Sometimes, we just have to know when it’s time to go!
“But – I DON’T WANT to start a blog!”
These were the words I inwardly wailed in dismay when I thought of the path ahead.
But why? I had always wanted to be a writer. That is, once I got over the dreams at age five of becoming a drummer (“Girls aren’t drummers,” I was firmly told) and in my early teens, of being a jockey. At that time, girls weren’t jockeys either — well, I knew of one. But in my world in my little town, girls weren’t jockeys.
I was encouraged to play the piano, which I actually wanted to do. I had a keen ear for music. But my older sister was already taking piano lessons and was pretty good, and I was terrified of being compared to her and coming up short. Besides, she could read music, while I played by ear. So I pretended to be uninterested.
Since I was such a good horseback rider, I thought some type of career with horses (other than trying to become a jockey and being laughed out of the stables) was a great idea. But I had no idea how to go about it.
What about Writing?
Other than being good at riding and music, which I falsely believed were off the table for me, the only other thing I seemed to have a real aptitude for was writing. I adored writing (and reading as well — the two always seem to go hand-in-hand). I was the weird kid in school who got excited when the teacher announced it was time to write an essay or book report. Those were probably the only assignments I ever finished on time.
Or got good grades on.
From my late teens on, several people encouraged to me to become a writer. But, you know what they say about the fear factor.
It paralyzed me.
Time to Go Home and Start My Life
Then a few years back, a conversation in a restaurant at a Mississippi casino with a younger sister, brought about a paradigm shift. Before I knew it, it was time to go, and although I knew I would miss my family, I left with a sense of anticipation beginning to stir inside me.
After returning home, I thought about how I had let fear rule my life and ruin my dreams. I knew I had to stop this nonsense once and for all and just do what, deep down, I’d always wanted to do.
I would write. And this time, nothing — not even fear — would stop me.
I did a little research. It seemed that all writers either had blogs or portfolios. How on earth can I put a portfolio online when I have nothing to put in it? I thought in a panic. Then the thought came to me: You must start a blog. Thus ensued the argument in my brain between Fear and Logic.
Fear: ” Start a blog? Are you insane? I don’t know the first thing about websites! I’m the most technology-challenged person on the planet!”
Logic: “You can learn. And you’re only the third most technology-challenged person on the planet.”
Fear: “But — okay, even if I could figure it out, what would I write about?”
Logic: “What would you write about if the editor of a magazine called and asked if you’d write an article for them? Duh. You’d think of something. Besides, you have plenty to write about. Start with your insane life and the rotten health you used to have. How you won your battles. Encourage other people who may be going through similar tough times. You have more to write about than you think.”
Fear: “But I don’t want to blog! It would totally suck! I like reading other people’s blogs, but I don’t want one of my own! I don’t want to have to put myself out there on the [gasp!] internet! Yuck!”
Logic: “If you wrote articles, content, or whatever for clients, wouldn’t that be putting yourself out there?”
Fear: “Um… I guess.”
Logic: “And no one is ever going to hire you to write for them if they can’t see that you can write! They need to see examples! Since you have no published examples to put in a portfolio, how else are they going to see what you can do?”
Fear (heaving a huge sigh of resignation): “Damn. I guess you’re right. I hate you.”
Logic: “Whatever. You’ll thank me later.”
And the Fun Begins
Logic tried to tell me that I was the third most technology-challenged person on the planet, but I didn’t believe her. It took me months of hair-pulling, screaming, crying, giving up, searching for answers, and sheer pig-headed stubborness to even get the dang thing launched.
But once I did, it was like Logic tried to tell me — the writing flowed. It always has. And once I’d pushed past the paralyzing fear and hit “Publish” for the first time, I realized I had renewed my love affair with writing.
And I loved how my posts have resonated with many of you.
I loved hearing from people how they learned the “why’s” of some things that had always eluded and frustrated them; or how a post made them laugh, or really think about something they hadn’t before and they decided to make changes.
How some of them even found out what their mysterious health ailments were because they’d read a post that discussed their symptoms and showed them what tests to have done.
It felt good to help and encourage others, even if it was only in a small way. It made it all worthwhile.
But over the last two-plus years, another realization has slowly dawned on me. One I can no longer ignore.
I really don’t like blogging.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love writing. But I found there is more — far, far more — to blogging than just writing. More than research, which I also enjoy.
There’s SEO, for one thing. Don’t know what SEO is? Neither did I, but that was one of hundreds of things I had to learn about. And let me tell you, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) goes waaay beyond simply sticking a few keywords in a blog post in order to be found by search engines.
First, you must do keyword research. You should do so much keyword research in fact, that the pros say you need to make up a spreadsheet to keep track of all your keywords and their stats. Although I didn’t bother doing that until about a month ago.
This isn’t a difficult thing to do, but unless you’re a spreadsheet nerd, it can be tedious and is always quite time-consuming.
SEO is a humongous subject all its own, one that a lot of people build entire careers on. The basics of SEO aren’t too horrible, but it can get so convoluted, confusing, and deep that I’m not even going to go into it here.
Then there’s marketing. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, et al, and trying to keep up with all of them. Except for IG, which I never got around to using. Trying to schedule pins, posts, and tweets out weeks or months in advance nearly made my head explode. This may be a utopia for social media mavens, but I am not one among them.
Oh, and you need to figure out good keywords for all the social media stuff as well.
Again, we’re talking extremely. Time. Consuming. And I’ve never had time to schedule months in advance, except for one time for Pinterest, but my curating was pretty sloppy and I didn’t include hashtags. No time for that!
I have no idea how anyone with a blog and a life does everything that needs to be done, without help.
There’s so much more involved, that I can’t go into it without writing an entire book.
Not a Blogging Biz
Lately, I’ve realized something else.
The blog was never supposed to be a business. Sure, there are bloggers out there who pull in ginormous amounts of money. Quite a few rake in millions per year just from their blogs, never mind their other endeavors.
I’m honestly in awe of those bloggers! Their jobs are so much more involved and difficult than most of us could conjure up in our wildest imaginings, and most of them truly earn every penny.
But that wasn’t why I started my blog. It was only supposed to be a simple (ha!) platform to showcase some of my writing. It was supposed to be a stepping-stone to freelance writing that would hopefully help me to land a few clients.
Some might call it a hobby blog, but… no. It was more than that, yet never intended to be a business either. A writer’s stepping-stone blog, I guess.
And the cool thing is, it’s helped move me in that direction. It took me far too long to work up the nerve but finally, after blogging for a little over one and a half years, I started pitching publications.
For several months, nothing happened. I started trolling writer’s job boards. Then all of a sudden, the dam broke.
Well… About Time I Did Something!
First, I was sought out by the founder of Devotable, a company that publishes Christian devotionals, to be a regular contributor. My third devotion will be published next month.
Then I sold a piece to the Salvation Army’s War Cry magazine. They haven’t yet decided on a publishing date, but hey, they bought it and the money’s in my bank account (nope — haven’t spent it).
I was hired — and still work as — a content writer by a company that builds and maintains websites. I also write some of their social media captions and most of their SEO titles with meta-descriptions (those titles and brief, partial descriptions on the search engine results page, or SERP).
Plus, I’ve done quite a few ghostwritten one-off projects as well. And since they were ghostwritten, who I wrote them for is sorta’ top-secret.
And this has all happened in the last five months.
But I haven’t “arrived” as they say. Far from it. I’ve been taking online classes for freelance writers and heading in a different direction. Some of you may have read my posts on human trafficking, Modern Slavery is Alive and Well and Human Trafficking Prevention.
When it comes to human trafficking (a.k.a. modern slavery), I am a fierce abolitionist. And when it comes to hemp and medical cannabis, this former weed abolitionist has repented of her silly fears and embraced these herbs along with all the others that God created to contribute to healing.
Personally, I’ve never tried the medicinal cannabis that contains THC (but I sure would if I had cancer!); however, I love the relief the non-psychoactive CBD oil gives me from extreme pain and chronic insomnia. And although I haven’t used medical marijuana, I have great respect for the amazing medical benefits it provides to those suffering from horrible conditions.
Although there are many subjects I want to write about, those two niches, along with other supplements and herbs for health are my main focus.
And I can’t do the daily hard work of maintaining a blog (not to mention the expense!) — even if it isn’t one that was designed to be a moneymaker — and continue to pursue a writing career. Just because this blog was never designed to be a business doesn’t mean it isn’t time-consuming!
For instance, right now I am writing this sentence and horrified to see that the clock on my computer reads 1:30 a.m.
And I have to get up early in the morning and drive through crummy Tacoma traffic to attend a T-ball game. Which would be no big deal if I weren’t the type of person who needs a solid eight hours of sleep.
I need to focus my mind and energy on freelance writing and everything that goes with it… like the massive amount of marketing, education, and research. Plus the other day-to-day things that go with running a business, like bookkeeping, phone calls, emails, writing up proposals, and so much more.
You Need to Know When it’s Time to Go
So, I’m a bit sad… yet so relieved to say that at least for now, I’m done with blogging.
It’s time to go.
I’ll leave the website up for a while until I decide what to do with all of its content. And who knows, from time to time I may get wild and throw out a post.
I want to thank all of you who have cheered me on and read my posts and shared in my struggles, as well as those who have shared with me how the information I’ve passed on has helped them in their own struggles.
Even with all the blood, sweat, and tears; the times I wanted to throw my hands up in the air and quit, and the times I’ve wanted to hurl the computer at the nearest wall, I have to say it’s been worth it. And I have been truly blessed to have readers like you.
Thank you all.