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I don’t know what I expected. I really don’t. Well, I guess I kind of do. I thought I would be pumping out blog posts between chapters of my book, and submissions to short story contests. I thought nonprofits would be beating down my door for my copywriting services, and my humor and wisdom would have garnered me a large loyal following. Most of all, I thought that words would be falling from my head faster than any two people could type them. I mean, once I stepped into the world of professional writing, how could all of that not happen? I’ve been preparing for this my whole life. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I’ve studied the craft and worked on my own style. I’ve read books and taken classes on writing, short story writing, and copywriting. Why wouldn’t it go this way?
Holy shit does reality hit hard. I tend to jump into things with both feet completely following my heart. My brain is usually a good two weeks behind on any real decision. The truth, as most of you already know, is nowhere near the dream.
I tend to fall in love with ideas. I spot them from afar and am instantly head over heels. I find out where they work, what they like to eat, what their favorite color is before I ever talk to them. Basically I stalk them. I build them up, put them on a pedestal, and ignore all of their flaws. Then I build a website and wonder where all of my time went.
I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I still do, only now I know that I don’t know shit. When you google how to build a blog, you get all kinds of articles on WordPress, and benefits of self-hosting. You find opinions on best places to host, and themes you should use. It’s not till you’re a few weeks and a few hundred dollars in that you start to find out the rest. Analytics, and ad tools, social media marketing, and affiliate programs, how do you sort it all out with no one to show you?
No, seriously, how do you sort it all out? How do you find your way when you are completely lost?
None of the articles I read before told me that for every hour I spent writing I would spend 12 learning how to make my site successful, and 12 more trying to make it visibly appealing. For every hour I write I also spend an hour or two researching a topic to write about and then researching said topic for the post. For every hour I write I have to get up and chase my dog around for 15-20 minutes so she doesn’t think I’m ignoring her and I don’t love her any more, or she will stare at me with those so sad eyes and try to climb onto my laptop. No one told me that for every hour I write I would send almost equal time banging my head on the wall out of frustration of my own ignorance, or fighting off impostor syndrome.
Some sites were honest and freely told me that it would be hard work. But of course I was already so in love that I didn’t care. They didn’t tell you however, how demoralizing it can be. How not knowing some of the fundamental skills to run a successful website can make you feel like a failure from the start.
What you really need in this business, what you absolutely cannot succeed without, is a good support system. All of those feeling of hopelessness and failure can be beaten by a good talk with a real person. You can learn all of the other skills. There are classes for analytics, and articles about plug-ins. All of the skills you need to be successful are out there. The real fight is the loneliness. When you do this, you start to miss the office environment, or being part of a team. It can be hard no longer having a shared goal.
What I had to do was find people to share in my goals, which can be tricky, but you can actually build a pretty strong support system through Facebook groups. Groups are made up of people who know your struggles, and who have already gone through what you are going through. You have a common ground and can use that to share your burdens. You just actually have to participate in the conversations. You can’t just lurk in the background like I usually do. Interacting with other bloggers will likewise help relieve that feeling of isolation, and is one of the best ways to gain new followers. Leave comments on pages that you visit, and many will return the favor.
I really am a little lost. Where do I go from here? I don’t have enough of a following to really ramp up my affiliate marketing, and I kind of feel like a fraud when I try to write articles based on selling anyway. So, tell me what you think. What should I be trying to learn about? What do you think I should write about? How do I break into this world from the outside, with so little knowledge of it? What would you like to hear about from my perspective? How do I get people to submit short stories or poems for my readers’ submissions section?
I stated last week that I will start linking other bloggers that I have come across that have influenced me in some way or have written great posts that I have sourced information from. Well, Neilio Speaks is full of amazing writing. He started around the same time I did, and has done very well for himself. I particularly love his conversations with Duke. He really captures Hunter S. Thompson’s voice.