Friday, January 03, 2014

2013 Wrap Up, With 2014 Holding Lots Of Promise

Happy New Year!

I hope 2014 brings you fantabulous successses, great health and a lot of good cheer. I hope that 2014 is much better than 2013, even if the previous year was great.

The container garden just outside my kitchen door

2013 was a better year than 2012 for me. It started out very badly, with Mma going in and out of hospitals.

By June, I was prepared to let her go if  that was how it was supposed to be.

Only she rallied back and the second half of the year was so much better I'm even optimistic that we will have a 2014 that has no medical emergencies. Now wouldn't that be wonderful!

As to my personal health, I'm eating a lot more healthy foods. Take outs are extremely rare, a lot less dead animal, be it chicken, fish or meat, plenty of veggies and fruit, more time spent in the garden. I've even started eating morogo, a wild indigenous greens that grow in the region.

The leaves in the bowl are thepe, a type of morogo growing in my garden. 
Chilli and cucmber also from my garden

I lost around 30 pounds, then gained back around 10.  Not great, but not bad either. And the inital weight loss was due to stress and skipping meals, so I'm happy to be on a more healthy track.

The big career development is that I got back to blogging. 

I didn't even know I missed it during my quiet period, and the online world seemed so far away then. But once I started again, I was reminded why I invested in blogging for so long (since January 2006).

The commercial end of my business was in fits and starts throughout 2013.  I was fortunate to have some long-term contracts, including a course that was to be accredited by SETA, a government agency. This meant that I had work even though I was not actively marketing my business.

I also landed one or two corporate clients - a big thanks to friends who recommended me to potential clients and yet checked with me first to make sure I had the capacity before passing my name along. Your support was invaluable.

Sadly, the self publishing end of my business came to a complete halt. That was a bummer, because that's the direction I really wanted to take my career.

My garden continued to keep my outdoors, so I could get fresh air; not go stir crazy confined to the house with a mostly sick person.

It is my gym, my solace , my source of beauty in a period where my life had shrunk to small daily tasks that are part of the routine of a care-giver.

My garden is more of a potager, with flowers, herbs and veggies all growing together
So what comes next in 2014?

1. Mma turns 75 in April. We're talking about a big family celebration. You've seen through one of the family Christmas photos I've posted here that we are a pretty large family, so a big celebration is a default setting around here.  We just need to arrange the food and drinks and we're set to go:-)

2. Focus on own projects- For financial reasons I can't abandon client work completely, but my greater focus is going to be on my own publishing projects. These include:
  • Writing and publishing more children's stories, and finishing those stories that were already in my publishing queue.
  • Publishing more non-fiction ebooks (one or two?)
  • Publishing selected stories from writer friends
  • Blogging more and improving the standard of content (not just here, but also on my gardening blog)
BTW, I was shocked to find out that most of my 2013 blogging income came from a blog I neglected for years (much worse than Storypot). I'd be curious to see how much better it can do when I'm actually paying attention.
3. Increase my garden's food output - The hard part (setting it out, creating the beds, doctoring the soil etc) is mostly done and i've harvested great crops from it. However, I'm still not using the beds to capacity; I could do better, get more food/more variety of veggies and herbs out of it.

Ummm, yeah. There's lots and lots of greens in my garden

I'm also looking for sponsors for the related blog (well, if I'm going to spend hours in the space, best I make it pay in as many ways as possible, don't you think?)

4. Give my alter ego life - I've periodically mentioned that I planned to write some fiction under a pen name. Well, What's her name has been very busy during the tail end of 2013.

She has finished some story drafts, designed and launched a blog which updates daily and joined Goodreads. She even "met" some people online. And yeah, she feels a bit different from me.... She's more assertive, her writing is more relaxed and I think she's funnier than I am. I like her. And I think  2014 is going to be a big year for her.

Blogging Challenge

To kickstart my 2014 blogging plans, I've joined the 2014 VA Tips &Tricks Blogging Challenge starting the week of January 4, 2014. As the challenge founder, Susan Romig Gershon says,  participants are going to blog through the alphabet starting with A for the first week then continuing with a new letter each week until we reach letter Z.

Each topic should be something about that week's letter. For example, Attitude for A or Best Practices for B, etc. The duration of the challenge is 28 weeks.

My aim for joining the challenge is to introduce my blog to new readers, growing my readership and hopefully, my blog's ranking too. Some of the participants are old friends from TAVASA, so there is also the familiarity of doing something with good friends. And having some kind of theme to follow also gives me ideas for posts for the next 28 weeks, which helps guarantee my blogging consistency.

Anyhoo, the posts will be clearly marked as as part of the challenge, and I hope that you will find them informative/useful.


Student Mommy said...

Hello. Hope 2014 is a success. A couple of questions for you... how do you make a blog pay... or find sponsors... or whatever it is that turns a blog into an income??? (a question mark for each question!)
And... I'm glad to hear your Alta is funny and assertive. Look forward to meeting her when she's published.

Damaria Senne said...

Happy New Year and thanks for stopping by.

1. How do you make a blog pay?
Finding advertisers/sponsors (they put an advert on your site and pay you monthly/annually for the duration of their campaign).
Doing sponsored posts (someone pays you to write a post on a subject related to their industry and you link one or two words/phrases to them. My post about how to choose books as gifts is an example. This works ideally when your potential sponsor's subject area meshes with yours, and you would have written the post anyway, but you just have to include their link in your post).
Affiliate marketing -you sell someone else's product on your site and get a cut from each sale. Example of companies you can do affiliate arrangement with is Amazon, but there's lots more.
Adsense - you put adsense adverts on your blog and you earn money when someone clicks through to find out more about the product advertised.
product reviews - this is where you get in-kind payment (the product you're reviewing)
You have a product that you sell on your site. Maybe an ebook?

Finding sponsors
Sometimes they contact you. I've been very fortunate with that. Most I turn down because their products are not a match with the content of my site, but I have accepted some offers.
You contact them because you believe your blog matches their product. Expect to be turned down... it's just like every marketing adventure.. you have to be willing to be told No until someone says Yes.
There are some marketplaces which connect bloggers and advertisers. Many of the advertisers using these sites pay peanuts. But if you were going to write that kind of post anyway, you may not mind too much.

Caveat: A lot of people have tried to make theirn blogs pay and it doesn't seem to work. So even doing the above, I'm not guaranteeing that it would work, or that these are the only ways that you can make money through your blogs.

My blogs have been around for years, and have lots of content, and I think that is a factor to a certain degree, Also, you have a steady traffic of people visiting your blog and the visitors's interest matches the content of your blog/your sponsors. My blog is a plodder - there are blogs that grew faster, made impressive amounts of money etc. Not this one. And I suspect if I tried to make it into one of those flashy money-making scheme, they would lose a sense of what they are and my regular readers would leave anyway.

So essentially, your sponsor should give your visitors what they need, what they came to your site for and you need to keep giving your readers what they initially fell in love with when they came to your site.

With reference to the blog I mentioned, I use a combination of adsense and sales of my children's ebooks.

I hope this answers your questions to some degree.

Lori said...

Love your family photo from the Christmas post, Damaria. What a lovely group of people! Hope you have a blessed, prosperous 2014.

I like that you're letting your alter ego out to play. Must be the year for it -- I had a similar desire just before December. I think we get into this job wanting it, but pushing it aside much too quickly.

Eager to see how it works for both of us!

po said...

Happy new year Damaria, I am glad you have things to be positive about this year! I am stuggling to be positive myself- I need to find a thing, something to get me excited about the new year.

Damaria Senne said...

Happy New Year to you too Lori. I'd love to know when your alter has news to share, even if it's through email (you can never have too many people celebrating with you:-)
I'll share too.

Damaria Senne said...

@po - (((hugs)))

Sorry to hear 2014 looks gloomy. The only thing I can offer is me. Or rather, my brain? Like all your other friends, I'm available to chat through the muck in the hope we can find a way to a better 2014 for you. You know what I've been through, so even if our situations are different, I'll get it.

Unknown said...

The new year gives new hope for everyone. Posts that review the past year such as this keeps you in track of what to do. In your case, you've noticed what went right and wrong, and what needs to be done for it to be better. Blogging is a good exercise in getting people to know your business, so doing more of this helps a lot! Good luck!

John Bergman @ Business Coach San Diego

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