I’ve been otherwise engaged…

baby elephant

…over at elephant journal over the past few months, mostly editing and social media-ing as an editorial apprentice. If you are looking to get some experience in this realm, keep an eye out for when they are recruiting their next cohort.

Ele is a (meaningful) content machine! I’ve edited about 30 articles in the past few months. That has been awesome practice for future work; amongst the many things I’ve learned, I’ve discovered that one thing I love doing is finding the perfect (‘clickable’) title.

For my writing, this has been an excellent way to build a network, get exposure, build my portfolio and get more efficient at all elements of blogging.

The (virtual) ele-friends I’ve made are so brilliant and incredibly supportive. I feel like they are truly of the same ilk.

There is so much great writing going on over there, which inspires me to write more often, try different (blog) genres, stay (get more) personal, and hone the craft. Here are some of the pieces I’ve published there recently:

Thanks for checking me out, and happy writing!

Failure does not exist (but unicorns do)

Today’s DP: Tell us about something you would attempt if you were guaranteed not to fail (and tell us why you haven’t tried it yet).

Failure?  What is this failure you speak of?  I don’t really believe in that word, and don’t use it.  I prefer to follow Yoda’s wisdom: “Do or do not, there is no try.”  I really do see everything as a journey, rather than classifying events and situations into categories such as ‘success’ or ‘failure’.

Two other words I’ve stopped using are ‘broke’ and ‘fat’.  As in, I’m not referring to myself as either anymore, ever, not even in my head.  I’d recommend this kind of exercise to anyone..but let’s move back over to the topic, which I’m going to reframe as:

“Talk about a batshit crazy/seemingly impossible idea that you have that if you pursued it would completely change your life.”

Recently I dressed up in this sassy unicorn costume for a party.  I loved it.  I channeled this – well, really social and outgoing and fun and kind of magical person (which I  guess I am, except that I identify as an introvert by nature so it is really super empowering when I feel that way).

Wow, I sound really full of myself right now…OK so, without ego, moving on.

So my completely awesome / batshit crazy idea is to be a unicorn for a year and blog about it.  I’m not joking: I’d get some press, get some followers, and basically travel around the world writing about my uinicorny adventures.  I wouldn’t necessarily be ‘in costume’ all of the time, although being in costume some of the time would be part of the deal.  unicorns

Part of what I’d be doing is getting my hands dirty in different projects, volunteering in community development projects and the like.  Other parts would be getting involved in intentional communities/community initiatives, creative projects, etc.  The hope would be that I could learn enough to take on more of a leadership role in this capacity later in life.

Plus, I would also be focused on spreading random (magical) acts of kindness.  You know…the usual.

Sounds ridiculous right?  But, the point really would be to be footloose and spreading awesomeness, exploring the world, helping people, having fun.  In other words, really living…which is probably the least crazy thing that one can do for oneself and the world.

The whole idea is a little (OK, a lot) grandiose, but I’m taking baby unicorn steps… (hell yeah!)

Spice it up

Today’s Daily PromptTo what extent is your blog a place for your own self-expression and creativity vs. a site designed to attract readers? How do you balance that? If sticking to certain topics and types of posts meant your readership would triple, would you do it?spices

My last blog post just got published here at Elephant Journal.  It is the third piece that they’ve published (they are an awesome resource for getting exposure, building a portfolio and getting some conversation momentum rolling).  Their style and topics are a good fit with my interests, so I haven’t really had to tailor anything ‘for’ them.  Now that I understand more about the kinds of articles they publish, I sometimes keep a certain style mind, but they are very open with both so it is not really an issue.

I visit Elephant Journal frequently, partly because I like the writing, but partly to see what kind of articles garner more views than others.  It’s been a sort of interesting experiment to see what attracts a specific audience that is beyond the WordPress community.

Sometimes it’s all in the title: the actual article might have little to no (original) information, it’s just that the title is controversial.  The fact that one of their top articles (in terms of views) includes this nude Playboy yoga video – which kind of irks me.

But then again…that video is hot.  It’s spicy.  It’s garnered them a lot of traffic…so can I really blame them?  If I were running a site that was focussed around yoga, would I say no to a yoga video that I knew would get lots of attention?  I can’t say that I would say no.

I think they do a decent job of balancing controversial (attention-getting) material and still sticking with mostly meaningful/positive/spiritual/engaging topics.   They are very open – and colorful – with their subject matter, and that I’m sure is part of their draw (I certainly love that about them).  They really are keen on publishing authentic work and to me that is the most important.  Also they ascribe points to commenters ..so the more you participate and the better your comments, the more points you get.  This is a really neat way to encourage others to quality conversation.

But my most recently published article isn’t getting many responses/views.  I’m not bent about it or anything, I just wonder why: is it that they changed the title (my original one was slightly more eye-catching, I thought).  Does it have to do with their own readership?  Is it an SEO thing that I have no control over?  What is it (besides controversy) that does really garner views?  Is it really just a crapshoot?

There is an endless array of topics to write about, and for that matter, online avenues to  (potentially) get published, and I’m trying to find my place in that bigger world.  Of course I write for myself here, but I want my voice to be louder.  I want to reach people, and I’d like to expand my writing style and topics anyhow.   Plus I’m a bit of a chameleon…I’m adaptable.  So having someone else ‘direct’ me towards a topic might actually help me focus.

I did experience a large readership (on this last Elephant Journal post) and I didn’t have to tailor my writing one bit.  This was a great indicator that – with a little luck – it’s possible to reach people with my own heart-writing.  I can tell you that it felt amazing…but I’m not quite sure how to do it again!

The bottom line: I will continue to challenge myself to new depths with writing, because frankly I’m worried about getting bored.  And if I’m bored, the audience will most certainly be as well.

I’m definitely feeling the urge to connect to an audience more deeply, to bring more focus to my writing, and definitely spice things up!