5-Year Blog Anniversary

Today marks the 5-year anniversary of Scribes & Archers! 5 years ago today I got serious with my blog, rebranded everything, and set up an official schedule. The rest, as they say, is history. Today we’re going to delve into some of that history and look at what the next five years may hold, plus there will be a giveaway and I’ll open the floor to questions in the comments! Stick around to participate in all the fun. :)

*Links with an asterisk are affiliate links, meaning purchases made through them earn me a small commission at no extra cost to you

The Story So Far

The history of this blog really extends back further than five years, because I started blogging all the way back in 2014. I was inspired by my mom’s blog, and my little “Alpine Writer” blog started out as a random blend of reviews, “lifestyle” posts, and gradually more and more writing-related posts. I was eleven, after all. Come to think of it, my blog started right around the same time I was realizing writing was what I wanted to do long-term… as opposed to spy work, lol. So this site has, in some version or another, been around for nearly all of the most critical points in my writing journey.

The purpose of Alpine Writer was really more to provide an outlet for my thoughts than anything else, though I did begin to imitate some of the author bloggers I followed and some of my posts were also helpful—or as helpful as the writing advice of a 12-year-old can be, lol.

That was the “for fun” stage of both my blog and my writing. I just wrote… and wrote… and wrote… and wrote… I was exploring. I think this stage is super important, which is why one of my greatest tips for new writers is to ignore writing advice and outside pressure for a while to just write and explore instead. Advice is important and pressure can be helpful later, but it’s critical to enjoy the exploration stage first and find out where your strengths lie and what you truly enjoy to write. I played around with a lot of different things in those years, some of which I should probably bring back and some of which can stay in the past, lol.

In 2017, my attitude changed. I’d been reading blogs and following authors online for a while. I was trying to publish a novel (which was an ill-advised prospect at the time, but I digress). I knew I wanted to get serious about my blog and start building a real platform. So I rebranded and became Scribes & Archers. I set up a schedule (a rather intense schedule, lol). I started making pinnable images for my blog posts so I could leverage Pinterest to get people to read my posts. I did a lot of things wrong, but I also did a lot of things that laid the foundation for where I am now.

2017 is also when I started to understand my love of worldbuilding! I’d been worldbuilding ever since I started writing, really, but it had all come very instinctively and I hadn’t really thought about it. I hadn’t made the connection that fictional worlds were one of the biggest lures I had toward writing. I had just set characters loose to explore and built worlds as I went. But in 2016 I read Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne* and was inspired to actively and intentionally build a world, so in 2017 that’s what I did and I chronicled the process and the lessons learned as I went.

Mid-2018 was when I finally started finding ways to build worlds that reflected my interests. “Worldbuilding Based on Ancient History” is one of the earliest examples, if not the earliest example, of a post from that angle! It was written shortly after I started developing Kersir, which would soon develop to house Calligraphy Guild!

Before Calligraphy Guild there were The Mirror-Hunter Chronicles, and Scribes & Archers was a big part of promoting that book. I ran my first blog tour for TM-HC, reached out to more famous authors even though it scared me, did character interviews, and shared some of my favorite fairytale retellings. That was pretty much the last book I published before discovering that it helps to have some sort of common ground among published works, lol. But while TM-HC is pretty far outside of anything else I’ve written (besides maybe Lost Girl), it was fun to write and it was my first serious foray into the full self-publishing process.

Throughout 2019, I honed in on worldbuilding more seriously. I redid my worldbuilding series from 2017, adding depth, more direct advice, and new insights I was learning from building Kersir. I still hadn’t quite hit the sweet spot and found my unique strength in writing about worldbuilding, but I was definitely moving in the right direction.

Calligraphy Guild showed up later that year, out of nowhere, and I immediately fell in love with it. The idea showed up in August (a lot of big changes seem to crop up in August for me) and I couldn’t wait until November to start writing. The first draft was done before November was over. Calligraphy Guild consumed my writing attention for the three years following, which I think contributed to my better understanding of why I loved worldbuilding and how I could write about it more specifically, even though it wasn’t until 2020 that I finally pinpointed “WORLDVIEW!” and started consciously recognizing the power of worlds that reflect the author’s interests and worldview. And now look where we are. ;)

2020 was the year that I found my passion not only in writing for authors (about utilizing their worldview in their writing), but also for other readers (exploring the idea of Christian fiction, discussing the benefits of reading particular things, etc.). Really all of it boils down to worldview, whether it’s a discussion of writing from a worldview or reading based on a worldview. Which is really cool because that’s a lot of what my mom blogs about in a more general real-life context, so I guess I’ve come full circle in a sense.

Finding my spot enabled me to compile what I’d learned about building worlds I actually love, that feel purposeful, into a course to share with other authors last year! The Worldbuilding Toolbox seemed like a natural next step in helping other authors have the lightbulb moment I’d had.

Scribes & Archers was critical with my release of Calligraphy Guild in June, as I posted related book reviews, ran a blog tour, wrote about relevant worldview and worldbuilding concepts, etc. PLUS it pushed me to set up my site shop, which lets me ship books directly to U.S. readers with an added personal touch. ^-^

That’s sort of Scribes & Archers’ history in a nutshell, but that doesn’t even cover the role of short stories, or the story of why I became an editor (and how much I love it!), or all the false starts I had before I finally got a novel published… God has given me a long, eventful story thus far, and it’s been a huge blessing to be able to do what I do, all from this home base that started as an online journal for my 11-year-old self.

What’s Next?

I have no idea what’s in store for the next five years; that’s for God to reveal as time goes on. But I do have hopes and tentative plans.

My primary goal is to help more authors and readers, through blog posts, book reviews, my editing services, my course, my books (hopefully a new nonfiction book and at least one new fiction book within the next five years, too!), collaborations with more authors and bloggers… anything I (or you!) can think of. I love to engage with readers and authors, to encourage them and equip them to write and read with confidence, and I want to focus on building stronger relationships as I move forward. I have a lot of surface-level contacts at the moment, and I want to be more intentional about investing in people and supporting their work in whatever ways I can.

I also want to do some more experimenting, because it’s been a few years of intentional focus on just one or two things and sometimes the sense of fun that I used to have in my blogging gets lost in the seriousness. Being serious is important, but fun is also a big part of keeping things going and making sure it doesn’t get too dull for y’all, either, so I want to work on a more intentional balance.

I hope you’ll join me as the adventure continues! If you want to be closer to the action, my mailing list and Discord server are good places to be. And I’m always open to questions, suggestions, and requests in the comments section if there are things you want to know or topics you’d like me to cover or people you think I’d collaborate well with or whatever the case may be!

But I promised a giveaway, didn’t I? I’m giving away copies of all of my books (paperback for a U.S. winner or ebooks for an international winner), a Calligraphy Guild themed candle and tea (for a U.S. winner only), four Calligraphy Guild themed bookmarks (two of which were painted by my sister), and a character art print of Tora. There will be only one winner, the prize just varies slightly depending on whether they’re in the U.S. or from out-of-country. (Unfortunately. If I could afford the international shipping, I would send the full prize either way in a heartbeat.)

You can enter below!

ETA: Congratulations to Grace Johnson!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you for following along with my journey. I hope it’s been an encouragement to you, and that it continues to be, and I hope you’ll stick around a while!

35 thoughts on “5-Year Blog Anniversary

  1. HAPPY BLOGAVERSARY!!! This was SO fun to read, and it’s amazing to see how you’ve grown and changed over the last few years!! Now, I must know…does your original blog still exist in the deep, dark recesses of the Internet??? AND, if you were in charge of your future, where would you wanna be in the next five years?

    1. Thank you!

      I checked the Wayback Machine to find out, but the earliest it captured was 2017. So nope; the earliest you can go is still post-redesign, lol.

      I would want to be married. I’m trying not to hold onto my timeline for that since for years I wanted to be married at 20 and I’m still as single as single gets, so… XD But I would really like to get married in that time, if God brings the right guy around. Business-wise I’d like to make a consistent full-time income from my writing-related work by the time I’m 25, I’d like to publish at least two more books, it would be super cool to turn Calligraphy Guild into a manga, and I want to do a lot more collaboration projects. And I want to finally get to RealmMakers!

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Happy Blogiversary! I’ve been reading your blog since 2019, and I think you’ve done amazing! :D

    Wow, it was so cool to read about your blogging and writing adventure.
    And I must say, world building is so much fun! I can get carried away with it lol
    Also, you make a good point about one’s world view showing through our writing. We must learn to use it in order to teach people biblical principles. Also, I’ve found that adding your world view really strengthens the flavor of your writing style.
    In one of the comments above that you’d like to make Calligraphy Guild into a manga (graphic novel), how do you plan on going about that? I love teh idea of turning one’s work into a graphic novel which is something I want to do myself in future (the joys of being and artist and writer am I right lol).
    A TOAST!!! To another five-hundred years of Scribes & Archers!!!

    1. Thank you!

      Yes! I fully agree. God gave you your exact experiences to shape your exact worldview, it’s uniquely yours, and no one else can write from the same perspective you can. Your worldview is an inherent strength in finding your writing style, but one I think authors tend to overlook.

      I’m not totally sure yet! I think it would be an indie project, because I love working with artists directly, so I’d want to find an artist who would be willing to adapt it and then probably crowdfund the project through Kickstarter. I’ve actually thought it might be fun to do something more along the lines of a webcomic where I could hire someone to create a soundtrack for it as well, or maybe to do both and have both digital and print versions. But there are still technical details I would need to work out, like figuring out how royalties would get distributed among the contributors and things like that. It’s definitely still a young idea. XD

      (P.S. I got your additional note. :) )

      1. Wow, that all sounds really cool! Once you figure that stuff out you should definitely post about it. There are lots of people who’d like to see that side of the book to graphic novel biz!
        (P.S. Thanks;))

  4. Congratulations and happy blogiversary!!! That’s so cool how you’ve been blogging consistently for so long!

    I do have a couple of questions about your editing services.. Did you always like editing things? What editing qualifications do you have? How did you get it all started? (I am really interested in the editing side of things and hope to be an editor someday.)

    1. Thank you!

      Ooh, good questions! I think I’ve always liked critiquing things. I started beta-reading a long while back, which I enjoyed. I know I’ve always loved opportunities to encourage authors and help them strengthen their stories wherever I can! Over the years, with more beta-reading experience and more regular reading experience with indie books, I figured out that I really love line-editing. I love to tweak prose so that it’s stronger and conveys its meaning even better. I love catching small inconsistencies. I love just taking what’s there and smoothing it out so that it’s at its most effective and the reader doesn’t trip over it. And I enjoy proofreading for somewhat similar reasons, and because I’m really good at catching those detail mistakes in someone else’s work. So I always liked editing to some degree, and the more I figured out what I was good at and where my passion lay the more I liked it!
      I don’t have any official qualifications. I do plan to go through a certificate program at some point, and I think it’s a really good idea to have some sort of feedback from someone who knows their stuff before you get started. Both of my parents are editors in some capacity, so they could tell me when I was really good enough to edit for other authors. A certificate program is good because it will not only put a rubber stamp on your skills, but refresh any knowledge you might be missing without realizing it. (For the same reason, it’s really helpful to keep something like the Chicago Manual of Style on hand so you can double-check things if you’re not sure about them.)
      As for getting started, my first step was editing a handful of projects in exchange for testimonials. Especially if you *don’t* do something like a certificate program (or a whole course/degree, for that matter), it helps to have some honest reviews upfront so prospective customers know what to expect. If I recall correctly, I edited two short stories, a novella, and two novels before getting started. I have testimonials from four of those. Working on projects like I would have worked on paid projects also helped me figure out some weak spots, like my turnaround time. And you’ll learn other lessons as you go, like “Always double-check that the right document went through” and “Keep an email template to work from when you send a project back so you don’t get *so* carried away with excitement over the book that you forget to mention the closing payment.” (I learned those from experience so you don’t have to. XD) But anyway, after the testimonial projects I set up my site page, decided my prices based on the low end of some estimates I looked up, and figured out how to use PayPal invoices to simplify the payment process. And that’s basically how it’s worked ever since, though I’ve made tweaks and adjustments (especially to the payment system) a handful of times as I’ve learned what works better for people and what my work is actually worth and things like that. I really just jumped in feet-first and learned a lot from experience. XD

      1. Wow, thanks so much for the thoughtful answers! I hope I’m not bothering you…but now I have some more questions. :D

        So, how did you find books to beta-read? Did you have a beta-reading team or did someone just ask you?

        Also, how do you persevere with the editing projects? I have been editing my friend’s book for almost a year now and I’m still only 3/4 of the way through. Life and other projects keep getting in the way, and sometimes I just feel like giving up (especially because I know I’m going to need to go over the whole thing again because I’ve learned a lot more about editing since then).

        1. You’re not bothering me! I’m happy to help! ^-^

          I was in a writing group for several years where writers would occasionally ask for beta-readers for XYZ project and I would volunteer. I beta-read a number of books, only some of which I actually finished. When you’re starting out, it is easy to procrastinate on projects or drop them altogether (something I learned not to do particularly while working on my testimonial projects). Partially it’s just a matter of prioritization. If you really want to do this and you want to return on the investment the author has put into you—especially once they’re paying you—you have to decide to set aside time to do it. The first step is to just make that decision and say “I’m going to get this done by the deadline.”
          But there are other things that help. Knowing how long a chapter normally takes you and/or knowing how much time you can set aside for editing in a given day is a good step, because that allows you to space out your work realistically. From there you can set yourself a deadline. I know that it usually takes me about 15-30 minutes to edit a chapter (depending on the book/length of the chapters) and I can dedicate about 1-2 hours to editing before I need to work on something else. This means I can generally edit a full-length novel within a month, if the average chapter count is around 40 chapters, and I don’t normally have to do more than two chapters a day, which also leaves me buffer space if I’ve procrastinated even for a few days in a row. Knowing how much time it takes and setting aside that time are really the most crucial points. I’m generally energized enough from editing that the excitement of getting to work with an author on their book helps to keep me going, but when a project takes more energy than it returns or when I’m just having an off day I have to rely on the discipline of “Okay, I can survive two chapters today.”
          It’s also really important if something comes up or it’s just been a rough season and you *can’t* meet the deadline to communicate with the author you’re working with. Make sure they know there’s going to be a delay, and give them a new deadline to expect from you. That’s another thing I learned from testimonial projects, one of which I communicated well on and one of which I didn’t communicate about at all. Communication and honesty are super important. People understand delays, as long as you’re clear about them.
          It is tough when you know your editing skill has improved. Sometimes you just have to let that go and know you did your best with XYZ project but you can also do better with projects moving forward. It sounds like you have a patient friend, though, so this might be the perfect chance for you to practice managing an editing project! It might be a good opportunity for you to stop where you’re at, tell the author you’re going to start from the top, and track your time from the beginning. Set a sample deadline and see if it works. Choose a specific time of day to work, if that helps. Track how long it takes you to edit a chapter. Then you can kill two birds with one stone, improving your editing of the project and experimenting with tools for managing future projects.

          1. Great insights, Ariel! I have two quick questions when it comes to editing. How do you do your editing payments now? And what made you choose a per-page rate instead of a per-word rate? Thanks!

          2. I still use PayPal invoicing. The payment adjustments were in regard to my pricing, which I’ve adjusted a couple of times as I’ve learned better what types of edits I do best and how much investment each type requires from me. I don’t actually remember why I chose per-page instead of per-word. I know it was an intentional decision based on the research I did when I was starting out, but I don’t remember what specific factors went into it. It is a bit simpler for me, though, and usually more affordable for authors (which is something that’s important to me since I work mostly with young indie authors and I know firsthand how challenging it can be to afford a quality editor).

          3. (Sorry for the late reply!)

            Okay, this is super super helpful. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with me!! I’m definitely going to save this…

  5. What would you say is the most important thing you’ve learned through blogging? And what tips would you give bloggers who haven’t had as much experience as you have?

    1. Ooh, good questions. The most important thing I’ve learned is probably how to stick with something. I’ve learned a lot through blogging, so it’s tough to pick just one thing, lol. But it’s definitely helped me learn to be more consistent and really commit to a project, and all of the skills that are involved in doing that effectively.
      I have a number of blogging tips, as well, lol. I could write a whole blog post, really (and in fact I do have a blog post that answers some questions I’ve seen younger bloggers ask, and I have plans for a part two). But I think one of the most important things is to experiment and find the blogging style that works best for you. Find a schedule that you can maintain without burning out. Blog about topics you’re passionate about and enjoy. Lean into the parts of blogging that you enjoy and learn how to get the rest done effectively without pulling your hair out. Each blogging experience is going to be different, so don’t try to model your blogging plan too closely after someone else’s or you’re going to have problems.
      Another important thing is to engage with other bloggers and readers! There are so many awesome people in the blogging world, and so many relationship opportunities, so try to take those opportunities and actively invest in relationships! Comment on other blogs, respond to comments on your own blog, reach out with collaboration ideas, share blogs and posts you appreciate, link back to them from your own posts… There are so many ways to engage with others to support their work and encourage them and share helpful knowledge with them, and that’s actually one of my favorite things about being a blogger.

    1. I go back and forth, lol. Sometimes I’m really invested in blogging and my book-writing feels like more of a hassle; sometimes it’s the reverse. Sometimes, of course, they’re both really fun or both difficult to find motivation for. Right now book-writing is coming a bit more easily, but that could change at any moment. XD

  6. Happy blogoversary, Ariel!! So fun to get to hear about the history of Scribes & Archers! And I totally agree that allowing yourself to just explore and experiment in the beginning is so important for finding your writing voice and “niche.” I can’t wait to see where S&A is in the next five years–your blog has been such a blessing to me!

    1. I’m so glad it’s been a blessing! Thank you, not only for the well-wishes but also for everything you’ve done to help bring S&A and my overall business to the place they are now! Your VA work, beta-reading/beta-testing, reviews, and interviews have been invaluable. 💛

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