Blocking

You know what else has been blocked besides the Suez Canal? Me! So, I’m posting today to talk about ways to overcome those blocks and hopefully some of this advice rubs off on myself.

I recently moved my hosting for my travel blogging website to a new domain host. This is the second time I have done this, and I’m hoping the third host is the charm. Some of the problems I have experienced is the learning curve for things like this. Honestly so much of it is fumbling my way through the dark and realizing at the end of it that if you just pump a little bit more money into it, it would work.

People make money off the internet, whether it is TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, or back in the day some personal blogs that went viral. The best use for a website nowadays is using it like a storefront, or marketing yourself. I have never been able to get my sites to monetize properly. Even when I had a trial affiliation with Amazon. Not a single shiny nickel was paid out for the links I had plastered all over my sites. But a kid on TikTok blows salad all over his friend with a leafblower and he has new Nikes for the next three years.

So, as I sat there all week, trying to figure out how to rebuild my website and how to do it right this time, I could feel that frustration begin to build. My mom asked me how I was doing on things in an almost “Get a move on” tone and we even wound up discussing my renovations on the house which have stalled after putting up drywall. On the weeks where my son is with me, the majority of any day is letting him use the computer, because schools demand that a kid stare at his lessons for at least six hours a day, rather than just letting them do the work and turn it in. When he’s on my computer for school, I’m not on my computer for work. But it is considered vital for a bunch of ten year olds to Zoom in every day like some split frame movie with a frustrated and bedraggled teacher at their epicenter.

So I’ll save the renovations for when he’s doing school.

I have pitches to make, queries to locations too, and unfortunately a lot of that hinges on having a decent website to refer people to. If you are a writer and hate building synopsises or pitches that is 99% of what I have going on right now. So rather than beat my head against the wall, I decided to write today. It is the second day I’ve been writing instead of fighting DNS and ICANN and Registrars and all sorts of other web-fuckery.

It felt so good to write. Even though it was right in the middle of the story and I don’t even know if I can use it. It was necessary.

Like that freighter blocking up the Suez Canal I had too many things going on at once and by just ignoring some of them I got to do something that felt good for my soul. I made coffee, poured it into my favorite mug, and sat down and just started writing. Now my head is clear for other things, and I have a train of thought that I can use to continue working on the story because that (as much as I enjoy doing it) is work too. I’m not a web designer. I don’t know about proxies or a lot of that technical crap. But I can write content, I know about SEO, and it would be great just to get to that instead of screwing with the technical stuff that a webhost always says is going to be easy, but really isn’t.

Anyway, as the weekend approaches, if you find yourself in a bind, remember to do something that fuels your soul. All the rest of your problems just might figure out a way to go with the flow.

Impostor!

One of the hardest things I have encountered these days has been the shadow of impostor syndrome. I have mentioned it before, and it bears repeating. So I am repeating. Louder for the people in the back, as they say.

One of the luxuries of waking up every day and punching a clock is the process of showing up, doing a marginal amount of work, and eventually watching your bank account fill up with a direct deposit at the end of the month provides immediate validation that you are indeed being productive. Even though when I was working for the University, I could probably get an entire week’s worth of work done in the last three hours of any given Friday.

When you work for yourself, especially in a creative field such as writing, the goalposts are not so obvious. The actual writing might just be an hour or two, depending on what you are working on. The thought going into it, the observation, the grinding things around in your brain is neverending. The bummer is that you are not paid for all that work. You put words down on paper. The days go by and the paychecks don’t drop into your account. Transitioning from regular paychecks to something more intangiable is difficult, and sometimes you will really tear into yourself for not being as productive as you *should* be.

For me, reading is even difficult, because for so many years if I had time to sit down and read a book, that meant I was being lazy and needed a project around the house to occupy my time. Reading for research is difficult sometimes, and reading for pleasure is downright impossible. I just feel like I am being idle, and shirking my responsibilities. Hardly ever considering as a writer, I need to constantly hone my mind with an imput of good writing, as well as producing work.

I love that song by Arcade Fire called “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” especially for the lyrics “Quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock.” It really hits when you understand that beautiful things like music, art, writing, television shows, YouTube channels, movies…all come from people who work in their heads most of the time. Creative things that we all love and experience, that resonate with our souls, are rarely made in some drone-like fashion. They are created by people who stare into space for hours, beating themselves up sometimes, procrastinating, and finally pulling those things from the Aether for the rest of us.

Quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock.

My son and mom and I went on an adventure last week, escaping Colorado just before the Snowpocalypse hit. We drove out to Washington to visit family and even made it all the way out to the Oregon Coast. Some might call it a “vacation” but when you are a writer, you are never really on vacation. It was a research trip. Sitting in a car for a little over a week took us through several different biomes: rainforests, rocky coastlines, mountains, plains, and deserts. We went from 8100ft above sea level to throwing clam shells for the dog to catch in the surf of the Pacific ocean.

Most people come home with their t-shirts and do their laundry to get the sand out of their socks. When I get home, it is my job to process everything that I have experienced, and hopefully try to sell these observations to someone. To convey the story in a way that an editor might take a chance on me to buy, or will at the very least entertain a reader, possibly resonate with them, and inspire them.

The second-guessing is hard because you never really know what will sell in a story until you write it. How will the way you string words together serve the story? That is the hard part. That is the part that leaves me frozen. The bit that tells me I’m fooling myself and I should just apply for another desk job. Am I the best writer? No. But I’m not half bad. And the stories choose me anyway, I don’t choose them. The least I can do is put the words down as they are whispered to me and hopefully I’ve done a decent job.

Money is a necessary evil, but it doesn’t always mean you are doing good work, or the work you need to be doing. Twenty years pushing paper from one side of my desk to the other is evidence of that.

Right now, my learning curve is very steep in learning how to market myself, promote my writing, and try to assure myself I’m not going to die by getting a steady paycheck somehow from all of this. It doesn’t happen over night, so it is best to be patient.

So if you are a creative and you need a reminder that what you are doing is important, please, keep going. Keep going.

Headway

Tonight I’m making some headway finally.

I’ve been reading a few books on travel writing and how to build a plan. I feel like I have the talent and the experience in writing to make it work, but unfortunately I lack some of the tools of how to facilitate any of that sometimes. This is why we research, train, network, and learn how to ask the right questions. This is also where you get to realize that you’ve been doing some things wrong and need to scrap them and start all over again.

Those moments are probably the most frustrating.

For the last several years, I have been writing for an agency that assigns writers such as myself clients and assignments for a fixed rate per wordcount. The base rate is $11.50 for 300 words. Depending on your level, the rates go up from there, which can pay around $120 for 2000 words. In doing some research on what the actual going rate is for copywriting, blogs, whitepaper, product descriptions, and landing pages for websites…I can say that other than not having to cold-call clients, I am getting screwed.

The work used to be a lot more consistent too. Some weeks I would have upwards of 20 posts per week and at around $20 per, that was about $400 extra in my pocket–base! Some weeks were better than others. But management keeps shifting and sometimes they are good at farming out the assignments and sometimes they aren’t. What I’ve learned about actual scale pay rates is I am short-sheeting myself with these rates. By quite a lot.

I am also learning that the content that I put on my blogs—as fun as it is to write sometimes–is not doing the work for me that I need either. WordPress.com doesn’t pay me anything for the content that I post. The ads that orbit my blogs are not filling up my accounts, and as nice as it is to vent or post about life lessons, I’m going to starve to death if I keep heading in that direction.

My travel blog should be a marketing tool to bring me work from paying clients. It’s a good way to show some of my chops when it comes to writing, as well as explaining more about what I do and how I operate. So that needs to be fixed. It should also allow me to post affiliate links so I can jabber about products that I use and readers can click on links and I might get a few bucks out of the deal if they buy it.

Researching what I need to do is allowing me to fine-tune my process and feel a lot less like a complete impostor.

My website needs some work, such as hosting, emails with my own domain on them, and better clips. So, I’ll post links to that as I get it up and running. This site will probably be more editorial, personal stuff, and a journal on what I think, what I need to do, etc.

It feels good to have a plan and a track on where I need to go and what I want out of this experience. I feel a lot less like I am faltering and getting in my own way again. I’m also sending pitches out and that feels good too!

Thanks for reading and there should be plenty of changes in the upcoming weeks!