Why Maintaining a Website is Worth the Effort

Guess what? It’s a new year. Loosen up, give yourself a break, and recognize that you’re totally worth it. Not just as a person, but as an individual entity within the great big writing community. Whatever it is you’re doing – editing, mentoring, writing, publicizing, agenting, etc. – do it to the best of your ability, improve daily, and keep going!

With all those jobs come prioritization. Did you lose your focus in 2020? Don’t worry; I did too. It’s still just January. You’ve got twelve months to get back on track with whatever it is you’re working on. Okay. Now that all that’s out of my system, here’s another pep talk.

Maintaining a website is totally worth the effort. Would I lie to you? Never!

I’ve found some fantastic writing acquaintances and friends the past few years through their websites. Some found me through mine. But it wasn’t always that way. Just look at the stats from the early days of anotherhartmanauthor.com and you’ll see what I mean:

In 2016, 98 folks stopped by. Of course, in 2016 I’d just launched this site, and in late October or November. So that makes sense. If you want to read a perfectly lame first blog post, here’s the link. (Ugh; I cringe!)

In 2017, I didn’t know what to do with this platform. I was still finding my niche, my people, my footing. 2017 saw 163 visitors as a whole.

Things started to change in 2018. I grew more confident in my blogging abilities and connected with more individuals through social media. As a result, 288 fine folks stopped by to read what I had to say.

2019 exploded with 954 readers. That’s the year I began doing the Five Question Interviews, and I’m forever grateful for those individuals willing to give my little site a chance. Finally, 2020 ended with a bang: a whopping 1,697 of you read my website! I touched upon this a bit in my 2020 Stats blog post, but I still can’t get over that. Thank you all so much for making 2020 my best blogging year yet.

So, as you can see, it takes loads of time for things to happen. Okay, some folks seem to gain instant success, but I’m not one of those. All this to say, I’d like to share some things I’ve learned over the years. Also included at the end will be some links to blog posts past of a more practical nature.

Five reasons why maintaining a website
is totally worth the effort.

1. It’s a great way to learn from others.
While blogging is a very visual and immediate way to showcase your own abilities, there’s a whole lot you can learn from other bloggers as well. There are countless treasure troves out there waiting for you discover them. The first experience I ever had with a website like this is KM Weiland’s Helping Writers Become Authors. I may have mentioned that particular link on more than one occasion, but it truly is a gem of a site, full of loads of practical information for folks at any point of their writing journey.

My site – this site – originally began as a place to share historical facts I learned throughout my own writing process. Looks like I’ve deviated from that first mission, but I hope to bring back historical information sharing in 2021. Especially since I’ve got three very different manuscript ideas running around in my head.

What do you know? Do you have experiences to share? Poetry? Specific histories? What’s something that brings you so much joy that you want to share it with others?

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

Benjamin Franklin, source

2. Exposure, exposure, exposure.
Admit it. As a writer/author/editor/etc., you want to get your name out there, right? Blogging is akin to networking in the business world, but within the writing community niche. In a recent blog post, I discuss a Social Media Conundrum I’m still thinking about. Without platforms, how does a modern creative sell or showcase their work?

This is where the problems can begin. Unless you’re the most self-disciplined individual on the face of the earth, how does one balance blogging, social media, and work? Everyone procrastinates to some degree. That’s why, in my writing goals post for 2021, I decided it’s time to set aside actual writing time. I don’t know if I’ll be able to also schedule social media time, but I’ve got a whole new year to figure that one out too.

It all boils down to this: how much time are you willing to spend networking? Which is a higher priority: building a platform or working on your craft? It is possible to do both. I, personally, just need more discipline to do it….

“The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.”

Keith Ferrazzi, source

3. You’ll gain practical online experience and grow skills you already have.
“Cancel culture” is a real thing. Definitely not imagined. From JK Rowling to that one editor who suggested authors take out loans to pay for professional editing on their manuscripts, 2020 writing Twitter witnessed the rise and fall of those who expressed controversial views and practices.

Why do I bring this up?

This is where practical online experience and exposure come into play. Not only does this apply to conducting yourself online, but it includes tech skills. Let me tell you, it took me a long time to get used to my host’s interface. It also took a me a while to figure out what templates and themes worked best for this site and so on.

It’s a tall order, this number three. If you spend any time on Twitter or Instagram, you’ve seen every type of user; from the very casual to the ones who clearly spend loads of time on everything they put out. What I enjoy about my time online is every time I put out a new post/page or have a new interaction, I learn something new about myself and the subject matter at hand. Sounds like a win-win to me!

“Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.”

Samuel Johnson, source

4. It’s a great chance to hone your nonfiction writing skills.
Speaking of practical experience, blogs and websites are also great places to hone your nonfiction writing skills. Let’s face it – as an author, or one working towards publication, you’re going to have to learn how to market yourself.

My one uncle is an actor. I’ve often heard him say, “Oh the things I’ve had to do for money.” Get your mind out of the gutter. He’s not talking about things like OnlyFans n’at! He’s talking about marketing. He hates talking about himself, but had to build a website in order to gain more gigs and showcase what he’s capable of doing.

The same goes for blogging. Whether you want a place to share your knowledge or share your art, you’re going to have to get used to marketing yourself. Heck, when I built this site back in 2016, it took several months to feel comfortable even introducing myself to the online world of writing. But I now look forward to building that next blog post.

Just as with your manuscripts, your blogging style will change with time. In 2017 I put up maybe ten blog posts, and I anguished over each word. My average word count four years ago? Less than 200. Now I’m batting a thousand and am working on efficiency with my words. In my humble opinion, nonfiction is harder to write than fiction.

“I’m open to reading almost anything – fiction, nonfiction, as long as I know from the first sentence or two this is a voice I want to listen to for a good long while. It has much to do with imagery and language, a particular perspective, the assured knowledge of the particular universe the writer has created.”

Amy Tan, source

5. Because you’re totally worth it.
Don’t you dare sell yourself short. I don’t think much else needs to be said about this particular point. Seriously – you’re totally worth it. Now go, create, and see what maintaining a website could possibly do for you and yours.

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”

Lucille Ball, source

Six links to help you get started.


So, what do you think?

Are you ready to get started on a website?

Remember: don’t be discouraged if whatever you create doesn’t immediately take off. Be patient with yourself, others, and stick with what works.

A final tip: you don’t need to own your domain name right away. Don’t let those fancy host sites lead you to believe otherwise. Maintaining a website isn’t easy, and they’re also not for everybody.

But don’t let me discourage you. You’ll never know unless you try. Have fun with it, be true to who you are, and everything else should fall into place.


My Writing Goals for 2021

In 2019 I gave myself seven writing goals to accomplish by this time, this year. I completed every single one of them! Ha, no. That would be a lie *insert clip of Maury reading lie detector results in front of a live audience.*

The shutdowns in early 2020 really put a damper on my earliest planned goals. Let’s revisit My Seven Writing Goals for 2020 real quick before moving on to what I’ve got planned for 2021.

1. Finish Project Firedamp

Considering the fact that Project Firedamp is now shelved and saved onto my external hard drive, it’s safe to assume I didn’t accomplish this particular goal. While I’m sad that my original project – this idea began my writing journey and encouraged me to launch this site – is a bit beyond my reach right now, it’s always an ever-present thought in the back of my mind. So, who knows? Perhaps I’ll revisit Firedamp in the future.

2. Tour More Historical Sights

I finally managed to tour the industrial, historical city of Johnstown, Pennsylvania back in September. Before everything shut down, I had local coal mines, area farms, a blast furnace, and a local observatory on my “to tour” list in late Spring. Every Forth of July, my family and I also take a steam train trip either within Pennsylvania or somewhere close in the tri-state area. I count myself lucky that we were still able to visit Johnstown. I hope more historical sights are able to reopen in 2021.

3. Bring More Story-Themed Decor Into My Home

Shortly after writing the original post I realized something about myself. I prefer practical, vintage elegance over Victorian-esque objects that may not even work. What changes have I made this year? I no longer watch television, so my living room’s now a library. Yay!

4. Visit the Library of Congress for a Day

Okay. This one hurt more than all the others. It was to be the first trip I’d ever take by myself. I was going to get an AirBNB close to the Mall and work on a manuscript in the Library of Congress. And, perhaps, reenact that one scene from the first National Treasure film. Maybe I still can this time next year?

5. Build a Paper Organizer

I nixed this idea around June or July as I had the opposite problem with all the shut downs – I was working way too much due to my company’s status as an essential business. As a result, my DIY and crafting projects got pushed to the wayside. Instead, I now have plans to build a baking area. We’ll see how that goes…

6. Write in Tennessee (aka go on vacation)

This turned into the aforementioned Johnstown trip. I still need to go back to Tennessee

7. Hand Copy a Novel

Yeah – I didn’t complete this either. 2020 wasn’t a good year for me and I really lost momentum with my writing…

My Writing Goals for 2021

If I learned anything in 2020 it’s that life can throw us unrelenting curve balls. I spent much of these past twelve months disappointed in my sudden inability to write.

1. Work on my Self Doubt

For some reason I found myself in a state of denial for much of 2020. I thought, “Naw. I’m fiiiiiiiine. This covid thing isn’t affecting me. I’m just going about life all normal.” When August hit, and I still hadn’t written a thing, I became incredibly discouraged and almost deleted absolutely everything. While I did accidentally delete EVERY BACKUP FILE FOR THIS SITE from my hard drive with no hope of getting it back, I did safely store everything I had concerning Project Firedamp on Google Docs for future use.

In the meantime, two new ideas came to me in recent weeks. And each of them are polar opposites of them. I know many authors dabble in multiple genres; but I’ve yet to complete one project. So my first writing goal for 2021 is to tackle my self doubt head on.

2. Set Aside Actual Writing Time

This goal will be a tricky one to work out. Why? My work schedule follows the trends and rules of the retail business. It’s never consistent. I can close one night only to go back in eight hours later and do it all over again the next morning. How the heck is someone like me supposed to find a logical time to write?

Even though I pride myself on being a chameleon of sorts when it comes to varying schedules, I often wish I could become a creature of predictable habits. The other thing I need to learn to balance is how much time I spend blogging. Blog posts β‰  a completed manuscript. (Except, according to the Insights page, I’ve so far written 59,949 words for anotherhartmanauthor.com). That’s practically a novel right there!

So this goal is two fold: set aside time for novel writing, and time for blog writing.

3. Go On Those Historical Adventures

Of course this goal will all depend on what reopens in 2021, but I still want to write for a day in the Library of Congress, stare at the heavens from a local observatory’s telescope, and take that steam train trip again on the Forth of July. I still want to return to Tennessee, go spelunking in a Pennsylvanian coal mine, and tour a sight that plays an integral role in my very first novel concept.

4. Finish. That. Manuscript.


Everybody I’ve talked with recently has said they look forward to 2021. And the feeling is quite mutual. I think four writing goals is a manageable, attainable list, don’t you? Seven was definitely far too many, especially for a year like 2020.

This website’s first series will begin Wednesday, February 3rd. I love doing these writing community interviews because, not only do they give me something to look forward to during the slow crawl to Spring, but I get to meet many new faces. So while the Five Question Interview series isn’t exactly a goal, it definitely will help my ever-present self doubt. Will you try something new for yourself in 2021?

What is it?

You don’t have to tell anyone.

Just do it!