As someone who is generally not a fan of ‘new year, new me’ narratives, I’ve entered into January with an odd sense of gusto for newness. The Christmas holidays saw me taking stock of thoughts and ideas, and I’ve spent the early days of January easing myself back into desk-mode with a few updates that have been in the back of my mind for quite some time. The first of these – which you might have spotted if you’re a regular reader – is a change to the name of my website, from Wellies on the School Run to Gail Anthea Brown – which is my real name, of course. This small but significant change has been brewing for some time, mainly as a result of my shift in focus to ‘author’ – Gail Anthea Brown is the name I use for my novels, and increasingly, for all the writerly stuff I send into the world. In my personal life, I’m still Gail Brown, but as there are a lot of Gail Browns in the world I’m rather grateful for the middle name my parents bestowed on me (a link to my late uncle and godfather, Iain, whose middle name was Anthony, and whom I adored).
Naturally, it feels a little strange to leave behind the Wellies on the School Run moniker which has served me well since I started this blog in 2016, but times change – and so do people. Wellies on the School Run began as an ‘outdoorsy mum blogging about lifestyle and travel’, and while I still think of myself as an outdoorsy mother, my website no longer focuses on family and travel (my now-high school age children have no desire to be featured on the internet, and the experiences of the last few years have shifted my perspectives on travel to a more holistic view of place). And while I’m hesitant about the idea of personal branding, I also recognise my old blog name caused confusion for those trying to make the link between Gail Anthea Brown and Wellies on the School Run. I had already eased myself into the process of change last year by updating Gail Anthea Brown as my social media handle everywhere, but had held back on changing my blog name, mainly due to concerns over the numerous places (including my books) where my website was listed as welliesontheschoolrun.com. Thankfully, those concerns proved unfounded, and thanks to handy things called primary and secondary domains, anyone searching for Wellies on the School Run will be directed to gailantheabrown.com. I’ve also updated the website with new menus and information which I feel better reflect the things I write about – myself, my books, learning, place, and reading (click on each one to find out more). I’ve updated my featured posts, provided information on where to buy my books and find my writing, and listed my thoughts around sustainable travel and far north living. I hope all of this gives readers a better idea about me, my work, and the kinds of topics you’ll find here. I now view my website less as a blog, and more as a combined author/blogging website to showcase my writing and provide information on the work I do. You’ll find more on that here, along with contact details for anyone wishing to get in touch.
The other strand to all this, of course, is to make what I do a little more streamlined and professional. Stepping away from Wellies on the School Run also marks a shift in my own perspective – from writing as a hobby towards the small author business I’m trying to promote. I viewed writing as a hobby until I published my first book (and as much as writing is something I enjoy, my books are currently my only source of personal income). That shift from hobby to income stream has been challenging, and has often led me to understate my own value – and sometimes allow others to do so in a way which isn’t respectful of my time. Going forward, I hope to become more confident, both in terms of my own abilities and in fostering a sense of my value with external parties. I doubt that any of this will be easy or comfortable, but it’s necessary. Avoiding situations that are difficult and uncomfortable has sometimes led me to feeling resentful, undervalued and disillusioned, and that benefits no one – especially me.
Two things I also need to consider are my use of social media and the management of my email list for newsletter subscriptions. Although I enjoy social media as a means of making connections and forging friendships, I’ve also noticed that in large part, interest in my blog and social media doesn’t translate to interest in my books. My Facebook (which is mainly, but not exclusively, populated by a local audience) is the exception to this, and includes a core audience who seem to be engaged both with my books and my other writing. In contrast, Instagram, where I spend more of my social media time, generates much less interest in my books and my blog posts – meaning I might need to reconsider the amount of time I spend there (or otherwise, go back to looking at Instagram as a distraction, rather than a launch pad for my books). My email list also indicates a disparity of interest, which I noted during the launch of Pieces of Sky and Stone, when just a small percentage of subscribers clicked forward to the novel after my newsletter on its release earlier in the winter. All of this tells me I haven’t quite settled with an audience who want to delve further into my writing (and while everyone is of course welcome, naturally I’d like to see a little more crossover towards my books). Neither do I want to waste people’s time sending them information they just aren’t interested in (if you feel you fall into that category, please feel free to unsubscribe from my newsletters without any sense of judgement or discomfort). By being a bit clearer about who I am and what I do (as well as changing the wording around my website and pop-up subscriber links), I’m hoping to address some of these issues.
Hopefully, by now, you can see why the change from Wellies on the School Run to Gail Anthea Brown felt like a significant step.
And so, going forward, you can expect much of the same, and a little bit of different. My books (present and future), learning, place, and reading (from now on I will be focusing less on reading round-ups and instead peppering my posts with highlights of the books I’ve enjoyed).
Threaded through all of this will be the key theme that spans all of my writing, whether it be blogs, poems or novels – Caithness.
I hope you’ll stick around for the journey.
New year. New plans. New name.
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