Nine years ago, I sat down one late summer day in 2008 and signed up for a Blogger account. I’d been “blogging” since before it was referred to as such on Live Journal long before then, but this was different. I’m not sure I knew quite how different it would turn out to be, but on that day I sat and wrote the very first blog post on a little blog I decided to name The Sweetest Occasion, a play on my mother’s maiden name, Sweet. (You can read more about that here.) Fast forward nine years later and I’ve been blogging full-time since May of 2011, less than three years after I’d started my blogging journey. When I started blogging, Twitter wasn’t even a thing. Facebook didn’t have fan pages. Instagram wasn’t even a twinkling in anyone’s eye because phone cameras were still years away from producing decent photos. The concept of Snapchat would have made us all laugh until our sides hurt. Blogging was a way of bringing people together, connecting with readers, forging friendships with people across the country or across the globe. And it was exciting. Today some of my very best friends in the entire world are friends I made through blogging back in those early days. Reading each other’s posts, leaving comments, maybe even exchanging emails and genuinely investing in these relationships was what made blogging special. No one thought we’d be doing this for a career, no one was worried about how many Pinterest shares any particular post would receive (because, you guessed it, Pinterest didn’t exist either), and it was all done for the love of the thing, not for the promise of any reward other than something deep, personal and intangible.