Over the course of the past month I have been reading a lot of blogs and I do mean a lot of blogs. Everything from the “A” listers, wannabees, the you too can make money with your blog bloggers, minimalists, simple living types, simplicity, preppers, survivalists, running, fitness, hunting, archery, education, special education, technology, babyboomers, aging, emergency preparedness, spirituality, religion, self-improvement, retirement, self-sufficiency, politics (conservative, liberal, green, independent, libertarian), Maine politics, baseball, basketball, football, RPG, gaming and a bunch of others. In order to try to find a niche where I fit and had a lot of interest.
After reading all of those blogs over this past month, it has become pretty clear that I will probably never be a blogger, who primarily focuses on marketing products, facilitate an online course, services or myself to a niche audience on my blog.
What factors determine whether your blog is successful?
The big time bloggers and many others, believe that a blog needs a particular focus to be successful – but what constitutes a successful blog? Is it how others view a blog, the number of readers, the amount of money it makes or is it when the person who does the majority of the writing there is happy with it?
There are so many “how to blog” blogs (most of which sound pretty much the same), who write that while blogs do need good writing, they also seem to focus too much on using linking strategies, create too many posts of mostly links or maximizing my phrases/words to improve a blogs SEO rankings. This style of blogging just doesn’t interest me and has gotten rather repetitive/boring to read about at those other blogs (which I have mostly deleted from my Google Reader).
To me, for my blog to be successful, I have be willing to write there. The statistics, number of page views, followers, postrank or other metrics really don’t mean anything, if you don’t like writing in your blog. If you feel forced to write somewhere that is supposed to be yours, is your blog successful? I really don’t think so.
So what am I looking for from my blog?
I want to write. That is first and foremost what my blog is for – writing. I have had several blogs for various reasons, since October 2007 and what I enjoyed most about each one of them, was writing the posts, not optimizing SEO, tracking stats, or the other parts of monetized blogging.
The current “professional” blogger wisdom is to focus on a particular niche or audience and write to that audience’s interests – after all you are focusing your writing on what your readers want, not always what you want to write about, to keep them coming back.
As you can see by all of the different types of blogs I have been reading over the last month that I am interested in a lot of different things and trying to find one area to focus on and write about is very difficult and becomes difficult to write about day-after-day. That is true for most everyone, but I don’t want a bunch of different blogs for each focus area and after all it is my blog, not someone that I work for.
So I want the flexibility and freedom to write about what I want to write about, when I feel the muse calling my name. If I write interesting enough stuff, then readers will be there, if I do not write what other want to read, then my blog still is my blog and successful for my purposes. Win – win.
Who is my blog for?
That is the question that many bloggers have to figure out for themselves. Over the course of the past month that is the question that I have asked myself many, many times. The answer finally came down to what do I really want from my blog – not the professional blogger’s advice, not the marketing blogger’s advice, not other small time bloggers, not anyone out there – just me.
I use my blog to bounce ideas around, see what they look like outside of my head, discuss things “out loud”, journal things that I have done or would like to do. Give readers ideas or things that worked or didn’t work for me.
I want readers to enjoy what I am writing about, but my blog is more for me than them.
That is who my blog is for.
What do I want from my blog?
I had to get over a couple of hurdles that were in my way before could answer this question and come to a pretty solid conclusion:
That would be nice, but it is not why I blogged in the past or will for the foreseeable future. Of course I will take the “accidental earnings” and put them in a separate account to see how much it actually comes to. However, to actively try to earn money with my blog, I figured out that I would have to do change how I want to write, what I write about and/or have multiple blogs. I have done the multiple blog thing and it does not work for me. While I may not be the most proficient writer, changing how I write or what I write about, is not the direction I wanted to go either. So I finally realized that focusing on my blog to be a revenue stream is not right for me.
I will have an Adsense ad or an affiliate link or two, but at this point in my life “working” or “milking” a blog, i.e. writing with no other purpose than to attract readers, to earn money, is not the same direction that I am going.
That too would be nice, but I have figured out that this is not my goal in life to be an “influential” person. Fortunately or unfortunately that is not the direction I am choosing for my life. I have decided to slow down and simplify my life, building up a blog to have a big following would be the opposite of this choice. However, if I was someone with thousands (or more) of readers, which in turn also provides opportunities to consult, speak at different events and provide training – which in turn would provide another source of income – well to be honest I thought seriously about trying to do it.
Could I do these things, I believe so, with a lot of work and hustling – I believe that I could (no I am not conceited in my abilities, just confident that I could do it), but is that the lifestyle that I really want? In a word – “No”.
Over the past month I have figured out I don’t need or want that kind of fast-paced life. Being away from home, traveling far too much, eating out all the time, etc. The negatives of that kind of life-style far outweighed the positives as I have moved further into my semi-retirement, I am beginning to love the simpler things that I am doing and the biggest benefit is that time is mine again.
The Reality was that
A part of me did want both of those things and thinking that way, put dollar signs in my eyes and did color my mind with the excitement of extra income and popularity opportunities that monetizing my blog could bring. These delusions of grandeur affected (for a time) the direction and focus at One Foot In Reality. For a while I started to do things to prep this blog and another towards focusing them on making money, in different niches and got all stressed out about the different things that I thought I would have to do to make them work. In the end it didn’t work for me.
While many of the ideas that I added or used did improve my blogs and the journey down this path was a great experience for me. However, I just never fit into that part of the blogging world – the one where they focused more selling themselves, services or products than I am.
I will leave that direction for others out there who have a different vision for their life than I have for mine now.
The bottom line was that focusing on monetizing my blog just did not feel right for me and I had too many doubts about whether I was doing the right things for the right reasons.
What do I want from my Blog?
My blog should reflect who I am, my interests and the direction I am going in my life. It is that simple to me.
What will my blog focus be?
In the past One Foot In Reality was my professional blog and dealt with things related to education and being a techy-type special educator and wrote a lot about technology. They are still my most popular posts and I imagine that they will be for a while yet. While I am still interested in many things related to those subjects and will write about them from time-to-time, however, they are no longer my primary focus on my blog or in life.
I am currently transitioning and downsizing my lifestyle to something a lot simpler and hopefully a lot less stressful than the life that I previously led. Therefore, the new focus of One Foot In Reality is going to be more about my journey to downsize my life, the adventures that I have along the way, the changes that I have in perspective, new skills that I have learned or will need to acquire as part of this journey and I have a feeling more than a few lessons learned.
My blog will include writing about simple living, emergency preparedness, self sufficiency, fringe minimalism, getting greener, a little hunting/archery, a tech review of something that helps make my life a little easier and living more frugally. I consider all of these subjects part of the same umbrella – simplifying my life.
In order to not bore readers completely to tears, I did decide to create a separate blog Time to Run Again – where I am keeping my running log and plan to share my thoughts on getting back in shape and my progress towards being more healthy. From time to time I will be cross-posting from one blog to the other, because there is a great deal of overlap between downsizing your life and increasing your health.
I hope that as I change my focus, that you continue to visit me here and read how my journey is going. If you choose not to, I wish you well and hope that you have great success in all of your endeavors.
What I have chosen what works for me, but my choices may not be right for you.