For years I’ve been a total rock star. But I’m retiring as I approach the ripe old age of thirty-two - how very rock star of me. I’m still writing – don’t get me wrong – I’m just not going to be working toward superstar status any more.
Some of the most interesting advice I ever had was from a professor in my library program. There were a couple of us in the program who were trying to finish up our masters, who were teaching, had children at home and also pregnant. The professor kept telling us (ad nauseum) that we could do everything, but we couldn’t do it all at one time. I’m pleased to report I finished my master’s degree two days before my second son was born, but that little tidbit of annoying advice stuck with me.
Rock Star Mom
As a true rock star I can do everything all at one time. I mean come on – for two years I taught full-time, I wrote almost full-time and I finished a master’s degree all while pregnant and with a toddler at home. I did it. Hurray for me. I also was on the verge of collapse a lot of time – I fell asleep constantly putting my toddler to bed and I gained a huge amount of weight from stress eating and a lack of time to exercise and take care of myself. So maybe it wasn’t all as great as it sounds in my mind.
I’ve made peace with the weight that still’s sticking around because I know I’ll get to it later, and I’m no longer pregnant and I finally have older kids who are more self sufficient, but going through those tough years left an impression on me. My professor was annoyingly right – I can do it all, but I don’t have to do it all at once. Having that message ticking in the back of my head makes me want to take a step back from my rock star lifestyle. I’m going to simplify.
Rock Star Writer
I’ll admit that I’m intimidated quite a bit watching many of the other writers who are active on this blog and in the writing community I peek into from time to time. Jenn, for example, is writing books, planning programs, expanding her business in multiple directions and constantly creating new things to grow her presence in the market. Her goals are impressive and every time I see what she’s been up to I get anxious thinking I should be working just as hard to grow my own business, even if I’m writing part-time. Yet every time I come up with a new list of goals and brainstorm a new idea I know that it’s unlikely I’ll go very far with it.
It’s not just because I work part-time, which does contribute from a time perspective, but my lack of drive has more to do with my ultimate goal for being a writer. I didn’t start writing to build up a huge writing business and get a big name within the industry. I started writing because I enjoyed it and wanted to build a business doing something I enjoy. This is an excellent sentiment to build a business on, by the way, and I hope that all of the writers out there are doing this because they enjoy the writing – not just because they can make a few bucks doing it. That’s a sure recipe for burn out.
I also have a handy business degree to combine with more than six years of small business experience and I know that the bane of business is entropy, or the slow rot that undermines a stagnant business. You can’t sit still or you’ll be left behind and your business will ultimately fail. Knowing that, I’ve been working hard to be as much of a writing rock star as I can be. But I’m inconsistent in how I structure my plans and goals, and that’s due to the design and purpose of my writing conflicting with my actions and plans.
On one hand I like the idea of being a true rock star and building a huge writing business. I want ebooks, seminars, reputation management and business contacts in the local community. I want to wear suits and walk into office buildings with Barracuda playing as my soundtrack ala Lucy Liu in Charlie’s Angels. But then I also want to snuggle into a big wingback chair and write pithy statements on things I find amusing and engaging.
I want to write amusing novels in a drafty old farm house and wear large sweaters to symbolize my quiet success. I want to write educational pieces that will launch a seminar business. I want to write for a magazine, I want to start new blogs, I want to focus on new areas of my current business – I want to do it all. But I can’t. At least not any time soon.
Simplifying My Writing Life
So I’ve been simplifying things of late. Instead of spreading myself wider, I’m going to dig deeper into establishing a single brand and working within that brand. Every time one of my domains comes up for renewal, I’m letting it go. I had great plans for all sorts of projects, bought the domains, threw up temporary content and never got back to it. Knowing the starter sites were out there was draining since they were waiting for my attention – just like everything else in my life. I don’t renew the domain and that removes the pressure of having to get back to that project later.
I’ve decided to not worry about the lack of SEO on my original site. This has been bothering me for years. I don’t have keywords in my url and I don’t have a singular phrase that’s easy to rank, but I have a beautifully aged domain I can play with later as I choose. However, after six years I’m embracing the fact that I don’t get much business through SEO.
I could, but I have other ways of marketing that work just fine. So I’ll get back to SEO later – I can’t tell you how many sites I plan and domains I buy trying to find one that would be easy to rank. But then I’d almost have to start over with branding to build a presence around that site and I just can’t get fired up about it and I do nothing but fret instead of moving ahead.
My new plan is one of many retired rock stars. I’m going for the simple life I can enjoy and embrace fully. I’m keeping two domains and I might let one of those go down the road to focus on the primary one. I’m not ruling out any additional revenue streams, but I’m not going to stress myself out planning crazy new projects.
I’m going to grow and improve in what I already do – writing for my various clients with an educational, small business slant, raising my rates a bit at a time and adding new skills and services within that umbrella. It’s going to be totally refreshing and I’ll be excited to report back in on my new narrow focus and its successes!