Things I learned about my community after I started blogging for BDN Maine

Things I learned about my community after I started blogging for the BDN Maine Blog Network OR Why you should totally blog for the BDN By Sarah Cottrell

A few years ago, in the middle of a cold Maine autumn night, I fired up my computer and Googled, “how to start a blog”. I remember feeling lonely and exhausted in my new role as a stay-at-home-mom and I wondered if perhaps I wasn’t the only one. So after reading a few brief tutorials, I started Housewife Plus. A year later my blog was accepted into the BDN Maine Blog Network. I realized I was a part of an incredible community.

When people ask me – because they do – what I love most about blogging for a newspaper, I tell them without hesitation that the number one thing I love about Housewife Plus at the BDN is that I feel tapped into my local community, and that is worth its weight in gold. Gone are the days of feeling like a frazzled and lonely mom. Now I just feel frazzled, but when I say so on my blog, I am met with humor, support, laughter, and an exchange of stories.

[Tweet “I’ve come to know and realize the full support of the truly talented and amazing team that makes up the BDN Maine Blog Network.”]

My blog posts have weaved their way into my parent-teacher conferences, dentist and doctor appointments for my kids, even the checkout line at the small grocery store I go to nearly everyday (because I am a horrible housewife and never make great lists, seriously, go read my blog and you will see.) I am by no means a local celebrity (a girl can dream) but my posts have most definitely worked like ice breakers for an impossibly shy person like me to engage in conversations with the colorful characters who live all around me.

But it isn’t just the folks I see in my daily life that have come into sharper focus for me thanks to my blog. I’ve also come to know and realize the full support of the truly talented and amazing team that makes up the BDN Maine Blog Network. These people love Maine. And stories. And people. And they are the only newspaper that I am aware of that fully supports bloggers to the extent that they created an entire network just to get Mainers blogging and interacting with each other. I’ll pause for a moment to let that sink in.

In 2015, as a relatively new but eager blogger for the BDN, I jumped the gun and applied to produce the national sensation Listen To Your Mother Show. The Bangor Daily News stepped up as a supporter for this show and allowed me to reach out to the wide Maine community to spread the word. They took my dreams seriously and responded with manpower and production help. Without their help, I never would have been able to raise money to help fund Spruce Run Womancare Alliance. And I certainly would not have met the outstanding cast of Maine women storytellers who moved an audience of nearly 500 people to tears and laughter in celebration of motherhood. This only could have happened because of my BDN blog. Where else can a writer find community support like this?

Every writer comes to blogging in wildly different ways. For some it is a way to document a passion, for others it is a means to vent, and for folks like me, blogging is a meaningful way to create an online community of folks from the offline world. When we tell stories, when we give our opinions no matter how popular (or unpopular), when we stick our necks and our words out into the ether it matters. Someone is sitting behind a screen and eating up these blog posts and feeling a connection of humanity because a blogger somewhere in our community took the time to document a unique sliver of this marvelous experience that is living in Maine.

[Tweet “Every writer comes to blogging in wildly different ways.”]

I saw this first-hand one day when I wrote a blog post about my son who has a rare bleeding disorder. He had had a series of horrific bleeds that landed us in the world of daily trips to the hospital. In a moment of motherly grief and extreme gratitude I took to my blog and penned an open letter of thanks to the nursing staff in charge of taking care of my son. That post found its way in newsletters and on message boards, on the homepage of the Bangor Daily News and even in print. I received hundreds of emails from other moms in similar situations, and also from nurses letting me know what my letter meant to them. It was the first time I felt like my blog was a conduit of human expression. I was able to use my words to reach out and truly communicate complex thoughts and emotions and my local community responded with a big fat supportive hug.

I am truly grateful for the support of the BDN Maine Blog Network team for helping me to realize my dreams of being a writer. They work tirelessly to create this web of talent so that readers all over the world can get a glimpse of what it is to live in Maine. Together, we have big dreams of expanding our network to include more and more bloggers who can write stories about their experiences and in by doing so create more and more connections to local communities they way I feel I have made connections in mine.

If you have a blog idea then please don’t be shy! We want to hear about it. You can contact us on our pitch page here. If you don’t know how to pitch then don’t worry, we have you covered with this blog post that gives you some great tips. And if you have any questions feel free to swing by our Facebook page, Twitter page, or leave us a question or comment below.

We can’t wait to meet you.

Sarah Cottrell

About Sarah Cottrell

Maine-based writer Sarah Cottrell is the voice behind Housewife Plus at the Bangor Daily News and is a regular contributor to Disney’s Babble and Momtastic. She is a co-author in six books including I Still Just Want To Pee Alone from the New York Times Bestselling series. Sarah’s work has also been highlighted and featured by SELF Magazine, National Public Radio, Washington Post, and VICE Tonic.