writing

Finding Focus — or at least searching for it!

Where do I want to focus my time on social media?
Do I need to separate out my blog and quilting business into two different websites?
Who is my blog audience? Is there more than one? If so, do I need to focus on one?
How can I get more blog traffic and grow my blog audience? Is that really important or just my ego talking?

Bookwifery planning guide, computer

These are just a few of the questions swirling in my head the last few weeks. I’m entering the fourth and final week of the book pregnancy planning course taught by Bookwifery. We’ve looked at the three tiers of book writing: your book, your voice, your audience. It’s very helpful and at the same time I feel like I’m all over the place right now.

Every day, or at least every week, I’ve come up with a new idea or something I need to focus on or a new rabbit hole I want to follow. My brain is feeling overwhelmed and leading me to “shut down” mode.

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There’s this thing about me: when I get an idea about something, I want to do it right now. That bowl doesn’t fit in the cabinet? No problem: rearrange the whole kitchen right now. All my papers are spread out everywhere. No problem: go to Staples, get what you need and organize it right now. That tree needs to come down? No problem: contact all the companies, pick one and have them cut it down right now.

Thankfully I have people in my life — mostly my husband — who keeps me in check and recognizes my need to do everything right now but also acknowledges not everything can be done right now. [insert eye roll] But, he is correct and I’m grateful for his ability to slow me down without throwing me off the tracks.

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Social media — a constant love/hate relationship for me. I love the way it keeps me connected to friends and family. But, it is frustrating to go on one platform and see cute pictures, then hop onto the other one and see the exact same cute pictures because people post the same things on both sites. It gets repetitive and old very quickly. At the same time, I have different audiences on different sites and I want to reach all of them. However, there are moments that it feels like I’m just scattering seeds everywhere, tending none of them, and then waiting to see which ones take root. That doesn’t feel very productive.

I don’t know what to do about my website. As I’m writing more and trying to grow my audience, it does make some sense that my quilting business be separate from my writing work. Those are two very different audiences. One is coming to my site for a very specific product — for examples and a price list. Another audience is coming to my site for my blog and as I narrow down on that audience, I will need to have other resources and opportunities for them, which are likely not related to my quilting work.

When it comes to my blog, I’m kind of all over the place. I don’t have one particular audience in mind when I write. I started my blog as a way to capture my reflections during my sabbatical; overtime it became a place to share my grief and experiences of my infertility journey. I also write about quilts, running, yoga, family and dogs. It’s kind of a life blog? I guess? But, what I’m learning about writing a book is that I need to get really specific about who that audience is and write to specifically to them… I’m not sure that audience is particularly interested in all those things listed above. But, I also don’t want to stop writing about those topics because I enjoy writing about them and some people enjoy reading about them, so now what?

Ah, my ego. I tell myself all the time: I’m not writing for the stats. And then, after I’ve hit “publish” what do I do? Look at the stats. I write for me — it’s therapeutic and a great way for me to process. But, I’ll admit, I want more people to read what I have to say. [A light bulb has turned on in this very moment!] And, I am now realizing the importance of focusing on the audience… If my content is all over the place, why would someone choose to follow my blog? Yes, friends and family may read it because I post the link on Facebook or just because they want to support me, but to get followers who are interested in my content, I need to be more focused and give them consistent content on a regular basis.

So then, does that mean I need to change my content — no more posts about the last race I ran? I don’t know. That’s something I need to work on and get some advice about.

Maybe you can give me some feedback, dear reader:

  • Why do you read my blog? What draws you in?
  • If you don’t read every post, how do you decide which posts to read?
  • How did you discover my blog?

I’d love to read your thoughts! I feel like I’m on the verge of some really great things as I continue to work with Bookwifery. It’s exciting to not know where I will be with my writing and website and social media a year from now — nerve-wracking, but exciting too!

peace.

Share your comments with me. I can’t wait to read them!

8 thoughts on “Finding Focus — or at least searching for it!”

  1. I’m not the best person to ask about writing for an audience, because my blog is all over the place too and intentionally so. I’ve been what was once called “personal blogging” (not sure if it has a name now) since 2002/2003 and back then all blogs were all over the place because they specifically were a place to share with other bloggers about one’s life online, away from the “real” world. Only recently have we seen the the rise in popularity of blogs and cultivating a niche audience. I was resentful at first, but whatever. Blogging has always been an outlet for my thoughts and life, although presented differently than my journal. I too am not happy that my blog does not receive more comments, but I am also not doing much to change that. Exchanging comments on other blogs used to work, but I feel like more needs to be done and I’m just unwilling to do that (active promotion on social media, click bait posts, etc).

    My advice to you is try what you feel is best, but also feel okay to stop listening to advice if it’s not working for you. There was a time when I had a somewhat similar frame of mind as you have now. I began to write for an audience in online publications, but I realized quickly how much I disliked it. I did not appreciate being edited for click bait or edited down so much that nuance was lost. So I decided I was going to go back to writing for myself and if people happened to stumble upon my blog, great. If not, that’s fine too.

    I read your blog because you are a great story teller. I think I read most of your blog posts, but don’t always comment because I may not have anything to contribute. I appreciate your honest posts about your journey with infertility the most, because they are so well-written and emotive, but I happen to like that you’re not just focused on that part of your life, because you are more than your infertility. That’s what I love about blogging. For me, it transcends all the trends in life that say we have to sell a product in some form. My blog has utility for no one but myself and I think we all need that one thing. For other bloggers, that might not be what blogging means to them, but it does to me.

    Hope this is somewhat useful! Best of luck in whatever you decide. But I think you’e doing just fine!

    1. So useful, Rafia. Thank you for taking the time to share! I don’t think I’d be thinking about all of this if it weren’t for the work I’m doing to lay a foundation for my someday-book. Publishers are very interested in the author’s platforms and ways they engage with their audience. That aside, I’m really happy with what my blog is for me. I just need to find a way to blend the two, if possible.

  2. I started reading your blog because of the North Church connection. I keep reading because you are willing to be vulnerable. You are also a good writer
    I tend not to read the dog blogs.

    Keep writing it is cleansing for soul.

  3. I enjoy your style of writing and your reflective quality. I understand the overwhelm that comes from presenting ourselves through the internet, which is not helped by the massive amount of contradictory advice! I keep pulling myself back to one question, whenever I wander off: what am I am trying to achieve with this… what is my desired outcome? There are only 24 hours in a day, and only so many days in an incarnation, so I need to define my intention, and then take appropriate action – anything else is just procrastination! If you are genuinely happy with being scattered, then it doesn’t matter a jot. If you aren’t, then work out why, and define what is most important to you that you achieve. And then take it day by day, step by step, so that you are not tumbling into the overwhelm abyss again (old habits die very hard, I am afraid!). Work out which activities are stealing precious time and energy (I find that social media does that for me, with very little reward or satisfaction), and ruthlessly trim anything that either takes more than it gives, or drains time and energy. I personally don’t continue to read general lifestyle blogs, for example, because I might as well just go onto FB if all I want to hear about is someone’s everyday life, but others do enjoy them, which is fine. I know we are constantly being told “find a blogging niche”, and obviously you have one with your quilting business, but you also need to write about what genuinely interests or moves you, otherwise it will become a chore, and readers will sense your disconnection. Your writing is gentle and smooth, and although I can’t relate to some of your content, I still enjoy the way in which you express things, and can ‘feel’ some of what is going on within your inner world. And by the way, I look at my stats too, at least on my main business website… and I have recently decided that I am going to write what I really know and understand, and what interests me, rather than playing to the gallery, which might have brought me a few more readers but hasn’t notably increased business (and not always the kind of business I really want!). I always prefer the bottom line, the brass tacks… and to keep things as simple and straightforward as possible!

    1. You’re right – there is only so much time in a day, so the fact that you took a few minutes to respond to my post is such a gift. Thank you! You’ve written a lot for me to think about – purpose, interests, time-sucks, outcome, etc… plenty to go to my journal about 🙂 I’m grateful that you read my writing!

  4. Hi Anne,
    I started reading your blog because you are a fellow BSYM yogini and have enjoyed getting to know you through your writing. I usually click through when I notice you have posted something new – typically through Instagram – and I think I have read most of your posts. I kept coming back because you are a thoughtful and interesting writer. I greatly appreciate your vulnerability and authentic voice that comes through. And I 110% understand everything going through your head. I am in the process of starting some serious writing and always have a plethora of ideas that are exhausting to manage!

    My opinion about your blog and quilting business is that your quilting is a small business and should be treated with the level of commitment to which you want it to grow. There are no “rules” when it comes to how many blogs a person should have – and attempting to blend or separate business from personal through the social media world is something that I think should be taught as a year long class — it is so overwhelming to consider it all and attempt to find the right balance.

    As our friend and soul support yogini would say – breathe, listen to your heart, and then follow your instincts.

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