When I started this blog, I was certain that I would not pigeonhole myself into a ‘niche.’ I am complicated person with many varied interests and I wanted that to be reflected in my writing.
But current wisdom says your blog should have a niche. I’m really struggling with this – because I get a lot of enjoyment writing for this blog. However, I am also trying to make a go of a business venture with this blog, so I’m wondering how that’s going to work out for me, or if it will work out at all.
I think the thought process is that people want to read bloggers who are ‘experts’ on something and also ‘authentic.’ Which I get, because I look for those things, too.
But does that mean someone is only worth listening to or reading if they are an ‘expert’ at something? And who decides whether someone is an expert? I mean, if you look at ‘experts’ who appear in court, you can find ‘experts’ who say contradictory things. So who is right? And who is the real expert? Can you only be an expert if you only blog/talk about one particular topic?
Does talking/blogging about other topics outside of your niche mean you are no longer an expert on the other topic? Is this need for a niche because of our innate need to label/categorize everything? What about the issue of authenticity? Can I only be authentic if I have a niche?
Clearly, I have a lot of questions, so I’m hoping you all have a lot of answers. 😀
One of the things that is always stressed to bloggers is to write ‘evergreen’ content – content that is generally ‘timeless’ and generally useful, in order to keep traffic coming to your blog.
It does work, and I strive to write some of that ‘evergreen’ content on my own blog. However, I recently came across an issue with this ‘evergreen’ content that I hadn’t encountered before.
I was reading a thoughtfully written post, and I wanted to comment on some of the things that were written because I had some personal experience with the topic. The post was new, just posted that day, and it already had hundreds of comments and likes. Great! The blogger must be doing a good job, and I was excited to post something into what seemed like a busy community on the blog.
So I was confused when I scrolled down to comment and discovered that the comments were over a year old.
Why would I want to comment on a post that was written over a year ago? I mean, I could just leave a comment, but for me, the point of commenting is to try and build a community and interact with them. On a post that’s over a year old, who’s still paying attention? In today’s social media/instant gratification world, I have my doubts that anyone would be.
It got me thinking. While I want that ‘evergreen’ content to keep people finding and returning to my blog, I don’t want my readers to feel like I did after my experience.
I felt – tricked. If I had known from the beginning that I was reading an old post, I would likely still have read it and perhaps returned to read other things, knowing that I might find some new gems from this blogger.
But since it appeared the post was freshly published, it seemed a bit shady to republish something a year old and make it look like a new post. If the blogger wanted to re-post it, why not just add a blurb at the beginning about it being an older post? Or write a new post that links back to the old content?
I know a lot of bloggers share older content on social media and I think that’s fine, as it generally is apparent once you go to the post that it is older content. But again, the way this post was handled, I ended up feeling tricked and unfollowed the blog because of it. Maybe it’s just my background in education, but not having a date on content is a pet peeve of mine. If I’m looking something up, many times the information is time-dependent. For instance, if I want to look up a comparison between Verizon and Sprint, a post about that from 3 years ago is probably no longer relevant today.
The whole situation just left a bad taste in my mouth and I wondered how other bloggers handled this issue. How do you feel about this? Do you re-post old content as if it’s new? If so, have you ever gotten a bad reaction from a reader?
I did a blog post about the 5 things I hate about blogging, so I thought I should follow it up with a post with 5 things I love about blogging. I’m not a masochist, so there must be things I like about it, or I wouldn’t keep doing it. I’ve been blogging off and on since, well, probably since around 2000. (That was just, like, two years ago, right?) So, what is it about blogging that keeps me coming back?
#1 – Writing
I love writing. It’s something in my life that I’ve been told I’m good at. That’s debatable, but whether I’m any good at it or not, I love doing it. And that’s what counts, right? I love taking all the jumbled up thoughts in my head and getting them down on the page. I do most of my writing on the computer these days, but sometimes I like to kick it old school and sit down with a pen and paper and just write.
I’d love to write a book someday. (All writers/bloggers say that, don’t they?) I think the problem has been that the book people tell me I should write isn’t a book I want to write. I’m still trying to figure out what kind of book I would like to write. Which is probably why I haven’t written it yet.
In any event, blogging lets me empty my head onto the page. Then I have room for more thoughts – and so on and so forth. Plus, it’s good practice. What’s that old adage about practice? You have to practice something for 10,000 hours to be a master at it? I’m not sure even 10,000 hours is enough to master writing, but blogging does let me at least get some of that practice in. (Even if it still doesn’t keep me from ending sentences with a preposition!)
#2 – Community
Blogging lets me find other people who are interested in the same things I am, without having to put myself in awkward social situations. And if I’m in them, they’re generally awkward. 😛
We’re all searching for our ‘tribe’ – for me, that’s not people who have the same views and ideals I do. I mean, those people are great, but I also like interacting with people who have different views and having deep philosophical discussions about why they have the views they do. I hate small talk and chit-chat, but I love being able to have long, drawn-out, deep conversations with people.
One of the other appeals about blogging is that it allows me to reach people I would never be able to in real life. I live in a rural area in a small town, and so being able to find people all over the world through blogging who share my interests is amazing.
#3 – Learning
I am a lifelong learner – I love to learn. I am one of those people who loved school. I’d be a perpetual student if I could afford the tuition. Blogging lets me explore all kinds of things I would never have been able to otherwise.
In the years I’ve been blogging, I’ve learned about SEO, marketing, technology, and a whole host of other things I would never even have been exposed to otherwise. I tell my husband I’ve learned just enough to be dangerous – a running joke, because I have by no means learned all the things I could or should about those things.
Every day is a new adventure in blogging, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
#4 – Being Creative
Everyone talks about “finding your passion” and “architecting your best life.” I don’t like either one of those expressions. Finding your passion and making a living at your passion are two completely different things. Some of us are lucky enough to find a job/career that lets us do both, but most of us don’t. Blogging is a passion because it feeds my soul in a way nothing else does. That’s why I keep coming back to it – because being creative – whether with my writing or something else – feeds my soul and keeps me happy. I’ll probably never make a living with my writing, and that’s okay.
As for “architecting my best life,” I think that’s a load of bull. We only get one life. So by definition, it is both your worst and your best, because it’s the only one you get. I do the best I can, and I think that’s all you can ask of anyone. Blogging is part of my ‘best life,’ because it helps me be a better and more rounded person.
#5 – Stats
I know I said in the previous post that I hate stats, and I do. I have a love/hate relationship with them. Because if my stats show growth, I love them. But if they don’t, I hate them. It’s like having someone constantly judging you and that is exhausting. No one can be ‘on’ all the time – it’s not humanly possible. But, of course, we all want to do well, and having concrete data that you’re not doing as well as you’d like can be soul crushing some days.
I take the same approach to stats as I do to social media. I dip my toe in, but I try to limit the amount of time and energy I devote to them. Because in the grand scheme of things, what random people on the internet think of me or my writing doesn’t matter. I mean, I want you all to love me, of course, but it isn’t the end of the world if you don’t. 😀
What about you? What do you love or hate about blogging? What keeps you coming back?
I am a procrastinator. Which is bad for a home business, probably. I work best under pressure (like writing a 5 page college paper the night before it’s due, etc). I think I get overwhelmed by choices, so leaving things until the last minute forces me to make quick choices and I don’t have the time to over think them. (I think there’s a sticker in there somewhere!)
So when I decided to try and start a sticker business, I was making list after list after list. What would I use as a name? Did I need a blog? What equipment and supplies would I need? My husband, on the other hand, was immediately online, researching what the best equipment and supplies would be and encouraging me to order them asap so I could get started.
We ended up purchasing a new printer, since my current printer was about 7 years old. We also bought a Silhouette Cameo 3, which I will be using to cut out the stickers I plan to sell. The printer we bought locally, but both items sat in the box for about two weeks – I needed to rearrange some things in my office to make room for the new machines.
We finally got around to rearranging the office so we could set up the new printer and the Cameo. A few days ago I set up a separate bank account to use for the business and got a PO Box as well. So now I don’t have any more excuses for not getting started.
So, have I? Of course not.
I set a deadline for myself of April 1, which has come and gone. I do have the machines set up and I’ve been working on designs and learning the ins and outs of the Cameo. But it seems that external deadlines are easier for me to worry about than internal ones. So I’m going to try my hardest to meet the next one – by May 1 I want to have at least 10 products ready to launch. Crossing my fingers that I can stick with this one.
How do you keep yourself motivated to meet personal deadlines?
I’ve written in multiple blogs in my life, and I’m always on the lookout for great places to find images that I can use without worrying about copyright issues. Pictures and graphics just add that something extra to your posts, but finding them can often be a headache, especially if you don’t want to subscribe to a paid service like Shutterstock or others like it.
And with the passage of Article 13, things may change. I’d like to say that it won’t affect me, since I live in the US, but the internet is worldwide, so it probably will.
Just googling (remember when that wasn’t a word?) ‘public domain images’ will net you some great results. However, I have two sites in particular that I like to use – Pixabay and Unsplash. Both of these sites have public domain images that you can use with or without modification in your posts. There are some exceptions (because of course there are), but it’s easy to find an image that works without having to worry about the copyright/attribution headaches. Or am I the only one who does that?
If you’re looking for a text graphic or a graph, there are sites like Canva and Stencil that let you design your own using their templates. Some have free options, some don’t. Some require you to sign up for an account and some don’t. I used to have an account with Canva, but after a long hiatus from blogging, signing up again and having yet another password to remember wasn’t at all appealing.
I’m sure there are other sites, but those are my two go-to sites when I don’t have images of my own to use.
What are your go-to sites for images or other blogging resources?
You can’t know everything – a fact which frustrates me often. Take today, for example. I was doing some research to see what counted as views on my blog. Because WordPress has set up this fantastic Reader which lets me follow and comment on all the millions of blogs out there, so surely using it helps the people I’m following, right? And vice versa?
Turns out, not so much. From what I was able to find, the answer about whether it’s counted as view is – it depends. But essentially, unless I go to the actual URL of a blog/site, it probably isn’t counted as a view. Which I get. But then, why have the Reader? Convenience, sure, but is that enough?
So then I thought – well, what if I use Feedly (that’s still around, right? Or did I just date myself?) or some other RSS aggregator? That would count as view since I have to actually put in the blogs/sites I want to follow, surely.
Viewing a site using RSS doesn’t count. I think.
You know, I’m an educated person and, I’d like to think, a fairly quick learner. But I can’t know everything. Dealing with the internet makes me think I have to. It seems like there is never a straight-forward answer, and what answers there are contain a bunch of jargon that I don’t understand.
With all the wonders the internet has provided (including memes and hilarious animal videos), following blogs I like all in one place, while also providing a view to those blogs doesn’t seem like a huge undertaking, does it? I’m not a tech person, so there’s probably nuances to this issue I don’t understand or haven’t thought of.
So, for now, this will have to be one of those topics that doesn’t make sense to me. I could spend more time doing research, but it will probably frustrate me and it’s not a topic I want to spend a lot of time on. I mean, views are nice, but they are not the reason I started this blog. I will use the Reader to follow other blogs that interest me, and I hope others are doing the same. If it doesn’t count as a view on my blog, it’s not the end of the world for me.
Organic growth is what I’m hoping for – that what I put out here has some value to others and that my writing speaks for itself. If it doesn’t, and it fails, then that’s another lesson for me, right?