I’ve always got a goal or an end plan, but it’s not always clear at the start.
For most of my internet life, I primarily ran roleplay communities. Hundreds of people smushing together to experience other worlds and to socialize with other writers. There’s so much work that goes into it that I could write an entire blog series on that alone, but one of my favorite parts is creating inspiring content. Writing prompts, character questionnaires, worldbuilding checklists, guides and tutorials – that sort of thing! At first they were sparing, but there was a period where I posted one a day and after awhile there was a nice collection of useful goodies.
A few years ago when I realized my time running a roleplay site would soon be ending, I knew I needed to set up the foundation for the next chapter. Despite some of my hurdles, deep down I’m still an ambitious person and I need a project that I can work on and develop. Something with structure, goals, and a clear plan of attack. Lo and behold, here I had a bucket full of ready-made content that could be polished up and shared with a different kind of audience. If I am working towards being a novelist, why not make a resource site for aspiring writers?
My first plan is always a little too ambitious.
Every dreamer will dream big, often way bigger than is realistic and reasonably accomplished. Originally, I was going to do this whole creativity mega site, not just for writing, but with healthy recipes, music playlists, affirmation graphics, artist showcases, etc. Needless to say, that went nowhere fast. I’m interested in all these things, yet “doing it all” turned into this daunting mess. At the end of the day I had to realize that interest is not enough if I don’t have passion for it.
Without the passion I just don’t do a good job.
You’d think I’d have learned from past failures and all those times I tried to cram more into one of my roleplay communities. “Lets add a newsletter!” or “Lets add a peer review section!” No. Very quickly my interest in organizing them and making sure they were functional would run out, and if the boss doesn’t care about the quality of content, none of the project staff will stay on the ball either. The reason my roleplay sites were so successful wasn’t all the “more” I put into them, it was because I was passionate about roleplaying and being involved in the community. When I stay focused, I produce better content.
It actually took me a year and a half to figure out where I was going wrong, but once I did… sparkles! I shaved off all of the extra and zeroed in on what I’m actually good at and enjoy doing. Prompts. My imagination knows no bounds and nothing is more fun than asking endless questions for nitty gritty details. For character creation especially, there are so many little things than make up who a person is that people never think of. Did you know that your underwear reflects your personality? Or how much the kind of school you go to can affect your future relationships?
Site content is growing steadily, but I’m still a little inconsistent.
All of the content for Muse Inspired is written in advance. It used to be easy for me to slap together a prompt and get it posted daily along with the fifty other tasks on my to-do lists. Once I hit my 30s I started having some health issues, mostly centered around my uterus, (I hope you like vagina education, because that is totally a future blog post!) and the rest is just dealing with the up and downs of depression. Now, when I’m having an inspiring (hoho) day, I’ll mass produce three months worth of prompts and schedule them to auto-post. In between I’ll work on article drafts to post up at random as I finish one.
Sometimes I’ll still slip and I’ll procrastinate prompt day enough that I’ll end up running out of auto-posts before I get the new ones scheduled. Whoops! So far I’ve cheated and back dated posts, because the site is still “unknown” and not actively prompted. There isn’t anyone to notice it yet. But, I’m determined not to let that become a habit.
A rigid schedule is the only way to go with me.
Schedule, schedule, schedule. I think it annoys people sometimes, when I say I have to do a thing first and it seems like a thing I could easily put off and do later. But unfortunately I’m one of those people where “I’ll do it later” turns in to three months and I’ve got nothing but a mess to deal with and a ton of unaccomplished guilt. I have to actually treat my sites like they are real paying jobs, so I can get the job done and actually make some progress I can be proud of.
It would be amazing if this was my actual job.
Sure I want to be that famous novelist, but in between novels getting a living wage revenue off my sites would be amazing. People are always suggesting it to me (as if I haven’t thought about it a million times myself), but so far it hasn’t been a viable option. For one, it takes a lot of financial investment to kickoff a site as a real business. You need a business license, you need a lawyer, an accountant, you need to pay attention to tax law – there is so much involved. Secondly, if you’re going to invest all of that money, you better be prepared to invest your time and energy as well. I have to be able to dedicate at least 8 hours a day to it, 5 days a week and I’m just not capable of that at the moment.
There’s also something to be said for doing it out of the pure love of doing it.
None of my sites run advertisements or endorsements. At first it wasn’t by choice as I did run google ads for awhile in the beginning, but the sites weren’t getting enough traffic to make up for all the “false clicks” and most other ad revenue sources have such obnoxious ad styles that I wasn’t going to subject myself or my members to them. I’m always getting emails from ad reps too for products that aren’t relevant to my community at all. I’m not going to put up links to random things like casinos and shady programs just to make bank.
My sites are supported instead by the people who live on them. Wonderful amazing members who love the content and community that’s been built, and have decided to throw money at them to keep them alive. Which, thank them forever! I always find a way to pay for my own sites, but sometimes really unexpected bad things happen. There have been moments where our household has lost their jobs, or something massive broke and cost a fortune to fix, medical bills, etc, and if we hadn’t had that money to fall back on, many of the sites would’ve been shut down and may not have recovered from it.
My ultimate goal is a huge collection of writing prompts, helpful guides, and a writer community.
I can do it! I’ve done it before, and I’ll do it again! But help is always greatly appreciated, and honestly, a site can’t succeed without a glob of fans who help built it up. If you love the concept of Muse Inspired, please go to the site and show it by responding to prompts through the comments, hitting like buttons, giving feedback on articles, and share, share, share. One of my greatest motivators is seeing how much people are enjoying the content; when people want more I find myself inspired!