2018 || The year I created a writing business
Prior to September this year I wrote when I felt like it on my blog. I ignored my novel and spent quite a bit of time worrying about my Instagram feed and the fact it seemed to have stopped growing.
In January and February I’d written and sold a course about blogging. I like to think it did well. But then, sensing a shift in the market, I didn’t market it any further and certainly didn’t create any more courses.
So, I just plodded on, not quite sure what direction I was going in but trying to do everything and achieving little.
During our summer holiday in July we were lying on the sun beds next to a well known actor and his family. (Funny story, when I first saw him I actually nicknamed him one of his character names thinking how closely he resembled that character. Turned out he was the actor who played that character.)
And, as you do when you’re lying on a sun bed and letting your mind drift, I thought about what would happen if we struck up conversation. How we’d get around to asking: ‘what do you do?’ . I’d obviously pretend I didn’t recognise him. Just because I’m cool like that (ha!). Then we’d chat about things and he’d say, ‘you must meet my agent’. Oh what a fabulous daydream that was….
But. When I started to think about it. When I started playing the conversations through in my head. I’d start hoping that, in actual fact, we wouldn’t strike up conversation.
Because how on earth would I describe what I do? I was embarrassed. Surely I was just a pretend writer hiding from the world and pretending to work? ‘Indulging’ in creativity whilst my husband made the lion’s share of income.
(As luck would have it I didn’t need to worry about striking up conversation. My son, (rugby-front-row sized, remember) launched himself backwards from the pool edge and almost squashed/drowned his small daughter. We didn’t see them as much after that.)
Don’t get me wrong I do know I’m a writer and I have no problem with saying this. I don’t call myself a ‘wannabe writer’. I write. Therefore I’m a writer. But, you see, people are naturally curious when you tell them this. ‘Oh, so what do you write?’
My reply? Well, um, a blog, sporadically. And a novel I don’t really spend time on for months at a time.
I might say I was an ‘influencer’ even though I wasn’t, not really. But at least with that you imply you get paid. That it’s a job.
Or I might say I have an online course. But I often forgot that because even though I am passionate about helping people like me who are stuck with blogging and thinking they need to be in a niche it isn’t my ‘main’ writing thing.
Lying there in the sunshine I made a note in my notebook. And if I could find that notebook after my huge office sort out I’d quote myself word for word. But, paraphrasing, it was ‘I am so embarrassed that I haven’t made it yet.’
Look at this man lying just a few feet from me. He is so accomplished. Has appeared in films, TV programmes, he’s international.
I’m not looking for fame and fortune. But I just wanted to say yes, I have achieved this. A published novel, maybe a regular podcast, self-published my memoirs, speaking engagements. Then - lightbulb moment: I wanted a writing business. And through that to contribute more fully to our household income. There’s something tangible from all the work I do. Something people will understand. I wanted to make a living from my creativity.
I didn’t want to be the person who talked about having ambition and wanting to make a business from my writing but then being too scared of pursuing it.
Things had to change.
I didn’t do any work during that hot summer. Nothing of note. But instead I allowed my mind to become blank. To have a clean slate. And, from this, I worked out my direction.
Everything I did had to revolve around storytelling. If it didn’t fit into that theme - it was no longer part of my business.
I stopped doing a few things which freed up my time, but more importantly my mental capacity for creativity was increased.
I also stopped putting all my creativity into my instagram feed. Instagram was a way of communicating with and discovering an audience. But it wasn’t how I wanted to tell my stories. Not through photography or creating scenes on my wooden table with tea leaves and tree leaves. And, quite frankly I was tired of all the games: ‘You must do it like this’ or ‘ to grow you must do that’. It was exhausting.
I also stopped tweeting. Twitter was no longer part of my business plan.
I wanted to put my efforts elsewhere.
Which was my blog. The aim was to write three posts a week and start working (once again) on my novel. Plus I was going to record my progress in a vlog to go out every Sunday on IGTV.
Unfortunately/fortunately we bought a puppy just prior to September. The children were back at school, my husband was in London or had never-ending phone calls at home. I was the main Puppy-carer. But how was I going to get all this work done as well as look after (what turned out to be a very naughty) puppy?
Well, having a puppy gave me a routine of sorts. I wrote about it here: how to write when life is busy. And then everything snowballed. I created a book club on Instagram. I transferred to YouTube (something I’ve always wanted to do) and I created a Patreon account for my creative essays which I eventually hope to self-publish. And I also did more work on my novel (though if I was writing a report on my novel writing I’d say ‘must try harder.’)
I didn’t know it at the time but I was laying foundations.
My productivity went through the roof. And my earnings spreadsheet was going up thanks to sponsored posts on Instagram, selling a few courses (which I’d now made self-paced) and my Patreon but it is not enough yet to fully contribute to the household income.
In the last few weeks I thought about my business model and looked at where I was putting all my effort and the rewards I was getting back and have decided to change things a little. I’ll write about this on another post once I’ve thought it through a bit more. But I can tell you is 2019 is going to be VERY exciting.
One thing I will say is: be prepared for more YouTube videos. In this one below I talk very briefly about my theme for next year. You might want to subscribe to my channel now!