I have hit a patch of blogger’s block. That doesn’t usually happen to me. I have tons of ideas and generally don’t have trouble creating a post.
For the last week, it’s been a struggle.
It’s likely because I know I need to make some changes and I’m resisting. Which is crazy, because the only person who has a say is me. 😛 When I started this blog, it was with the idea that I would use it to further my online business. As I started writing, though, it became more of a place for me to just write about things that interest me. Which is fine, except now I find myself wanting/needing to make a pivot, because I do want my online business to be successful.
I purposely branded everything using the Introverted Hermit – my Etsy shop, this website, my social media sites. I could start all over, but I don’t want to. I’ve already bought the domain, have everything set up, etc. So the other option is to pivot and start using this site for business rather than the more personal blogging I’ve done up to this point.
I’d like to find a way to balance the two – to still have some personal content but mixed in with more business content. I haven’t figured out how to do that yet. There’s also the fear that making changes will hurt the progress I’ve made attracting readers.
Change is hard, y’all.
I spent some time today looking up editorial calendar templates because I need to get more organized with my writing – maybe that will help me focus and create the blend of business/personal I’m looking for. I found a few, but I got annoyed at the number of sites that wanted an email address before I could download the ‘free’ template. So I made a mental note that if something on my site is labeled ‘free,’ it is actually free – won’t even cost you an email address. 😛
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 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’ve had many blogs over the years and one thing I always wanted was to be more mobile with my blogging. I’m old and have terrible eyesight, so blogging on my phone has never been an option. My eyes are too bad, my fingernails are too long, and my patience is too short to write posts on a dinky phone screen.
I’ve always been a PC kinda gal, so I am most comfortable writing that way. A full-size keyboard is my friend, especially one with a great ‘feel.’ I learned to type on a manual typewriter (yep, I’m that old) and keyboards with no feel drive me batty.
However, over the last year or so, I’ve been using my iPad more and more. Especially now that I am drawing on it, I tend to take it everywhere. So I thought I would try out blogging on my iPad. It couldn’t be that hard – even though I loathe the new ‘block’ editor (it’s not that new anymore, I suppose), I’ve been doing okay with it on the PC.
My thoughtful husband bought me a bluetooth keyboard that I could use with the iPad so that I could type with an actual keyboard rather than the on-screen one. (I am active on some forums and let me tell you, trying to select text with the built-in keyboard is a freaking nightmare!)
I also had intentions of participating in Inktober (notice the past tense there) and had drawn up a mandala for the first prompt. I drew it up, decided to post about it, and wrote up the post. Simple, right?
It took forever for the iOS WordPress app to load up my jpg image of the mandala. I think it took about 5 tries before it finally loaded. I finished up my post, proofed it, and published it.
I tried to, anyway.
After hitting publish, the app just sat there with the loading wheel spinning and spinning. So I closed it and tried saving the post.
Nope. Wouldn’t save either.
I tried publishing it again. Again with the loading wheel. I thought, well, I’ll just give it a few minutes and see if it worked. I did a few chores around the house and came back. Nope – still the spinning wheel.
After about an hour of trying to post, I finally gave up. I don’t know if WordPress hates Apple or Apple hates WordPress or they both hate me, but I was so frustrated I was ready to spit nails. Oh, and during this whole process, I also discovered that posts I had saved to come back and read later in the app have also disappeared.
All of them.
So for now, I’ve resigned myself to drawing on the iPad and posting on the PC. Not exactly what I wanted, but we can’t have everything, right?
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?