State of the Zebra Pit 2019 with Poll

You may have noticed things have changed a bit at the Zebra Pit recently. Posts aren’t coming as often, there are fewer topics being covered and there are fewer posts arriving each day to our social media accounts. You might have also noticed I was very careful when framing what my future might look like when discussing goal setting in my New Year Resolutions post. I suppose it’s time I got official about telling my readers what’s going on.

2018 in Review

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First let’s talk a little about what’s behind us before we talk about what’s ahead to get some perspective. Last October, the Zebra Pit (or Disability Depot as it was first called) turned three. It’s been three years of sometimes difficult, but always enjoyable work. It started out as an outlet for me to express myself and share a little of what I was beginning to figure out worked to help me feel better and it evolved into what you see today. It’s grown with my cognitive abilities and I’m very proud to say I’m almost back to being the writer I was in 2003 before EDS, MCAS and POTS began to overwhelm my brain with inflammation and pharmaceuticals.

It wasn’t until 2018 that I really began to treat the Zebra Pit like a business and that was a mistake, but not really an avoidable one. I worked on it as much as my health allowed and 2018 was a great year for me despite emerging heart problems and the ramping up of my MCAS so that I’m reacting to hundreds of substances and triggers and have to wear a mask everywhere I go. In a way it was a blessing because now I know how to protect myself, even if the reactions are that much more severe. You can’t treat something you don’t know about.

I’ve pushed hard to try to make the Zebra Pit successful and I’m proud of what I accomplished. We grew exponentially in 2018:

yearly stats 2018
The Zebra Pit has seen more than 2.5 times growth per year.
month and years 2018
Monthly views, the end of 2018 was really heating up
annual site stats 2018
More posts, more words, greater push to get the word out via social media. It all added up.

I’m also incredibly proud of some of the articles I wrote last year. As I’ve mentioned, it’s been my best year yet for writing because my head symptoms are at an all-time low and I’m able to tackle the tough stuff with greater ease and communicate with more specificity.

These were our top 20 posts and pages for the year:

  1. man with fireworksUnderstanding Mast Cell Disorders
  2. Fascia Treatments for EDS and Fibromyalgia
  3. Are Most Spoonies Suffering from MCAD?
  4. Breanna Sprenger, My Hero!
  5. What PQQ Can Do For You
  6. NIH Releases FAQ on Hereditary Alpha Tryptasemia
  7. Medications & Supplements
  8. FDA Warns of Dangers of Epidural Spinal Injections
  9. MCAD: Medications and Treatments
  10. What is Interstitial Cystitis?
  11. Quercetin and MCADs
  12. AloeMD; Pain Relief + Healing
  13. FaceBlaster Beauty Results
  14. Wall Squats
  15. Low FODMAP Barbeque Sauce
  16. Tips for Exercising with EDS
  17. Recipes
  18. MCAS & Doctors Disbelieving Patients
  19. What is Gastroparesis
  20. MCADs and the Low Histamine Diet

What the Numbers Say

As you can see, we’ve done a fine job increasing our posts, our word count, and our reach, yet it’s still not enough. I started this blog because I needed it, not because I thought it would make money: However, I need to earn an income. While what I’ve done seems impressive on paper and I am very proud of it, it’s equal to $18 of earnings in advertising. Yes, I did all of this work over 3 years for $18. I’m lying, actually. It’s costed me more than that to maintain my blog, so I’m running at a loss, even if you count the few freebies I’ve managed to obtain by writing sponsored posts.

I’d love to turn this blog into a publishing empire, but the fact of the matter is so long as I write exclusively in the “Your money or your life” category, I will never be at the top of any search on Google and I will never get a fair shake on Facebook or Twitter. Because I am a patient advocate and not a licensed practitioner pushing pills as the solution to every ill, I will never rank high on any social media platform, search engine or collection site.

If I open a pharmacy or wellness shop to try to support my writing, more likely than not people will grow wary of my advice, assuming my work is nothing more than a tool for sales. I’d probably barely break even from the amount of advertising I’d have to do and fold in the first 6 months because I don’t have any start-up funds or savings. As things are right now, we can’t even cover our monthly expenses, so a trial run is simply out of the question.

No matter what angle I come at this from, there’s no way to win.

2019 and Beyond

20181231_212049
Capricious and her husband celebrating their first new year out in 14 years.

Though I know the Zebra Pit is a losing proposition financially and that’s come to matter to me a whole lot as my financial situation grows more untenable and my health less so, I’m not shutting it down. I never started this to turn it into a money-making enterprise, I started it to have an outlet for myself and as a way to help others. I plan to continue in that vein. Of course, now I have to balance it with the growing and changing needs of myself and my family. I’m looking for work, be it freelance or contract.

What this means is that I will be devoting much less time to the Zebra Pit. I won’t be pushing so hard to grow followers here and on social media. I won’t be writing 2-3 posts per week. I won’t be covering as many topics and I won’t be available to chat with my readers and followers the way I have in the past to answer your health questions, commiserate or just enjoy each other’s company and the knowledge that we each get the others struggle. I will always answer your questions and comments on the blog, though.

While searching, I’m doing my best to still post one original work per week and reshare at least one post per day on each social media channel. I’m also trying to keep my pinterest and YouTube channels (which of course has finally decided to take off) going. It’s a lot when doing all of one’s own cooking from scratch, making animal food, working out, fasciablasting, job hunting, self-care, other chronic illness management and still making it to 1-3 medical appointments every week. I sometimes wonder where I’ll get the time to actually work, but time I will have to make.

Yes, this leaves the future of the Zebra Pit in a precarious state, but we all have to make our own choices and do what’s right for us in the long run. And even if I do end up walking away entirely at some point, the site will still be here to guide other trifecta zebras through the process of healing and recovering their own lives so they too can move on to working and living life to the fullest again.

Help Shape Content for The Zebra Pit

blackboard chalk chalkboard classroom

Since my time is limited, I wanted to ask my readers what topics are most important to you? You could help to shape the content for the Zebra Pit moving forward by answering the questions below:

Your answers are greatly appreciated. Feel free to expand on your thoughts in the comments. Your answers and comments will help shape future content. Thank you for taking the time to answer!

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15 thoughts on “State of the Zebra Pit 2019 with Poll

  1. You should be so proud of your accomplishments with your blog! As Caz said, I think there are only a small percentage of bloggers who actually make enough money to live on off of their blog, and honestly, I think it’s more a matter of them developing and selling courses related to their blogging niche than from their actual blog. Wishing you all the best as you move forward with freelance work.

    As far as not posting as often, you need to do what works for you. We’ll still be here whether you post once a week, once a month, whatever schedule you want.

    I’m not seeing the poll, so I wasn’t able to take it, but I feel whatever information you provide, as proven by your past posts, can be helpful across whatever conditions we may be dealing with.

    Blessings to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Terri, thanks so much for your input and encouragement. Yes, it is often the development of courses that help bring in money and while I have teaching experience and all, I’m not sure it’s a rabbit hole I want to tunnel down. I wonder why the poll isn’t showing up for you. Technology! Grrr! Thanks for providing feedback in spite of it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Firstly, I think you should be very proud of everything you’d achieved with the Zebra Pit! Managing anything like this alongside ill health is challenging at the best of times. Making enough money from blogging to have it as a partial/full income is something I think only a small percentage manage, though like you I’m in a difficult position with money and ideally need to look for something from home/freelance. I’ve completed the polls, those are a great idea (they look really neat too, not sure how you did them but whatever widget I used before when I tried polls on my blog looked awful!)
    I think that your plans for going forward seem logical, and you should only do what you can here; readers will still be here, whether you post as often or not. This is your baby, your choices. But I’m glad you’re keeping it going. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself 🙂
    Caz xxxx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much, Caz. Your support and understanding are greatly appreciated. I know a lot of other bloggers feel the same pressures and pains. Good luck in your own search. The poll I used is a wordpress/polldaddy freebie you should be able to find by going to your platform, scrolling to the bottom and choosing Admin —>feedback—>polls. If you don’t find it from that description, just drop me an email and I’ll send you screenshots. Always happy to share knowledge and it was super easy!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aw that’s very kind of you to point me in the right direction of that one, thank you! I do wish you all the best with looking for a financially viable alternative in terms of income. Have you had much luck in your search for freelance/contract work, any type of area that you find interesting/doable? xxxx

        Like

        1. I haven’t gotten to actually searching much out yet. Mostly dusting off the resume, updating LinkedIn and getting my site set up. I’m happy doing any kind of writing, really. I’ll do tech writing or doc management or whatever. I’d entertain just about any kind of work I can do, though.

          Like

  3. My “other” is hypermobility spectrum disorder (HSD). I fit the criteria for JHS, but I wasn’t officially diagnosed before they changed the diagnostic criteria for hEDS, and I don’t meet the new requirements.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It didn’t take my answers, but in addition to the usual trifecta, migraines, GI and like everything on that list, I’ll vote I have ADHD and PTSD. Even the Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Society is now talking about how zebras are more likely to have ADHD, so I guess that should be a poll option now alongside everything else commonly comorbid…

    Liked by 1 person

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