I've been writing fairly detailed updates on my blogging and publishing business for the last year or so. A few folks have reached out to me via email to let me know they like reading them and following along, which I always appreciate! I don't get a lot of public comments here on the blog (it runs on Ghost, and comments are a nightmare), so it's really cool to hear that people are actually reading.

Going forward, I likely won't be going as deep on the income reports, but I still want to update and recap what's been going on.

I also want a place where I can talk about what's happening with my writing career, if anyone's interested in that.

For now, I'm going to combine it all into one monthly update. We'll see how that goes!

What's up with the blogs?

If you're new here, I run 2 big content sites as my full-time job. They're mostly informational, earning about 70% of their revenue from advertising.

Total revenue across all sites in January of 2022 was $14,802 (December was $16,182).

I spend a couple thousand dollars on outsourcing content every month and have minimal expenses outside of that — hosting, a few tools, nothing major.

Traffic is absolutely terrific right now but ad rates are down a lot from Q4, which is to be expected. I'm definitely mourning the loss of those $500+ days in my Mediavine dashboard.

RPMs (Revenue per thousand visitors) are already coming back up, though, so hopefully in the Spring I'll get the best of both worlds.

I teased in the last update but I started a new site that I'm excited about, officially launched in November. I haven't had a ton of time to devote to it but there are a few reasons I'm high on it:

  • High traffic potential
  • Nearly unlimited keywords and topic ideas
  • I've already found 2 good writers who know the material really well
  • Basically non-existent competition

I'm really excited about that second bullet point.

I love and hate keyword research — doing it well can really set you apart from the competition, but they'll eventually figure out what you're doing and ride your coattails. Plus, once you've worked your way through your list of topic ideas, it can be tough to motivate yourself to get back into KWR mode. This site won't have that problem. I may literally never run out of topics.

Challenges for the site may be that it's going to be seasonal, and it's almost entirely informational with very few affiliate opportunities. It'll be a pure advertising play, and I don't expect super high RPMs based on the topic.

Lastly, on the YouTube channel for my biggest site, I'm coming very close to monetizing. I just need a couple dozen more subscribers. I can not WAIT for that to happen. My guess is it will earn a couple hundred dollars per month in ads, or about enough to keep publishing videos and stop losing money. At some point it may turn profitable if I'm lucky.

I still think it's good for branding and it sends positive signals to the big G that my site is legit.

What's up with the novel?

I'm so glad you asked!

I finished up a round of edits on the novel, DAD CAMP, which you can read about in more detail here, in late January. Since then, a few things have happened.

A few family/friends have read it or started reading it. I know people who love you aren't the best gauge, but they seem to be really enjoying it and at least reading it quickly!

I also submitted the manuscript to a professional editor over on Reedsy (a platform for this kind of thing). He's going to give me a (paid) editorial assessment, or a 6-8 page document highlighting strengths, weaknesses, and areas of development for the next edit. It's due back soon and needless to say, I've been refreshing my inbox nonstop. I'm really hoping to have the book in amazing shape by the spring.

I also finally got my query letter into a pretty good place after tinkering with it endlessly for months. The query is what you'll send to literary agents once the manuscript is done, to try to convince them to read it and maybe represent you. Once I felt good about the query, I entered it into a small contest run by Darling Axe Editing — I didn't really think I would win, but for like $20 you got a few lines of feedback from a pro editor on the query, which seemed worth it.

In the end, I was right — I didn't win. But I did make the shortlist (top 6 out of ??) and got some fantastic praise on the query letter:

I'm not a parent and I tend not to read comedy, so I'm very happy to tell you that this query is amazing! You've totally convinced me, even though I am not among your target audience. Your pitch conveys a fresh concept and an understanding of narrative structure. Your bio confirms your dedication to the craft and authority to tell this story. If I was an agent and this landed on my desk, I would turn to the sample pages with keen interest and hope that I'd just found a gem. Shortlisted!

I'm also doing a lot of work around what I'm going to work on next.

In a Google Doc, I keep a list of ideas that I've had. Some of them I love, some are just meh. Most of them are nothing more than nuggets, like just a character or a hook or a situation.

My typical process (if you can call something you've done once or twice typical, or even a process) is to start fleshing my favorite nuggets out with a few bullet points.

  • how the story might go
  • what kinds of scenes there might be
  • how it might end
  • what themes might be explored
  • what characters might be involved, etc.

It's a mess and it's all speculative.

Then I find I actually really like writing a query letter for the story, as if I'm pitching the finished book to an agent. A query is a great way to discover and test a story idea. It helps me fill in a lot of gaps and start to give the story a bit of structure, even if I don't know all the pieces yet, and it feels a lot more creative and fluid than an outline.

Then I'll start a rough outline and start to fill in even more gaps and plan out specific scenes.

This is a really important process. If I learned anything from writing DAD CAMP, it's that writing a novel is (at least) a year-long process, and the story will live in your head almost every moment of every single day. So you better really love it and be ready to spend a lot of time with it.

I'm not ready to 100% commit to the next thing quite yet, since DAD CAMP will need at least one more edit, but I'm hoping to be ready to go with the next one soon.

That's all for now!

In the next update, I should have a better sense of what the pro editor thought of my manuscript and how much work it's going to take to get it ready for querying.

Hopefully, that YouTube channel will be making money, too.

Fingers crossed!