Tuesday, May 9, 2017

This Blog and Me: Hobby or Work

My blogiversary is today. Five years ago this week I hit publish for my fist "public" writing. Those first few posts generated a whole whooping 30 average page views for the first year or so. My mom, whose creative outlet hobby was sewing, had told me for years I needed a hobby to put some of my time into. I think she knew without trying to be pushy that I needed something that was my own at a time when it's so easy to lose yourself in those early days of motherhood.

I wrote because it felt really good to write again. It had been fifteen years at that point since I had wrote on a regular basis. Within a year I decided to try something I always wanted to do- get something I wrote published so I started sending short pieces off to publications. Editor Lisa Shea of Bella Online gave me from first opportunity with my Bettis and Us Story and The Lost Crooked Christmas Tree published in their literary magazine and to write some articles for their adolescent page on their website.  From there I wrote a biweekly column for a new site called Mommy Hotspot that unfortunately after about six months ended up closing down.  As I was coming up on  my second year I had a handful of things published with these two sites and editors. Unpaid things though. Writing is kind of like the starving artists gig. Not that I was doing this for money, but now that I had reached my goal of getting published it seemed to really be considered published I needed to have some paid published work. So two years after I started writing,  2014 would be the first year I actually made money from my writing. I got an email from the Chicken Soup for the Soul editor to publish a story in their upcoming book about motherhood. I also completed my first book project- which was just a collection of my best blog posts from the first two years- to sell on here. I also generated two payments for running ads on my site and was compensated with free products for product reviews.

But here's what always happens. I get great momento going and then I get busy with life and my real job so my hobby here gets put to the side for a while. This is a business I've learned where you have to have consistency and constant engagement or your readers move on. For a year or so I was really active in the mom blog community and made some virtual friends that I'm actually still connected with, but just as I drifted away from the community some of them drifted away from blogging altogether. I've also been active in different writing groups, but again networking consistently with people is big in gaining and keeping readers. All of that takes A LOT of time on top of the writing. That part is the work, and so I keep coming to this point where I tell myself I do this because it's a hobby I love- not because it's work.

So in 2015 I slowly drifted away from those networking groups. I quit "searching" the web for readers more a less cause that's kind of what you're doing in those groups. I just wrote on here but didn't really pursue paid publications or any publications really. I didn't look for ideal ads or products to showcase on here in hopes I'd make a little commission. Just as I was finally making money I went two years without making any. In 2015 I only had one thing published which was with Bella Online's literary magazine again with my Roots and Wings story. With 2016 though I decided to start searching for new places to get published. I came across Tribe Magazine, Red Tricycle, and Lose the Cape which all offered the possibility of actually getting paid. I even got a reply from Arianna Huffington about having a piece about America and the election I sent in getting published on the Huffington Post, except unfortunately as I learned from others in a writing group I was still somewhat active in, they had horrible follow ups to their emails so even though I agreed to let them publish it the official editor never followed back up. Though two of my pieces with Red Tricycle were one of the top three posts for the week on their social media page I have yet to reach their 50,000 page view requirement to actually get paid. So even though all three have published my work I made very little from them.

However, the editor of Chicken Soup-which is the highest paying publication I've found by far anyway- accepted a second piece of mine at the end of 2016 for their Jan 2017 Curvy and Confident book so here I am in 2017 and for the second year of the five actually making money off my writing.

Out of curiousity I created myself an expense/income report and here's what I've found in regards to making money with my writing. After five years I have written almost 500 posts/articles/essays and with the income I've made I'm averaging around $2 a post. LOL. Obviously the majority of those generated $0 but you write about 25 hoping one will get published and out of about every four that do you hope one of those actually pays. My income has come from the following things: paid publications, book sales, running ads on the site, and writing product reviews. I've made over $350 from book sales and have about 30 books for another $150 of profits I'm hoping to sell in two upcoming vendor sale events in May and June so book sales are my biggest money maker with 120 books currently sold with hopefully over 150 after these coming up events. My second big money maker is over $400 with paid publications. Then comes ads and last product reviews which come in at a little over a $100 and a little less than $100. I'm not getting rich over here by any means! LOL. But it has helped with the traveling budget a little.

I go back and forth on how much "effort" to put into this site/writing hobby of mine. It's not the writing part that I'm unsure about. It's the "work" part of networking in a blog community, writing groups, and searching and pitching articles and essays to publications. To be successful money wise at this I've learned writing is really only half the work. Right now I throw my posts up on twitter and facebook and never network with outside groups, yet those whole 30 whooping page views are now in the triple digits without much "work" on my part. Sometimes I think how if I'd be more active in the blogging and writing groups I could double or triple my views and exposure, but then I remind myself I do this as a hobby, not as work.

But on the other hand I would love to invest in attending a blog conference to learn more about moneytizing my blog or I'd love to take a writing course with Chaunie Brusie - who you may not know but I've bet you've read her stuff if you follow Babble or Huffington Post Parents. God knows I'd love to invest in an editor too. Yes, believe me I know I need one. I always cringe when I read back through these posts and catch the abundance of errors I seem to make during my zillion interruptions or late night postings like now.

For now I'm pretty contend writing on here, writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul, and I'm excited about a second book project I'm working on called Letters to a Daughter where I plan to include pages in between the six chapter topics for moms to write to their daughters about the following topics:

From Your Mother to Your Friend
From First Love to Marriage
From Playing House to Finding You
From _______ to Happiness and Success (ideas for the first part of this title???)
From the Playground to Finding Your Tribe
From Self Doubt to Self Worth

I've seen a lot of bloggers come and go in the five years I've been doing this. Some of the ones I've connected with I miss and for the others I try to continue to learn from them. I don't plan on leaving the blogging world anytime soon. This is my writing sanctuary now just as those spiral notebooks use to be from the days of my childhood.


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