For those of you who don’t want to bother with that (and I don’t blame you—I doubt I would) here’s the summary: I was in a deep blogfunk and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with this thing. I got many positive responses (more than I expected, to be honest). I responded to some of them in last week’s post. Today, I make my long-awaited pronouncement. (No, I’m not actually that full of myself.)
The first question a blogger must ask him/herself is simple: “Why am I doing this?” Everyone has a different reason. For some it’s fame. For others it’s fortune. For a very small percentage of us, it’s to have something to talk about at our next high school reunion.
Do you want to know what my reason is? Well, to be perfectly honest, I wanted to advertise. Specifically, two things: 1) that book up there in the upper left; and 2) me. I know this sounds superficial at first, but it is the truth, and I’m just keepin’ it real here.
This isn’t to say I’m not being genuine. Anybody would see through that after two or three posts. And that’s not to say I’m not here to help anyone, because I am: that’s all part of the package. The primary topic of this blog is a very sensitive and emotional area for some people and I really do like the idea that I can connect with people and help out, even in small ways.
Now About That Book
The blog is about struggling with weight control. The book is about struggling with weight control. So given that, this next statement might come as a surprise: I’m not a dieter. Yes, I diet. But it’s not my life, my living, or my livelihood. I’m no more a “dieter” than I am a “shoe putter on-er” or an “unleaded gasoline buyer.” Sure, I do these things regularly, but that doesn’t mean they define me. And for that reason, I don’t want to be known as “the diet guy.” There’s more to life than worrying about snack crackers.
A bunch of years ago I decided I liked writing and so I started writing. I wrote and self-published eight editions of two video editing books before I realized that was getting me nowhere (as an author). I then decided to “write what I know” and created this humorous book on weight management. Then I realized that books do not fall into the “if you build it, they will come” category. So I started the blog to help get the word out about the book (short term goal) and to get the word out about Charlie the Author (long term goal).
And how’s that book doing? Well, let’s look at the balance sheet:
Expenses: many, many thousands of dollars
Income: a few hundred dollars
I may lose money on every sale, but I’ll make up for it in volume! You don’t have to be a CPA to realize this isn’t a sustainable business model. Of course, all businesses start with a loss, and you have to keep at it and keep at it and keep at it. But then I always think about one of my favorite Demotivator posters:
It’s a bit harsh, but it sure drives the point home.
Many comments remarked on my ability to come up with a post every single day. When I relaunched Back to the Fridge (as we know it) back on August 25, 2008, I wanted the blog to look serious. Sure, the content is humorous and entertaining, but in order to build a fan base I deemed it was necessary to make this as professional as possible. It had to be more than just a blog. So I created the fridge look and feel, and established my daily categories, and told myself that if I didn’t commit to five regular posts a week, then don’t even bother.
Things went well for a while. According to Google Analytics, traffic began to grow. I got more and more comments. My technorati ranking kept going up. I felt like for once in my life one of my crazy schemes might finally work. Then we hit the holidays and readership began dropping off. “It’s okay,” said Roni. “That always happens around the holidays. Come January, things will pick up again.” They didn’t. Readership steadily dwindled, as did the comments, as did the technorati ranking. Book sales were few and far between, even during the many book giveaways. Lots and lots of people always posted, “Sounds awesome! I need to read this.” Few follow through. The weight of it all was getting to me. I was reminded of this line from The Two Towers.
‘Well, let us go on,’ said Gimli. ‘My legs must forget the miles. They would be more willing, if my heart were less heavy.’
I know how you feel, Gimli.
Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is
And just when I hit my low point, I decided to look at my time-tracking data. If you people think I’m anal about weighing myself every day, I’ve got a time-tracking application I’ve been using since 1999 to basically keep track of every minute of every day. It’s because of this I can tell you with great certainty that I have now spent 647 hours on this blog. I only spent about two hundred hours writing the book itself! That’s a lot of time for someone who basically works seventy hours a week at the day job and still has other non-blog, non-work obligations. That’s a lot of time to watch readership dwindle, sales piddle, and blog ranking drop like a rock.
So now what?
Two weeks ago I was fully prepared to just throw in the towel completely. But then a funny thing happened. A few of you said you actually enjoy this rambling I do. (Not counting today’s rambling, of course.) It suddenly didn’t seem like such a thankless burden. I thought, “Hmmm… maybe there is something to all this.”
And so now, eleven hundred words and one and a half hours into this pointless post, I’ve decided that for the summer at least, I’m going to go with a combination of options 3 and 4. Namely:
3. If that’s too much, Charlie, I’d be happy with “when you feel like it.”
4. Sounds like you need a vacation. Take some time off, and we’ll be here when you get back.
I think this will likely translate to about one post per week. I’ll keep up with the Magical Mystery Tour category, but try to make it a little more interesting. But the official frequency will be, “whenever!”
I’m not a dieter. I’m not a blogger. I’m an author. I have no actual proof of this yet, but I feel it. What really got me down the most about that six hundred and forty-seven hour revelation isn’t so much the time spent on this but the time not spent on the next book. I can only write about pizza and cheeseburgers so many times. I have to grow. I have to produce the next book. Because one of these days I’m going to write a real damn book and it’s going to be good. I’ve been trying that for sixteen years now and so far to no avail. Rest assured that my “blog vacation” is not a vacation from writing but a vacation for writing.
So don’t be surprised if things look a little different around here when things resume in the fall. I will be ready for the Next Phase by then. Hopefully that works for you too.