June 2021 Status Update: A Tinkerer’s Guide

It’s June! As we move into the warmer months, I’ll be talking about Sustainability in July and in August I will be taking a month off to relax. This month will be relatively tame with most likely a poem and will be used to plan out my articles for next month.

Mental Health Awareness Month

This year was a pivot away from some of the darker topics. Instead, I’ve opted for the articles to be more story driven in nature and focused on concepts, reminiscent of my older articles when I discussed business terminology in the context of my life. I’ve written some great articles on my personal life and personal strife but it’s time for a change. I scrapped a couple drafts this month in favor of talking about social media, meditation, and anxiety. Anxiety I enjoyed writing about and I’d like to keep it that way. I’m comfortable talking about my fathers alcoholism but that had a time and place. I was able to make sense of his world and any more on the subject would be to dwell; a road I don’t feel inclined to walk down. I had a draft for an article talking about the passing of my father but ultimately left it unpublished and unfinished. I thought writing about his death might reveal some hidden knowledge much as writing about his alcoholism helped me come to terms with my reality, but it didn’t. The fact of the matter is death is death and I was with him in the end. In the end, I chose love over bitterness. If I do bring it up, it’ll be here or there but I have a strange sense of peace with the whole situation, a peace I didn’t have a year ago. The toughest aspect has been an underlying exhaustion which could be symptomatic of mild depression; understandable given the trauma I’ve endured. I wrote a poem at the end of April and that felt more a fitting send off then the cold calculus of an article.

Special Series and other Joys

I’ll be making a slight adjustment to my series; instead of a post a week, I’ll be doing three for a given month. Four a month was an arbitrary number, based solely on the fact that I thought it’d be cool to write every week of a month. Three a month is more manageable and gives me more time to work should I have to re-edit an entire article (which happens more often then you’d think). I might make other changes as I continue to write special series but for now I’m happy with making this small adjustment. I’ve started initial work on creating a podcast and while nothing may come of it, I’m in the process of drafting the script for my first episode. I have no idea what I’m doing but I want a hobby where I can actively practice public speaking, much as I’ve done with writing.

Goodbye Social Media

As you may have noticed, the Twitter feed is gone from the blog! I’ve had a lot of time to think about the internet during the Pandemic and I have deemed social media unworthy of my time. Since writing my mental health article, I reinstalled and uninstalled various social media apps; I now have none on my phone. If people need to get in touch, texting is the way to go. I want the blog to reflect this choice and not create stress through a constant feed. The blog is healthy as it is with organic traffic and while I might still use social media sites from to time, I long for the day where I can be free, or at least, for social media to be better. I’ll most likely write about social media more as the years progress, however, I’m looking to make improvements from my mental health article. Mostly, I’ll emphasize the positive benefits of quitting rather than focus on the dystopian nightmare social media is.

Outside of the blog

A career is weighing heavily on my mind. I’ve worked a job but not a career. I’m frustrated that when I invest in an action, there is no payoff. What I mean by this is, for example, my brother is an artist. He can go out and take photos because he thinks something is of interest. He can then take those photos and use those as reference for his work. His hobbies lead to his craft and he gets that satisfying burst of fulfillment. I do not have that luxury at the moment. Writing I enjoy but that’s where the buck ends. In the intangible sense, it’s great, I can craft narratives and work on my communication. Conveying voice in writing is not easy and yet, my writing becomes more distinct the more I write. It’s a fun bit of trivia, a quirk to mention in passing. Yet, with Management as my field of study, it can be a difficult sell. I’m not writing articles as a Manager, Sales Rep, or any numerous fields attributed to Management. And thus, a lack of fulfillment ensues. A framework I’m adopting is I have not quite found a job where I can directly apply what I enjoy doing in my free time. Learning to code feels far from home and while the dots might connect to business, they do not connect easily. Hence, a lack of fulfillment and a wave of misery that follows. The dream is to learn web development as a starting point but often it can feel as though I’m throwing effort into the void. Or it could be simply a dark shadow cast by depression, a lack of meaning brought about by tragedy. Who knows!

But…

The blog is healthy and I’m building it around the future work I’ll eventually do. That means a month off in August, three articles instead of four when writing special series, and a steady stream of status updates that are essentially my newsletter. This is my little piece of the internet and I’m going to hold onto it. No update next month but get ready for articles on sustainability! August off should be nice! That’s all I have and feel free to comment below; I am always open to feedback!


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March 2021 State of the Blog

March. Another month and with it a tiding of changes. So without further ado, let’s jump in.

The Coming Months

Last year I spent quite a bit of time working on the format of the blog and where I wanted it to go. This year, we’re in a great spot and I’m excited to use my fully implemented changes.

Series

The biggest change comes to series as I’ve now picked a few topics that will span the course of 4 months, the first being World Poetry Month for April. My Mental Health series was always meant to be a one-off but after scrambling to put it together last year for a second year in a row, I came to realize it’s important enough to make annual. The series take quite a lot of work to put together but this year I’m allowing for a little more planning as I get the articles ready months in advance.

After May I’ll have a series that I’m excited to debut focused around sustainability. It’s a topic I’ve wanted to cover in the past but never had the time or energy to talk about more outside of incorporating Dystopia Climate Change themes into my short stories. With the Oregon Wildfires last summer I realized I’d rather take the time to talk about it now than wait until I’m in some bunker waiting out the twilight of our planet. My research led to me understanding that there is no official world sustainability month and the most we’ve really ever gotten is Earth Day. One day dedicated to the planet, that’s it. As such, I decided I’ll give 4 weeks in July.

And closing out the year is October which I’m making my horror themed short story month as I want to do more experimentation with my writing. Last year saw some success and I’m hoping to expand upon what I built to make the series better and more lasting. Expect a combination of Sci-Fi and horror but we’ll talk about that more as we get closer.

Vacation Month

I’m playing around with a vacation month that I can simply take off every year. My schedule has been designed to work around my life so that I can avoid burnout and keep the blog going, indefinitely. Everything I write I enjoy writing and the blog has fallen into a nice rhythm over the last six years I’ve been writing. As such, having a month that I can simply take off without worrying about a status update would be nice. I wouldn’t mind writing every month but I think it’s important to design time around doing nothing. A month for trips, visits, and whatever comes my way. At the moment, August is looking like that month. It’ll be an experiment this year and if I feel good about it, I’ll make it routine in future years. I’ll be looking at the stats for the year and will let you know come June what the plan is.

Status Updates

So these are new. Over the last year, I’ve been playing around with the format and I think I’ve found what’ll stick. September, November, December, January, February, March, June. 7 months out of the year I will post an update, even if a lot of it might just be reiterating points I’ve made in other entries. It’s a time for me to collect my thoughts and allow me to check if the blog is in a good spot. 7 update articles strikes a nice balance between keeping the reader (you) in the loop without over saturating the year with update after update. Always optional to read, it’s designed to give structure to what would otherwise be a collection of poems, short stories, and articles. As such, I’m quite happy that I decided to start doing these.

This Month

This month is up in the air but I’m planning to write chapter 5 of New Horizon. This will be the body of the story and what will ultimately be the start of the climax before the journey winds down by chapter 10. This is my first short story series and I’ve been thrilled with the response. It’s been a blast creating my own world and seeing it come to life with each chapter. I plan to write more 10 chapter series so the fun will never end.

I have a video game article drafted and am working on making it fun, but less nerdy so that anyone can read it. If that’s not ready by the end of the month (or ever), then the second article will most likely be a poem.


And that’s that! The blog will be ramping up next month with World Poetry Month and Mental Health Awareness Month directly after that. We’ll meet back here in June. Any feedback, type below! And, if you want to donate to the blog, I’ll include the link to where you can do so:

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As always, thanks for reading!

February 2021 State of the blog

Truth be told, I am writing this in the middle of January. We have a lot to cover this year and I’m excited to tackle what will hopefully be the best year of the blog yet.

The Month of January

With January I tried something new; I took my New Year’s resolution post and tried to make it a hybrid of my goals and the status update posts I did throughout 2020. In the future, I will leave the two separate. The formats I’ve come to realize are completely different even if in theory it could “work”. It’s better to take the time to do both as January is the month I have the most to say and really sets the tone for the year. So with that said, what’s in store?

Poetry and Short Stories

Last year, I took time to evaluate stock and see what I valued as a writer. I played with business articles on Linkedin and even considered a second blog on Medium. I also, had an informational for writing roles and ultimately decided not to mess with the formula. Poetry I’ve always loved and short stories are great writing practice. I’m obsessed with dystopian fantasies and realized I could write my own stories to further my own writing abilities and entertain. In fact, October I’ve dedicated to the pursuit. A spooky month to write and this upcoming year will be combining horror with various genres rather than strictly horror.

I’ve found my strength in writing Sci-Fi stories and thus I’ll primarily be sticking to this genre until my writing improves. Poetry will cover any topic that comes to mind as I’ve been doing it the longest and there are few barriers when I sit down to write.

Articles

I’ve been meaning to write more, however, articles take a while and do not always have the intended payoff. In the past, I just wrote whatever was on my mind as I navigated the world. As I’ve become more articulate, there has been less of a need to write about such topics. As such, I’ll be reassessing how I approach articles and see if I can’t find ways to innovate my process. The month of May is dedicated to Mental Health and will essentially be my “article” month but ideally I would like to do more if I can find a nice flow.

April, May, and October

This will be the first year where certain months are focused around a theme. April will be Poetry Month with a new poem every week. May will be Mental Health Awareness Month and will be an article every week covering various Mental Health topics, and October will be Horror Month with a focus on writing Short Stories. No more guessing when I’ll be writing, I spent a year figuring that part out!

Status Updates

Overall, status updates have added a cohesiveness to the blog that has been much needed. It gives me a chance to keep everyone in the loop and helps to organize my monthly thoughts. I’ve played around with a couple ideas and have decided 9 status updates a year works for my needs. I thought about doing a seasonal update (Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer) but realized 4 a year might be too little and my initial concern of my status updates getting in the way of writing other posts has all but disappeared. I also thought of a bi-annual update in an update mega post but have opted for gradual updates even if I feel I don’t have much to say in a given month. Short or long it matters not as I can shift the focus of what I cover in each update.

Marketing and other Goals

I’ve had limited success with Twitter and Facebook. Without a dedicated marketing team, that leaves success up to the fates. Last year I put a lot of pressure on myself to expand inorganic growth and learned quite a lot about social media along the way. This year, I’m taking a step back. I now have a Facebook page and Twitter is still around. Social Media I find to be exhausting and not where the majority of my readers come from. Organic growth through the WordPress reader is how most find my blog and I’m ok with that; this is a hobby blog and I’m not a company, so growth will come naturally.

Asking for Follows: The Stats

While it doesn’t hurt to ask for a follow or a like, I found that asking for support only made a real difference in the first months of 2020. After that, it was more or less the same as it has always been. For the last quarter of 2020, I stopped asking for follows at the end of each post and didn’t notice any changes. As such, I’m making the change for 2021 to make a mention on my update posts and thus free my other posts from the clutter. I also may draft a default statement rather than write out a new statement each time; this change should be cleaner and I expect to see positive results for 2021.

Patreon and Ko-Fi

The ultimate goal is to have the blog pay for itself, the dream is to make a little extra spending money on the side. To do this, I will need to invest more time and energy into both sites, which is easier said than done. 2020 was a successful year for Patreon and was happy to receive some support during the year. Unlike asking for a follow, I may simply keep adding a link to my support page after each post or I may simply ask here. While there is a tab on the website, I’ve found more engagement when I’ve taken the time to mention it should you feel inclined to help out this one man blog. All in all, 2021 is looking to be the best year of my blog and my hope is that it dwarfs 2020, which is now officially the best year the blog has had.


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As always, thanks for reading!

November 2020 update: Winter Cometh

What a time to be alive. Rain has come and the months grow darker. November is the passageway from Autumn to Winter.

October

As part of my effort to expand the blog, October was dedicated to quite the treat. For the last month I wrote a short story a week, each around a different horror theme. Week one was “Hades” which focused on my limited knowledge of Greek Mythology. Week two was “The Church” which focused on an old, long forgotten church in the English countryside. Week three took us to “The Manor“. Set in Ireland and loosely inspired by Bly Manor (which I was watching at the time) I experimented with emphasizing room locations to add character. And for Week four we had “The Mirror” where I mixed mental health with horror. All were fun to write and “The Mirror” ended up being quite popular and one of my favorite short stories I’ve written thus far.

The future of October

As part of my general overhaul of this blog, I plan on making October an official spooky series month and in particular, dedicated to writing short stories. I already have a couple ideas for improvements for next year, such as making the short stories two-parters with cliffhangers and more engagement events focused around Twitter and Facebook.

Engagement

The last six months you may have seen quite a few changes from creating a Facebook page to an updated bio and contact page. Of the changes I’ve made thus far, the status updates have been my favorite. As far as major updates this month, I am pouring effort into Twitter. The goal ultimately being to draw in readers from platforms other than the WordPress reader. Ideally I would have liked to hire help for engagement but as it stands, it’s a job I can do and just means I’ll be extra tired.

On the blog itself, I’m trying to figure out the formula for encouraging people to comment and have fun with the blog outside of simply reading it. So far, I’ve simply been liking and commenting as best I can; I enjoy engagement and am hopeful that the blog will one day reach a level where readers will engage with one another.

Patreon and Ko-Fi

Slowly but surely I am getting better at navigating Patreon. I’ve received some feedback and made changes accordingly. The biggest change is updating the Patreon page itself with the newest posts. This, I have to do manually but it creates a better overall experience for both those who follow through the blog and those who are searching through Patreon. As of now the rewards are basic but the plan is to eventually have Patreon exclusive rewards that make each tier feel meaningful. This might be a free copy of a book (if I ever finish one), early access to a podcast (should I ever create one) and prints of artwork (yes, I want to eventually learn to paint and draw). I might fiddle around with Patreon exclusive writing down the road but since I am only one man, it would be nigh impossible to justify the time commitment at the moment. If you’re curious to see what the page looks like, you can check it out here. I’m proud of the changes and if you have any feedback, don’t forget my contact page is fully operational! Every message sent should get seen by me.

Artwork

With writing, blogging was started as a way to get practice communicating. Eight years later and I think I’ve gotten the hang of this whole “communication” thing. As I’ve begun beefing up my media presence and focused on marketing my content, I’ve begun to wonder if now would be a good time to expand once more. It’s hard for people to read articles from beginning to end. A painting or drawing is instant. You see color or the pencil lines, notice detail or minimalism, and make a judgement within seconds. I want to do it as I’ve heard it’s beneficial for mental but I’m also curious if that might be the missing ingredient for getting more people interested in my work.

The future of Series on the blog

Series are here to stay! Previously, I was going to designate April as Sustainability month on the blog but after this last month have decided to focus on poetry. I was also thinking of doing a hybrid poetry/sustainability month but have ultimately scrapped the idea. The reasoning behind this is simply my greatest strength is poetry. A lot of people follow the blog for poetry and I realized that I can write the occasional sustainability article to raise attention to the cause. Plan on Earth Day and my short stories to cover most of my thoughts on sustainability. The big cause and the month that will be article heavy is May, where I will once more be covering mental health.

The blog originally started with a lot of self-help articles as I shared my advice that evolved from my application of business concepts in the real world. In 2018 I took that a step further and dedicated an entire month to the topic of mental health, a series that was meant to be a one off where I built up the courage to talk about my Father’s alcoholism and how it affected me. Last year, I wrote a couple articles in a mad scramble to express the importance of mental health. Over the last 6 months (or however long it’s been) I’ve focused the content I produce so there will be no more mad scrambles (yay). Since I’ve already talked about my deepest troubles, that frees up quite a bit to simply have fun with the series, much along the strand of what you saw in 2019. I already have a couple ideas drafted so we’ll see what comes.


And that’s a wrap. November will be a relatively quite month as I take a breather and organize my social media. As always, thanks for reading and expect a post most likely last week of November! If you have suggestions, always feel free to reach out!