March 29, 2019 A New Post

There’s a new post at Gettingoutmore.org.

This one is about my son and I visiting the grandparents during the March 2019 Snowpocalypse Bomb Cyclone Bread and Milk Fiasco.

The website is definitely a learning curve.  Setting up a free wordpress site was so much easier, and I just got to write content and entertain myself that way, while WordPress.com got to smear my site with ads I would never see a dime of in profits.  Having a standalone site has been confusing, and there is so much information out there to sift through.  In the last two days, I have spent $200 on Premium sites and Premium plugins, then realized that wasn’t what I wanted, and got refunds on both.

Let me talk about Jetpack.  Jetpack is a plugin that is always running on this free site.  It gives you analytics, stats, tracking, and the ability to follow.  Which is great, but when you install it on a site you are hosting yourself it is a royal pain in the ass.  For one thing it keeps redirecting my URL to WordPress hosting, which slows everything down and eats up all my resources.  Also, when I jumped to the Premium package, I thought I would be able to monetize my site, which I could, but only through whatever banners and ads WordPress.com decided to put on my page and I would get paid like $1 per every 1000 clicks on an ad.  I get all that for paying them $100 a year.

So I uninstalled it and got my money refunded.

Did I mention there was a non-competition clause too?  So I couldn’t even get an Affiliate Marketing or Adsense plugin if I did this.  Which are the links to products/companies that pay you for the traffic you direct to their sites.

Even after deactivating the plugin, there were little residuals hanging out, which messed up my site.  Again.  After deactivating and deleting all of that mess, I got my padlocks back on the URL, I got rid of the ads I wasn’t getting paid for, and it stopped going into redirect mode to WordPress.com.

I was also able to get an Associate account with Amazon, which means I can link products and get a commission.  That was free.  I didn’t have to pay a plugin company.  Which is how things should work.  With writing, as with any business, the money flow TOWARDS the writer/business/etc.  I just have six months to sell three items and get my traffic up to keep that feature.

What comes next is a lot of research.  I need to figure out how to improve the traffic to my site, get a plugin that allows followers and subscriptions and maybe even find sponsors who will send me gear to review.

This is a lot of the nuts and bolts of how I am processing this information, as well as a place to vent, since the post in my back yard can only take so many hits from beating my head against it before I have to get a new one.

The important thing is I love to write, and if this project lets me do that, then great!

Other than that, the whole experience has been like following a road map to the land of confusion.

 

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Writing More, Living More

While I work on the blog, I realize there are a lot of things about it I don’t like.  It has a certain voice.  I find myself pulling punches to appeal to a type of audience, branding myself as a neutral traveler, when really this whole experience is about learning more about myself, making observations about the world and the people I encounter.  That’s hard to do when you are hoping one day to get money from affiliate links, writing about backpacks and water bottles.

So, as I write the blog, I am also writing a book.  Semi-fictional.  Semi-autobiographical in the vein of Wild by Cheryl Strayed.

On one level, the blog is frustrating because a lot of it is fluffy travel writing, which fewer than 20 people are even reading.  It’s almost like writing for yourself since nobody even gives enough of a shit to comment or even like what they say.  One person from a writers forum said she liked the way I wrote, comparing the blog to a book.  I wonder if that didn’t make me think of the voice a little differently.  I’ve been writing books and stories for a long time now.  That is my predominant voice.  I found myself pulling my punches as I wrote, only being on the surface when I really wanted to get my hands dirty.

Writers take risks.  They cut the story down through the meat and to the bone.  It’s like what combat photographer Robert Capa said, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.”  I admire Capa and his work.  The man died stepping on a mine in 1963 in a rice paddy in Vietnam while on patrol photographing American soldiers during a policing operation.  His photographs are iconic.  They spanned from the Spanish Civil War to the Invasion of Normandy and beyond until one day he got too close.

I think my writing could be better if I got closer.  The travel blog is a lot of fun, but something inside of me wants to go to that next level.  Dance like nobody is watching, sing like nobody is around to hear you, and write like nobody is reading.  Because chances are nobody is anyway.

Might as well pluck the story from the sky, the way Steven Pressfield talks about, since all stories already exist, it’s just up to the writers to pull them out of the aether and show them to the world.

Anyway, I have found that writing paid blogs, working on the travel blog and website, and even journaling doesn’t mean that I run out of things to write anymore.  If anything, I’m more concerned I won’t want to stop writing.  It’s like a small crack has formed in a dam and rather than the water running dry, it just makes the crack bigger and bigger until…

The travel writing won’t be a substitute for my day job.  The site is bullshit.  I can’t monetize it.  I made a mistake with the hosting and should have just gone through WordPress and gotten my URL.  Now I’m limping around with a lame site that isn’t even secure and I’m a couple hundred dollars poorer as a result.  I wish I could scrap it all and start over, but I got sold a bill of goods.  Now I’m stuck with it.

In a year, I won’t be working at my day job.  Either I will be fired because my supervisor doesn’t like me, or the university will be doing more layoffs so upper Administrators can take trips to conferences in Kuala Lumpur, while the rest of us fight for scraps.  I am disheartened and disillusioned.  Talk about zigging when I should have zagged.  My pension will be worthless if they fire me or lay me off too.  So much for nearly 20 years in the Academy.

But one good thing the blog is doing is getting me out, making me find things to write about, and the more I write, the more stories I have to tell and the easier it is to tell them.  I’m going to work with that at least.

Last night I wrote two posts to publish at future dates and did some journaling. I have written a chapter in the fantasy novel and tonight I wrote a chapter in the new project.  I haven’t been on facebook much at all because I have other things to do which challenge my mind.  Something that hasn’t been done right in a long time.

What have I got to lose?  Nothing much these days.  Maybe I have everything to gain.