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I need your help. I began blogging in 2007, which really wasn’t that long ago unless you’re talking Internet years, which makes 2007 the digital equivalent of the Pleistocene epoch. Since December of 2007 I have written five books: Pocket Guide to the Afterlife, Pocket Guide to Sainthood, O Me of Little Faith, and two reference-y books for children which will release in 2012. During the same time frame, I also updated Pocket Guide to the Bible and A Guy’s Guide to Life for rereleases, and contributed to another not-yet-released book.
Since 2007 I have produced nearly 700 column-length blog posts. And for good measure, last spring I left my “real” job to start my own design & copywriting business — which I consider my full-time job. Books and blogging are side gigs.
I have been insanely productive for three years and now I am tired. This weariness has brought me to a crossroads.
The question I have for you, my readers, is about this blog. I honestly don’t know where I want it to go from here, but I know I need to head in a different direction. I’d like your advice. Some things to consider:
• I write long posts. Sometimes I envy friends like Matthew Paul Turner who can post three or four times a day with funny videos, photos, and otherwise short posts and have built a huge audience doing so. But that’s not my style. Because my posts are longer, they take time to compose and research, and my time has become more and more precious of late. I try to write at least four blog posts a week, but this is becoming increasingly difficult.
• Sometimes I wonder if I’m simply writing too much. I write all day for other people as a professional copywriter. I write my books at night. I try to fit in the blog posts. Does spreading myself so thin as a writer impact the quality of my work? Would I be more creative if I wrote less? Probably so.
• I’m very diligent about how I spend my time, and make sure to make time for the things I love: my wife and kids, exercise, writing books, eating chocolate-chip cookies (to name a few). Of late, I have loved blogging less and less. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t miss it at all during my end-of-the-year break.
• I’m pretty sure that part of the reason I love it less is because I’ve been immersed in a not-so-lighthearted subject matter — religious doubt — for the last eight months. If you were a reader of my old blog before I moved to Beliefnet, you’ve seen a tonal shift since then. I used to be pretty funny, and my posts were more playful. I’ve been more serious since the move.
• I love that my readers are diverse and include steadfast believers, religious doubters, and outright atheists, and that we can have mostly civil conversations. If there’s anything I’m proudest of, it’s having built those relationships. And I guess I could blog about science and religion and questions about God on a weekly basis in order to continue that important conversation, but do I WANT to? Is it spiritually and emotionally healthy for me? I’m not sure.
• I also love the Voices of Doubt series on this blog. I love giving other writers a chance to be honest. I love introducing my readers to other bloggers and personalities. For what it’s worth, though, Friday VOD posts usually bring my lowest traffic of the week. The posts that bring the most traffic are the hot-button ones, and to be honest, I hate writing those. Generally it’s a lot of sound and fury (from me as well as commenters) but does blogging really ever accomplish anything…other than perpetuating my online visibility? That’s a big question.
• Professionally, I think it may be time to move on from the type of books I’ve written in the past — the Pocket Guide-style reference books as well as books like OMOLF. The next book I write will be a novel, and most likely a children’s or YA novel. Why? Because that’s what I’m interested in right now. That’s what I’m passionate about.
• For what it’s worth, I don’t think Beliefnet would have a problem with me shifting the focus of my blog away from the doubt emphasis. But in order to continue here as a blogger, it’s going to have to maintain a religious focus. And it needs to be updated regularly.
• I have worked hard to gain the much discussed “platform” that publishers love their writers to have. Not all writers have this. I’ve been lucky, and I’ve worked hard not only to get here but to take advantage of where I’ve landed. I think it’s important to use the gifts you’ve been given. To many struggling writers or bloggers, giving up something like this would be unthinkable, and I totally get that.
So that’s where I am. This is not one of those posts where I threaten to go away in hopes that all of you will leave comments that say, “Nooooo!!! Please Jason we LOVE you and NEED you! The internet will never be the same!” I’m not looking for self-esteem Gatorade. What I’m looking for is feedback from the people who matter to this blog — the readers.
If you’re a regular, why? What brings you back to this blog?
What content suggestions or ideas do you have?
If you’re a long-time reader, what has improved or diminished since my move to Beliefnet?
If you were playing armchair life coach for me, what would you suggest?
Should I take this blog a different direction? If I did, would I lose you as a reader?
I’d love your answers to any or all of those questions. I’m looking for feedback and advice.