For years I’ve wanted to be a writer. I’ve dreamed of starting a blog, and someday making money to write. I thought of what it would be like to have people hanging on my thoughts, and motivated by my words.
The problem is I was stuck. I couldn’t move. I could get the engine going, then I remained in the driveway. I was motivated. But I couldn’t decide where to go.
But sometimes, you don’t need to know where to go. You just need to get some tarmac under your feet, feel the wind blow in your hair, and change the fucking scenery.
But, wait… hold on.
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Don’t You Need a Blog Niche?
I’ve wasted so much time overthinking blog niches, marketing niches, and niche websites.
I’ve wasted days on keyword research, hours on competitive analysis, and years not writing anything.
My background is in marketing and SEO. So, I’ve always convinced myself that I needed a niche if I wanted to be successful as a writer. So, before I started writing, I’d research and analyze until my back was stiff, and eyes turned blurry.
I’d analyze the motivation out of myself.
I’d find all of the best keywords, with low competition and significant search volume. I’d map out the blog posts that I’d need for SEO. I knew what the people were searching for, and now I would help them find it. The strategy was built, now I just needed to execute, but…
When “Niching Down” Becomes a Downer
Ugh… I couldn’t bring myself to leave the driveway.
The problem. I knew what I should write about. But I was still ignoring what I wanted to write about. I couldn’t force myself to feel compelled. I had several blog niche sites planned… none of them I could sink my teeth into.
Going to school full time, working on the side, and with a wonderful wife to spend my time, I couldn’t force myself to write about these niche topics I so carefully had researched.
Given the value of time, the time I spent writing had to be serving me in some other way. It had to provide me value, beyond just the prospect of someday bringing affiliate income, via a niche site. It had to serve a need I was ignoring.
I had to make a shift. And, then it somehow happened.
Writing for Yourself vs Writing for Everyone Else
One day recently I thought, what if I just try writing for myself vs someone else? What if I write blog posts that are helpful to me? What if I were the audience? What would I want to read? What would serve me now?
I started with some recipes, I’d been meaning to write down. I’d keep the directions simple, and easy to follow. They’d be a resource for myself, and if someone else found them too, all the better.
I made a commitment to trade consumption for creation. Instead of endlessly scrolling through the news on my smart phone before bed and after sunrise, I’d dedicate that time to writing, on nothing in particular, but use it as a time to explore my thoughts.
As a result I wrote a blog article to remind myself of my commitment to taking action: Confessions of a Self-Help Junkie
I liked it. I had fun with words. I stopped to stair at the ceiling, to find the thoughts I wanted to share.
I thought about things I knew, that would have been nice to know years ago when I was younger. I wrote an article about how I met my wife, the woman of my dreams.
I thought about my adventures and began to edit and publish my trail journal from a hike I did last summer… and it brought back to me the smell and feel of the trail.
With every blog post done, I feel compelled to write another, because the act itself is satisfying.
And now, writing is feeling like a habit. It’s hard to believe but true.
I have a list of ideas I have to share, and every day I just try to make some ground. Twenty minutes in the morning. Ten minutes before bed…. three hours on a Saturday.
For me, this is working. I’m writing… that’s something I’ve wanted to do for years.
But, dude… What About Your Blog Niche?
I let go of the idea of a niche for now. It was holding me back from my goals.
And, here’s the thing… I don’t think it matters. As a writer, I have specific interests and themes which will naturally reoccur. I tend to think a lot about hiking and adventure, nutrition and health, SEO and marketing.
So, I’m not forcing myself into a niche. I’ll let them naturally occur in my writing. And, as they do I’ll layer in SEO and strategy but I won’t analyze to the point of paralysis. Because, you can’t have a blog without writing, and you can’t make connections without content. And everything that gets in the way of that, for now it is a distraction.
Is Writing for Yourself a Good Idea?
This is a valid question. After all, if you want to connect with readers, shouldn’t you write for them? Personally, I don’t see why you can’t do both. It should be a balancing act.
For me, I had to write for myself to get started, to get inspired, and to keep me motivated. But that doesn’t mean I was ignoring potential readers. Instead, I ask myself “what do I want to write about”, and then I try to combine that with “how can this serve someone else as well?”
Is this gong to work long term? Will this bring me blog traffic?
I don’t know, because it hasn’t yet. But, it’s working to help me create content. It’s helping me take action. I’m learning to write better. And right now, these are the goals most important for my success and satisfaction.