2018 Year In Review

At the beginning of 2018, I set myself some year-long goals. I’ve made almost half of them – and that’s almost entirely goals I made for work. Whether that’s this blog, Patreon, or other forms of content I make. It’s been a pretty amazing second year of doing this weird and wonderful job.

So here, as a bit of a round up, is everything that went well – and a few things that didn’t – in 2018.

I finished writing Oracle and released it for Patrons-only beta.

I am incredibly proud of the first full draft of Oracle. It was a lot of work, and there’s a lot more work still to be done on it, but it remains what I consider to be some of my best writing. Not all of it, granted – it’s a draft, after all! – but there are parts that I am super happy with.

The feedback I’ve had from my ever-lovely Patrons has been great, though – because I’m going to try and be honest here – not numerous. I don’t think anyone has finished it, which is slightly sad because one of my favourite passages is right towards the end!

Much of the middle part of the year was a lot of intense working on the draft, and I definitely miss that rhythm of getting up and writing. It’s something I very much want to return to next year.

PS: Patrons, don’t feel bad if you haven’t finished it. Life happens, and maybe you aren’t supporting me for my novels. That’s totally okay! I appreciate your support regardless.

I started querying agents for representation for Oracle.

No one’s bitten yet, but I’ve been proud of the fact that I’ve done this at all, let alone in the volume that I’ve managed. Getting rejections – as you’ve heard me talk about – is tough, and querying is a time-consuming process.

Plenty of really successful authors have had dozens, even hundreds of rejections before they were successful. So whilst it’s obviously painful that no one has liked or had room for Oracle enough yet, I don’t see it as abnormal. It’s pretty standard for this process.

I’ve also managed to find a bunch of other ways to get Oracle out there other than standard queries, from being featured on podcasts to participating in Twitter publicity drives.

I started Twitch streaming, stopped, then started again – and made Affiliate.

In the early part of 2018 I began Twitch streaming, and I absolutely loved it. My streams tapered off after a few months, but I returned to it recently and on a better schedule, with a better setup. In many ways those early months were like a bootcamp, and I now kind of know what I’m doing. Kind of.

And in these few months, we’ve made Twitch Affiliate, which means that people can now subscribe to my channel. So I can earn money from this, as well as bits/cheers and donations – and there are some other benefits too like getting customised emotes and subscriber badges. I’m really excited to push the stream further.

It’s been an amazing experience for me in learning to be less anxious on camera. Last week I streamed for 6 hours, doubling my intended runtime, because I was having so much fun. And yes, I came away after the stream and my mental illnesses provided a helpful litany of: but were you entertaining? Your face looks silly on camera. When you’re concentrating you look really bored. Hardly anyone talks to you when you’re streaming.

But honestly? My anxiety and depression can sod right off. I’m really proud of my streaming. It’s been awesome.

I moved from working part time hours to full time hours.

If you’ve been reading for a while, you know this is a really really big one for me. Since my breakdown when I was 17, I’ve not been able to manage anything full time. I struggled a lot whilst I was at university, and spent a long time unemployed and incapable of work. It’s only in the past 5 or so years that I’ve managed to start working at all.

I thought for a long time that I would only ever be able to manage to work part time. Partly that was a symptom of my depression – I was afraid of who I would be without my depression, so I always expected and wanted to be depressed. This isn’t the case anymore, but it took a lot of work to get there.

Even still, going from having been seriously ill to working full time is not a quick process. It’s been up and down, and I’m still having to fight to maintain my full time hours. Some days, weeks, or even months I don’t manage it. But I manage it more often than not now, and I am so, so proud of this.

This is what I mean when I say that this blog, this job, has changed my life.

I made one YouTube music video a week for several months.

No, I don’t make them anymore, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t an achievement to do them for as much of 2018 as I did!

Music is a huge part of my life and I have loved singing and playing instruments since I was old enough to make noise on a piano. Anxiety took a lot of my capacity to perform, as I’ve talked about before, but in 2018 I got that capacity back.

This was due in no small part to making these YouTube videos. They made me abandon my perfectionism – I didn’t have the gear to make a perfect video. And forcing myself to make one a week meant that I had to do one, no matter what. It was a really good exercise in pushing through my fears.

Oh, and it meant I was able to sing a really complex, 8-minute-long Berlioz aria to my friends this summer. So that was pretty cool too.

We hit our first and second Patreon goals.

It’s really weird to think that at the start of 2018, I had one Patron. But it’s true!

Over this year we’ve obliterated our first two goals, which were for $50/mth and $100/mth earnings. We’re even super close to our third goal of $200/mth! Now that might not sound like a lot to you, but bear in mind that I’ve never had a paid job before – outside of housesitting and some small, one-off freelancing. To me, this is huge.

The Patreon hasn’t just improved in terms of money, though. Engagement is up, I’m producing more content for my Patrons, and that content is (I think anyway!) of a much higher quality than at the start of the year. We’ve learned what it means to run this Patreon together, and it’s just getting better and better.

That money enabled me to buy the webcam I use for streaming both on Twitch and for Patrons – it’s what I used to film the YouTube videos I made. It’s allowed me to save for next year’s blog hosting costs, and to pay for the social media tools that allow me to schedule everything.

For something that has a specific monetary value, it’s pretty damn invaluable.

Blog traffic has mostly increased throughout the year.

We’ve had some ups and downs, but generally it’s up. Here’s a graph that will illustrate 2018 better than words – it doesn’t include December, because it’s not yet complete.

As you can see it’s not a constant up, but generally things have been at least maintaining if not improving. In June I went on holiday for a week, so that number is not as low as it appears – if I had made the full set of posts, that month would likely have equalled its neighbours.

October and November also lacked posts from the week where I lost one of my close friends. I’m not worried about those months. They are what they are, and even still they’re an improvement on our worst genuine month (April). And all of 2018 is an improvement on 2017 – bar that one time I became briefly internet famous.

I want to do a more in-depth analysis of what’s performing well and what isn’t, so I can make sure I’m giving you the content you really want. But in general, all we need to do is get more people to know we exist. Which…well, it’s a pretty awful thing to work on. But I’m working on it!

So thank you for an incredible 2018, and here’s to the next.

It seems like so long ago that I made my first post, starting this blog because ‘it’s a good idea to have a blog when you want to self-publish a novel’. Or so I had read! And then a few months in where people were engaging and Mundane Magic was doing well (it’s still selling, by the way), I started to realise this could actually be its own thing.

Since then my entire job has expanded, surpassing ‘writer’ and running headfirst into ‘content creator’, and I couldn’t be happier with all of the changes that have happened. It’s hard, and stressful a lot of the time, but it’s completely revolutionised my life. So much so that I know that the people close to me have had their lives improved by my mental health being so much better.

Which means I couldn’t thank you enough if I tried. I’m going to try to anyway. Thank you, for everything. Thank you for changing my life. Thank you for believing in me, and for remaining whilst I’ve been feeling out who I am and what I want to do here. Thank you for every comment, share, retweet, reply, or kind word. My life would not be what it is without everyone who reads this blog, watches me stream, or supports me on Patreon.

Thank you, a thousand times over, for 2018. Whatever you celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful holiday – and I’ll see you in the new year.

There will be no posts over the week of the 24th-30th as I enjoy a week off. Watch out for a post early in January with all my goals for the year of 2019!  Remember it’s okay to find this month stressful, and take care of yourselves. <3