Looking back, looking forward

In many ways, 2007 was a trying year. The first quarter was spent dealing with cat problems and other issues, and I seem to have had some health and stress issues during the second quarter. But the second half of the year was spent back in the real workforce: stressful indeed, but a much more positive sort of stress.

Punching a clock and collecting a steady paycheque have been great for the finances, but my blogging and other projects have suffered. A lot of things planned for the past year simply haven’t happened yet, and my website income has been declining, month by month. (Even so, my website/freelance income was in line with my expectations for the year.)

I mentioned previously that I would have a choice to make: return full-time to regular work, or return full-time to my writing and web projects. Because I don’t have the time or energy to do both well (a fact that was brought home quite clearly last month, when I very nearly dropped from exhaustion).

I’ve managed to dodge that choice again. Barring last-minute logistical difficulties, I will continue to work in Health Canada’s Executive Correspondence Division via my agency. I’ll be back next week, but with a twist: I’ll be working part-time — three days a week. The remaining two days will be dedicated to my projects, which, with more time available to them, should rebound a bit in terms of traffic and income. Or at least I hope they do.

But it’s not just a question of having more time for blogging, or simply blogging more. It’s occurred to me that I need to be smarter about it — to make what time I have for writing online count. The Gawker Media blogs are changing their compensation structure from payment-per-post to bonuses based on traffic, in an attempt to reward quality rather than quantity. Posting frequently gets you traffic — I can attest to that from my own numbers. But posting 100 entries does not get you twice as much traffic, or twice as much income, as posting 50. The law of diminishing returns applies.

So, posting more won’t in itself be enough. In terms of The Map Room, that means a focus on original and substantive posts, such as book reviews. In terms of Gartersnake.info, that means meeting my (oft-stated, never achieved) goal of at least one article each month — and there’s still that garter snake handbook project sitting there, waiting for me to finally get to writing it. And I have short stories I need to write. Among other things.

Ideally, I’d like to make as much from my various projects as I would have made if I’d been working at my job on those remaining two days. It’ll be interesting to see if I can do it.