetry. It brought me friendships and support. And now here I am, blogging under my own name, running a creative biz online and penning books — and all of this came from being brave and posting some words on the internet for all to see. CRAZY!

Thank you for being here and reading my witterings — thank you for the comments you leave and the good vibes you send me, i really do feel them, sitting here in in my attic flat in Bath. When I was still deep in my bereavement, this was the place where I knew I could find some sanctuary. Whether you’ve been with me since the beginning, or have only recently found me (hello!) you guys helped me change my life, from grief and loss to light and hope. From the bottom of my stitched-back-together heart — thank you.

I’m still as passionate about blogging, and online community, as I was when I started, which is why my next project is Blogging from the Heart. I’ve been itching to get started on this but was stuck in the writing cave, so now i have a brief reprieve (until the book edits come back, that is) I’m jumping in feet first. Blogging from the Heart will be a guidebook to blogging sharing everything I know about writing with honesty and heart, how to create images that share your world and inspire, and bringing it all together on a blog. There’ll also be videos, writing prompts for blog posts and interviews with creatives who’ve inspire me along the way. I want this guidebook to be really fantastically useful and also really beautiful to look at too, something you can dip into to get inspired, ready to blaze your own blogging path.

There are already a ton of blogging books, blogs and courses out there, but I’ve yet to see anything on creative personal blogging – how to share your life and heart online as a way to express yourself creatively, dive deep and meet like-minded friends along the way. I won’t be looking at how to make money from blogging, but if you have a biz and want to share more of yourself online with your customers, then this guidebook will definitely help with that. It’s about being honest and open, enjoying the writing process, recording your world with your camera and getting your creative juices flowing!

I have notes and plans coming out of my ears, so as I ease myself into another writing stint (I’m a glutton for punishment :) I wanted to ask you…

What would you like to know about personal blogging? What elements of your blog writing or photography do you struggle with? If you’re thinking about starting a blog, what would you like to know? If you could ask me one question about writing, photography or blogging, what would it be?

Leave a comment or drop me a line – thank you for your help! x

51 responses
  1. Danielle - simple.little.joys.

    Happy Blogiversary! :)

  2. Jo

    I can think of no one better suited to do it. Excited for you! Again! xxx

  3. Photojourneyling

    No question (yet !), but lots of encouragements and applause. I’ll eagerly wait to read this piece !!! The “how to create images that share your world and inspire” resonates though … You always seem so good at it ;o)

  4. Esther

    Happy 5th blog anniversary!! I love reading your blog.
    “Blogging from the Heart” sounds like a great project and something I’d like to read. One question I struggle with concerns privacy. I would love to blog more personal stuff but I hold back because I want to protect my privacy and the privacy of others involved. In other words: How do you balance being authentic and respecting privacy? How much personal stuff is too much and what is too little?


  5. christine

    My blog has been round since 2006 and I’ve never managed to get beyond 100 followers. I’m impressed with how quickly your blog has gotten round the internet and is now sooo well known in such a short time.

    I find my blog frustrating because no one reads it and I feel like when I do pour my heart people run to high heaven. I know you have to be consistent in topic but my life is never consistent in topics…..I’m multi-layered and like a lot of things….and my blog reflects this…as being a scrapbook of things I like, people who inspire me, places I’ve been, pictures, and diaries. I’ve heard of people having one blog for every different aspect of their life….to me that seems just like a pain. Who has time to do 6 different blogs or post all these different platforms: tumblr, pininterest, facebook, etc. etc. etc. I just put everything in one place.

    I think knowing people helps in a way…..there’s a huge group of amazing women on the blogging world: tracey clark, denise andrade, Kelly Rae Roberts, Chookolooks, Hula Seventy, jen lemen, andrea S. etc that have all built a business because of linking to each other….You’re in this group too because you know Denise which is how I found you.

    I would love a guide to blogging. I don’t want my little blog to get sucked into the abyss of other bloggers out there. I’d love to write more on that thing but I guess I’d be more inspired if someone read it!!!

  6. bella

    How exciting ~ I’ll have to think about this and email you a couple of questions on the subject – one that I am very interested in!
    But.. girly … you have posted a photo of a place that holds so many dear memories for me. Cafe Wha was my weekend hangout in my early 20’s. I had many a fun night there! You made me smile today. xo

  7. R

    my struggle is with sounding genuine and not sounding boring, also, i worry that by trying to explain what i mean/how i feel, i will sound fake or difficult to understand. convoluted or manipulative. i find honest blogs (like yours) so useful, but worry about looking like a self-important ass whenever i contemplate doing it myself. i have a whole blog just waiting for me to press ‘publish’, but i am too frit. i think i’d rather no one read than someone read & thought i sucked.

  8. Celina Wyss

    I’m such a big fan of yours Susannah and cannot wait until Blogging from the Heart is available.

  9. Catherine Denton

    First, I have to say how much this news excites me! I love the raw honesty you share on your blog and would cherish learning from you.

    Now for the questions I would ask. How do you deal with comments and checking other people’s blogs or do you even do that? Do you feel there are things that shouldn’t be shared on a blog and if so, what are they?

  10. susannah

    No way! we must go there next time i’m in NYC!!

  11. elizabeth Needham

    oh–Susannah—what perfect timing–I want to start a blog but feel intimidated ( don’t really know where to start) and vulnerable ( don’t really know if I have ‘enough’ to say) so I am looking forward to your new project–yay!!

  12. Nikki

    Yay! I can’t wait for this. So exciting.

  13. Danielle

    Happy 5 year blogiversary! Looking forward to your blogging from the heart course. My question would be how do you decide what is too personal to share? Sometimes I’m unsure how much personal info is too much & I definitely do not want to hide my “true” self in all my glorious messiness that can be life. Thanks!

  14. Nanette Gordon-Cramton

    Your timing is perfect! I can’t wait to read your “Blogging from the Heart.” Your honest and open blogging has given me the courage to do it myself. In fact, a post is incubating in my brain this morning that I was having a few reservations about posting. Then I remember that your honest and open blogging is what drew me to you, your website and Unravelling! You are on the right path! Keep up the great work encouraging us all to be brave in our writing!

  15. Wayfaring Wanderer

    What a milestone to have reached! Congrats to you and your continued healing :D

    Blogging from the Heart sounds like a very worthy project that I would be very interested in. As a blogger who has been blogging for nearly 4 years now, I’d say that my biggest struggle is being consistent. Through the years, I’ve have extreme ups and extreme downs.

    Once I actually got a following, I become quiet. Blogging went from 3-5 days a week to once a month, and then once a week. I’m inspired to step up my game again after a trip I took where I got to meet a lot of other bloggers who expressed the same struggles.

    It made me realize that I am not alone and we all go through rough patches. I’m just glad that I didn’t quit blogging altogether, because it has brought me great joy. I’m slowing starting to finding it again, though :D



  16. Star

    Happy 5th blogiversary! I’ve been reading most of those five years (although I rarely comment–a consequence of the feed reader).

    Love the topic for your new blogging book. My own blogging didn’t last long (a year or so) because I so wanted to “put things out there” but just couldn’t get over the fear of hitting “publish” and having it committed forever. It think the topics you want to explore would be a welcome change; I still read a lot of blogs through my feed reader but I find most of them a bit too antiseptic–love the warmth of your blog, Susannah!

  17. Sarah Rooftops

    It’s funny, I would have no fear of posting really honest entries for strangers across the globe to read… but I’m scared colleagues and clients would find them and it would affect the way that they work with me to know I have a personality!

  18. Di

    You might have laughed, as I sat here reading you via my google reader … and realised that you live in Bath … ‘that Bath’. My cousin is whisking me away on a 5-day tour of a teensy-weensy portion of the UK before she flies out to a new life in the Cayman Islands and she has booked us in at Bath. I had tried to get there back in 1999, and here I am, quite some years later, finally arriving. And goodness me, Susannah lives there :-) But anyway, congratulations on all you have achieved over these blogging years. It’s been such a delight to follow you this far.

  19. susannah

    thank you Di – have fun in Bath! (and sorry about the crappy weather today ;)

  20. Meghan @ Life Refocused

    Happy 5th blogoversary! I’m *so* excited for this next adventure and will be signing up for sure. I try hard to blog from the heart and shoot from the heart, but I could use pointers. I’m always curious about how often to post, how many photos to post with each entry. I’m also curious to know which platform to use (I currently use WordPress) and wonder if I should switch and buy my own domain name, as well as if learn more html to control more of my look vs. hiring that out. I also struggle with where I’m headed in blogging and if I should know that. Hope these help. Big hugs. xoxo

  21. stacy (the aunt with gum)

    Happy blogoversary!!! I love how you pour out your heart and are so real with your readers. Looking forward to watching your next adventure unfold.
    lots of love & success. xo

  22. Lisa

    I love reading your blog. Happy 5th blogiversary! Super idea with “Blogging from the Heart”. I could use a little help in that department to help me expand my blog some.

  23. Di

    Oh, not there yet. We arrive Monday or Tuesday but I was bemused about having read you all this time and not having really thought about where in the UK you were … where in the world really. I have this habit of doing that … until I set foot on land, it’s not quite real.

  24. susannah

    :-) I’ve been here just over two years now. and you’re in NZ , yes? Neilocha told me that ;)

  25. keishua

    I think that is a wonderful idea. What you say is true most books about blogging seem to target people with a product or want to make $. There is a whole group,myself included, who don’t fit that mold. Congrats on your blog anniversary.

  26. Angela Vular

    Happy Anniversary!!!! I have been reading your blog for a long time and love it! I have taken both of your online courses and cannot wait for your books to be published. I think “Blogging from the Heart” is a fabulous idea and I would be very interested in it. I have been thinking about starting a blog for a long time but I need a crash course in all the how to’s! Whatever you have to say would be extremely helpful. Hugs, Angela

  27. Melissa Jaine

    I so want this guidebook! I’m re-inventing/creating myself after Unravelling revealed I want to write, but I’m still discovering how that looks for me. I want to do a mix of fiction posts and factual posts, and trying to find the best balance for that.

  28. laurie b

    so many bloggers have these unique and personal blog layouts. how do they know how to do that? i would really like to learn how to make buttons and change my banner. will your course cover the mechanics? i’m sure this class will be a success, just like your blog. :-)

  29. susannah

    I’ll be touching on design in the book, absolutely- there’ll also be a comprehensive resources section with links to sites and books that can help you with design ( I’m not an expert in that area :)

  30. Meg Roper

    As a relative newby to blogging and somebody who is using it as a creative outlet rather than commercially, I cannot wait for Blogging from the Heart!!!

    I am struggling with balance between words and pictures as words are my metier. Privacy is also a concern, not so much mine but concerns about divulging too much about people who have touched my life.

  31. fiona

    This is so what I need right now. When do you start?! Your blogiversary is my birthday!

    I started a blog a couple of months ago, but I’m not sure what I really want to say. I know I want my blog to be like yours, but I’m scared of putting myself out there like that. It doesn’t help that I have been on the biggest downer recently.

    Reading your questions again, I think the biggest thing for me is what to share. How do you decide what to write about and what to keep private? How do you protect yourself while releasing your feelings on the blog? How do you deal with negative comments? It’s the emotional side of personal blogging that worries me. You seem to be so open and not caring about what other people think.

    I cannot tell you how glad I am you’re running this class :)
    Much love,

  32. Rebekah

    Congratulations! My question would be should we blog about negative experiences? Difficulties with family members, employees or friends. If so, what’s a tasteful way to do that without divulging too much? And my second question, is how do you deal with people who aren’t supportive?

  33. Angie

    Firstly, happy 5 year blogiversary – how time flies!
    Secondly, woohoo! I really need this, especially with regard to the writing. I’d love to know how to plan the little steps forward towards full on ‘open-heart blogging’ – I can be a bit (lot) of a scaredy-cat when it comes to being ‘me’ but I think if you were holding the back of the bike for a bit till I stopped wobbling I could start being a lot more heart-felt :) x

  34. fiona

    Just come back to say I realise it isn’t a class, got a bit over excited there! Can’t wait for the e-book :)

  35. Alexis

    Happy 5th Blogversary!

  36. Tanja

    I would like to get some ideas on how to find a name for a blog, that i wont wanna change in a year or even a couple of months, something that will ring true for a long time…

  37. angharad


    the thing i find hard is writing somethig humourous (my blog is supposed to be humourous) when i am feeling miserable. so i don’t write anything at all when i am low which means my readers are short-changed. maybe i should write a few funny posts and save them up when i am cheery?

    i love your blog. really look forward to the guide.

  38. Charlane Killough Griffith

    sometimes i worry if i get too deep into myself that it will turn someone off. how does one stay authentic and real and not get bogged in the mauldin and self absorbed?

  39. Kimberly

    I am a fairly new reader of your blog. Fell in love with the Polaroid photography and stayed for the writing. As far as blogging goes, I’m pretty much an open book which has been therapeutic in dealing with my last year (which has been pretty rough). I struggle with how to really get my voice across in posts. I sometimes reread them and think I sounded whiny and I totally didn’t mean to. I guess maybe that’s more of a writing issue but how to come across sincere and truthful.

  40. Donna

    Happy Anniversary! Blogging From the Heart -what a great idea, and a good title, as the mistake I have made in the past when dabbling with a blog is that it wasn’t from the heart – I felt I was playing a ‘character’ – and it wasn’t me. What I admire about you is that your authentic voice comes through- this is you, it’s genuine.
    For the first time in my 36 years, I am about to embark on an exciting journey with my partner and I want to blog about our personal journey as well as the professional side. What I would like to learn is how to maintain consistency in theme and how to talk about feelings etc without being afraid of scaring people away, while at the same time allowing my own voice to come through.

  41. Lisa

    Belated happy blog birthday! We started our blogs within a couple of weeks of each other. Something about April 2006 I guess. My 5th year blog birthday is on the 29th. Your project sounds wonderful.

    I’m having a few struggles on my blog. How much to reveal sometimes. I’m taking my blog in some new directions and feeling rather vulnerable. Also, I need a better camera. I’ve definitely outgrown what I have and feel that my photography is limited, but a new or even used better camera just isn’t in the budget right now. I think better pictures would be helpful, but the reality is that money is an issue and I often cannot do all that I want with my blog.

  42. Debbie Williams

    Susanna, congtratulaions on 5 years! I love your blog and you are perfect for writing a book about heart blogging! All the comments you have tell me we all run into the same writing blocks. I think the personal one and boring everyone to death are my fav excuses. I want to write, have always enjoyed writing, but when I set down to do it, I get hung up and the words just aren’t there…would love some help.
    Hope you are feeling better.
    Omit (Debbie)

  43. Terri

    Susannah – Happy Anniversary!
    This sounds a fantastic project and one that will be much valued from reading all the comments. Love the title ‘Blogging from the Heart’.
    I’d be interested in finding out about how you built such a strong reader platform once you got going initially. Was it having the right focus in your blog from the start that brought people in? Or was it how that evolved? Or was it other things you did like interviews or guest posts that brought readers there and kept them reading? Or was it just being your wonderful authentic self? Or a combination of all these? Very interested to know more about this!
    Also interested in how one balances being so authentic online with other persona such as having a day job!
    All the best with this new project Terri xo

  44. susannah

    thank you fo ryour question, sweet Terri – and thank you everyone! I am on the case!!! xx

  45. Valrie Verhoeven

    I started blogging a year ago last February for the OWOH event. Since then I have self taught mysels many things, yet struggle with formatting around the graphics, any tips?


  46. meg manion silliker

    i’m a bad unraveling friend – i missed wishing you a happy blogiversary. your was the first blog that made me feel something. made me think. made me cry. i just had to know you and dive into your world. you always amaze me with your wonderful musings and straight from the heart chats. it’s as if you were sitting on my couch with me instead of across an ocean. you are an amazing woman. i am thrilled for all your success and wait oh so patiently for your book. it will be brilliant as are you. much love xo m.

  47. gkgirl

    i think this {you} is {are} brilliant…
    what a great idea…and i have always adored your writing and your ideas and your images…


  48. Aine Teahan

    Hi there Susannah. So sorry to hear you’re sick – wishing you a full speedy recovery. Very excited to hear about Blogging from the heart! I had been putting off starting a blog for so long! (Eventually started one in March) I love the idea of truly putting myself out there but as it’s my business blog, I guess I kind of feel I need to portray this image of everything being great and us being fully in control etc as that is what prospective clients want…..maybe I’m completely wrong! Anyway I don’t really feel like I’ve found my voice yet, I guess it takes a while….I look forward to reading your insights – I love your style & honesty so much and that’s what attracted me in the first place. Aine x

  49. Di

    Oh … missed your reply before leaving for that roadtrip in the UK, the one that took in Bath, but I’m a New Zealander living in Belgium. It’s been a few years of wandering now, 2 living in Istanbul, then 5 here in Belgium, with regular escapes made to Italy, and yes, a visit to Neil in NYC :-)

  50. Suzanne

    I try and blog from the heart, but after going on your ‘unravelling’ course, I’m sure I could learn so much from you.
    Can’t wait to see your new book.
    Suzanne x

  51. Justine

    How do you share the other people (characters) of your story without the worry of their privacy or oversharing your relationship?

    How can you be as honest in real life as you can be on your blog?

    How do you capture those fleeting, everyday moments that really make up a full life without being boring?

    I’m signed up for your Unraveling course that starts in a few weeks and I’m very excited for both that class and this project — blogging from the heart is exactly what I want to do be doing!

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