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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
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Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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Thursday
Apr242014

The State of the Blog 

I had an interesting chat yesterday about blogging and the state of my blogging and how “blogging” is weird to say more than twice, blogging blobbing blugging blarging. And afterwards I thought, hey Self, why not share where I am with my readers? Why not? Have I learned NOTHING from “Show Your Work”? Should I not Share My Process? What Would Austin Kleon Do?  

I’m at an interesting crossroads right now, and the good news is there are several ways I could go, but I think I may have a touch of the ADD because all the options are overwhelming me and as a result I take many naps. 

Let’s back up. First of all, I’m not closing up the blog, or anything dramatic. I know you’re breathing a sigh of relief and/or weeping. There, there. I wouldn’t do that to you, baby. I want you to know that, sure, things have been weird, and I’ve been distant, but it wasn’t you, it was me. All me. 

I hadn’t been posting as much in the past few months because in addition to teaching and novel-writing I was spending my work hours at a corporate gig. Said corporate gig wasn’t even a writing job, so it felt wonderfully removed from the rest of my work, and pure, somehow, like I was keeping my writing energy sacred or something. Feel free to roll your eyes at that. I know I just did. 

It was easy to depend on the corporate work to continue while I pursued my Art and taught about Art and etc., but then. Then! The work slowed down, then disappeared. It wasn’t personal. The company is in transition, they’re reorganizing, I don’t know. It happens. 

Now I’m scrambling and trying not to scramble because nothing will bring you work less successfully than desperate scrambling. Sending pitches to editors that are in all caps. Using too many exclamation points (or any) in your professional correspondence. Instead I’m taking a step back and seeing where I went wrong and what I want to do in the future. 

The big mistake I made was to put all my income-generating eggs in one big corporate basket. (I’m not counting the writing course, which is more like a fun lil’ egg in a side pouch. Imagine that I’m a marsupial holding a basket. Except marsupials don’t lay eggs, so okay, imagine that my writing course is a joey. Aw. Ew.)  Over the last few months, my big corporate basket tipped over and smashed my eggs. And did it so slowly I didn’t even notice it was happening until I had a dried yolky mess all over the ground. 

Okay, so: first mistake, one big basket. My second mistake was that I put all my work hours toward work that didn’t really speak to my talents. My corporate assignments could be completed by any reasonably smart person; they didn’t need my specific strengths. I was (gasp!) expendable. 

Which got me thinking, okay, where can I be invaluable? (Or more valuable?) And that led me back to this blog. This is a valuable platform for me. It gets me work. Also, and more importantly, I enjoy it. It’s what I do. It’s important to do what you love, if you have that luxury. I know many people don’t, and I certainly don’t always, but I do here. So: I am recommitting to the blog for selfish reasons, but I hope you don’t mind that. (Wait, does anyone blog for selfless reasons?) 

You will probably see sponsored posts. I don’t have a big master plan about this; it’s just a heads-up that I’m thinking about it. I am not, however, seeking out sponsored posts as a major source of income, so I’m free to be incredibly choosy. I won’t write content that doesn’t make me happy and wouldn’t benefit you in some way. That is my pledge unto you. I can count on two (maybe three) fingers the times I’ve featured sponsored stuff I wasn’t happy with, and those moments made me feel extra-super gross. That isn’t something I want to do ever again. 

Also, I’m thinking about ways to use this site to advertise my services. The other (paying) work I enjoy is magazine writing and copywriting, and I’m trying to find a place for that on this site. I want to hang my shingle, so to speak, more prominently. (Ugh, also, I’m crappy at promoting myself. I get all apologetic and twitchy. It’s time to quit that.) 

Thirdly, I’m going to offer more courses, and maybe even a writing guide e-book. That’s going to be later on, somewhere in the distant future, when we’re all wearing mylar rompers. Or in the near future, when we’re wearing our micro-floral rompers. 

(I also pledge never to wear a romper.) 

Oh my god, what was my point. I think I wanted your advice? Wait, it’s coming back to me! I’d love to know of any bloggers whose sites successfully straddle the personal and professional: like, there’s a “hire me as a copywriter” section or "Take my class" or “I’m a successful journalist” part along with “here is my personal blog where I talk about how I smell weird.” Or: do you do it? How do you promote yourself? How do you balance professional writing with personal writing? Can we get coffee sometime? Or just hold hands for a while? 

A blogger I respect said recently that you should never end a post with a question, so I’ll end this with: I can’t stop thinking about what it would be like to have a marsupial pouch. Weird, right? Oh, wait, that’s a question. 

 

Reader Comments (35)

And now I can't stop thinking about the marsupial pouch. Thanks.

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVikki

My site acts as both my professional and personal space. It's still evolving, so don't judge it too harshly, but I don't want for work, and people seem to be able to find all the various stuff I do on it. I'm a designer primarily, though, so maybe that's different in terms of what you're asking.

I'm not an expert, but I've been around doing this internet thing for 10 years, and I've been watching you most of that time, in a completely non-creepy way, so we could talk about it if you like. There this thing called Skype. I like it.

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterElan Morgan

Alice, I love you because you said nice things about my writing. So I will happily answer your question with "I don't know" and "Tell me when you work it out." My blog is still anonymous, sort of, even though it's also, sort of, my portfolio, really, because that's where there's a whole ton of writing I have done and put out into the world. But what use is it if it's not connected with my professional self, if there was such a thing in a writery way? I don't know. I blog about my kids a lot so their privacy comes into it too, and I don't want to jeopardize that. But at some point I'll probably have to come clean. Go public. Whatever. I know it's not fashionable to have an anonymous blog any more. I'm so passe. But I'm also happy to see you back at your blog.

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChristine

I think you're selling yourself short if you're not making money off of mentoring/coaching people who want to write. You're really good at it, especially one-on-one.

Whatever you choose, though, you'll be fabulous! I'm very glad you're not abandoning us!

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDelaney

I am totally down with sponsored posts. Definitely do what you can to earn money from this platform. I know Jenny Lawson also has success with ads on her blog from fellow writers, to whom she gives a special price. In addition to whatever corporate sponsors you may find, might consider how to let your fellow writing/reading community support you, too.

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrigid

Aw, everyone, I love you guys too.

Delaney: thank you! I LOVE mentoring, and want to do more of it. Forgot to mention that. That is my second love, to writing. I need to figure out appropriate pricing, etc. I probably need to conduct a survey. So much to do!

April 24, 2014 | Registered CommenterAlice

I like Delaney's suggestion right above. The one-on-one writing coaching seems like it could be (semi?) lucrative for you. I know I would consider using you as a writing mentor/coach (virtually, as I'm on the west coast).

I have an old HS friend who has written about how to monetize your blog. I know she has been a persona non grata in the mommyblogging community from time to time (and seems to have stepped away from blogging since she had her 2nd kid), so I'm offering this with a grain of salt. I personally think it's interesting that she talks about it out loud:
http://www.abdpbt.com/personalfinance/category/monetizing-the-mommyblog/

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAKD

Wow, I could have written this post except for the pouch mention and quality part. I'm going through this very same thing right now and getting a blog redesign with the dreaded HIRE ME page. Lord loves a working man.

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterWendi Aarons

This is more food blog than writer gig, but you should check out Brooke Burton's blog at http://www.foodwoolf.com - Brooke started out writing a blog about restaurant service (and other, personal stuff) and now has a business training servers at restaurants, and I think she cross promotes very well.

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKate@SavourFare

well i'm new here, but glad you'll be writing more because that means I'll get to read more ;)

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterShaunacey

I'm liking the trend here in this blog posts. It means: More blog posts. Do that. That's my advice! However, there is this problem I've noticed where people's writing sometimes gets really sucky when they depend on their blog for a living. Wait DID I JUST SAY THAT OUT LOUD? Not always! It doesn't happen always! My suggestion? I think you should put ads on your blog and then put your husband in charge of all the revenue generation and never think about the revenue generation. How would you do that with sponsored posts? I'm not sure. Would Frito Lay sponsor you to do a post about a trip to Coney Island? Well, even if you have to write about Fritos, it's not that bad--because then isn't that like having a patron, sort of like the way the Pope was Michaelangelo's patron. And no one ever says the Sistine Chapel isn't good, right? Is anything I'm saying making sense? No--it's midnight and I never sleep and I have an 8 month old baby who doesn't sleep through the night. I never did anything in the way of linking blog and money--my view as an outside observer is that only a select few are good at that. But my view of you is that of all the people you would be the one who turns out to be good at it. However--as much as you can put a mental wall between your writing and earning money directly in the sponsored way--the better perhaps.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterozma

I imagine using the current skin from my kangaroobabyless pooch to fit a kangaroo baby or human baby or that purse in Macy's that I look at every time but refuse (and cannot) pay $500 for. Does that make sense? I purposely just tried to end my comment with a question. And then I didn't.

I have none of the advice for handling making money from my blog. I would probably lose all my money paying someone to help me make the blog generate revenue. #amlazy

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterArnebya

To clarify, I'm talking less about "the blog making revenue" and more about using the site as a place to feature BOTH my blog and the professional stuff.

I am currently using my pouch as a place to hide snacks.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteralice

Disclaimer: I have little experience with this, other than as a READER of blogs. I suppose I'm trying vaguely to integrate the personal and the professional as well, though it looks a little different in my field (librarianship) than in writing-writing. I think the key to doing that effectively is just to be honest about it:

* Here is a thing that I'm writing that is about my kid, or my cat. It's a good story.
* Here is a thing that I'm writing that is about my class and what I think you could learn from it and why it's worth my while to teach it. That's a good story too.
* Here's how I worked with that story about my cat to make it worth publishing.
* Here's a small and deeply relevant excerpt from my ebook. Maybe you would like to buy the whole thing.

Like that.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterchristie

You make my internet.

Because thinking that you were closing up your blog gave me nervous farts and terror shits. And because we talk about marsupials and yolky messes and confessions on the hatred of self promotion and I follow every thread of thought.

Thank you for being here.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteralexandra rosas

I don't have any answers for you, I just think you're great and wanted to say that. Keep on keeping on!

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

I have that luxury -- doing what I love for zero monies -- for which I'm eternally grateful. Not that I don't hope one day I might get a handful of monies. A small handful. A tip, maybe. Anyway, based on my personal experience I have zero advice to offer about revenue, but I like reading your writing. So keep blogging.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKatherine Stone

I don't like sponsored posts, but can live with them if they're clearly labeled at the beginning. Please don't do giveaways. They are demeaning to all involved -- a bunch of grownups begging for free stuff. I hate that they're so ubiquitous.

The best example I know of for how to make money as a writer/blogger is the Yarn Harlot. (Yes, it's a knitting blog, but you don't have to knit to read it.) Since becoming a blogger, she has written several books (mostly books of essays) and used the blog as a way to build her audience, sell books, and draw huge crowds to book signings. She has also organized several knitting retreats and conferences, as well as teaching at many others, and the popular blog ensures that she has huge waiting lists for everything she organizes. She has never had a sponsored post or a giveaway or even an ad on her blog. I really respect how she has turned her blog into a profitable business without ever selling herself to any company.

Whatever you do, don't do it like Dooce.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

Kristin, I really value your perspective, but for you (and all of us!) can we not use this as an opportunity to bash other bloggers? Everyone's doing their best. And Heather is a friend of mine.

I like the Yarn Harlot. Thanks.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteralice

Alice, I haven't commented here before but I love you and your blog and thought I would this time! So, hi! I am a freelance writer who keeps superdy duper busy doing the freelance copywriting thing for businesses medium and small, agencies, etc. etc. I'm also a fiction writer, which some of my clients may know about, but they know me primarily as their writer of feature stories on their leaders and newsletters and web copy and this and that. In other words, the worlds are separate for me. I don't have a blog, so maybe I'm not really answering your question. But if you are interested in generating more professional work, have you considered creating a separate website than finslippy? I think you could link the two, but I believe you might be really successful branding yourself elsewhere as a writer with multiple talents (one of which is that you have built a very successful blog). A separate site would help make your goal (the type(s) of work you are seeking out) more clear than if you did it on finslippy, I would think. Food for thought. Either way, I am sure you will do well, because you're smart and talented and you smell nice. Best of luck.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjamie

I *love* your writing. There are very few blogs I have read for more than a decade, and yours is one of - perhaps - three. I find your writing compelling in part because it is about a diversity of things, but also because you are such an incredible writer who writes with thoughtfulness, integrity, humor, and candor.

If I ever had time for a writing coach or a class I would be happy to take one you advertised here since I imagine your coaching and teaching style would mirror your "blogging persona": personally engaging, thoughtful, and generous.

Good luck with the decision making regarding income generation and thank you for sharing your writing.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

All I can say is Go Alice Go. I am in a similar job-looking predicament, and I encourage you to write more blogposts. You rock, and your rocking-ness will (and does) spread from here. (Also, I just moved into your neighborhood, and I keep looking for you on the sidewalks. Does that sound creepy?)

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnn Napolitano

All I can say is YES and WE SHOULD TALK. See my email.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAsha Dornfest

Hi Alice,

I have been following you for years (never commented, I am one of those) and right now we are looking for writers. I don't know what your schedule looks like, but can we connect? I'd love to be able to work with you!

Thanks!

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Jamie: That is a great perspective, thanks. I think you're probably right!

Ann: Not at all creepy and why aren't we getting together? Come on!

Lisa: emailing you!

April 25, 2014 | Registered CommenterAlice

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