Behind the Scenes: Reader Mail.
Every now and then, I am lucky enough to receive a message from a reader through my contact page. The messages have varied widely.
Everything from "OMG THIS IS SO COOL I WANT TO BUILD A BUS HOW DO YOU DO IT WHERE DO YOU BUY THE BUS CAN YOU SHOW ME HOW TO DRIVE DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH THIS COSTS" to "I'm doing a report for school*, could I ask you a few questions about minimalism?" to "I Am pRiNcE from NIgEriA!" to "You some kinda dirty hippie? Who in the hell wants to live in a bus down by the river?**" to (thank goodness) this:
Oh! Hello! You love my blog? WELL I LOVE YOU! *me squealing with joy out loud because words of affirmation are totally one of my love languages and I wasn't hugged enough as a child so shit like this makes my day*
And this person is a possible future skooligan! Liking you more and more, reader who wrote in!
And you think I'm FUNNY?! *Googles "is buying a complete stranger who wrote to you about your blog a fruit basket cool or weird"*
*falls to floor and starts hyperventilating* OH NO. THEY HATE ME. THIS IS TROLL MAIL DISGUISED AS MY NEW BEST FRIEND. WHY DID THIS HAVE TO GO SO WRONG.
*closes email, refuses to read the rest for several hours, considers making one of the children pre-read the rest and break this criticism to me gently*
*gives self pep talk, drinks heavily*
Do you see these 6 new gray hairs, reader who wrote in? These are your fault.
I'll now wear them as a badge of honor and proof of my resilience.
Just kidding, I'll likely cry about them later.
But yes, dear reader who wrote in, I'd love to post more often.
My original goal was to write 3 posts a week and to social media it up 5-7 times a week. For a while there, I was hitting that goal, but whoa it was tough. Just one post typically takes hours. I'm only 479 words deep right now (483...) and already an hour has flown by. Before this post is officially done, the revisions counter will show that I've revised at least 6 times (but that's truly only counting the number of times I've saved) and I will have slept on it and reread and rewritten and sometimes slept on it again before finally hitting publish. Then I'll have several more anxiety fueled readings of the published version while I wait for someone to message or comment so that I can know it's either a.) complete garbage or b.) semi-acceptable. One hit of the "like" button is a thousand needle stabs of "Like?! BUT WHAT DOES THAT MEAAAAAN?! Only a thumbs up? Where's my heart? Where's my laughing emoji, y'all? Were you not entertained?!"
This was a fine system when I didn't have anything to do other than sleep at night, but then I started to work as an editor and my hours of being able to frantically hand-wring over whether anyone else would think an early 90's reference to blowjobs was funny or not disappeared.
I now spend my nights reading other people's writing and dispensing commas and quotation marks as I (and the AP style guide...I'm sorry Oxford Comma, I miss you) deem fit.
Also, our bus related work has slowed, become rather repetitive (Grind, weld, grind. Grind. Weld. Grind.), and for a blog that is decidedly not about the technical aspects of bus building, this current stage doesn't seem all that relevant/interesting.
But then that begs the question...what IS relevant for this space? Do people want to hear about things other than what's strictly bus related? In order to be successful, do I need to keep this space purely about all things minimalist/tiny living? For my own personal happiness and satisfaction (along with my tendency to ramble), I know that I can't be a single topic blog, but I'm nowhere near polished enough (see non retouched photos of me above) to be a lifestyle blog either.
(Sorry! First I blame you for my grays and now I go and have an identity crisis on you, too.)
But I hear you, reader who wrote in...I'm trying. Please consider popping on to my Instagram feed or the Facebook page (both are public, so you don't even need an account of your own to see them!) to get bite size nuggets to tide you over until I get my act (and anxiety) together for the next post. And honestly, I sometimes think what I write there is better than what I write here...the text box is smaller and it feels like less pressure to do something worthy of a whole blog post.
*quickly hides the two in progress affiliate posts and removes self from "How to Make Your Blog Profitable" class*
Shit. Well...see here's the thing, reader who wrote in, as much as I love writing (and my love for that is absolutely nothing compared to my love of making people laugh or helping people discover that this life of less is just what they needed), Dana needs to pay the bills. Eventually, in order to continue with this entire endeavor (both bus and blog), money is going to have to be generated somehow, someway. Bus conversions aren't free and neither are blog hosting services. #sadbuttrue
Currently, my focus is on finding my voice and finding my audience, but yeah...one day, I'm going to have to sell something. I'd like it to be in the form of a course (minimalism for moms? how to live tiny with kids? how to tell jokes that will likely only make you and one other person laugh?), one-to-one coaching (let's purge and sort via Skype!), or be still my wanna be writer's heart...a book. I'm in talks with a few different companies that have products or services that I believe would be valuable to my audience, but I'd never recommend something that I don't personally love and use. It's gotta be busworthy, no exceptions.
One way of generating revenue that you will absolutely never see here is ads. Not going to happen. I think they are distracting and ugly and I want nothing to do with them.
I'm open to ideas and feedback on what would be genuinely wanted and needed. I don't want to add to the clutter of your life, and I certainly don't want this space to become nothing more than another place vying for your dollar.
Thank you for feeling compelled. Seriously, gray hairs aside, I am insanely grateful for everyone who takes the time to write or comment. It's reassuring to know that it's not just me talking to myself over here and it's motivating to hear that I am having an impact. Every comment and message propels me forward. Again, thank you.
Hi Sandra*** from Australia! I'm so glad to have you along for our ride and I was even more excited to check your IP address and discover that you are legit in Australia and not one of my friends taking pity on me and sending me fake nice messages.
(Because you know I checked.)
_______________________________________ * I've actually received requests for help with a school project twice now, once from Sweden and once from Denmark. I found this funny as I assumed inhabitants of both countries would have a far better grasp on minimalism than some gluttonous American with a blog.
Or their thesis could have been all about how Americans were now ruining minimalism and being a general embarrassment for all I know. I'll need to follow-up to see what kind of grade they both got.
** No, ever so wise FB commenter, I don't plan on living down by the river in my hippie bus...sometimes we'll stay at truck stops and I hear the Wal-mart parking lot is where it's at for us vagabonds, but your concern is duly noted and filed away for future eyerolls.
*** Thank you again to Sandra who gave her permission for me to reprint her message! I'm so glad to count you as one of my 11 loyal and devoted readers. You're part of a good-looking bunch with obvious taste and refinement.