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Are We Having Fun Yet?

This guest post is by Justin P Lambert of Words That Begin With You .

Quick question: are you having fun?

I mean, you’re sitting here reading Problogger, so you’re likely a blogger, or at least thinking about jumping in. And you’re likely interested in making some money from your efforts. There’s nothing wrong with that at all.

But are you having fun?

He looks happy to be writing...
Courtesy
of Douglas R. Witt (flickr)

Maybe you’ve been at it for a while, or maybe, like me, you’re just a babe learning to crawl at this point. Either way, there’s a universal truth of blogging you’ve probably already figured out: it ain’t easy.

A tough gig

If you’ve done what you’re “supposed” to do blogging is tough. Editorial calendars, social media, building a list, seeking subscribers, tweaking the theme, ads or no ads… Wow.

Back in the ancient days of online journals, (you know, like 1996) most of the folks who “blogged” before “blogging” was even a word did it for fun. They had a particular interest, or just a desire to share their thoughts and activities with the world long before status updates and tweets were even on the horizon.

These folks probably didn’t think about making money from their online activities at all, or at least not seriously. Not long ago, Skelliewag wrote a really beautiful post about the transition that happened later on.

Darren also shared a quote from his wise-beyond-his-years son: “tell the world something important.”

Together, these two uber-experienced bloggers taught me a valuable lesson, grabbing my metaphorical wheel just before I hit the metaphorical guardrail, if that makes any sense.

You see, I started my blog just over six months ago, and I learned quickly that it was hard work. But good writing always is. The payoff, for most of us any way, is that we enjoy writing. Or, at least, we enjoy getting our thoughts out there for others to read/see/hear and interact with. This is something I lost track of, somewhere around post #13.

I started getting so wrapped up in my posting schedule and my analytics, actually writing the posts became an annoyance. “Man,” I’d think, “I wish I could get this over with so I can get back to Twitter!” It got to the point, only four months into my blogging, where I burnt out and suddenly went from posting daily to three posts in a month!

I spent most of that month kicking myself and desperately trying to figure out what happened. The answer blew me away when it finally arrived: I had sucked every ounce of enjoyment out of writing a blog because I had gotten too involved in “blogging”.

So, I ask you again: are you having fun?

How to have fun

Now I’m not going to sit here and try to preach to you about how to fix this issue. I’m still trying to figure it out myself. But since I realized how close I came to giving up, I’ve done a lot of thinking about why things changed. And I’ve come up with a few items that I know are going to help me.

I’d absolutely love to hear your thoughts in the comments too, because most of you are far more experienced than I am in struggling with this issue, so I know you’re going to have more ideas to share.

Relax

You know what? While consistency is important and your readers deserve to receive what they’ve come to expect, no one’s going to lynch you if your post is a day late every now and then.

I had a tough time figuring this out, and when life got in the way and I missed a post or sent it out late, I felt the need to fire off apologies to my subscribers and wallow in self-pity.

Give me a break. Do your best. Then relax. It’s just a blog.

Converse

I quickly morphed from sharing interesting information that I thought would be of real value to my readers to slicing off chunks of pre-made content and stringing it out over weeks in order to ensure that a post on a particular subject would go out every Monday for the next four weeks.

This approach is kind of like inviting people over for a turkey dinner and then serving them Spam. I was short-changing my readers and my conscience was nagging me like mad, which is no fun. I lost the conversational aspect of my blog in favor of a series of mini-lectures that (not surprisingly) got little if any comments.

Make sure you give your readers what they deserve: your best every time. Even if that means you can’t post as often. Make sure it stays a conversation, not a choppy lecture. Who has fun at a lecture?

Focus … or not

I struggled for a long time with the question of niches and specializing, and felt like a failure from the start because I just couldn’t narrow myself down to a niche.

I created my blog as a means of sharing my expertise and engaging an audience in connection to my work as a freelance writer. But I don’t specialize on a particular writing format or project group, so how could I blog on just one niche? Yet the experts say I should. Oh woe is me!

It took me a long time to realize that my generalist scope is who I am. Anything less would be boring to me and that would automatically become boring to my readers. So if you’re like me, having a tough time finding a niche that satisfies you,

Get over it!

Think about what you want to write, then think hard about how to connect it all in an understandable frame that your readers can latch onto. It’s better for everyone involved. Like I said, I’m still learning. But I’m finally having fun with my blog, like I was back in June when I first started. I hope you’re doing the same. Because if you’re not, it shows. Believe me.

Please, share in the comments your suggestions for having fun with your blog, how you overcame issues that were keeping you from having fun, or how you plan to do so starting now!

Justin P Lambert is a freelance writer who has been blogging for seven months and has enjoyed it for two. He’s working on it. Drop by Words That Begin With You to see how it goes. You can also follow him on Twitter.

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Comments

  1. Good words of advice here. The nature of blogging is such that you have to enjoy it otherwise you can’t do it because it is such a long term project. I particularly agree with the point that you should write in more of a conversational format rather than a lecture format. I have been guilty of that once or twice and it is a very fine tight rope to walk.

    • John,
      Thanks very much for the comment. Lecturing sucks, and I found myself doing it a lot. But, funny enough, when I read someone else doing it on their blog, I was the first to click on to something else thinking, “look, man, I don’t need a lecture from the likes of you.” :) You’re right, it is a tightrope.
      Thanks again.

  2. Rosemary says:

    I started my blog in August and I absolutely love it. My problem is probably the opposite of yours but no less of a hindrance. I get so bogged down with wanting to write on bigger subjects that I tie myself in knots and as a result haven’t been posting as often as I wanted to. I’ve recently revamped my site and like you, I’ve decided to enjoy every minute of doing what I love to do…which is the whole conversation aspect of writing and sharing through the comments, facebook and twitter. And of course I will take your advice and RELAX and HAVE FUN as well! Thanks for a really honest and insightful post Justin.

    • Rosemary,
      Thanks very much for your kind words. I spent some time exploring OffBeatWoman and I can tell you truly do enjoy what you’re doing. Congratulations, because it really looks like you have your priorities straight and your readers are engaged because they know it. Biting off more than I can chew often sets me back, but these days I’m trying to learn how to effectively tackle a complete section of the topic without resorting to a “tune in next week” series of posts because I didn’t want to put up a 6000-word tome. It’s a constant learning adventure.
      Thanks again!

    • Rosemary — me, too! I eventually broke up my Big Topic into a series, and I post one part of the series weekly and on a couple other days try to post something else, to keep from excluding readers if they aren’t as interested in Big Topic.

      The critical part was letting myself write very, very long and rambling first drafts — and letting them cool off. I realized that I was refining alot of my own thinking and all the stuff I *thought* I wanted to tell readers was not necessary — but very necessary for me to think out thoroughly, first. In this way, I can end up with a pretty concise post. I would never have scrutinized and refined my own opinions like this if not for the blog series, so that’s another benefit to writing long posts that end up with three quarters of their content ultimately left out!

      It also allows me to keep readers coming back, if they like Big Topic, by letting them know when the next post on the subject will be up. And it helps me to plot out when I will have new content on the blog, which feels reassuring (I started my blog in August, too.) My day-job has been hectic this year so being clear on when I’m going to post next and what it will be is especially important until things settle a bit. Doesn’t mean I won’t post in between or bump the schedule of Big Topic posts if it seems right.

      Best wishes to you, fellow bloggeress,
      Elizabeth

  3. The niche point is something you could explore more about. I have really struggled with finding a ‘niche’, but do you really need to. Most of the advice in this area is focused on creating themed websites for the search engines but we should focus on our readers first.

    My ‘niche’ is whatever I find interesting and thats that!

    • Paul,
      It’s funny that you say that, because you’ll see a lot on my site about me being what I call a “Uber-generalist”. Although my blog is *mostly* about writing, I blog about all different types of writing as well as public speaking and even a little personal development. It all makes sense in the framework I’ve set up, but it’s definitely not your basic niche at all. And it fits me perfectly, because I bore far too easily to stay satisfied writing in a narrow niche. I completely agree that the reader needs to come first, and I’m still struggling with attracting and engaging my readers more effectively.
      Thanks again!

  4. Jen says:

    Several great points. I only started blogging 4 months ago. In those four months I’ve mainly had a love affair with my blog but there were weeks that I posted two times then five, only to go back to twice a week, three at most. Why? We all know why we do this. I’m no different. You go into it thinking you’ll blog about several topics only to end up honing in on the one that gains the most attention. Luckily for me what gains that attention is what I love to write about the most…FOOD! So I’ve decided to leave the “lecture” type content behind me and continue to do what I do best. Just be myself and only post when I’m completely satisfied with something. I never apologize because I know my readers will be happy when I send them something drool worthy.

    • Jen,
      I really liked your point about being yourself and only posting when you’re completely satisfied. I think the readers can tell if we’ve fired off a post because we had to, but the funny thing about blogging (at least if you’re doing it for your own blog) is that WE DON’T HAVE TO! We’re in control, and yet somehow I would forget that and I’d start viewing my editorial calendar as this digital slave master cracking the virtual whip every day.
      Thanks again!

  5. Thanks for the informative piece. First, I appreciate the comment you made about being okay with being a generalist. I have been struggling with that with my photography, since I get the same message: specialize or die. But I have finally accepted this is who I am, a jack-of-all-trades. Second, you have me thinking about content, and what to offer. My blog is only 2 weeks old and I still struggle with what to offer besides my photography. I am still learning myself and am not an expert in my field at any means. I will have to do some research.

  6. I’m 3 months old blogger, everything is new to me and its fun to share with others on what i’m writing.
    I blog about accounting and quality. Thats what i do for leaving too.

    Engaging people around me and asking them to provide feedback itself is fun for me.

    • Ganesh,
      Thanks for your comment. I read through a few posts on your blog and I have to say, you infuse life into a subject I would have a hard time getting excited about, and your readers really appreciate it! I love that about bloggers. It seems like when someone cares enough about a subject to go through the effort of setting up and maintaining a blog about it, it’s pretty much guaranteed to make interesting reading *as long as they keep having FUN!*
      Thanks again!

  7. Good advise.

    Only have a little problem with:

    “… you’re just a babe learning to crawl at this point.”

    Why must a babe learn how to crawl? Isn’t she old enough to have learned how to walk up straight?
    Now if that word babe means baby then you can blame it all on my non english motherlanguage which interpers babe as a gorgeous female.

    • Johan,
      Your comment made me smile, so thanks. I meant babe as in baby (tiny, immature human). Of course, a gorgeous female learning to crawl could make for an interesting subject of study… :)
      Thanks again!

  8. Tivi Jones says:

    I think a big part of the problem is we’re looking outside too much for the what and how of running our blogs, rather than applying what we’re learning to what our visions are.

    I think authenticity is a big factor in maintaining the fun and happiness in our blogs. I started blogging years ago in the school of personal journal-like blogs, then I got into business blogging for others. Last year when I started a blog for my business, I didn’t know how I wanted to blog, but I jumped in, started reading too much blog advice and instead of transiting it down to my personality and my goals, I spat it back out. I was miserable and conflicted after a while.

    Once I started thinking about who I was, what I really wanted and syncing that up with my blog, I started having fun again and the content is flowing easier than before- and I’m getting more traffic- which is fun too.

    Thanks for the post!

    • Tivi,
      Thanks for your comment. You and I ran a similar race, and I’m glad to hear you’ve made the transition into funland again. Thanks again for the personal experience!

  9. Mike Lopez says:

    Oh I’m having fun alright… :)

  10. Stocco says:

    Great advice to “focus… or not”. I had the same exact problem when starting my blog too. Having a broad range of topics helps keep ME interested and provides more flexibility in my posts. Of course, a broad blog might take longer to create a following, build up SEO, etc. But, if you’re truly in this for the long term, everything will payoff in the end.

  11. As far as choosing a niche, a lot of your choice depends on your goal for the blog. If for example your goal is to get more clients, you’ll need to stay fairly consistent giving them useful tips and ideas that encourage them to want to hire you. If you have lots of divergent interests that would not relate at all to that group, then you may want to start another blog because you’d likely attract a different group of followers. That’s the format I use. I’ve started a new space for helping people with content, but I’ve also written a family activity/devotion book and that blog allows me to talk about cool animal facts too. It would be pretty tough to combine all that.

    Consider this blog too. If posts were about new blogger tips one day, SEO one day, then the best kind of BBQ grills, then how to save money at Disney, would you follow if you were really trying to learn more about blogging?

    Some still would, but if he ultimately gave blog advice wrapped around those seemingly unrelated topics that would be different too. Even in that case there would be people who follow because the advise was wrapped in stories, and those who wouldn’t because they like more straight info type stuff.

    A big key is there’s really no way to be everything to everybody, and again you don’t want to if your blog is aimed at building a particular kind of business. Find and keep your voice for sure, but also have a plan and work that plan.

    Thanks for sharing & starting the conversation!

    • Cheryl,
      Thanks very much for an in-depth comment. Niches have been a tough nut for me to crack, but I think I’ve got the right balance going at my blog at this point: My overall theme is communication, both written and via public speaking, but I also include posts about the principles I use as the foundation for how I live because I believe it has everything to do with who I am and how I communicate. My blog is especially geared toward helping other freelance writers like me, but I try to provide information that may be of interest to prospective clients as well. So, my effort is to load on the helpful and interesting content while maintaining a pretty flexible generalist feel. I’m hoping the right folks keep stopping by and joining the conversation.
      Thanks again!

  12. If you blog to make money you should treat it just like any other real job you might have. And what do they say about real jobs? Find something you love, something you are passionate about. So you can do it with a smile on your face every single day.

    Just like any other job, take breaks to relax. Blogging is demanding and can wear you thin quickly as Justin already experienced.

    It’s hard to have fun if you don’t love your topic or niche, so choose it wisely.

    Great post Justin.

    • Viktor,
      Thanks very much. You nailed it with this comment: do it with a smile on your face every day and love your topic. It’s a constant journey, but I’m enjoying the ride.
      Thanks again!

  13. Shira says:

    Funny, the title of this post reminds me of a Charlie Brown cartoon by the same title. Charlie is standing next to Snoopy miserably in the pouring rain. The caption is “Are We Having Fun Yet?” And to recap my understanding of this profound message – Some things have to be done, find the fun in what you must do!

    Sure blogging can be tedious, so get creative and try another source of info or to present your story in another way…

    • Shira,
      Great thoughts, and I especially appreciate the visual! Wish I’d seen that when I was searching for a picture to hand Darren for this post!
      Thanks again!

  14. Your honesty is so refreshing, Justin! Loved your article even though I’m not yet at the point where it isn’t fun.

    I started a blog for two reasons – 1 to start generating an income, any income because I’ve been a stay at home mum for almost 4 years and 2 because I have a genuine passion for my subject and I want to give people ideas on how they can use their Kindle.

    It’s been about 6 months now and I’m still very enthusiastic and I am starting to generate some pocket money with affiliate sales as well as some donations which surprised me. That helps to motivate me more because I think that if I’m making a small amount this year, maybe next year I can earn more.

    Don’t beat yourself up about when you post – you’re the blogger and you make the rules. If people love your content they will cut you some slack. Make it easy for people to get your next post (when ever that is) by inviting them to join a mailing list or your rss feed. There are plenty of blogs I visit which only post once a week but because the content is fab and I know what day they post on, I always return.

    • Marie,
      Thanks very much for your comment. I’m actually really interested in the Kindle myself, but haven’t made any decisions on a purchase yet. I checked out your blog, and can honestly say it’s one of the best resources I’ve found yet! I’m going to work through your recent post series about creating a Kindle book on OpenOffice so I can get books translated over.
      It’s good to see the principles work well in real-world application.
      Thanks again!

  15. Great post – and great reminder to have fun.

    You say – “Maybe you’ve been at it for a while, or maybe, like me, you’re just a babe learning to crawl at this point.” Well, I’m both. I’ve been at it for nearly three years, but still feel like the babe learning to crawl. Maybe that’s one of the secrets to having fun. Once you feel you know it all, the fun goes away. Making each day a new adventure helps. The more I write, the more I realize how much more there is to learn – and then to share by writing about it. When that cycle stops, I’ll stop having fun. Whether I monetize or not, whether I care about SEO or analytics or not, it’s the learning that keeps it fun for me.

    • Vicki,
      Thanks so much for bringing out this point! I probably should have included learning in the list in my post because you’re so right about that! If I ever felt like I knew it all, I’d stop reading and conversing with all the other great thought leaders I’ve gotten to know over the years, and eventually I’d stop being able to give too. It’s like a sponge: if it gets squeezed out, but doesn’t go back to the water to soak more up, eventually it’ll be dry. And there’s not much you can do with a dry sponge.
      Thanks again!

  16. Justin – Centuries ago, you wouldn’t have been called an uber-generalist, but rather a renaissance man.

    Expert bloggers kindly advise us to narrow down our niche and stick to it. We appreciate their online presence and feel empowered by their input. But some of us feel suffocated roaming around in a small cage.

    I think it’s time for a new breed of bloggers to come out in broad daylight: Renaissance Bloggers. The only opportune time for that is today, before tomorrow.

    Kudos on the thought-provoking post, man.

    • Wilmaryad,
      Thanks very much for your kind words and inspiration! “A Renaissance Blogger” sounds really good, and it’s a title I’d be proud to carry. I think the ability to write clearly and engagingly on multiple subjects is a necessary skill for anyone hoping to make a living in this business, and I absolutely love being able to do it.
      Thanks again!

  17. Douglas R Witt says:

    I am glad to see my ugly mug is worming it’s way through the Internet. Keep up your writing and I will keep fallowing what you have to say…
    Cheers
    Douglas R Witt

    • Douglas,
      Thanks for dropping by, and for making that awesome photo available in the first place. When I came across it on Flickr, I knew it had to be the picture for this post. Glad you liked the article.
      Thanks again!

  18. Hi Justin. You ask, “are you having fun?” A: You bet ya and it only gets better as time goes by. The only hurdle that raises its ugly head from time to time is when trying to write something is akin to getting blood out of a stone. But I guess that happens even to the best of bloggers.

    Having fun is not only good for the writer but for the readers as well. Why come to a blog if they’re only going to get bored, and like the old days, flick the channel even before the page finishes loading for something that tickles their fancy.

    Even for niche blogs, diverting your attention to something completely different that’s laced with a touch of fun and unexpected goodies, will hopefully keep them entertained and you as well.

    In that regard, I go all out and spend an inordinate amount of time trying to do just that, especially with gifts they can take straight away and use as they see fit; no big favours asked in return.

    Writing since 2007, like others, I’ve learnt a great deal from friends and complete strangers that happen to pass my way. It’s what keeps me going on the road to my Holy Grail.

    While social networking is a great way to meet new people, give you ideas for your writing, attract people to your site, it can lead you astray. For spending copious amounts on Twitter and the like, can divert you away from your writing. Sounds harsh but there are too many things out there that are plainly time wasters.

    Yes, you and Darren are right when you say, “tell the world something important.” But how can you cater for everyone?

    Sticking to your guns when it comes to what you like to write about, is paramount. Are we to resort to throwing in burley to attract all comers? Sounds the wrong way to go about things.

    Like I said, we must stick to our guns and stay on the same lines that we first started with when it comes to our writing, while maintaining, as you say, having fun.

    Now I’d like to post everyday but I’d end up in the divorce courts. Now that would take the fun out of everything. Thanks for the advise and good luck.

    Take Care,
    Peter

    • Peter,
      Thanks for the comment. I completely agree with your point about social media. While it’s awesome for so many things, including sharing your blog posts and other peoples’ posts as well, plus engaging with your audience and connecting with all sorts of people, places and events, there’s no doubt it can be a form of passive procrastination (let me just check my Facebook one more time, then I’ll write that post) or even active avoidance (I’m not up to write today. I’ll just hang out on Twitter.) I have to catch myself or I’ll fall right into that.
      Thanks again!

  19. Well serious work needs some time off & as you said Conversing is the best way to give our body some rest.

  20. Mary Byrom says:

    Great post Justin ! I’m totally having fun !!! My blog is about having fun while working (and getting to see a nice corner of the wild world while we are at it).
    Write? I don’t get a chance to think about writing…I’m just having a conversation and sharing the awesome places I get to visit. I meet some really incredible people in my travels. My readers follow the posts so they can get a taste of my adventures in my tiny corner of the planet…and I got picked up by print & web media last September so the visitors come from near and far….

    • Mary,
      Thanks very much for the comment. I took a look at your main site and your blog, and I think it’s obvious to everyone who reads it that you are having fun doing what you do. I appreciate you sharing it with all of us and showing us how it’s done.
      Thanks again!

  21. Wasim Ismail says:

    Blogging can be as fun as you want it to be, or as serious as your want it to…Just enjoy every moment of it :)….There’s always something new to learn, which is always fun

    • Wasim,
      Great point about something new to learn. Vicki up above made a similar point, and I couldn’t agree more. As long as we’re interested enough to keep learning, our readers will stay interested in what we share from our education.
      Thanks again!

  22. I acutally have found blogging to take over my life/world in a not so good way, so for 2011 I will attempt to master video blogging.

    Thanks for a great post!

    Krizia

    • Krizia,
      Thanks for your point of view. It certainly can become an overwhelming proposition. I like your method of keeping it under control. I’m considering how to incorporate more video into my blog as well, so I’d be interested to see how you do it.
      Thanks again!

  23. Justin, I got an Facebook email from a 17 yr old man the other day asking my ‘how do you become a graphic designer?’

    Wow, what an honour! This young man is making life decisions and because he’s read my blog on the 20 years I’ve been doing graphic design he’s plucked up the courage to ask me for career advice.

    Phew. That’s what makes blogging fun! and profound! helping someone you never know to take a next step in their journey.

    Thanks Justin,

    Steve

    • Steve,
      Thanks so much for the personal experience. I’ve had the same experience, and you’re right. It really makes it all worth it when you find a reader taking action or just really affected by your writing.
      Thanks again!

  24. Melvin says:

    You know what, if you ask me that question 4 months ago my answered would be no. Seriously, I mean big bloggers teach one thing and that is hard work. And most starting bloggers rub this statement the wrong way. They tend to really really work hard into making things work and unfortunately it overshadows them on whether they really enjoy and like what they’re doing or not.

    That was my case months ago, but now I’d say I really really enjoy it a lot more than ever.

    • Melvin,
      Thanks for the comment. I took a look through your archives at melvinblog and I can definitely tell you’ve perked up of late. It looks like your readership can too, because your comments are getting more regular and involved. Congratulations man, keep it up!
      Thanks again!

  25. Earl z Pearl says:

    One think that you said on the blog that hit me was to,”have fun”. I always tell karaoke singers before they go on stage is to “have fun”, if they do that one single thing, I will be successful, they will be successful, and everybody in the club WILL have fun. Great article, Much success!

  26. noobbgodlike says:

    hey, I really want to thank you for this post. I have done blogging for about 9 months. My blog is about game (game guide), SOmetime I stress becuase I try to add one post every day whihc make me can’t enjoy the game itself. After reading this post I think I am gonna relax a bit. Thank you very much.

    PS: if you have a suggestion for my blog please tell me :D

    • Noob, :)
      Thanks for the comment. It’s definitely beneficial to slow down if you’re finding the daily post schedule is sapping your enjoyment, because I’m sure your readers can tell when that happens. As to your blog, unfortunately I can’t get into it because you have some plug-in installed that keeps me from seeing your content. I guess my recommendation would be to eliminate anything that hinders readers from reading, commenting and navigating seamlessly.
      Thanks again!

      • noobbgodlike says:

        huh are you sure??? I don’t install any weird plug in my site.Could you give me a screen shot of it. Sorry to bothers you T T.

  27. Eric says:

    Great advice! The same thing happened to me. I posted heavily for about a year, but then got so burned out I didn’t put up a post for about 4 months. Then I only was posting about 3 times a month for a couple of months. I finally got back into the swing of things a few weeks ago and have been posting almost daily since. My writing style has changed a little too since taking so much time off. I used to be very serious in my blog posts (I have a political opinion and news blog) but now I throw more humor and sarcasm into my posts. I think this has helped me because my traffic was about 50 percent higher last week than it has ever been before. Trying to keep it fun has really helped me a lot.

    • Eric,
      Thanks very much for the comment and the personal application. Two things I picked out of your comment: 1) When you burned out, it was for real. Letting the blog go for four months probably killed your readership, so in many ways you’re starting out like a brand-new blog. But, 2) It seems to have helped to some extent also, since you’ve found your writing voice with this latest incarnation of your blog, and your readers are responding. Congratulations, and best of luck going forward!
      Thanks again!

  28. Nathan says:

    First of all, you’re a great writer! But that’s just my opinion. You’re right, if it was just writing that wouldn’t be so bad. But when you add in everything else to being successful it takes the fun out of it.
    I have a few websites selling products but customers couldn’t comment on those sites so I started a blog in part so they can comment and review, if they like, about what they buy.
    I know everybody says to get a niche but part of having a blog is the interaction. It’s not just about the writer, you get audience participation. I think you need to listen to your readers and keep the ideas going both ways. After all life is to big for just one topic all the time.
    I’m a new blogger, have a lot to learn.
    I enjoyed reading your article and all of the comments, keep writing.

    • Nathan,
      Thanks very much! I agree with your sentiment that we need to listen to the readers and adjust accordingly. For example, one of my readers from this guest post came to my site and let me know that she likes the content but my pop-up box advertising my free e-book annoyed the heck out of her! I thanked her for the feedback because otherwise, how was I to know? I’m testing out the pop-up box, and I can adjust how it functions, so I’m going to drop it down to once per visitor instead of three times and see if I get the same benefits without annoying anyone else. Win-win, as far as I’m concerned!
      Thanks again!

  29. Vivek Parmar says:

    that’s a nice post. I like to add only 1 cent of mine to it. Always blog for passion not for money or anything because if you blog for passion you will definitely enjoy everything and do not feel alone.

    • Vivek,
      Thanks for your penny. I’ll add one more of my own. :) I believe passion and money can coincide, but I agree with you that passion has to come first. Or, at the very least, enjoyable productivity. I know of many niche bloggers who set up blogs strictly for the purpose of capitalizing on a profitable niche and their sites took off. I have my doubts that they are all passionate about every one of their subjects (because some of these bloggers run several blogs each) but they are capable of creating interesting and compelling content consistently about these subjects and they’re making a solid income by doing so.
      Thanks again!

  30. You’re so right about having fun..

    When I’m not having fun with it, it gets a real drag, it shows in everything. My writing style, my energy, my ideas. A blog is a form of conversation and who wants to talk to someone who is boring and staid. Taking a lot of short and longer breaks from my computer, getting out in the real world, smelling the roses is what gets me rolling again.

    • Alison,
      Thanks very much for the comment. You’re absolutely right, and looking back at some of my archive, I can tell just by the headlines sometimes how much I was dragging. I like your reminder to get away from the computer and into the real world regularly. Sometimes my wife needs to drag me out by the ear, and then I’m still carrying a notebook with me just in case… :)
      Thanks again!

  31. Joachim says:

    Hi Justin,

    this is a great reminder of what blogging should be about. Or at least of what it should include. Fun. The post really resonated with me, partly because I see the upcoming posts on my blog as some I HAVE to write instead of some I WANT to write.

    A danger of starting to blog is definitely that it can be so self-absorbing. I got into blogging to promote my music. 15 months later I haven’t moved on musically and spend too much time working “building the list.” Thanks for the post. It will stay in my mind for the next few days and some more I hope,

    Cheers, Joachim

    • Joachim,
      Thanks a lot for commenting. I fell into the same trap you describe as well. My blog was originally intended as a vehicle to market my writing services, but soon enough I was viewing the blog as an end in itself. Now, I can see a hybrid purpose because I view it as a constantly expanding portfolio of my work and a way to increase my chances of being found by potential clients online. But I also see it as a great way to interact with people, improve my writing, learn, teach and grow. And, maybe one day, make a few bucks on the side too. But if I never market my writing services outside the blog, my chances of succeeding on that front are slim.
      Thanks again!

  32. barbara says:

    Justin I love your generalist approach. I struggled with the niche problem for months, too. Now I’m coming up on my 1st ‘blogoversary’ this month and finally stopped worrying about it. Essentially it’s a memoir blog, because it’s stories and lessons I’ve learned while living a pretty interesting life. There’s nothing as satisfying as a reader telling you they’ve been helped by something you’ve written. Makes it all worth it.

    As I realized this blog was my memoir, for the most part, it began to seem awkward throwing in tutorials and art advice so I’m about to launch a 2nd one devoted to that. I’m even running my 1st contest to ‘name that blog’.

    Some people think I’m crazy for taking on another blog, but I see it as a way to keep the original interesting and the new one lighter and more educational. Both will be fun for me. When it’s not fun anymore I’m done.
    Thanks for a great post!

  33. Priyanka says:

    Your article is interesting and I do identify with it to a certain extent… while I personally didn’t go through the exact same thing.. but what I think is that blogging is like a process where one needs to keep figuring out what you are doing. As long as one is doing is genuinely prolly this wouldn’t apply to someone who just does this for traffic or ad money or something.

    I also started ‘working hard’ at getting content on the blog but along with that some posts were damn genuine stuff. And the blog was a hotch potch of topics personal, work and fun which I didn’t feel served any purpose to any of my readers…..then I separated blogs and have one which is ‘professional’ and couple other for personal and fun stuff.
    Though even now I am realizing that I definitely don’t want to just put content on it that falls in the theme. So also trying to figure out how and what I want to blog… and yes in a relaxed way. :)

  34. Cathie says:

    Thank you for expressing my dilemna so succinctly! I haven’t blogged since December because I no longer found myself interesting. Now I’m wondering if I ever was. Good food for thought here.

  35. Not only is this a powerful message for bloggers, it’s a prescription for a great life too. We are trained to believe that “hard work” is the way to success, but the truth is that “fun work” is the way to success. Nearly all truly happy, successful people LOVE what they’re doing–it’s more play than work to them.

    I fell into the push, push, push trap on blogging a few months ago and then realized I didn’t have to do everything that the experts at problogger or other sites suggest. I can choose to do what feels good to me, what feels right. And blogging has been MUCH more fun … and successful since then.

  36. Barbara says:

    My blog is only a month old and already it seems to have taken over my life. I have been getting bogged down thinking what to write about, worried about giving value to my readers and my blog became a chore; I wasn’t having fun! If that was how I was feeling, I knew it would pass through to my readers.
    After much thought and self-searching, I have decided to take a more relaxed attitude to my blog and decided quality is better than quantity. I post when I have something valuable to say, and now I feel my blog is taking on it’s own personality.
    I chose a niche about pets because it is what I am passionate about and my readers are building up slowly. I hope I can improve as I learn more – but I am having fun now!

    • Barbara,
      Thanks very much for your input. You learned this lesson early, so congratulations. I wish I had been so smart one month in! :) I took a look through your posts, and your enjoyment really shines through in how you write. Anyone reading what you write can tell animals are your passion, and they respond to that transparency.
      Thanks again!

  37. Amanda says:

    Like some of your other commentators, I learned quickly that I wasn’t going to enjoy blogging and my writing if I didn’t work out exactly what/who I wanted to be. I now post once or twice a week and do a fair amount of research for it. However, I generally feel fairly satisfied with my end product so the planning and research all work towards keeping my blog rewarding for me. That plenty of others find it informative, useful, entertaining and rewarding is really icing on the cake!

    • Amanda,
      That’s the key! Thanks for providing your personal experience. I hope your process continues to work well for you.
      Thanks again.

  38. Andrea says:

    This is such a great post. I’ve been blogging for a year now and I write a travel blog, so the content writes itself sometimes (and it is definitely fun to make). I’m torn between caring about stats and just writing what I enjoy. The blog is also quite experimental because it started off with one idea for content but has now morphed and I’m not sure the title is even relevant to us anymore. I’m currently on the road with my husband (who writes but doesn’t worry about all the techie stuff) and have no time to tweak the site. We’re just enjoying our long-term travel and posting about twice a week. It seems most other travel bloggers post more than us and I’m sure they all have better stats, but right now two posts a week is all we can produce without sacrificing quality. Promotion is also difficult to keep up with on the road.

    • Andrea,
      Thanks for your in-the-trenches view. I took a look at inspiringtravellers.com and I think the title still fits. Maybe it’s about inspiring others to travel, or maybe it’s the story of two travelers who are inspiring. In both cases, I think you’re hitting the nail on the head, and your audience will know it. Your site isn’t necessarily going for the huge travel market. You’re looking for the eclectic journeyman who loves finding a hole-in-the-wall pub or street fair that almost no one else knows about. And a new weekly beer to try! :)
      Seems to me twice a week posting is perfect for your site, and it provides more than enough content to keep people interested. Keep it up!
      Thanks again!

  39. Tremendous advice. Most people seem to take blogging too seriously. What’s the point in blogging for a living, if you don’t enjoy it anymore than doing data entry in an office for an overbearing boss? Just a thought.

    • Dave,
      You nailed it. And that’s exactly what happened to me after a while: I was doing data entry instead of actually writing my blog. I’m so glad I caught it when I did.3
      Thanks for your comment!

  40. darkduck says:

    My blog is about 4 months old, more than 40 posts (2 posts a week in average).
    And I am still getting fun writing for it.
    But not much fun in monetizing it. 8-)

    • Darkduck,
      I sympathize with you. I’m not trying too hard yet with the monetizing strategies, but sometimes the numbers can be discouraging, especially when you’re putting your heart and soul into making the blog the best it can be. But, we keep at it, as long as we’re having fun!
      Thanks again.

  41. T.Lee says:

    I’ve been blogging for a little over a year and I love it. But it does have a dark side, where feelings of isolation and threats of burn out flourish.

    To combat ‘the dark side’ I take long breaks (2-4weeks at a time), one in summer, and one in winter. I also remind myself why I’m blogging. (It’s easy to get caught up with someone else’s goals, and then fall short). I write web fiction, and my personal goals are to improve my writing, and entertain readers. If I were to get caught up in something like SEO’s, I would lose focus on the story. But when I stay on track, and keep it all about the story — then little things, like a reader posting a comment, relating to the character’s experience — make it all worth the time.

    • Angie O' says:

      It is so true that it is so easy to get caught up with someone else’s goals. I needed the reminder that blogging is ultimately about what I feel called to do, and not other’s opinions of it.

      P.S. I checked out your blog and I am excited to read more!

  42. Angie O' says:

    This post is so helpful. I am a newbie blogger, only about three months in. I put pressure on myself to get so much done each day (post daily, grow in my use of social media, and 100 other things), that it quickly has lost some of the pure joy of writing. Thank you for sharing that I am not alone. I am going to take some time tonight to think about how I can relax and get back to my main purpose for writing: creating life-enriching content on healthy living for my readers while supplementing my family’s income. Thanks for reminding me that I need to give myself some grace. :)

  43. Carol Tice says:

    Hi Justin! Nice post.

    It’s my goal to experience joy in everything I do. My blog only recently started earning, but I’ve just had a blast the whole way — getting to know my readers and learning about how to reach a blog audience.

    I sign my query letters “Enjoy!”

    We all need to be reminded to do that more.

  44. Willis says:

    I can appreciate your honsety about be young in the world of blogg. It makes me very axious, but I plan to get over this. But I need more hands on before, I will be able to conquer. This is a new form of communicatication for me, and normally we fear what we don’t know. I know that is what I am facing.

  45. Russell says:

    Good advice, around Christmas I was sick and depressed, and just about ready to pull the plug. But realized I was burning out on blogging. I had only started last April, I took a break to chillax, and rethink some things. My schedule at work, makes it easier to post once weekly. I know you are “suppose” to blog daily, but hey it’s my blog, and up to me to run with what I’m comfortable with. I have made my decision and for right now will keep to that schedule, until maybe things let up a bit elsewhere in my life.