A Slight Bend in the Road

We interrupt your regularly scheduled posts about nothing to have a post about something. A novel concept isn’t it? And no, this isn’t a work in progress update. I’ll likely have my next one of those sometime in November1That’s my hope at least. We’ll see if that happens..

Over the past few months, I’ve intermittently lamented on Twitter how things aren’t exactly taking off for me. It’s a phenomenon I’ve faced before with my first book, as well as one I’m facing now both with my Patreon, as well as the editing services I offer. It’s frustrating to say the least. I feel like I promote the work I do pretty frequently on the limited social media I have. It’s to the point where I feel like I’m doing self-promotion too frequently, which has to be annoying as all hell to those who follow me.

So I took to Twitter looking for advice. How could I better use my blog to show off what I do? I’m wasn’t necessarily looking to make drastic changes before receiving advice, though I wasn’t opposed to the idea if it made sense at the time. My main goal, however, was to find out if people I interact with — be they other bloggers, readers of this blog, writers, or just people who give me good advice — thought making drastic changes to push my freelancing/Patreon work made sense with my blog.

I was fortunate enough to receive some great feedback from this request. Leading this off (as well as spawning quite a bit of additional feedback from others) was a few tweets from David Carlson of Young Adult Money. I’ve watched David grow his side projects significantly in the time I’ve followed him and his blog, so if anyone has advice on this from personal experience, it’d be him.

If all I’m looking to do with my site is freelancing, I think what David is saying makes a lot of sense. I need a portfolio of works that I can clearly show on my site to highlight the work I’ve done. While I’m building a portfolio currently, aside from the resume writing I’ve done, I don’t have a particularly long portfolio at this point. Even beyond that, a couple of the projects I have worked on have been writers who are writing under pen names, meaning that they’ve also hesitant to tie testimonials to their work2While this hasn’t always been my experience with authors writing semi-anonymously, I have found it’s more frequent than not.. So, what other ideas would potentially help spread the word about what I do? Dem and Charles provided some insight that had crossed my mind, but that I didn’t think about too much.

Human interaction. Cool. I can do that. I already do it in a lot of cases. I make an effort to personally reply to every person who leaves a comment on my blog3Except for that one guy who left comments on my Fire Emblem posts in Portuguese. The extent of my knowledge of Portuguese was a few words I learned to flirt with a girl from Sao Paulo in one of my college classes. I don’t think that’ll help.. I do my best to interact with people I know who read my blog, be that on Twitter, by sharing their content, or by being a consumer of their work myself. I feel like I do this a good bit now.

With that said, I also feel like this runs the risk of becoming super annoying, as I mentioned earlier in the post. It can feel disingenuous to constantly be trying to promote your work. I did that very early on with my college radio show on my Facebook, only to get feedback from quite a few people that I was talking about my show way too much. I’m not sure if that stuck with me more than it should of or if I really was that annoying4And since my Facebook is long deleted, I have no way of checking., however I do worry about being that annoying guy on social media who doesn’t shut up about the work I do.

One of my regular reads, Todd, shared this sentiment in his feedback.

I do get a lot of traffic to the regular blog content I write. I reached my entire 2017 blog traffic volume before mid-August of this year. The past four months have been four of the five best months my blog has ever had traffic wise (though comments are lagging recently). And in order to get eyes on my site, I need traffic. So I do think keeping the blog itself is great, both short and long term. Plus there’s always the idea that Victoria presented about trying to keep the current blog format and just better highlight my technical knowledge, either on the blog or in stories I write.

With all that feedback in mind, I’ve decided to make some modest changes to my site in order to better emphasize the work I do, along with keeping my blog active. You might have noticed the new home page5This went up September 15 for those wondering. Thanks to Stephanie, Tabitha, and my wife for their feedback on the layout. when you came here. This page now features a slider with some of my commonly accessed content, as well as a quick link to my freelancing work. Just below that, you’ll find other links, which include my Patreon and more info about the other media I have (including my book). I’ve also added testimonials to the home page (which is still being worked on as we speak).

While much of what I mentioned above is still being built out or is a work in progress in some capacity, I have transitioned the site to a new color scheme. While I’m not 100% sure exactly how I want the color scheme to fully be used on the site yet — especially with the slider — I did decide that it was time to go away from my previous scheme. Keeping the charcoal gray and Volunteer orange theme was something I seriously considered, as I do love that color pairing. That said, you’ll start to see some greens, teals, and beige/golds on the site in the near future. A new logo is coming soon too, as I really haven’t had a good one of those to speak of6This is because I’m garbage at Photoshop/Canva..

Although this is still a work in progress, I do very much feel like I’ve taken some steps in the right direction. I appreciate the feedback everyone gave to me as part of my desperate search for inspiration. If you have additional feedback about my quandary as to how to market my work better, or you just want to talk about the site redesign, feel free to throw some of your thoughts in the comments.

The People I Met On 20SB

A large portion of my readers came here from the website Twenty Something Bloggers. The site shut down this past Tuesday, June 30th, leaving a void on the internet for young bloggers looking to connect, interact, and network. I had been part of 20SB for roughly four years, with the final year of that time coinciding with a run as one of the site’s community managers. My time on the site was largely great. Save for a couple of awkward moments in discussions with other forum members or the occasional debate that got out of hand, 20SB was a great place to be.

Part of me wants to thank 20SB for serving as a vehicle to help me to grow my blog as well as to help me grow as a blogger. In a sense, both of those statements are true. On the other hand, the site itself did little to help me. It was the people on the site — both those who ran the site and those who participated in its everyday happenings — that helped to stoke the fire beneath my creative passion and motivated me to grow my blog.

I wanted to recognize some of those people individually. My original intent was to have this post written before 20SB shut down, which would have allowed me to share the post on its forums before the site’s final days. As I mentally plotted and planned my post, I realized that I couldn’t single out everyone that left an impact on me by name. I’d be bound to forget someone along the way((Perhaps even someone who reads this blog.)) and in doing so would (likely) feel awful. Instead, I wanted to take the time to highlight some of the most memorable experiences I was part of on 20SB, as well as to highlight some of the personalities((No names, please.)) I encountered along the way.

The first semi-major event I can remember on 20SB was one filled with drama((I remember seriously considering applying to be a community manager for 20SB early on in my time on the site. While the job sounded interesting, the very public drama occurring at the time made me shy away and not consider it for almost two years — if I’ve got my mental timeline right, that is.)). There was a blogger on the site who wrote a personal blog and short stories. Her writing style was elegant, captivating, and emotional. She wrote about death and terminal disease — including her own struggles with the concepts of the former and the reality of the latter — as well as love and loss.

One day, it came to light that this blogger had been using her blog to tell a story. The story wasn’t her own. When it came to light that her stories had been nothing more than fiction, many of the site’s more vocal members became enraged. The blogger caved to pressure, left the site, and made her blog private((It was still private as recently as March)). I found myself as one of the few standing in this blogger’s corner, as to me the story she was telling was far more powerful than her lie. I always found it disappointing, despite knowing full well as to what the back story was.

Most everyone I met on the site was pleasant to deal with. I was fortunate enough to meet a handful of bloggers who helped me through the random shitty days I had in the fall of 2011 when I was unemployed. It was a terribly crappy time in life, however between them, my then still relatively new girlfriend((Aka the woman I married last month.)), and working on NaNoWriMo, the entire time was a little better than it could have been. It was during that NaNoWriMo project that I began to hear that my fiction writing was good. One 20SB member in particular was extremely vocal about how she was convinced that my writing was good enough to be published as a book one day. I thought she was insane. I was wrong.

I’ve had roughly five blogs in the ten years((Ten years as of September.)) that I’ve been blogging. The first two weren’t serious at all, but the third one was pretty important to me, being the catalyst to leading me to join 20SB. When I shut the blog down due to concerns for my physical and digital safety, I was at a loss as to what to do. A few members of 20SB came to my aid with advice and recommendations as to what steps to take next. Eventually — largely thanks to the kind words of many of those same people from 20SB — I started my next blog, making it a publicly viewable site following a six month hiatus.

Not everyone I met on the site was easy to deal with. Occasionally I’d come across a person or two who felt entitled to tell you that their opinions were better than yours. Sometimes, this was a good thing. The result of a particular vote on the site lead me to write a blog post that has been a favorite of readers for over two years. Other times, those people would piss me off to the point where I’d stay off the site for a week or two. By the end of 20SB, most of those people had thankfully moved on.

I gained new readers around the world as a result of referrals from 20SB. At various points in time, I had regular readers from Canada, Germany, Argentina, Slovenia, Ukraine, the Philippines, Australia, Croatia, the United Kingdom, Belize, India, New Zealand, and Poland((And those are just the countries I can remember where regular readers for a few months or more came from. That doesn’t include the various one-time readers that came by.)). It’s a beautiful thing to be able to share opinions, creativity, and passion with the world around me. Without 20SB, that certainly still could have happened…but probably not.

As I mentioned, I spent roughly my last year as a member of the site also working as one of the community managers for 20SB. This opportunity allowed me not only to work with a talented, dedicated, and knowledgeable administrative team, but also allowed me to get to be the first person that many of the site’s new members heard from when they joined. This experience proved far more useful to my work life than I ever thought it would have been — apparently public relations is a more integral part of new hire onboarding than I realized. That said, it gave me the chance to grow as a writer and a mentor to other bloggers around me.

In their closing statement, it was shared that part of why 20SB is shutting down is because of the fact that blogging is becoming a fragmented and multi-platform entity and that there are better resources available to help those who want them. If you’re aware of those resources, I’d love to hear them and be able to share them. To me though, that fragmentation and multi-platform identity existed before 20SB and will exist well after. But for a time, 20SB brought together individuals from around the world — from those different platforms and fragments — in an effort to help them to learn, grow, and connect. In that endeavor, I consider them a success.