It’s been quite a journey since I planted the seeds of SleepyHeadCENTRAL in Summer 2013. So much research and reading, the writing of the content and the continuing education that managing a sleep health clearinghouse requires, plus the mastery of blogging utilities, SEO strategies and consultations with gurus about social media, marketing and web design.
Meanwhile I was still working at a local sleep laboratory, putting my new RPSGT credential to use and studying for my boards for the Certificate in Clinical Sleep Health (CCSH) just nine short months later.
Last September 19, I took a deep breath, clicked the “Publish” key once I felt that the website content was complete enough to share with the world, and SHC became official.
Today is the 1-year anniversary of that launch.
By all indications, things are going well and I feel the mission is still on point. Traffic to the website is twice as high now as it was then. I’ve done some fun sleep-related giveaways. I’ve included guest posts from leaders in the field whenever they had time to share their expertise with SHC’s readers. Themes have ebbed and flowed according to seasonal interests. I published a newsletter that has since led to a weekly news curation that is extremely popular with readers, and SHC is proud to be actively participating in the sleep awareness effort, #Sleeptember. There have been product highlights, book reviews, interviews, news articles, features. We’ve talked about insomnia and nightmares, sleep apnea and narcolepsy. We’ve addressed the interests of pregnant women and the elderly, of shift workers and the chronically ill. We’ve pointed the spotlight on drowsy driving, sleep deprivation in the workplace, and the proven need for teenagers to start school later.
Yet, it still feels like there is so much more to do!
What’s in store for the future of SHC?
CURATION VS. CONTENT
SHC is moving toward a period of straightforward curation, as opposed to the production of original content. After all, the website is already jam-packed with content! But as you will discover below, there are other projects on the docket, and your fearless (or perhaps insane) curator has only 1 brain, 2 hands and 24 hours.
So… The weekly Sleep News feature will continue as a popular aspect of SHC that supports its mission as an information clearinghouse. I love this part of my job. It keeps me on the edge of what’s going on in the world of sleep health and readers get to follow right along with me.
For special sleep-related awareness events, SHC will participate in curating new content in various ways (#Sleeptember, for instance, involves daily sleep-related posts; November will bring a blast of Drowsy Driving Month posts; Narcolepsy Awareness happens in March, etc.).
The ABCs of Sleep series will continue, as will the occasional quotes and words of wisdom from scientists and cultural icons as they relate to sleep. If guest bloggers come knocking with great ideas, I’ll likely give them the space to post as well, and an occasional interview will turn up from time to time because it’s a format I enjoy producing for readers.
But for the most part, you can expect less original content, more content curation, as well as the usual website improvements and updates that any decent clearinghouse must accommodate to stay legitimate.
INTRODUCING SLEEP SHELF
Meanwhile, I will continue work on a 3-book project (a main book and two related workbooks) which I hope to publish by May 2016 as part of SHC’s new sleep health publication series, Sleep Shelf. Sleep Shelf will also eventually expand to include smaller publications you will be able to acquire through SHC’s future bookstore either as direct e-book downloads or print-on-demand.
ON THE ROAD… AND ON THE PAGE
As a speaker, educator and writer, I hope to move the spirit of SHC out into the world in the form of presentations,workshops and independent journalism. This will be where I prioritize my focus on original content. If I am scheduled to speak or teach a workshop, you will hear about it at SHC, and if I publish a sleep-related article, I will post a link at SHC so you can read it.
SHC = SLEEP HEALTH CONSULTING
Finally, I hope to move beyond the curator role and become a private consultant in 2016. The website you know and love will still be very much a part of that landscape and I can’t wait to see how my efforts in these other arenas will come to benefit SleepyHeadCENTRAL (and vice versa). But SHC is a “labor of love,” and as such, does not keep the lights on. Consulting will allow me the pleasure of working with individual clients, so important in an arena where relevance in critical; this way I can remain tuned into what matters most to you.
These are exciting, busy times, and I’m glad to be able to reflect on what the last year has brought for SHC and to consider what the future holds.
The best part about all of this: getting to meet SHC’s supporters in person, and hearing them tell me how much I have helped them to understand and prioritize their own sleep health or to help the ones they love.
Nobody succeeds alone. I spend a lot of alone time behind this laptop typing and reading and interacting, and sometimes my ideas come as a complete shot in the dark… but I hardly feel alone in these endeavors.
So many people have my back here at SHC that my work as curator, blogger, webmaster and sleep health activist definitely leaves me feeling like I’m working as part a group operation. Or a family business. Or a community. Whatever you want to call it, “it” is my privilege to serve SHC’s constituents and I can’t do it without the help of countless others.
That said, I am compelled to shout out my “A” list of supporters and sources of inspiration, who have really helped me by stoking my confidence, contributing to the website, networking regularly with and for SHC, sharing information and ideas for me to use, teaching and inspiring me, and getting the word out about SHC. Shout outs are in alphabetical order.