Should You Have More Than One Blog?

Last week at the writing group I run as part of my Chasing Driftwood Writing Group business, we ended up having a discussion about blogs. One of the members had announced his decision to have more than one blog, due to the fact he wanted to keep his writing related blog separate from his other passions in life. This was an interesting and very timely discussion, as I had just been thinking myself about another blog I started and soon neglected roughly a year ago. (I do technically have two blogs, as I have the Chasing Driftwood one, but I basically use this like a website, where all I really do is update the workshops I run every now and then.)

Last year, however, I started a third blog. My Self-Sufficient Challenge started for two main reasons. One, as a family we were making conscious efforts to change the way we lived. From raising ducks and chickens to composting, growing our own fruit and vegetables, reusing, recycling and reducing our waste output wherever possible. It seemed like a good idea to blog about something I was becoming very passionate about, which wasn’t necessarily related to writing. (Oh, how this has changed! But more on that later…) I thought writing a weekly blog about my efforts to become more environmentally friendly and more self-sufficient would actually encourage me to keep at it. If I felt like people were reading the posts and rooting for my efforts, then I’d be more likely to get better and better. The second reason was perhaps more altruistic, or business savvy, shall we say?

I had read somewhere (don’t ask me where as I have absolutely no idea!) that creating other blogs apart from your main, author related one, was a very good marketing idea. The idea being that if you had other interests you were passionate and/or knowledgeable about, you would inevitably draw in other followers, who would then soon realise you also write books, and would perhaps be interested in them, due to the fact they had enjoyed your posts and writing style. This made great sense to me at the time. Why not reach out to more people? Why not write about a subject you are passionate about? It seemed like a win-win situation to me.

If you’re also thinking about multiple blogs, here are some reasons it could be a good idea for you;

  • It can be hard to create a following for your blog if it is multi-niche, or in other words, if you talk about anything and everything
  • People tend to subscribe to certain blogs because they are interested in the subject matter. They might lose interest if you flit from subject to subject
  • If you wish to monetize your blog (and many people make a living from doing just this) you will need it to have a single focus. Your SEO (search engine optimization) will be pretty poor if you cover too many subjects for people to find you
  • If you wish to have paid ads on your blog, again it is going to have to have a narrower focus
  • If the other blog you have in mind is work based, ie you’re a dog trainer and the blog is about dog behaviour and so on, then you’re going to need it to be a single focus in order to look professional
  • If one of your blogs is for work/business and one is for fun, it may be better to keep them separate. Writing about what you enjoy could provide a welcome relief from working on your money orientated blog

And of course, there is no reason why you can’t share and cross-post your blogs so that both audiences (or more) get the opportunity to see what else you are up to.

So, what happened to my self-sufficiency blog? Well, like many things in life, the good intentions were all there but it soon faded fast. I think I managed about four posts. The aim was to post once a week, but back then I wasn’t even managing to post once a week on this blog. This wasn’t for lack of content at all. There were plenty of things to talk about, and I took loads of photos of the things we were doing and growing. I just never quite found the time to upload them to the blog!

Once a few months had drifted by, it got harder and harder to return to it. I had in that time revamped and renamed this blog, with the aim of ‘branding’ it, so to speak, and making sure people knew what they were getting.

This is a blog that talks about writing. A lot. This is a blog that talks about being proud to be an outsider. My books and my character all have this theme in common. I welcome guest posts along the same theme, and I read books that also fit the criteria.

The other day, (just before writing group) this got me thinking. I miss my self-sufficient blog but know I don’t have the time for it. I just do not have the time to run two blogs. It’s just not ever going to happen. So I started to think about how I could possibly post things that might have gone on the self-sufficient blog here. I’m still thinking about it.

What led me back to this thought the most, was the direction my writing has taken in the last year or so. The Tree Of Rebels is waiting for a final edit. The book is set in the future where nature is banned, owned and controlled. The connection with nature and growing your own food has been totally severed. Elliot Pie’s Guide To Human Nature is also awaiting its final edit. This is a book about a young boy who attempts to prove to his mother that people are not all bad, by befriending perfect strangers. His mother believes that the world has never been as corrupt, cruel and doomed as it is right now. Several of the other characters in the story share her beliefs to varying degrees. They feel helpless and afraid and like the end of the world is very near. And finally, in the four book series I have plotted and planned, (but cannot possibly start for at least another year!) the end of the world has happened. But the cause was not humans, it was nature itself. Only the children have been spared the cull, but how will they survive in this hostile new world where all the rules have changed? All of these upcoming books have a common theme. Environmentalism. Mother nature. Human nature. The state we are all in! In other words, the things I think about constantly.

Now, every now and then I write a piece on here that is not at all related to writing. Every now and then I just feel the urge, start writing and see what happens. Sometimes it is related to my family, sometimes to society or politics. I suppose what I am trying to say is that as long as the theme remains in adherence to glorious outsiders, then perhaps it is okay to post about things that are not writing related? Especially if you find your writing is being shaped more and more by the frightening world we live in?

You might have noticed, I haven’t quite convinced myself yet!

What do you all think? Do you already have more than one blog? If so, why? And how do you find the time to manage more than one? Perhaps your blog is multi-niche or quite personal. Do you ever think about creating other blogs and dividing the subjects up? I would love to know your thoughts on this, and so would my writing group! So please feel free to comment!

 

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My 2016 Writing Goals Vs The Reality

Towards the end of 2015 I listed my writing goals for 2016 on this blog. I didn’t really expect to achieve them all, but at the same time, they did feel achievable! I also listed them as a way to kick myself up the backside and keep track of what I wanted to get done this year. So as we draw to the end of 2016, (oh my God how fast did this year go??) how many did I manage?

  1. Finish the first draft of Elliot Pie’s Guide To Human Nature (nearly there!!)

Yay! I did this one! This book nearly ready for release, but I’ve been waiting for some final feedback from a trusted beta reader and working on the first draft of A Song For Bill Robinson. Once this is done, I will be rushing back to dear Elliot to give his story a final going over or two and then deciding on a release date! (Plus I need to think about front covers and so on!)

2.Whilst letting that first draft breathe, do the final rewrite/edit of The Tree Of Rebels and submit to agents and publishers. I want to try the traditional route with this book, as I think it is a worth a go every now and then!

Well, as you may know, TheTree Of Rebels is still not ready despite being now two years in the making. A while ago I decided it needed another rewrite and possibly some further storylines introduced. But it has to wait until Elliot Pie is released before I get back to it, so this one is still not done. It is much improved though and I’m glad I’ve been patient with it.

3.Whilst waiting for responses, dive into second draft of Elliot Pie, which also means developing a Pinterest storyboard for it.

Yep, as mentioned above, second, third, fourth and so on drafts have happened for Elliot Pie, and I have started a Pinterest board for it too. Cool, can tick that one off!

4.If no success with trad publishing, then release The Tree of Rebels with my indie publisher,with my detailed promo plan in place!!

Well that indie publisher went out of business in February 2016 and I then published with Amazon for a while and am now with Pronoun. That threw a spanner into the works for a few months and set everything back a bit, so the detailed promo plan for The Tree Of Rebels will have to wait a bit longer to be set into motion!

5.Have a real life/in the flesh book launch in my local library (eek scary!)

Well, obviously as neither novel was ready for 2016 this goal was not achievable. However, I have recently made contact with my local library in a bid to foster links with them for this sort of thing. I’m holding a workshop there in March and will be talking to them about lots of other ideas too, so this goal is definitely one for 2017. I hope!

6.Have an online launch/promo etc (see point 4)

Again, neither novel was launched so couldn’t do an online launch either, but very much looking forward to this in 2017!

7.Finish putting together another short story collection, which will be partly shorts related to my novels, other shorts, and partly previous blog posts and musings

Aha! One I did achieve! I released Bird People in May 2016 and I’m really pleased with how it turned out

8.Plan a local author event! This will be under my Chasing Driftwood Writing Group banner, and will involve getting other local authors together for a meet/greet/signing and workshop extravaganza, all designed to put readers in touch with writers,, and spread the word locally about our books.

Yay, well sort of. I have a workshop booked for March which will be the first adult one I’ve put on, by myself, under my Chasing Driftwood Writing Group business. I did also take part in a Writers Day Event in October with Dorset Writers Network which was a brilliant opportunity for spreading the word and making connections. My workshop is about building an author platform and part of it will be unveiling my idea for a pop-up book shop to put on at any future events, the library and so on.

9.Enter competitions and submit to awards!!

I have entered two or three competitions this year I think? Always worth a go. Not submitted to any awards, though, which is worth looking into I think for 2017

10.Plot/plan the sequel to The Tree Of Rebels and add teaser chapters onto end of first book

Done. Most of the sequel is written or planned, but I did go off the idea and it fizzled out. When I do finally go over The Tree of Rebels again I will be deciding if I want to do the sequel or not, or just leave thinsg open incase I do another day.

11.Start the sequel to The Mess Of Me (if I finish Elliot Pie, or when I am having a breather between drafts)

Didn’t get time for this, as a lot of time was spent republishing books this year, and rewriting Elliot Pie and Tree Of Rebels, then a few months ago an old story started to plague me and turned into my current work-in-progress A Song For Bill Robinson. The sequel to The Mess Of Me is planned and half-written and will happen, one day, though!

12.Start writing the screenplay to The Boy With The Thorn In His Side, which involves writing in extra scenes between the two books, so as to make a TV series. Well, why not dream big??

I started this! I also wrote a later episode which I intended to enter in a competition but I missed the deadline! Fully intend to keep working on this in 2017 as it was a whole lot of fun!

Results; seven out of twelve, not too bad!! I think writing this list at the start of 2016 was hugely helpful to me. I knew I wouldn’t be able to tick them all off, but they were all things I desperately wanted to achieve, so it made sense to me to list them like this so I’d have something to spur me on. I am going to write a new list for 2017 writing goals which will be next week’s blog post!

How about you? Do you write lists or make plans? What do you hope to achieve in 2017? Did 2016 go as planned or did you have things go wrong or veer in other directions, like I did? Please feel free to comment and share!

 

Indies!! What The Hell Are We Doing?

Indie writers, if you’re anything like me, you ask yourself the same question on a regular basis. It looks a bit like this;

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I’m sure my family think I am mad. None of this really pays off, let’s be honest. My husband chuckles when I declare I am going onto the laptop to ‘work’. He thinks I am crazy for giving myself so much stress.After all, it’s not like I have a boss breathing down my neck! I don’t actually have to do any of this, do I?

He can’t understand when I announce that ‘I have a lot to do tonight’. To explain, it usually goes a bit like this; ‘I’ve got to finalise the short story for the newsletter and I’ve got to fiddle with the template, plus I’ve got to share the newsletter link to my page before it goes out, so I can try to pick up a few more subscribers, then I’ve got to go over this week’s blog, because that goes out tomorrow and I haven’t added images yet, and I’ve really got to start hitting some book review blogs and I’ve really got to start submitting to some competitions, but I’ve got to finish this book too, and plan this other one…’

And I’m sure he’s thinking; um no, you don’t actually have to do any of that. You could have a night off and watch TV or something.

Indies, I’m sure you can relate to how I feel when I regularly ask myself; what the hell am I doing? Why am I doing this? Why am I writing another short story to add to another newsletter than only 19 out of 34 people will even open, and out of those 19, only 2 will go on to open the file and hopefully read the story? Why am I sharing my thoughts, my progress and my blog posts to Facebook so that it can show them to only 23 people out of 1027? Why am I asking for reviews when I might as well be banging my head against a brick wall? Why am I writing a book when the ones I have released already barely sell? Why do I constantly feel like I am fighting a losing battle? Why am I forever looking for the holy grail of ‘making it’ as writer? Will I even know it when I find it? Why the hell am I doing this to myself?

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I think it’s common to feel thwarted, frustrated and downhearted as an indie writer. You constantly swing between feeling like an outsider, and feeling proud to be doing it your own way. You feel like you have something to prove, when surely having a nice, fat traditional publishing contract, would be all the proof you’d need? As an indie, you keep one eye on the sales, you pester and beg for reviews, you enter competitions, and do all you can to promote without becoming an annoying spammer. You lose yourself in social media, and it is all for your books. Sharing interesting writer advice to Twitter, pinning funny writing quotes and making storyboards for your books on Pinterest, running events and giveaways on your Facebook page, and starting an email newsletter to try to gain a decent, loyal following. You do it all, don’t you? And wonder when on earth it’s going to pay off…

How do you know when you have succeeded? How do you measure achievement when you’ve chosen the indie path?

Maybe it’s enough money to live on, or to at least pay a few bills. Maybe it’s some level of fame, recognition or critical acclaim? Maybe it’s wonderful reviews, or just a nice, steady trickle of sales? Maybe it’s just becoming a better writer.

Sometimes I have to stand back and force myself to ask some awkward questions. What if I never sell lots of books? What if I never get the amount of reviews they say you need to get Amazon on side? What if I never win an award? What if I never get any recognition or any level of success?

Would I stop doing it?

No.

Never. And when I remember this, I think, fuck it, and keep going.

And what is success anyway? Yes, more reviews, more sales, an award or too etc, would all be lovely. Of course they would. They would make it all worthwhile. They would help justify the hours, the blood sweat and tears and sanity invested in all this. They would help alleviate the crippling self doubt and the gloomy, why am I bothering days.

But you can measure success in other, smaller ways too.

Such as, where was I a year ago? Or two? How about six?

Well, six years ago I was still working on the early drafts of The Boy With The Thorn In His Side, having dragged it out from the dusty suitcase under my bed where it had been living since I last worked on it aged 16. With my then youngest child starting school, I’d felt the strongest urge ever to get writing again, as that book had just never stopped talking to me.

In the years that followed that decision, I’ve published four novels and one short story collection. I’ve finished two more novels and am working on getting them released soon. I’ve started a Facebook author page and slowly but surely reached over 1,000 likes. I started this blog which also has over 1000 lovely followers. I’ve had many articles about writing published by Author’s Publish. I’ve fallen back in love with writing short stories. I’ve started my own writing business, Chasing Driftwood, running adult writing group and children’s creative writing workshops. I’ve been asked to run several workshops for children and adults by the Dorset Writer’s Network. I’ve become a reviewer for Underground Book Reviews, where I actually get paid to read books! There is so much more I want to do too, such as working regularly with schools, running workshops for aspiring authors and after school writing clubs. I want to write all of the books in my head! And if that’s not the main motivation for all of this craziness, then I don’t know what is!

Plus, I have a confession. I do moan, I do lose heart, I do get frustrated and I do have ‘I’m just gonna’ give up’ days, but do you know what? The truth is I actually enjoy all the craziness that goes with being an indie. I’m proud to be doing it my way, I’m proud to be learning from my mistakes, I’m proud to be getting stronger and more confident, I’m proud of the sales and reviews that I have, and the messages from readers. And as for all the other stuff; Pinterest, tweeting, author page, email newsletter…yeah, I have to admit it is all quite fun. Admit it!! It is fun!! Plus, writing blog posts, learning how to master social media, attempting articles and short stories, will all help make you a better writer. You may be doing them for promotional reasons, but the process is going to help your writing in the end, so that’s a win-win!

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Now, over to you, fellow Outsiders. How often do you feel like quitting? How do you really feel about being an indie? How do you measure your own success? Do you enjoy all the promotional activities that go with being an indie, or are they a curse? Please feel free to comment and share! 🙂