Guest post by Bryan Cohen
It was spring 2009 when my blog, Build Creative Writing Ideas, really started to take off. I’d been in a rough place the previous year productivity-wise, and the only thing that got me out of it was listening to and reading personal development and self-help books. I knew I wanted to be a full-time writer, but I couldn’t seem to get past my problematic writers block. I combined my two loves of self-help and writing by creating the personal development website for writers in December 2008. Six or seven months into the experiment, the site really started to take off.
There was just one problem. The few pages that were bringing in most of the traffic had little to nothing to do with my original theme. Most of my posts in the beginning were about my struggles with writers block and the ways to overcome them. I cribbed the ideas of writers like Stephen Covey and Earl Nightingale and transposed them over to the world of creative writing. I thought for sure that those pages would be the ones setting the internet ablaze. Instead, it was three pages of creative writing prompts that brought the traffic in.
I’d only made the pages in the first place because the phrase “creative writing prompts” was a great keyword. I’d written more than one page because they were way easier to put together than a full-fledged essay on personal development. The success of these pages pointed to an obvious next step. I needed to write more prompts.
But that wasn’t part of the plan. I was going to go through dozens of books and use the great tenets of personal development to solve the scourge of writers block once and for all. I almost regretted the success of these prompts pages because it took me off of the path I’d originally planned for my website.
It took too long, but I listened to the data and continued writing prompts page. I created more than 60 pages in the next year alone. The traffic on Build Creative Writing Ideas continued to go up. I gave the people what they wanted, and they kept coming back for more. Around that time, I stumbled upon the idea of self-publishing. A few months later, I bound together my prompts into a self-published book. Since that time, 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts: Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More became an Amazon best-seller and sold more than 20,000 copies.
If I had stuck with my original writing-prompts-free plan, I may have found a different path to success, but I’m glad I let myself take a left turn on my blog. My blog is almost completely dedicated to writing prompts now. I’ve done interviews and podcasts, spoken at writers conferences and penned over 30 self-published books in total. It all started with that left turn.
The moral of the story: If your blog traffic is taking you in an unexpected direction, go for it! You never know when the decision will show you a better path to achieving your blog’s intended goal.
So take that left turn; just make sure to put on your signal first.
About the Author
In honor of his new book, Cohen is hosting the “1,000 Prompts, 1,000 Dollars” Writing Contest on his website. Click the link to find out how to enter!
Bryan Cohen is an author, a creativity coach and an actor. His new book, 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts, Volume 2: More Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More is now available on Amazon in digital and paperback format. His other books include 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts, The Post-College Guide to Happiness, and Ted Saves the World. He has published over 30 books, which have sold more than 20,000 copies in total. Connect with him on his website, Build Creative Writing Ideas, on Facebook or on Twitter.