Sunday, May 24, 2015

Launch Day



In twenty-eight years, I’ve written enough fiction and non-fiction to know how to concoct a good hook. Take this, for example:

“I lost my favorite flannel shirt a week ago when I got broadsided on my bike by a buck.”

Not bad, right? You want to know more. 

Yet for some reason, in the many versions I’ve drafted of this first post I haven’t quite captured the enormity of what it is I want to do with You Could if You Wanted to.

A blog is forever. Or, rather, a topical blog isn’t driven by an end goal. This isn’t going to be a blog about reading a book a day for an entire year or losing thirty pounds in ninety days. It will go on as long as there is a drive and an interest. So when I try to get down to the nuts and bolts of things, well. It’s difficult to foresee which ones we’re both going to need.

That considered, this blog isn’t coming out of the clear blue. There are a few things of which I am certain, characteristics of my concept that manifested themselves as I spent three months researching, planning, designing, seeking counsel, and writing for the day I’d go live. Maybe if I focus on those things today, as you follow my progress, they will make the project a little crisper, a little more vivid, and a little closer to your own heart.

Let’s see.




Thing Number One: Me

My name is Lindsey, and I work hard. I write like crazy, I read like crazy, and I drink a lot of coffee. It is with rare exception that when people meet me they assume I’m uptight and insufferably serious. In fact, though, I have a hearty sense of humor and, unfortunately, a tendency towards biting sarcasm. I’m working on that.

I plan to start my own business in the next couple years. I have a tentative location (that is, town) picked out for my business, and a strategy to set myself apart from the crowd. I’m more than qualified to make it happen. What I need is an audience. And funds.

As I prepare for the day that my dream becomes a reality, I’m talking to anyone who has opened a business and kept it running successfully for more than two years and is willing to lend an hour to tell me about it. That’s sort-of where this blog is coming from. That, and other things.


Thing Number Two: The Blog

You Could if You Wanted to is actually the name of a disbanded musical project spear-headed by my creative collaborator, Cole Phillips. He was generous to share it with me when he agreed to embark on this new endeavor with me. Thank you, Cole.

In a nutshell, You Could if You Wanted to (YCIYWT) is a small business blog. And yes, that is a new genre. Food blogs, travel blogs, lifestyle blogs, photo blogs—they’re everywhere, and thanks to hubs like Pinterest, more robust than ever. I don’t have any desire to compete with them; I’m not interested in creating an original vegetarian recipe every week or influencing others to bargain-shop the way I do.

What I am interested in is small business—how it sustains families and small-town America, the creative minds that come up with incredible products, and all the factors that go into getting an idea off the ground. I’ve been gathering intel for years as I envisioned starting my own place. And now that I’m taking steps to make that happen, the lessons I’ve learned are becoming integral to my own success.

This blog is a log of all those lessons. I’m writing for me, I’m writing for others like me who want to start their own businesses, and I’m writing for existing small businesses that I think deserve to have a light shined on them a little more brightly so that they can keep doing what they’re doing and do it well.







Thing Number Three: Where I Go from Here

After today, posting will be much easier for me. I have a solid list of features (series) I want to do, and I have a number of folks who are interested in contributing from time to time. Some of the features are simple, like the “Beautiful Storefronts” photo feature, but they will not crop up often because they will be limited by supply and opportunity. Other features, like “Read Like Crazy,” will be more in-depth and appear regularly, because I do read like crazy, and in the interest of getting my business off to the right start, much of what I’m reading now relates to that topic. 

Once a month or so I want to offer an exposé on a small business owner. Although I have a number of folks and businesses in mind to get me started, I’m open to suggestions. (Visit the contact page if you would care to submit an idea.) These articles won’t focus excessively on the structure of the businesses so much as their missions and the products or services they offer that are noteworthy. 

Lastly, I hope to use this blog to generate revenue for my coming enterprise. For all the merits to blogs out there—and they are legion—one thing that drives me crazy is how often I visit a blog because of an intriguing image or endorsement, only to find when I arrive that clearly the blog was only generated as a means of passive income; I can tell because the second the blog loads, banner ads start flashing, pop-ups open one after another, and ticker ads start trolling across the screen. I do actually value the content I’m putting out, so I definitely don’t want to do that.

What I hope to do instead is use a carefully-prepared sponsorship program (see it here) to cover the costs of producing this blog and also plan for my storefront. Because of the topics I will cover on YCIYWT, it was easy for me to create a program that will benefit sponsors and the blog alike without sacrificing the experience for you, the reader. But I’m not going to go chasing down businesses for their money; instead, I hope to grow this program organically over time as relationships prove mutually beneficial.


Wrap-Up

Scads of famous authors have noted that the information they have about their characters is ten times greater than the information that appears in the final product of a book or series. They spend a lot of time getting to know those characters over the course of many drafts, and in the end, only what is vital to the story goes into the book.

I feel that way now as I wrap up this first post. I have spent the greater part of every day for several months developing my brand for this blog, drafting content, taking photos, talking with experts, and, of course, reading. What I’ve written here seems so sparse and dry when contrasted with the piles of information I have on what’s to come. But I know that I must roll it out slowly. I hope that what I’ve presented here has piqued your interest and that you come back repeatedly to see how the blog grows up and out.

What I personally am most excited about is the opportunity presented by blogging to involve as many people as possible in the adventure I’ve started in planning my own business. If you read something on YCIYWT that excites you, please share it—spread the word. I am accepting contributors, ideas, and leads, so if you have something to offer, please share it with me. Small business is about community, and that’s what I’m hoping to create here—a community that wants to see success for all the people out there who are making a go of it on their own, and that includes me.

Here we go.

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