Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.
QUESTION: We recently asked you what questions you’d like answered in our Friday Fun post. Today, we’re answering the following reader question:
Jamie Wallace: I’m going to address my response directly to Connie, but I hope the thoughts and advice I share will also be helpful to others who are in a similar place in their writing journey – just starting out with a blog and wondering where to go from there.
Hi, Connie. First of all – congrats on launching your blog and getting into a regular posting routine! I read your introductory post, Who Am I?, and loved much of what I learned about your interests and your intentions for your blog. You clearly have a great love for art, music, beauty, and animals (all things I love, too). Without the luxury of thoroughly reading them, I also scanned posts on your home page and saw that your recent writing covers a wide variety of topics: motherhood, music study, teaching, writer’s block, fiction exercises, artistic inspiration, grief, and the joys of a small closet.
In response to your original question, I had asked if you could give us a little more background about the kind of writing you hope to do and how you define “a little money.” My recommendation for your next “small” step is to spend some time thinking about those two questions because once you can see the “shape” of your writing goals, you will have a much easier time reverse engineering the steps you need to take to reach them. Do you want to be a copywriter, a journalist, a columnist, a fiction writer, or something else? Are you hoping to make $100, $1000, or $10,000? In other words, what does your next version of writing success look like?
I would also encourage you to think about either narrowing the focus of your blog OR finding an “umbrella” idea that can help tie your posts together thematically (e.g., simplicity, the importance of art, slowing down, etc.). Look at some of the blogs you admire and see if you can figure out their focus and/or umbrella theme. This will help you get ideas about what your focus and or theme might be.
While you’re thinking these things through, here are some other posts that you might find helpful:
- The Writer’s Platform – Part 1
- Weekend Edition – The Generalist vs. The Specialist Writer
- Weekend Edition – 5 Questions to Ask When You Don’t Know What to Write
- The Truth About Know-Like-Trust
I hope that helps. Good luck!
To bottom line a first (big) baby step — figure out what the purpose of your blog is. Once you know that, you’ll be able to focus the posts and build a strong foundation for your writing career.
So, Connie, it sounds as though your blog was to get you in the habit of writing regularly and you’ve achieve that goal, wonderful! Celebrate your success!
Now that you feel ready to pursue making money from your writing, you need to decide what type of writing inspires you – what type of writing you can and want to do that you enjoy. That’s a larger baby step. (I started with writing for the local paper so I could see my byline.)
What type of writing attracts you? What have you read that made you think “I could write something like that.” or “I would have written from this angle.” or “Why didn’t the author cover xxx in this article?”
Deborah Lee Luskin: Jamie and Lisa’s answers are thorough and practical, starting with big congratulations to you for setting a goal and meeting it.
Self-motivation and follow through are critical professional writing skills: clients want you to figure out what they want, and they want it delivered on their time table. In my experience, if you’re going to be earning money by writing, you are going to be writing for someone else.
I’ve earned some money and more fame from publishing fiction, essays and editorials, and absolutely no direct income whatsoever from writing a blog. But money doesn’t always equate value, especially – unfortunately – in the arts. I blog to reach and build a wider audience. It’s writing profiles and science stories for medical centers that pays the bills. Some of it is by-lined, some not; it pays well. At this point in my career, I do as little of it as necessary, and spend as much time as I can writing what matters to me. Along with paying off the mortgage and living debt-free, one of the benefits of aging is gaining clarity on what matters. For me, it’s “advancing issues through narrative; telling stories to create change.”
So, in addition to all the advice above, I would recommend that you ask yourself the Big Question: What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? Only in the case of a writer, I’d amend the poet Mary Oliver’s question to What is it you want to say with your one wild and precious life?
I’m a great believer in “follow your passion; the money will follow,” but first, you have to identify your passion.
Diane MacKinnon: Hi Connie, I don’t know if I have much to add, after reading all the wonderful advice Jamie, Lisa, and Deborah have given you, but I’ll try. First, congratulations on starting and contributing regularly to your blog–that’s huge! Second, it sounds like you are at the point where you can narrow your focus a little bit. For me, the way to do that is to answer the question: Why? Why are you writing this blog? With my life coaching blog, my “why” was to help people feel a little bit better in their daily lives, because I believe more peace and joy in our everyday world leads to a more peaceful, joyful life. As a part of this blog, my “why” is to inspire others to write or keep writing, in whatever form that takes for them. Best wishes for your continued success!