Earlier today, I had a rather revealing conversation with Jay Garmon, Fred Kiesche, and Paul Weimer about Patreon, blogging, and being successful at both (Patrick Hester was also there, but he just wanted to talk about donuts…). As you know, I have a Patreon page. Over the last week or so, I’ve been wondering why it hasn’t been more successful given that this blog does have a few hundred readers and that I think I’m providing good content for sf/f-minded folks. Granted, I never expected anything nearly as successful as Kameron Hurley’s $800-and-climbing Patreon page for obvious reasons: she’s selling fiction (I’m not, though I wish I were); she’s sf/f famous (I’m kinda not really); and she has enough follows to drown a human being in a pool of bodies (I don’t). But I thought it might be a little more successful.
So, I started asking questions on Twitter to see why that might be. Fred and Jay were the most vocal speakers on the subject, and each imparted upon me a set of core ideas that I realized I had never really addressed:
- There must be a focus (what you’re interested in beyond some generalized “thing”)
- There must be a “hook” (what makes it different from everything else)
- There must be a reason for reading (why should anyone care what you think)
It dawned on me, then, that I didn’t have a focus. This blog covers just about everything: books, movies, TV, comics, SF/F controversies, writing, and other rambles. It isn’t really about anything except in the broadest sense. It’s about SF/F, which is sort of like saying “this is a blog about sports.” And in trying to be about SF/F, I’ve created something that is about too many darn things.
For one man, that’s kind of ridiculous. After all, I am not Tor.com, which can talk about dozens of things because it has dozens of contributors. I am not SF Signal, which can do the same. I am not Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together, Fantasy Faction, SF Site, and so on and so forth. But I’m also not Adam Werthead, who covers bits of sf/f news, or Ian Sales, who maintains SFF Mistressworks, or Foz Meadows, who provides in-depth criticism of media and SF/F events from a particular feminist perspective, or Kameron Hurley, who does the same, and so on and so forth. I am trying to do all the things but essentially not doing any one (or two) thing(s) particularly well.
That’s been a huge problem for this blog. I have so many interests that I want to do so many different projects. But I don’t have time to cover everything I want to cover in a year, and so I end up sort of half-ass covering a few of the things I love. The SFF Film Odyssey should have been completed last year, but I’m still inching my way along because I never focused on it. All these side columns are great ideas, but for one person, they’re kind of impossible to manage if you have two teaching jobs and a PhD to finish. Don’t get me started on my lackluster reviewing habits…
So I started thinking about what I wanted to do as a blogger, what I wanted to do as a podcaster, and what I wanted to do as a writer and Patreon user. And it came to me that maybe it’s time for something to change around here. Maybe this blog has been stagnant for so long because I didn’t know how to make it better or to move on to the next thing or to focus on anything. I wanted to do all the things and I couldn’t admit to myself that, well, I just can’t. I can’t do all the things.
Now I have ideas. Many of them. And I would love your input if you’re a reader of this blog. Here are some disjointed thoughts on what I might do for the future:
- The Thinning Package:
- Open a new page which will focus on a specific thing (SF/F Film Odyssey type stuff, for example)
- Change WISB to a personal webpage for my writing self (still sf/f-ish, but not focused in the same way)
- Move most of my review-related blogging to The Skiffy and Fanty Show blog
- The Shifting Package:
- Move my SF/F Film Odyssey and film-relate stuff to the Totally Pretentious blog and run a specific act there (something like the SF/F Film Odyssey on a regular basis)
- Change WISB to a personal webpage and a space for critical reflections on genre happenings (which would otherwise be poorly suited to The Skiffy and Fanty Show blog)
- Move everything else to S&F as above
- The Ultra Thinning Package:
- Kill everything I’m currently doing on WISB and shift my focus to one specific, regularly occurring thing (SF/F Film Odyssey type stuff, perhaps)
- Move reviews to S&F as above
- SF/F criticism mostly disappears because S&F isn’t really the place for my ranting nonsense.
- Note: obviously, I need to get this darn website off of Blogger and into something that looks, well, up to date for the year we’re actually in.
Those are just some ideas. I don’t have the answers yet because I haven’t a clue what do. I’m only just beginning to think about how to change what I’m doing to make it better, not just in terms of the quality, but also in terms of my ability to “do” it. And I’m still not certain what I want to do when I set down a focus, except that I think it would be stupid of me to leave out my academic side. What I do know at this moment is that I can’t do everything, even if I would like to. I just don’t have the resources, and I think trying to do too many things is ultimately damaging my ability to do anything else well.
The comments are now yours. Do let me know what you think about the content, my ideas for the future, and so on and so forth.
P.S.: John Stevens and I talked about a project called Opera Fantastika many months ago. It sadly went the way of the dodo. I still love the title, though.