Meryl Evans writes blogs that share her personal stories and a blog that supports and promotes her business. For Meryl blogs go further. Social media allows her to reveal her worlds without constraints by side-stepping prejudices and participating fully in conversations. Readers hear Meryl exactly as she intends .. and she in turn can listen without the distruption of lack of hearing.
It all started before any of us heard of "Internet." A family friend installed a modem into the Apple ][+ (no lower case -- imagine being yelled at full-time). I connected to a couple of Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) and what got me was I could communicate with other people without any help. A parent helping a teen on the phone just wasn't cool. But email was.
Fast forward through a decade and a half of geek history. June 1, 2000. Blog entry #1 of Meryl's Notes Blog. It was a dumb entry that's still up for all to see. I never take down an entry because once it's up -- it's impossible to erase from the Internet.
Atlas Blogging: Going from a 99-lb Bloggling to Strong Blog
The blog had no direction. I did what everyone else did... wrote about personal observations. No gossip. Straight-laced as can be -- thank goodness. This was before Dooced came to mean getting fired for blogging and I hadn't written anything that would embarrass me should I run for office or if a prospective client runs an Internet search on me.
About the time I started blogging, I also started freelancing on the side. The blog morphed from dorky "Rooting for my favorite team" and "Wow, that was some Survivor finale"-like entries to "Dealing with lousy customer service" and "The challenges of being a reporter when you can't use the phone like most everyone else." Plus, I added a features section for longer entries that aren't old news within a week.
A little background: I've been writing in a journal since 1989. With a *pen* not a keyboard. I've filled up almost nine journals. The books document getting married, moving, having three kids, and the little and big things that happen in life.
Birthin' More Bloggies
Yet in 2002, I unveiled a new blog when I was expecting kid number three (Would you believe that saying "I have a blog" at the time garnered to perplexed-looks from people?). This blog was obviously personal with a focus on pregnancy and related resources.
The blog ended shortly after my little curly-haired guy arrived (He's three as I write this.). I didn't want to keep it going and write raising children. Just wanted a nice electronic record of what was most likely the last pregnancy and share it with others. Those pregnancy books tend to be clinical and I had no one to tell me about the things to expect like the stuff you read in Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy. So if someone benefited from one tidbit -- then the blog did its job. If not, it's prettier to look at and re-read than the journals with my not-so-great handwriting.
Yet another blog came to life as the pregnancy-cum-baby blog ended. In preparation for an upcoming cochlear implant, I gave birth to Bionic Ear Blog. Originally, the blog covered the cochlear implant process and living with the implant. (OK, stop with the breast implant jokes.) As the Bionic Ear Blog matured, I added entries about living life as a person who couldn't hear as I was still discovering things about being deaf after 30 years.
Being on Your Own Is Possible
While writing Bionic Ear, I realized why I blog and continue after over six years. Because of my hearing or lack thereof, there's no "I can't understand you" happening in the blogosphere. I don't miss a thing when reading blogs and participating in conversations unless a blog has podcasts. For once, I'm not immediately judged because of my imperfect speech and inability to understand everything that's said. Really, people think you're dumb if you keep saying, "What?" and lose track of the conversation. I feel like I'm a burden to people whenever in a group setting with my repeatedly asking, "What are we talking about?" and "What did she say?"
Together Bionic Ear Blog and Meryl's Notes turned into proof that I have a brain and how being deaf can screw things up to make people think otherwise. Blogging allows me to feel like an equal instead of "disabled" or a burden.
Having gone full-time as a freelancer one year ago this month, the web site is more important than ever as it's my number one marketing tool. I struggle with cold calling and in-person networking, which often lead to looks that say, "You're inferior" (Read about audism) or people hanging up on the relay.
I credit the blog and online community for leading to opportunities including writing a column for PC Today Magazine and contributing to a few books, two of which are related to blogging. Lately, I've been trying to build a niche in the blog, but it's difficult as I'm passionate about technology, writing, and the web -- all of which have many superb blogs out there.
Thanks to the Internet and blogging, my business is growing. Not one client comes from the Dallas area and I've worked with people in Italy, Great Britain, Japan, Vienna, and all around the U.S. If I had to go from office to office to get business, I'd be sitting in a cubicle living the Dilbert life.