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. 😀
I was having a conversation the other day with my oldest about demographics and the different generations. I insisted she was a Millennial, and she insisted she was not. Then we started talking about the different generations and who belonged to which one.
I did some quick Googling and discovered that the Census Bureau only officially recognizes the Baby Boom generation. The other generations vary depending on who you ask, because there is no ‘final authority’ on generations, just mainstream/pop culture use. There are as many definitions as there are people.
Turns out, she was right, she isn’t a Millennial, nor is her sibling. However, they both thought that I was from the Baby Boom generation. (That did wonders for my ego, I can tell you.) I happen to be from that forgotten generation – the Gen Xers. The kids who grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons and thinking that Merlin and Super Simon were technological marvels. The generation of shoulder pads, big hair, and Michael Jackson Pepsi commercials.
I had my kids later in life, so they missed the Gen Y/Millennial generation. My kids are Gen Z/iGen – those kids who think that there’s an app for EVERYTHING.
We started talking about all of this because of the current ‘OK, Boomer’ phenomenon. My youngest asked me how I felt about it and was taken aback when I said it didn’t bother me, because I wasn’t a Boomer. Personally, I think it’s kind of funny – on several levels. Just surface funny, because I think it’s true – Boomers are now in their late 60s- 70s, and I think once you reach that age, you have reached the ‘Get off my lawn!’ stage of life. And also ironically funny, because from what I’ve seen, it’s mostly Gen Z kids saying it to their parents, who aren’t Boomers, but are Gen X or GenY.
How do you feel about the ‘OK, Boomer’ issue? What generation are you from? Are there things you like/dislike about your generation? Things you like/dislike about younger generations?
I think this is my least favorite mandala of all the ones I’ve drawn so far. I was experimenting with lines and overlaps, but it just didn’t turn out the way I was hoping it would. I almost didn’t post this one, but I want to be transparent about my failures, so – here it is!
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?
When I started this blog, it was with the intent to open a planner sticker business on Etsy. I’m still not there yet, but that’s a post for another day.
I am working on it, creating stickers that I could sell. I’ve concentrated on things I would use first, because if I never sell anything, at least I’ve created something I will use myself.
I’ve been a planner girl since forever. When I was in school, it was a way to keep track of my homework. As I got older, it became a way to keep track of my life. And I’m still using them.
As in, plural. Something I never have done before. I’ve always just had one planner, and it was one with a monthly spread, because I never use the weekly ones. I want to be able to glance at my month and see what’s going on that month. Drilling down into weekdays and hours is just too much for me. I get information overload.
However, since I dove into the world of planner stickers, I realized I had no idea how many people seem to use planners these days – and multiple ones, at that.
In the planner community, there are two big planner companies. Each of those companies sells multiple types of planners – different layouts, different themes, different sizes, etc. But they also sell planners for multiple purposes. You can buy a fitness/workout planner, a budget planner, a faith planner, a life planner, a household planner, a kids’ planner, and more.
I’ve watched plenty of YouTube videos of planner people who use these multiple planners and thought, sheesh, why would you need that many planners?
I’m now one of them.
I have my original, cheap $5 2 year monthly planner. I have my bill planner (it’s really just a small spiral notebook where I track my bills). Now I also have a yearly planner from one of the two big companies – because I needed to know what it was like to use one before I could make/sell stickers for it, right? And I bought a budget pack from that same company – again, because I need to know how people use it before I can make stuff for it, right? And I’m currently trying to talk myself out of buying a planner from the other company for the same reasons.
Oh, I forgot, I have a Bullet Journal that I’ve been trying to use again. The BuJo was appealing because it was functional and not focused on ‘pretty,’ but if you spend any time on YouTube, you’ll find tons of artists who show off their illustrated-to-the-nines BuJos.
So, that’s now 5 (5!) planners I’m using. Which is ridiculous, I know. Especially since some of these planners are $40 and up. But I’m having a hard time paring them down. I’m actually enjoying using the new yearly planner. 2 issues with it – one, it has lots of pages for weekdays that I will never use, so that’s a waste of trees and money, and 2, the monthly spread, while good, isn’t big enough. Since I only use the monthly spread, that’s a whole month’s worth of stuff that has to get written down – bills, appointments, schedules, holidays – for 4 people, since I track everyone in my household. I suppose I could size up to the bigger planner, but then that’s even more money (and pages I won’t use, because it also has pages for weekdays).
And even though I understand the whole ‘sunk cost fallacy,’ I find it hard to get rid of my original cheap $5 planner, because it’s good for another whole year! And it’s bigger than my new planner, so I have more room to write stuff down.
I am planning to get rid of my little spiral bill planner, because I do like the new budget planner I’ve been using. Recording things in both places is getting obnoxious, and the new one has much more space to write. I guess it’s just resistance to change that’s keeping me using both.
I also could incorporate my new budget planner into my new yearly planner – the rings are designed so that you can add/remove/rework pages as necessary. I just haven’t done it yet. Doing those two things would at least get me down to 3 planners instead of 5, which is something.
I have also explored the idea of using digital planners for all these things, but honestly, I like using an analog planner. I like writing with my pens, the feel of the paper, and the stickers. Digital planning just wouldn’t be the same, plus I’d be worried about it all somehow getting hacked. So for now, analog planning is the plan.
I’m still trying to figure out if the Bullet Journal is something I want to stick with. I like that it’s functional, but I’m discovering I would also like it to be pretty. Something that seems a lot easier with my yearly planner than the BuJo. We shall see.
Last week I posted about keeping your online identity separate from your real life and wondered whether it was possible. I know that being online comes with a risk, and that the only way to protect your data is to not be online at all. Actually, I’m not sure that’s even true, given how many companies sell our data. I mean, my mortgage bank could sell my data, my insurance company, my credit card company – you name it, they’ve probably sold it. And everything is hackable – everything. So the best we can do is try to be risk-aware, and be as safe as possible.
But it’s always something.
A couple of days ago, I got an email from Reddit asking me to verify my email address. Problem – I didn’t sign up for a Reddit account. Immediately suspicious of a phishing attempt, I looked at the email sender’s address – an https link to reddit.com. I looked at the verify link – also an https link to reddit.com. And the third link (again, an https link to reddit.com) – one to click on to say that it wasn’t me who had set up this account. Which means this happens often enough that companies like Reddit know to include that last option.
Now, I have no idea why someone would need to use my email to open a Reddit account. I mean, email addresses are free and easy to get from a variety of sources. So why mine? I have had this happen before, with another email. Someone shopping at Lulelemon (someplace I would never shop) used one of my email addresses and I got not only spam emails (which I’m assuming was the point of not using their own email address), I also got their purchase receipts. With name, address, phone number, etc. Now, those could have been someone else’s too, I suppose, but it seems dumb to avoid spam by using someone else’s email address and then hand that person your (possible) personal information.
So, I managed to let Reddit know that it was not me who had signed up for the account and they have removed my email. However, since using other people’s email addresses is apparently a thing, for my own peace of mind, I’m going to take some preemptive action. I’ve been putting off signing up for social media accounts because – well, honestly, because I don’t like social media. I know I’m going to have to use it eventually, though, and this has just precipitated my signing up.
At the very least, signing up will ensure that no one else can try to use my email for those sites, even if I never use them myself. Which, for many of them, I likely won’t. It still won’t keep people from trying to use my email, but hopefully it will make it just a little more difficult to succeed.
Have you ever had this happen to you? How did you resolve the issue?
What is enough? This question has been on my mind a lot lately. With an ever-growing gap between the haves and have-nots, is there a point where you have enough?
I think people would be a lot happier if they would stop and think about what it is they truly want. Not what society tells them they should want, not what ads tell them they should want – but what they actually want.
I mean, I could say I want a million dollars, and that sounds great, because I currently don’t have a million dollars. But is that really what I want? And would a million dollars be enough? What about 2 million? 10 million? 10 billion? How much of anything do you actually need?
Now, I get that there’s a difference between need and want. We all need a safe place to call home, to have our physical needs met (water, food, sleep, etc.), and love in our life. But how much of the other stuff in our lives is because we’ve been convinced we need it when we really don’t?
I think this occupies a lot of my thinking because I want to move and downsize. My current home is not a mansion by any means, but it’s still too big for the people who live in it. There’s a large room in our home that doesn’t do anything but hold furniture. We use it on the odd holiday, but other than that, it’s just a place that dust gathers.
I have a closet full of clothes, but I probably only routinely wear about 1/4 of it. Our kitchen is full of gadgets we’ve used once and then forgotten about. We have a treadmill, an elliptical, and an inverter table that no one uses. (We got rid of the punching bag and the weight set.) They, too, gather dust. You know, for that day when suddenly we all become fitness fanatics.
When I’m older, I don’t want a huge house to take care of. I don’t want to spend all my time cleaning things I never use. I don’t want to tie my money up in useless things and then sit surrounded by those useless things. I want to be able to travel. I want to be able to stay home.
When I think about what I want, I need to be honest with myself. For example, I’m an introvert and while I like to travel and see new things, traveling is hard for me. It’s a lot of ‘new’ getting thrown at me, a lot of social situations I’m uncomfortable with, and if I’m not careful, the traveling wears me down and I end up spending more time in a hotel recharging than I do getting out and doing the things I want.
So while I’d love to travel, selling everything and traveling the world for a while, while certainly possible, is not at all something that would suit me. My husband and I are fascinated with the tiny house movement and have often talked about buying a tiny house or RV and traveling the country. It seems like a great idea for me – I can travel and see things, but I have my own house/space to recharge in when I need to.
I don’t want to travel forever, however, and I will eventually want another house. A much smaller house, though. Two bedrooms, two baths – enough room for guests when we have them, but no so much space that I spend all my time cleaning.
I think for most people, it’s not that we want to necessarily be rich. It’s just that, generally speaking, if you have money, you have less to worry about. Some people will argue that point, but I think for the most part it’s true. Having money means you don’t have to worry about a place to live, putting food on the table, or having a medical issue sending you spiraling into bankruptcy. And I think that’s what we all want, really – to not have to worry. Money doesn’t solve every problem, certainly, but it solves a lot of them.
Of course, marketers and social media are very good at making you feel like you need ALL. THE. THINGS. Have an iPhone? Great – is it the newest one? If not, then girrrl, you need to get on down to the Apple store. I mean, who doesn’t need to spend $1000 on a new phone? Am I right?
And once you get it, don’t forget to let everyone on social media know you have one. What?! You don’t social media? Gasp of horror! How will you know your self-worth if you don’t have total strangers on the internet directing your self-esteem and validating your existence with likes and shares?!
Ok, that was probably a tad over-dramatic, but hopefully you get my point.
So, what does enough look like for you? Do you need a million dollars? A billion? A huge McMansion? A sporty supercar? A closet full of designer label clothing? Vacations all over the world? What is it you truly want out of life?
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?