I’m writing the post now, which I won’t publish, because I want to keep a reminder, for myself, of the backstory of The Seed.
When I started my diploma, I knew that I wanted to make writing one of my income streams in some way. I chose to do this through ‘green journalism,’ because it seemed like the most obvious way to make a regular income from words. I tried it for a year and it never seemed like the right fit for me. Sometimes I felt like all I was doing was marketing, sometimes I felt like a complete fraud. It just never felt right. About a year ago I did a short journalism course which made it clear to me that what makes a good journalist is someone who has a passion for finding and telling the truth, whether it’s about Watergate or fruit juice. I knew that that was not my purpose. Now I am not saying that I don’t care about telling the truth, but when asked what my purpose in life was, I had recently joked, “being a propagandist for the Good Life.” I knew in my head that if I was certain that this was what I was driven to do, then that would make me a bad journalist. The course also made clear that journalism is not about you. You don’t have to be the expert on a subject because you will do the research and write a balanced article afterwards. I realised that I did want to be the expert. I did want to write about my own personal experience.
Back at the beginning of my diploma, when I was having about seven business ideas a day, I came up with the idea of a blog. I knew it would be hard work, so my idea was to get other people to do it with me. I talked to a couple of people, but they had their own projects and it became clear that this was my project, not a collaborative one. It was around the start of my diploma when I got back into reading blogs in a big way. I have been a blog reader and writer for most of my life – starting off in 2002 with a travel blog while I was abroad teaching English, then getting heavily into video blogging, then writing a blog about my experience of being on the hundred mile diet, and now this one. I understood how the blogging community worked, how it really was a community, how you could make new friends, have extraordinary experiences because of blogging, but now I realised how blogs could contribute to making an income. This felt like the ‘big project’. It felt like everything I had done before was gearing up for this. Everything felt like it was slipping into place.
For a brief moment, I thought that it might be possible to make money directly from blogging – i.e. from advertising – but what I soon realised was that what a blog was for was to build a community of people who are really very dedicated to you (and you to them) and who are interested in the other things that you are doing – like books and e-courses and micro-brew-shop operations. And it fits so well. It fits wholly with my purpose in life, it allows me to become part of a greater conversation that I am definitely interested in, it fits with the rest of my life, it allows me to write and be creative, it allows me to promote people I like.
I could have started a blog there and then and learned by trial and error. But, I didn’t. I know that trial and error will come into any project, but I want my blog to be a big hitter right from the start, so I spent over a year observing. I observed business models, photography styles, how people used social media. I spent a long time defining my blog reader and what I was going to blog about, as well as working out what my income streams would be. I also spent that time taking photography classes because one thing that I was sure about was that fabulous pictures were the key to any blog’s success.
So, I wrote my design and have started to implement it. Right now, this means building the website. I knew that I wanted the site to be able to grow with the blog, so I didn’t want to put it on WordPress.com, where I wouldn’t be able to change it around when I want to. I also wanted to use particular fonts to create a particular look and I knew this would also not be possible with WordPress.com, so I started to learn WordPress.org. I hit some major issues and asked a website designer acquaintance (now a friend) whether she would help me in return for scything tuition. She said, yes, she would help me, but she wanted me to write some copy for her website – another skill I always forget I have. I helped another friend set up a website for her illustration and in return she drew me a logo. It just seemed easy to get all of the things which had at first seemed so hard. I was even lucky with the fonts I bought. There was a particular font I liked, one which had made me stop dead in my tracks in a typography book, and I had discovered that someone was working on distributing it again. I spent a year emailing to see whether they had finished it, and when they finally had, the guy gave the web version to me for free because I had been waiting for so long. I now feel very much like publicising it for him (it’s a lovely font, with a lovely story).
So that’s where we are now. The website is getting there. It needs tweaking certainly, and I have set up a date in January to do that. I am now getting some content (meaning blog posts) up there. This is quite frightening to me, even though I am in no doubt that I can do it. I have realised that what I thought at the beginning, that blogging is a lot of hard work, is really true. I am unlikely to get out more than a post a month, I don’t think. But that’s fine for now, I have other priorities. One post equals at least one and probably two days work per month – it’s all I can manage right now with two books to write and a house to do up. I don’t want to just throw posts out there. They have to be really good. I have written one post which is about 6/10. That’s fine for the first post, so just get something out there, but from now on posts need to be 9/10 before they get posted. I think I need to block out a weekend every month to get this done…