Strategizing out loud

Since starting this project, I have actively resisted any act of strategy. I have not wanted to undermine the creative, focused energy of simply writing. As they say, “only writing is writing.”

(Plus, I know my own weakness: the activities of mentally problem-solving have a very powerful gravity. If I go there, it’ll be hard to skyrocket back out.)

But it’s getting close to time: I’ve had in my view the deadline of either my birthday or after 100 posts: we’re at 70 now, and my birthday was two days ago. So it’s nearly time to strategize. I figured: maybe I can use the blog itself to process and think about where to next. And maybe you could even speak into it!

Reaching people: This is limited right now to “whoever is already signed up to my email newsletter.” There are about 300 subscribers, and approximately 60 open each week, resulting in about 20 opens. Not huge, I know, but I remind myself: this project is primarily an engine for myself first, and for others to join me if it’s valuable/interesting for them.

Do I want to grow that audience? That’s a good question to ask. Why would I not want to grow it?

  • I really care about “aligned” audiences, who are here for kindness, wisdom, exploration, honesty, depth, humour, weirdness, and all that. I’d rather keep it small and close-knit if it helps give me an energy that helps me create the work I want to be creating.
  • I’m scared of comments, uncomfortable with social promotion. I don’t really love the activities associated with growing an audience. I don’t enjoy the feeling of being self-promotional; I’d rather just retreat into a small cavern. There’s some fear to get over there.

I do want to grow the audience, but I want it to remain a positive, civil environment, not one that terrifies me with internet toxicity or embarrasses me with #selfpromotion.

If I begin growing the audience intentionally, another consideration would be helping people make sense of what they are seeing when they get here: who is this writer? What are the most interesting posts? This suggests I should create an about page, classify some posts in categories, create a “best of” list, and all that.

There are also “professional” users of this website: people who might want to book me for speaking, or agents and publishers I am reaching out. I have kept the space very under-explained, again, to just let myself write, but it may be time to explain myself better.

I’ve got some technical fixes to do: Chrome shows a security warning, there’s a weird WordPress error or two on the back-end.

On the newsletter side, my Mailchimp subscriber list is so old, I think most recipients have the sending address flagged as spam, so most of the list isn’t even seeing these sends. Additionally, with a fresh list and a clear focus, I could reach out to my email contacts and ask people to sign up.

Here’s what I’m seeing from this short think:

  • I can create clarity on the site: Create an About page, curate some categories, select some top posts
  • Find healthy, authentic ways to expand the audience, such as reaching out to real life contacts, and sharing occasional posts on social.
  • Get honest with myself about social/internet boundaries: Am I willing to enable comments? Make my social profiles more active?
  • Ask for help: If there are roles I’d like to invite others to play, I can consider that I don’t have to do all this alone.

So far, the daily-create habit has helped me find and tell stories I’m super proud of, like Tony in Atlanta. It has helped me get to clarity on thoughts I’ve needed to express better, like Gross Domestic Love. It has helped rejuvenate a writing muscle that was atrophying. It has sparked inspiring conversations between friends that have been incredibly meaningful, reminding me of the wisdom, depth, gentleness and possibility that is alive in the world. And yeah, it can be tiring and hard to fit in, and remains something I’m choosing to prioritize.

Thanks for being part of this! Drop me an email if there’s anything you notice about my out-loud musing that might help.