2019 Letter From the Editor
It hit me — I wanna say back around September. I’m proud to say it wasn’t because my business coach needed to sit me down and look me square in the eye to make sure I knew this, and it happily wasn’t because I heard some online guru say some pithy quote on a podcast interview. I figured it out on my own.
It was just another day of work, me with a fresh cup of coffee and my bullet journal, planning my day, when I realized: nobody would tell the editor-in-chief of Vogue that spearheading her magazine isn’t her main job. Editors of longstanding print magazines and newspapers, making sure the words they publish align with their message, are seldom (if ever) told that creating their publication isn’t real work.
And yet I’d swallowed the idea, touted for several years now by online entrepreneurial experts: running a blog shouldn’t be your main job. Since about 2014, Smart People Who Know Better have said, “Your blog [or podcast] should point people to your real work, the thing you’re selling. It shouldn’t be the end game. These things are means to an end, they’re not the end.”
They said this because it made sense. Ad revenue took a deep plummet internet-wide around 2013-14, and those of us who depended on ad partnerships as our main slice of revenue pie had to scramble fast to make numbers work. Instead of worrying about page views, They said, instead of focusing on eyeballs on as much stuff as you could publish on your blog, create something of your own that you can sell. Whip up an e-book, a course, a member site, a digital squid, however you can tap into your knowledge so you can be paid for what you do. That way, you’re no longer dependent on ad revenue.
And it worked. (It makes sense, too.) The amount of digital products created by online entrepreneurs skyrocketed. I’m one of them.
As print magazines continued (and continue) to fold, it was clear the same logic would follow digital properties. Diversifying became the name of the game. And as the fight for eyeballs-on-website grew wearier by the day, competing heavily now with Instagram accounts that have swallowed whole formerly gorgeous blogs, now remnant shadows of their former selves, the old-school model of publishing blog posts became old-fashioned.
Even those terms, “blogging” and “blog posts,” sound quaint and near-archaic in Internet years. Who does that anymore? Who reads blogs anymore with the behemoth of instagram accounts, podcasts, and YouTube channels? Blogs are akin to the well-meaning grandmas who need help using the Google (true story: just a few days ago over the holidays, my lovely grandfather asked if I was still “blobbing”).
Well, here’s the thing: You still read blogs. And I still read blogs. In fact, I dusted off my feed reader this past fall and have been reading more whip-smart blogs that I have in years. And when we surveyed you guys this past fall, you knocked me off my feet, flooring me with your answers. You not only read blogs, but you wish more were still around, you’re very weary of social media, and like me, you hope blogs make a comeback.
The editors-in-chief of Vogue, Better Homes & Gardens, Wired, and Bon Appétit all have real jobs: they’re publishers. And so, on that random work day in September, it hit me: I’m a publisher. This is a job where the end can be this thing I create — it doesn’t have to solely point to Money-Making Ventures. It can be the work itself. Of course it is.
My favorite parts of my work are writing (especially books), recording podcast conversations with people who have interesting ideas, publishing a beautiful, thoughtful blog, and interacting with people who love good things (like my patrons, and you guys). My least favorite parts are constantly opening and closing a course so it will sell well (which I still love and believe in 100%), the noise and chaos and shallow dearth of social media, and the ridiculous idea of needing to be constantly relevant.
Sure, lots of magazines have folded in the last ten years. Plenty of blogs have closed up shop in favor of a social media account. But there are still great magazines hitting bookstore shelves every month, and new ones launching. And there are lovely blog gems, still shining with every new thing they publish.
I rediscovered a love for blogging last fall, and I hankered to spit-shine AoS back to a place that represents me well. However, I’d already committed to our editorial calendar through the end of the year, and with all the people involved, it didn’t feel right (nor restful) to change it. So, I circled the first week of January 2019 as the target for unveiling a revamped space.
A Few Changes
For sanity’s sake, I’m scaling back Simple, the podcast, to weekly again. I loved doing twice-weekly shows… for awhile. And then I started feeling like that’s all I was telling you about on social media or in my weekly email, and if you’re like me, you’ve already got plenty of podcast episodes in your queue. I’m back to fewer but better.
We’re trying out new blog posts on Mondays and Wednesdays, and a new podcast episode on Fridays. My writers are now my co-hosts for each episode; we’ll expand on or talk about a side topic related to whatever we published that week, making the blog and podcast play seamlessly together (something I’ve wanted for a long time). In fact, here’s the episode related to this post!
Because episodes are weekly, each one will be slightly longer, with a third segment rotating between some of your beloved voices you’ve heard on the show for years, answering your travel questions or deep-diving about the liturgical calendar for that month, as well as monthly Women’s Work features. It’s gonna be GOOD.
Oh, and we’ll do our best to transcribe each episode, for those of you who still prefer reading to listening.
A Word About Social Media
I don’t hate it. It’s just not where I want to focus most of my creative energy, and I think it’s contributed a great deal to our culture’s shortened attention spans, incessant arguing without listening, and preference for sound bites over substance.
It’s not always good for me personally, either; I find I need regular breaks from it to keep my sanity. I’m pretty much completely off Facebook (and have been for over a year now), I check in on Twitter several times a week because I actually enjoy some chatter there, but I don’t sweat strategizing anything and I log off the second it bothers me.
I have a more complicated relationship with Instagram — I both love and hate it. It can be a beautifully simple place, and it can eat me up inside. Anytime I start sweating the numbers, I have to remind myself: I don’t care about being Instafamous. My job description isn’t Instagram Influencer, nor do I want it to be.
I’m a writer, first and foremost. I’m a publisher second. I believe, long-term, that it’s a smart move to focus on my own internet home (blog, podcast), and not my rental properties owned by massive companies (my social media accounts). All the smart people I admire do the same, so I think it’s good to follow suit.
We’ll still send out a link on Facebook to anything new we publish, for our readers who want to find us there (and to whom Facebook miraculously bothers to show). I’ll still tweet new stuff on Twitter when it makes sense. And we’re even dusting off the Art of Simple Instagram account, where we’ll link to new posts and episodes (so yeah, I don’t flat-out hate it there).
But these are all vehicles to help bring you to my home; they’re not my home. I don’t own them, so it’d be silly for me to treat them as such.
We’re scaling back to fewer voices, and publishing them more often (our writing and podcasting team is small but mighty). You’ll meet them over the coming few months as they share things like a Day in their Life, what they wear for different occasions (date nights, lounging at home), and of course, their Good Lists. And, you’ll hear them on the podcast! I think you’ll love them.
I’m back to writing weekly, and I can’t wait — I’ve missed it, after over a year away from regular blogging. Oddly enough, it helps me get more book writing done, too. And that’s my focus for the year, finishing my novel.
Less, but better — that’s the theme of AoS this year. As our podcast episodes and blog posts intersect with each other, we’ll focus on fewer topics but with a deeper richness. And, we’re treating this space like the beauty it is, giving it the attention it deserves. I’ve loved my twelve years of hitting publish here, and I don’t plan on stopping soon.
Thank you, dear readers and listeners, for making this space what it is — I wouldn’t have this job without you. And it is, indeed, a job to be a writer and publisher. These are things I truly love doing.
p.s. Don’t forget to listen to this week’s podcast episode about change — both changes here on the blog, and also handling change in life overall.
• Listen to the podcast episode about this post
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