SaftyThird is my personal passion project and lifestyle inspired blog. This project has been a major source of inspiration, as has collaborating with like-minded writer, Emma Nord. When we started studying the genre we both had the same writer in mind: Brendan Leonard. I first discovered Leonard on a podcast about climbing life called The Enormocast, and I totally related to his story. But besides from relating to his story, I walked away from that episode knowing that I had a narrative that an audience was waiting for.
I started this project with no idea of blog culture, or about what they were. I just thought it would be a good idea to have one, and I talked a bunch of shit about how I was going to do it, but never did. What I’ve found is that most blogs start pretty similarly. A lot of writers just start writing about anything and everything, so I did exactly the same. I knew that if I didn’t start soon, that it would just be a dream that I kept in front of my like some lure that I’d never bite. Some sick delusional relationship with a dream that I’d never achieve. In March I finally mustered up the courage to publish.
Procrastination is the bane of many things, and writing is no exception. I procrastinated on starting a blog because I was waiting for just the right name. Instead I found a goofy mantra that I use to justify my less intelligent decisions in the mountains and in life: Safty Third. When I was using the free WordPress it wasn’t a big deal, because it was free and I needed no commitment. However, as I began to accept the idea and stop worrying about safety being spelled safty–this is intentional–I committed to the project by purchasing saftythird.com.
I was extremely insecure about my first posts. I didn’t know if I wanted to incorporate profanity in the blog, or how detailed the memior pieces should be, or if I should write for a particular audience. All these questions were just road blocks, so I started just writing what I wanted to write and in my style. I use a lot of “M–Dashes” because I like them. I decided eventually that some memior is good, and some too deep. I have one of the most personal and heartfelt pieces that I’ve ever written saved as a draft, and will likely never publish. That was a decision I made. I decided that profanity was acceptable in some cases, but those words are not used loosely. They are placed precisely.
Once I had a few posts done I started to promote them through my Facebook. I didn’t get a lot of traffic, but it changed things because I knew that I had an audience at this point. I wasn’t just writing for myself anymore. There were people watching. And like in Modern Alchemy, we care what people think! I started playing with the blog themes, and reworked the appearance. I needed something that fit the contours of my personality.
Once I really started to get a sense of direction I started working overtime on promotion. Getting extra articles out–two a week–that were oriented towards the style of writing I wanted to do. I started networking with other bloggers. I started getting view spikes and positive feedback from people who continued to read the blog.
While social media was important, I found the most success in late April when I went back through all of my posts and started playing around with tags. I tagged every single post I’d done with multiple single word tags, such as #Climbing, or #Inspiration, #Mindfulness, and #Lifestyle. Within twenty minutes of making these slight alterations I had gone from ELEVEN followers to TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHTY EIGHT! The tags get the articles on the WordPress Reader page so that other bloggers can discover and read the posts.
Woody Allen said that “90% of life is just showing up,” and that is the approach I’ve taken. I work hard to put out well thought out posts that are edited and cohesive. The more I write the better they get, and the more consistently I publish the more steady my stream of followers/views/like stats rise.
In the end, I think that the best strategy is to maintain no, or low expectations. If it’s about passion, then you need to allow yourself to direct the content, and don’t let an audience morph you to write about things that you don’t relate with. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place for that kind of writing, but the blog convention is a free place to write, discover, and create what best represents you.
So what are you waiting for? Start writing. Make it work!