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.


Follow, share, and like if you enjoy my content. If you want to support me as a creator, below is a link to my payment page:

Support this blog!

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!

September 2020 update: As the leaves turn

It is officially September, my favorite time of the year! Towards the end of August, nights start to become colder and the leaves begin to rustle, ushering in the month of September. September enjoys a mix of Summer and Autumn and represents a fresh start to the year. Many enjoy Spring, many enjoy Summer, I enjoy the Autumn months. September through November, there could not be a better time. It is also the month I was born, which means it’s a month for reflection and re-balancing.

What’s in Store?

As it stands, this month is going to be a lot of heavy lifting. The blog saw tremendous growth in April and May with June, July, and August being steady. The new format seems to be working well and I enjoy the update post with one to two posts a month format. Sharing, commenting, and liking have all helped the blog grow. I’ve begun to dive into promoting the blog through social media channels and while it is feasible, it will take a concentrated effort on my part to be successful. The other option would be to enlist the help of a colleague to help promote the blog but at the moment I have yet to hear a response.

Patreon

So far, Patreon is going well! I have a couple supporters now and the extra money helps. The goal is to have most money be generated from Ad revenue on the site and to have Patreon there for those who want to provide extra support. Over time, I will start publishing books and the hope is to use the income to live a life where I can choose whether or not I want to work from 9 to 5.

Medium and Outward expansion

Last month I looked into Medium as a potential outlet for other forms of writing such as business, politics, and social issues. While Medium might work for some, I ultimately decided I don’t think it would work for me. My whole approach to my blog has been building a community that will enjoy whatever I choose to write about and Medium has a focus on writing “one stellar article to end all articles”. Over time, you get funneled one direction or the other as the algorithm decides what articles you see. I also realized that while I enjoy reading the New York Times to stay informed, I don’t particularly enjoy talking about politics. They are good to discuss with friends but to dedicate time to writing about them? Not my cup of tea. So WordPress gets my full, undivided attention.

Linkedin

As for my professional career, that has taken a pause at the moment. In college, I thought Linkedin to be the “end all, be all” but to date it has led to zero full-time positions. Writing business related articles on the platform seemed like a great idea a few months back, but ultimately it is a lot of effort for little payoff. Even posting on Linkedin has become a chore. I’ve shifted my focus to more writing oriented roles but it is extremely difficult in this hyper-competitive world we live in. The issue isn’t doing a job and doing it well, it’s that you need a skill set just to get an interview and most desirable roles don’t even get posted in the first place. As such, most of my focus will be on this blog and looking at growth and engagement, so ultimately my frustrations with Linkedin will be a net positive.

The Month Ahead

We will be ramping up! I’ve decided to keep the update simple; it’s either going to be a poem, short story, or article. Typically the posts depend on my mood, so I can’t say what I want quite yet this month. I also think I’ve found a way to write more gaming related articles in the form of Fan Fiction, a subject I never thought I would write but did extremely well with my Stardew Valley article. My other gaming articles didn’t fair so well but that’s expected when coming into your stride. If I do write a Fan Fiction this month, I’ve been playing around with Animal Crossing and am excited just thinking about the potential. I also have some ideas for Chapter four of “New Horizon” so that might come together by the end of the month. No promises but all in all we’re in good shape.


And that’s a wrap! The update for this month was fairly long and I didn’t quite cover everything I had planned. I’m already thinking ahead to October and a spooky theme. Think Mental Health Awareness month except light-hearted and fun. An article a week focused around ghosts and all that goes bump in the night. I think it’ll provide a nice balance between the more serious Mental Health series and the planned Earth Month series (planned for April, although it might conflict with Poetry month). Thanks for reading and feel free to comment below!