Where This Blog is Headed

(To change things up a bit and make it easier for you, I’ll start with the conclusion so you can get the gist of why I’m writing this post—and if you don’t have time for the other 1,000-some words, you’ll still know what’s going on.)

From now on, I’m going to be writing about the stuff that I find interesting. It might be my goals for the week, it might be what we’ve been doing lately, it might be just a random thought from the morning’s Bible study. And, perhaps sometimes, I’ll share a tip or resource I’ve recently found.

I’m not going to try to write for a particular audience. It will end up being mostly applicable to homeschool students/graduates, and maybe Moms at times. I just don’t want to keep writing about something I’m not 100% interested in—there are plenty of other things in my life that I do that I’m not putting my all into, and I don’t want to have to do that with this blog as well.

Where This Blog is Headed

Alright, here’s the reasoning behind this change:

If you haven’t figured this out already, I’ll tell you now: I love to think. Therefore, a lot of what I want to share on my blog is random thoughts I’ve had. And recently while thinking about this blog, I realized something needs to change. I’ve hinted at changes several times (in February’s newsletter, and perhaps once or twice here), but as yet I haven’t come to any conclusive thoughts on the matter.

The purpose of this post today is to sort out all the thoughts I’ve had about this blog, what I don’t like about it and what I want to do in the future. If you don’t want to read it, that’s fine—I just need to process everything somewhere and this seems to be the best place to do it.

Peas

Can’t pull the pea off? Go ahead and eat it while it’s still attached to the vine–it won’t hurt you.

Before I begin, I’d like to go back to when I first started this blog. Back in May and June last year, as I was preparing to launch Learning Resource Directory, I decided I wanted something to go along with the website. Something with fresh content that was updated frequently, as opposed to the almost-static book reviews. Yes, they’re fresh and 5-7 new ones are posted a week, but they aren’t as engaging as a blog. Once posted, they’re basically static content.

I decided a blog would be the best option. Since I was interested in writing, and since writing is very involved with books, and since books are also very involved in homeschool, I decided to have a blog designed to encourage homeschoolers and writers. Purposeful Learning was created.

However, over the past few months I’ve come to realize that I’m not always thinking about or interested in writing or homeschooling. Therefore the posts I posted felt forced—I was writing about the topic of the blog, even though my heart wasn’t in it. Sometimes, there are other things that are much more interesting to me.

Salt Mountains

Mountains of salt at a factory north of us—spotted on a recent family trip.

Then I read a blog post on Noveltea. And the wheels really started turning. (Please, do read that post—I’ll try not to copy Lydia’s thoughts, but I do agree with her on every point!)

There are some things I really don’t like in different people’s blogs…and yet I write the same way myself. There are some popular guidelines that mainstream bloggers give as to how to be a successful blogger. But yet some of those are not appealing to me. From the very beginning, I wanted a way to share my life, my concerns about the world around me, and my random thoughts, in a place that people—even just one or two—could read it, be encouraged, and possibly allow that to change their lives. Or, if I have the wrong idea about something, that they could show me how I’m wrong, and I can change (Matthew 18 in action, to some extent).

Just so I can sum this up in my head, and since I have a thing for numbered lists and bullet points, here are a few things I’ve considered when mulling this topic over.

Some things I don’t like in blogs:

  • Posts that don’t resonate with me or my situation right now. A lot of advice given is to find your niche and write for that niche. However, there are some flaws in that idea—I’ll address them later. Suffice to say for now, if a blog I follow mostly shares posts that I don’t find interesting, I’ll rarely read the blog. The only reason I follow it is because I know the person and/or they sometimes share something that I find very helpful.
  • Posts that are all about the same thing. Also relating to the first point—there are some major downfalls to blogs like this. No, I’m really not interested in your book right now, no matter how much you talk about it. Does your life really completely revolve around that book?
  • Pictures that are used…and reusedI know I’m guilty of this myself, but really—I’ve already seen that picture. Yes, it’s a nice one, but don’t you take new ones on occasion?
  • Blogging just for the sake of gaining attention. I’m highly guilty of this, but I want it to change! Yes, it’s pretty obvious that the only reason you write is because you want to attract big numbers and/or attention from those in the publishing world. Sorry, but I’m not interested in being part of a fanbase like that.
Boating

Big brother taking little sis for a boat ride.

Some things I do like in blogs:

  • Posts sharing ordinary life. Ones that contain the nittie-grittiness of life, such as telling how you failed (again) at completing that goal. Of course, if you’re always failing and never ever get it right, then that can be over-the-top too, but I love hearing how you are failing and then experiencing the win with you. Pictures showing your life also are really fun.
  • Random thoughts. I love getting in other people’s heads, and when they share the random pieces of information they’ve picked up lately, I really enjoy that glimpse into their lives.
  • Goal posts or reading lately/doing lately posts. Kind of the same idea as the first point, but I love seeing what things other people are trying to achieve in their lives, and then following their progress. I also love seeing what they’re reading, listening to, etc. as well.
Split Apple Rock

Split Apple Rock, a beautiful piece of New Zealand coast north of us.

Why I think writing for a niche is faulty:

The reasoning you get is, if you write for a niche, then you’ll attract fans that are especially interested in the things that you’re interested in. People will know what they’ll get when they come to visit, which provides some reason for them to come by. They’ll know when they see your name what you represent, which provides some form of security.

While I can see the logic behind that (that is, if I’m understanding the advice right), and the value in branding yourself, I see one little problem that could potentially be huge:

What about all the other things that we’re interested in, but we can’t share because we’re trying to write for our target audience?

I explored the thought in a comment on Lydia’s post, but basically it boiled down to: We’re all three-dimensional characters. We’re all interested in a lot of different things. And it’s really hard to connect to a one-dimensional person. Maybe I should just quote my comment:

“Having a blog that doesn’t have a particular “niche” means that we share whatever comes to mind at any particular time. To say it in writing terms, our blogs become dynamic, well-rounded characters, instead of being flat one-dimensional characters. Just about everyone has their own wide range of interests, and when that is shown through the blog, we can connect a lot better. Just as we don’t connect very well to one-dimensional characters in books, we also can’t connect as well to one-dimensional blogs.”

In conclusion, I want to be genuinely me, and I think changing is the best way to do it. I’ll be writing about what I find interesting, and hopefully you’ll find interesting as well. So…welcome to my brain!

By the way, if you managed to read all the way to the end—all 1,300+ words, I congratulate you. Great job.

Now go do something worth doing!

Over to you: What kind of blog posts and blogs do you enjoy reading? Do you have any tips for how I (or other people!) could do this whole blogging thing better?

3 thoughts on “Where This Blog is Headed

  1. Hi Esther

    I think one question that is worth asking is “Why would people want to read MY blog?” I mean, there are millions, perhaps billions of other blogs out there. Some are written by major brands. Some by people with political agendas, some by people with a fan base which spans the entire globe. I rather suspect that the people who are following your blog are not the same people who are following the majority of these other types. Some of them may be following other blogs with similar intellectual substance, or similar leanings toward home schooling or book reviews. But I think, in all honesty, that the main reason that most people will follow your blog is entirely different.

    I think, the main reason has a two-fold aspect to it. Firstly, it’s because people find you interesting. You’re unique and colourful – your perspective adds value to the subject that you discuss and clearly then, if you find it interesting yourself, then this comes across in your portrayal of it. Great orators and writers would concur that text is only hyperstatic when it loses the capacity to flow. Flow is generated by having a difference in charge – that is to say, that it occurs when the reader has ‘less’ than the blogger has. That creates a literary vacuum which literally draws the passion from the blog into the mind of the reader. The use of descriptive language may engage the writer. But you can describe electricity as well as you may, but if it has no charge, it will not flow, and no matter how much you flick the switch, the light will not come on.

    On that basis, I agree that your having passion for what you write will only make your words more of a nectar and elixir; intoxicating as they may be to the reader, perhaps in a similar way to what has been achieve by the great playwrights and authors for aeons.

    Of course, this leads on to the second reason that people read your blog. That is that they respect your judgement and this, in part is due to their appreciation of you as a person, but also because they know that your approach to life will be commensurate with good character and standards, but also have a literary spark to it, which is Esther.

    What is it about Charles Dickens, or H G Wells that means that centuries later, people skill adore the writings from a mind now dead for so long? When the internet is filled with plenty to read, why do some still gravitate to the substantial and satisfying eloquence of such authors as John Bunyan, dead for over four centuries, or the Reverend Adams? Will J K Rowling one day fall into this category? Probably not.

    I think, for them, it started with people enjoying their ‘spark’; that is to say, their inhibition and expression of their soul in a literary manner which was relentless, self exposing and raw. Anybody can write about going to the shop and buying a watermelon. Some could write about their thoughts and feelings whilst they went into the shop and purchased the watermelon. But how many would write about the angst, the hope, the tragedy, the turmoil, the rending of a heart, the exposure of the heart of man? The motives? The sin? The redemption, the cleansing of the Soul? The falling from Grace? The Slough of Despond? Being in Heavenly Places in Christ Jesus? Loneliness? Contentment? Poverty? Riches? Anger, hate, love and Love? What about LOVE? Or L O V E ??? And how many can express the heart of God? Or the gratitude of a saint?

    I think that people follow your blog because the seed is there. Everything bit of potential that is in the oak tree is also in the acorn. So, I think you’re onto something really good in the direction that you want to take. But I would like to offer you a challenge. Take a risk. Take one step further than you would by nature. Instead of enjoying Split Apple Rock from the safety of the beach, take a canoe and paddle out to it. Describe the current in the ocean, the battle of fighting it, the rest of flowing with it. Describe the change in weather, the ocean scent, the sound of canoe graunching on the rocks as you almost made it to your destination. Those are the things that will make people addicted to your writings.

    There is a third reason that people read your blogs. For some, it’s the only way that they’ll get to know you. Some people, near and far are limited in terms of a connection with you and your family. So therefore, for those people, reading your blog is a form of fellowship. For those people, it has another, and more personal meaning too.

    Whatever the main reason is for your writing, I hope that you continue. It’s a pleasure to read, and can be an encouragement to some, a resource for others, and each page that you write may be an extension of yourself. Every reason has value, but the most permanent value will be to you, as you continue to extend yourself, to grow into new areas of literacy and personal excellence, spiritual growth and appreciation for both the Divine and the human mind and the richness that is inherent in both.

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