A while back I received a lovely email from two ladies (see below). I was thrilled to see the photo they included of themselves reading the first edition of my book and to read about how my work had inspired them to start a blog of their own. So I asked them to answer some questions and send them back so I could feature them here. Read on to discover how their blog-to-book…or book-to-blog…journey unfolded.
When I ended up living a few blocks from my long-time friend, Pam Mangene, almost two years ago in a 55+ active adult community in Southwest Florida I had no idea we would write a book and start a blog. But we did.
We’d known each other since 1974 when we met in Dallas, Texas, with two toddlers and one husband each. After several Texas years, our journeys led us separately to New Hampshire, California, Oregon, Colorado, England, the Netherlands, and Florida.
During the past 43 years, we’ve kept close contact with each other and shared family stories, vacations, ideals, career strategies, and philosophical brainstorming sessions. During that time, we’ve completed our respective college degree programs and achieved success in our separate careers. Simultaneously we’ve shared adventures, sorrows, and successes in various cities, states, and countries.
Our mantras have always been “positive living and positive aging.” We foster a “can do” attitude and can live happily in “big” or “small.” Now that we live immersed in our aging demographic group, 55+, and just a few blocks from each other, we knew it was time to join forces and write a guide that integrated our various experiences.
The Initial Book: Baby Boomers Non-Financial Guide to Retirement…50 Tips to Freedom.
We agreed that each of us would list 50 positive aging retirement tips and then merge the lists together to solidify 50 strong tips. We divided those fifty tips into the initial 8 chapters. We created a format for the chapters and then assigned each chapter task to one of us.
By the end of the first year, we had a workable 222 page interactive workbook with eight chapters that would take the reader through a series of exercises and end up with a Non-Financial Retirement Guide tailored to their specific desires. After editing, grammar and spell checking, and formatting uniformly, we were ready for the submission process.We researched query letters and proposal requirements, selected 18 nonfiction publishers and eagerly mailed out our packages.
The Query Responses
We received responses from most of our submissions. Each said we needed a “platform” that included a blog and social media.
No problem.We decided to tackle starting a blog. That was when we researched and found Nina Amir’s How to Blog Book. We each bought a copy and devoured the contents. Taking the recommendations found in that book, we created a blog using. Taking the recommendations found in that book, we created a blog using webhostinghub.com and WordPress.
Let me say here that Pam is partially retired and still teaches college English courses online, and I am a retired marketing director and sr. vice president. Both of our careers involved our specific demographic and interactions with this particular group. But learning to create a website and blog were entirely new activities for us.
Additionally, my son sent us a link for Michael Hyatt’s Platform. We each bought Michaels’ book and internalized that information as well.
Richlyaged.com is Born
September 16, 2016, we launched our first blog post on our site, Richlyaged.com. We began by referencing our completed book but created new blog posts concerning our targeted market, those 50 +. Our market includes 76 million Baby Boomers but isn’t limited to that age group. We’ve found that children of Boomers are interested because of their parents and pre-Baby Boomers are included in this active adult age group.
As time passed, we realized that the length of the posts we typically wrote and published were around 650 words. If we divided our 32,000-word book by that number, we came up with roughly 50 blog-post-length chapters for our newly formatted book. We recognized that our sentences were too long in the original book and not bulleted, or numbered and broken up enough to retain readership. We wanted the information to be easily scanned including images and links to pertinent and current articles. At that time, we decided to basically rewrite our book and use a more succinct style of writing. The workbook format gave way to suggesting that each reader used a personal journal or notebook to complete their homework/exercises assignments. Ultimately each reader’s journal is used to create an individual personal retirement plan.
However, we recognized that our sentences were too long in the original book and didn’t include bullets or numbered lists. Nor were they broken up enough to retain readership. We wanted the information to be easily scanned and to include images and links to pertinent and current articles. At that time, we decided to basically rewrite our book and use a more succinct style of writing. The workbook format gave way to suggesting that each reader used a personal journal or notebook to complete their homework/exercises assignments. Ultimately each reader’s journal is used to create an individual personal retirement plan.
At that time, we decided to rewrite our book and use a more succinct style of writing. The workbook format gave way to a suggestion that each reader use a personal journal or notebook to complete their homework/exercises assignments. Ultimately each reader’s journal is used to create an individual personal retirement plan.
Our Newly Designed Baby Boomers Guide to Happy Retirement…Positive tips to Freedom
Our eight-chapter book turned into 60 chapters and included more relevant information as newer and more relevant topics became available. To date, we have posted 1/3 of our book but continue to add more information as we go along.
An interesting Point about our Book Cover
The sculpture below by Zenos Frudakis in Philadelphia, entitled “Freedom,” exemplified being retired from work. Mr. Frudakis gave us permission to us his work as a cover for our book
We started a focus group series that involves several members of our community in a format that covers six standard questions and includes their perspectives on retirement, both the good and the not as good. This method provides a formalized form of primary research, which includes groups of retirees not necessarily acquainted or alike in age or experience. Every conversation we have adds to our research as well as our own career experiences as activity director with senior groups and career research on this particular segment of the population. Add to that base knowledge, we actually
Every conversation we have adds to our research. Plus, our own career experiences, such as activity director with senior groups, and career research on this particular segment of the population add to that base knowledge. But we are our targeted demographic.
Fine Tuning the Blog
We have a list of “to-do” tasks to continue improving and honing our craft. As two retirees, we have limited funds to “feather” our blog. We are leaning heavily on our 69 and 73 years’ experience for research capabilities, gut instincts, and tenacity. Future challenges include tapping the social media scene, mastering the Google search console and analytics, writing more guests posts, and monetizing our blog.
In summary, we would suggest that if your intent is to blog a book, our experience points to starting the blog first and securing social media second. Then blog your book.
Be very careful though. Many writers have created a huge market selling products to newbie bloggers and writers more for profit than a pay-it-forward’ attitude. We can honestly say that Nina Amir, Michael Hyatt, and Jennifer Banks Brown (penandprosper.blogspot.com/) have been helpful and generous in their quest to share helpful information.
Our journey to becoming published is not over. We’re still blogging our book and plan to finish in August. Then, we’ll turn back to the process of getting it published.
About the Author
Dixie Shaw worked in the marketing industry for a total of 26 year prior to retirement. She also ran her own marketing consulting firm, Advanced Marketing Processes, and she has vast experience creating and writing marketing brochures, press releases, interviews, newsletters, radio and TV commercials, and branding materials including logo design, event planning, demographic and strategic marketing plans and campaigns, budget planning and marketing. She is the co-founder of the Richlyaged.com website and blog and the co-author of the forthcoming book, Baby Boomers Guide to Happy Retirement…Positive tips to Freedom. Her partner is Pam Mangene. You can read a good bit of the book on the blog.
Photo credit: rawpixel/123RF.com. Amazon links contain my affiliate code.