Call me Sonia. It’s not my name, but if I told you who I really was, it may sabotage my dating life.
Right before New Years, I decided I was ready to actually try when it came to romance. I promised myself I’d go on at least one date a month for the full year. Twelve First Dates.
I wanted accountability, so I put a call out on Facebook. "To my single girlfriends, like this post if you are interested in a challenge that might result in love, could result in winning money, will definitely result in some funny stories and could very well result in heartbreak too. I’ll message more details over to anyone who likes this." 100 likes later, I found my pool of ladies to join me.
Of the 100 who liked my post, 24 of them were willing to actually step up to the challenge. We would each ante up $20, joining a community where we were encouraged each other be bold when it came to dating. We built a secret Facebook community and as strangers became friends, we became each other’s cheerleaders. We’re genuinely happy when someone in our community finds love. We feel that we helped each other! (Come on, admit it, you get jealous when your friends post blissful romantic photos online.)
So, from January to May, Twelve First Dates was just a private community of women cheering each other on. As beautiful and vulnerable stories started pouring in, I began to realize that maybe the world beyond just this Facebook network should hear the stories of these gals’ bravery.
In May I bought up the web URL for Twelve First Dates. I swooped up social media ownership rights as well. Then, I began a conversation with our group. Were we comfortable sharing our most vulnerable dating experiences? Were there confidentiality issues for the men we’d been dating? We talked and everyone agreed that there was too much “good stuff” here to not share it with the world. The blog was born.
Since May, I’ve been busy building a website from scratch. The Twelve First Dates bloggers have been working hard fine-tuning their dating experiences into posts. We’ve been writing reviews of the best dating books and websites we’ve found. We make sure to tell the book author and web designers know that we’re sharing their work on our website.
That’s working. We’ve been approached by popular dating websites and distinguished authors who find the approach behind Twelve First Dates completely fresh and authentic. Why thanks!
For the past two months, I’ve filled my non-dating evenings with meetings with friends who have a strong eye for design, begging them to tell me everything I’m doing wrong. I read. I bought Blog Inc by Joy Cho to learn what the heck “SEO” means and how to improve it.
Meanwhile, while I’m learning how to build a blog, the bloggers for Twelve First Dates post. And post. And post. We’re totally okay doing this even if we never magically explode as a viral sensation. We haven’t been promoting the website until we’re fully confident that Twelve First Dates is chopped full of compelling content.
Today, our social media following is still in the double digits, but for some unknown reason, the website is getting hundreds of views per day. Somewhere, an underground swell is building and readers are taking our blog posts to heart.
Why? I think it’s because real life is more interesting than fiction. In real life these things have already happened during the first half of 2014:
- Getting dumped at Trader Joe's
- Online stalking a man and accidently discovering his penis piercing (OMG)
- One girl's mom set up a fake Christian Mingle profile for her daughter. Then they got in a texting fight about it, and we blogged all the texts
- Making out with a famous Youtube personality
- Dating a guy to hear him say he only wants to "do sex" with you
- Hooking up with an old friend, then going totally crazy, getting drunk and calling him 11 times in 30 minutes
These are the juicy stories your girlfriends tell you at happy hours. Hundreds are visiting the website daily because it’s authentic.
And now, this week, Twelve First Dates is launching (thanks for sharing Elora!) Rather than rushing a launch, our community has slowed down to be certain that what we have published is interesting enough that YOU would want to read it.
If you want to build a blog, slow down. Make it authentic. Build in vulnerability. Say something different from the rest.
My goal in doing ALL this isn’t to build a website. It’s to find love and to help my friends do the same. This isn’t about elevating myself into a famous blogger... If it was, I wouldn’t put a bag over my head on my profile picture.
City: Los Angeles, CA
Career: Event Planner for the Fashion Industry
About: Sonia thought of this crazy idea while spending a bit too much time alone in her car right before New Years. She holds a master's degree, and is pretty obsessed with craft beer. Her biggest dating mistake is she keeps enthusiastically telling men how much she loves her kitten... but it's a really adorable kitten. She's datable. You should tell your friends.