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Blog Hiatus: 4 Lessons I Learned Behind The Scenes

While I was on hiatus from the blog, I was busy behind the scenes. The process of brainstorming content, creating a newsletter, and updating all of my old posts taught me valuable lessons about blogging and the overall direction of my writing life.

Lesson 1: Have An Artistic Vision

Based on brainstorming during the Pixels to Platform course I took over the winter, I realized I didn’t have an overall concept for the blog. What did it represent? Was it on-brand? What was the point of drawing readers to my website? Asking these questions helped me rediscover the purpose of the blog, give it a facelift that matched my brand style, and brainstorm content that was both inspiring and exciting.

Lesson 2: Write For Your Readers

This seems obvious. Who am I writing for, if not for you, dear readers? But I’ve forgotten something important since my last major blog change. I started writing posts about writing… but most of my readers aren’t writers. I love connecting with those of you who are, but I have a lot to say to those of you who aren’t. Content is going to change here. I’m going to be more reader-focused, giving you the topics and types of posts that you want to read. Which also happen to be the things I most want to write. It’s a win-win.

Lesson 3: Don’t Be Cheap

I’ve always thought of blogging and writing as comparatively inexpensive occupations, and at the start, that’s true. All you need is a laptop and maybe a notebook for brainstorming. But I’ve had to “level up” from this basic package several times. I started attending writing conferences, which cost a lot of money. So do writing retreats. I’ve needed a new laptop, hired a professional editor, taken online courses. I’ve bought books about writing, and books in the genre I write for. I’ve submitted short stories and essays to publications that charge nominal reading fees, and contests that charge even bigger reading fees. All of that adds up to a sum of money I haven’t tried to calculate. In my mind, every penny was well-spent, even if it doesn’t make me a bestselling author, because taking steps along the writing path made me happy. Investing in my writing is no different than buying ski equipment or fabric for sewing projects. Quality counts.

So I was prepared to invest money in the website in order to make it look the way I wanted. Since February 1, I’ve spent:

  • $99 on MailPoet Premium to get my newsletter started, then got it refunded because of shoddy customer service; I turned to MailChimp at $10/month ($120/year).
  • $89 on Elegant Themes, which included my new design and the opt-in boxes for the newsletter subscription
  • $65 on a yearly post office box rental, because a newsletter gets marked as spam if there’s no physical address listed, and I don’t feel comfortable using my home address.

All told, that’s $274 tax-deductible dollars. Not bad for the upgrades I’ve received. (This doesn’t include the cost of maintaining hosting for the website, which comes to about $100/year, but only renews every three years. This was an off year.)

Lesson 4: Give It Time

I’d initially planned to start blogging again on April 1, but by the end of March, I was still in the middle of working out the newsletter/spam kinks with MailPoet (eventually scrapping it and moving to MailChimp), and I hadn’t gotten ahead on writing blog posts (which is necessary to maintain a daily schedule). I was also right in the heart of my novel manuscript and things were going really well there. So I decided to give it another month, focus on the novel, and gear up for a better, cleaner re-launch in mid-May. I fought this decision for a few days (I tend to dig in on deadlines, even if they’re completely self-imposed) but in the end it was the right choice. I’m now prepared on all fronts to give this blog the attention it deserves.

I want to thank all of you for being patient with me while I struggled with these lessons. What are some big things you’ve learned in 2017 so far?

If you see something, say something! With all of the changes and updates made to this website, there may be issues gone unseen. If you’re having any problems with the site, the newsletter, or the pop-up box, please let me know so I can fix it. You’ll be helping me out, as well as future community members here at Words From The Sowul. Email me at leannesowul(at)gmail(dot)com, or leanne(at)leannesowul(dot)com. 

2 Responses to “Blog Hiatus: 4 Lessons I Learned Behind The Scenes”

  1. I read this with interest, since I’m undergoing many of the same things right now as I redesign my blog. I’ve been taking Jeff Goins’ Intentional Blog course, and I purchased the Epic Blog Planner, and doing so is helping me fine tune my own vision and purposes.

    One of the biggest things I’ve learned so far–or rather, am still learning–is to take in information and suggestions offered to me, think about them, and decide if and how they are right for me. If they don’t resonate, I won’t be able to continue doing them, or I’ll become miserable in the process.

    • Leanne Sowul says:

      Ooh, I bet that’s an interesting class. I made most of my changes after taking DIY MFA’s “Pixels to Platform” class, which is probably similar.

      I agree about having to think twice about suggestions. Not everything that works for others works for me, but I have to remember to take that processing time, because I always want to jump right in.

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