We’re on the Road to Nowhere
Often when I’ve got something on my mind, I get writer’s block until I just write about it. So here we are.
As I’ve been working through my July challenge to publish a blog post every weekday, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’m doing here on Hey Jillian, why, and what needs to change going forward. I’m feeling at a bit of an impasse, and a mix of frustration, confusion, and doubt, along with appreciation and accomplishment. I also think it’s a safe time to question and examine what I’m doing, because I know I’m not going to let myself quit at this particular moment, not when I’ve made such a specific commitment.
I’ve published 121 articles of my own, and 6 in other publications. I’ve gotten to work on a couple of fun brand partnerships. I had my first paid writing job, and it was pitched to me by an editor, instead of the other way around. I’ve gotten a lot of very nice compliments about my website (which I built myself), my writing, and Hey Jillian as a whole. One of my parenting heroes shared an article I wrote. People have told me how my words have comforted, changed, or inspired them, making me cry more than once. The real hallmark of having made it, random strangers have said “you’re Hey Jillian!” when they saw me in the grocery store. That all sounds very exciting, and like things are going very well.
In truth, my efforts have financially broken even with a little left over, after hosting, promoting posts, editing tools, etc. That’s to say nothing of actually paying myself for my time. My social media following is slightly less than a random personal account of someone who isn’t really trying. For the constructive people who are currently thinking “well you shouldn’t do this just to be popular!” popular is how you get paid when it comes to the internet, and I think most people want to get paid for their work.
I’d need about twice the people following me than I have now to start regularly making money doing what I’m doing. I’m simultaneously getting the message that I am providing significant value for people, but also struggling to get my content in front of anyone; it’s hard to know how to proceed. People I trust are telling me I’ve got a good thing going; but what do I do about that? Am I just bad at the internet? People love when I write about my depression and relationships, and people love when I post about house renovations, but I don’t have the emotional bandwidth or the budget to write about those things all the time.
I’ve been listening to an audio course about blogging (it has slides but who watches the slides?) and one of their suggestions was to look at others who present the same content areas, and assess what the difference is in what you offer. When I conducted this experiment, I concluded that what was different about my approach to Lifestyle / DIY/ Relationship/ Food/ Personal Essay blogging, is that I’m just an actual person doing shit. I am not a former editor of a prominent a magazine. I don’t have $10K in camera equipment or my kitchen renovation budget. I’m just really devoted to problem-solving and sharing, and appreciating what we have by making the absolute most of it.
I occasionally wonder if the range of topics I write about needs to be narrowed down. Would I be more successful if Hey Jillian turned into the premier blog about tools for petite DIY’rs? Should I only write about capsule wardrobe thrifting in New England? The internet tells me this kind of very narrow niche is the way to go, but the idea sure gives me a lot of FOMO. So, you’re reading this, which tells me you’re one of my readers. What do you think is important about Hey Jillian? What do you think I’m missing? Seriously, I’m listening.