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Tiaras and Trucks

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Can I Buy a Niche at Target?


I feel my cheeks flush, a momentary flash of pleasure bubbling to the surface before I force it to retreat.
“Thank you, but…”
“…it’s the jeans.  They hide a lot!”
“…I really need to work on the dialogue.  I don’t think it sounds believable.”
“…there are so many more talented writers out there.”
Graciously accepting compliments is tough.  I shrug them off, finding it easy to rationalize the words into kindness or obligation instead of actual admiration.
So when I saw the Summer Blog Social prompts about “advice for me,” encouraging us to speak to our strengths and also areas we would like to improve, my mind skated over the strengths facet of the post and went to the weaknesses in my blog.
As I ventured out of my blogging bubble, I worried I would lose steam and run out of ideas.  Instead, I have a little notebook filled with jotted notes and post ideas, and I’m beginning to worry about those notes. 
Abs singing the wrong words
More random run thoughts – leis, Proud Mary, small towns
Preschool beginning next month
(pause for emotional moment)
Each of my notes is a little seed, a seed I fertilize during runs and while driving in the car, a seed that takes shape and grows into a post.  And that, I think, is one of my strengths.  I can manage to find a foothold in an idea and climb it like a beanstalk into something substantial.
But are my seeds too different, too haphazard? 
Where is my focus?  My direction?  My niche?
These questions creep into my thoughts as I try to find a cool spot on the pillow at night.  They sting my eyes as I rinse shampoo out of my hair. 
I love watching my little seeds grow into posts, but I’m beginning to wonder if it’s possible to plant heartstring-tugging toddler posts next to irreverent running posts across the garden from serial fiction and possibly even venturing into the cultivation of a vlog or two. 
I’m not a gardener.  I don’t know if it’s reasonable to plant strawberries and cucumbers and tulips and peonies and hydrangea in one garden without it turning into a giant mess of weeds.
So Summer Blog Social readers, are any of you expert gardeners?  Can you help me understand how to define and refine my blogging niche without sacrificing my little seedlings tucked away in my notebook, waiting to feel the sun?
he's confused, too

Labels: , ,

32 Comments:

  • At August 4, 2011 at 12:45 AM , Anonymous Mama Wants This said...

    Angela, I can't give you any advice on a niche, as I'm all over the place too, probably more so than you.

    The only difference is, I don't really care lol. I just write what I know, I write from the heart and I stay true to myself. If my readers start wondering what my niche is, then I guess they just don't get me.

    Are you worried about you losing focus or losing readers? Or not gaining readers? Or needing a good portfolio of writing work so you can use that as a basis for freelance writing work? I think if you find your motivation, you will find your niche (or not). 

    That wasn't very helpful was it?

     
  • At August 4, 2011 at 1:00 AM , Anonymous C @ Kid Things said...

    I am not a gardener, either, but maybe flowers and vegetables growing together makes the garden more interesting. Not that I'm really one to talk, I have a small container of zinnias growing at mine, because it's what I'm familiar with.

     
  • At August 4, 2011 at 7:38 AM , Anonymous jessica said...

    First of all, I love how you wrote this post, you have such talent (do not shrug off this compliment!). 
    Second, I used to worry about niche too. If I wrote about autism would I have readers who could not relate. If I wrote about loss would I depress everyone? And what I found was this, if your voice is consistent and you provide a universal message in your posts then it works. So if you write about preschool, ask a question at the end about how your readers have managed through transitions or if you write about running bring your readers into a discussion about their exercise routine or maintaining balance. Does that make sense? It is all about writing what you want to write but helping the reader see themselves in something you said. That is what works for me anyway. Hope this helps since I just wrote a book in your comments!

     
  • At August 4, 2011 at 9:40 AM , Anonymous MamaInsomnia said...

    I am by no means a gardener, IRL or figuratively, but I can relate. I posted on a similar topic and learned a lot from the responses I received. So much so, it changed my mind on how I feel about finding a niche.
    I wouldn't worry to much about it. Your writing is real and honest and relatable and that is what will make people read it. Keep doing what you are doing and you'll be fine.

     
  • At August 4, 2011 at 11:54 AM , Anonymous Liz said...

    My personal feeling is that a consistent voice is more important. Also? I think parenting and lifestyle bloggers have a broad-reaching umbrella that can encompass several topics. I think you need to feel comfortable planting all your little seeds! :)

     
  • At August 4, 2011 at 11:57 AM , Anonymous Mrs. Weber said...

    Girl - I struggled with this too! You're not alone. I think Jessica is right on the money - as long as you have a somewhat consistent voice, you're good to go! That's why I've started to like the term "lifestyle bloggers" over "mommy bloggers." You can do whatever you want - this is YOUR space. Enjoy it and don't let a silly little thing like the word "niche" freak you out :)

     
  • At August 4, 2011 at 1:41 PM , Anonymous Kate F. said...

    I would not even think to offer up a solution but can completely commiserate with you. After reading some of the responses below there seams to be a consensus to do write what YOU feel is important - even if the focus of every post isn't the same. I struggle with this too. I particularly stuggle with the fact that I writ for two separate blogs... Both of which I love and want to have great, quality content for. What I have found is that each post is a learning curve for me. And the more I learn the better I understand what I really want to do with my blogging. Learn and the notch will follow??? That's my current theory???

     
  • At August 4, 2011 at 1:43 PM , Anonymous Kate said...

    Wow! Sorry for the bad spelling! Commenting from my iPad on vacation and still getting the hang of typing on it :)

     
  • At August 4, 2011 at 2:03 PM , Anonymous Missy | The Literal Mom said...

    So I just saw the Smurfs movie yesterday and IT gave me a seed to give to YOU.  The woman in the movie told Clumsy Smurf, "No one has to be one thing.  Do you always have to be clumsy?"  And I said to myself, "THAT'S a post I'm going to write about sometime soon.  But now I'm giving it to you as a reason why pigeonholing yourself into a niche may not make you happy.  If you have important things to say about a variety of topics, say them!  And if you want to make it so that people know what to expect on certain days, then designate days (even if only in your personal schedule).  Example - toddler Tuesday, runner Wednesday, etc.  


    I hope this helps - and I loved this post.  :)

     
  • At August 4, 2011 at 2:55 PM , Anonymous Rubberbacon said...

    I see a blog as a multifaceted thing.  You probably talk to your girlfriends about a myriad of subjects, why treat your bloggers to a niche subject matter?  So what if you tell us about cucumbers one day and rant about politics the next?  It keeps things interesting.

    I totally had to spell check myriad :)

     
  • At August 4, 2011 at 5:56 PM , Anonymous Paulette said...

    I'd really like to give you advice but I can't. I fear my blog, much like my life at times, is a bit random and all over the place. As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life.

     
  • At August 4, 2011 at 8:48 PM , Anonymous Emily Suess said...

    My blog is all over the place. Book reviews, cooking posts, diary entries, writing & freelance articles. I think as long as you own whatever you do, people will "get" it. It's trying to force yourself into something that makes people wonder about your sincerity.

    Also, I (a childless, career woman of 31) paused for an emotional moment too. A show of solidarity, if you will.

     
  • At August 4, 2011 at 9:59 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Wisdom by the Smurfs!  I like it :) 

    I also like the idea of having different things scheduled different days, for my own schedule.  That also would make sure that things stay relatively balanced, which is important to me.

    Thanks :)

     
  • At August 4, 2011 at 10:01 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thanks for the moment of solidarity :)  It really does seem to be the overriding sentiment that a "niche" isn't as important as the overall voice and quality of the content.  I think I'm going to like your blog :)

     
  • At August 4, 2011 at 10:01 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Here's to a little bit of random!  It seems to be the way things go around here!

     
  • At August 4, 2011 at 10:03 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Oooh, I like that.  Though I doubt I will be politically ranting very much, because I would get so very schooled on that front!

    Myriad is a great word - spellcheck away!

     
  • At August 4, 2011 at 10:05 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I'm not sure if I'm more jealous of the vacation or the iPad :)

    Thanks for your view on this; I think it's especially fitting since you do write for two different blogs/audiences, which probably means a slightly different voice as well.  I guess the main thing is to be genuine and put out quality content that matters to me.  Cuz it's all about me, right? LOL

     
  • At August 4, 2011 at 10:06 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thank you! 

    Whoo hoo for lifestyle bloggers!  The problem is, when I think of lifestyle bloggers, I think "people whose lifestyle I would want".  Days like today, with my crazy kids, I don't know if I could pay people to take over my lifestyle ;)

     
  • At August 4, 2011 at 10:09 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thanks Liz!  I guess I just want to make sure that my umbrella isn't getting so large that I can't walk with it :)

     
  • At August 4, 2011 at 11:12 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I read your responses, too.  I makes me feel better knowing that it's not as big of a deal as I thought, but it also makes me feel better that you were worried about it, too LOL

    And I am nowhere close to a gardener.  I kill plants and don't like to be dirty. 

     
  • At August 4, 2011 at 11:16 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thank you!  I will work on accepting the compliment gracefully.

    You are right, and you are so very good at it.  Your voice shines through in all of your posts, and I would read posts on your blog about your grocery shopping.  (Side note, they would probably be hilarious posts, because how do you do it with 3 when I can barely do it with 2?)

    I will keep your words in mind and really try to bring a common thread into my posts, something everyone can relate to when they read.

    xo

     
  • At August 4, 2011 at 11:17 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I hope so!  I don't even have a garden, but I might try herbs next year.  Because you basically need one pot, and they're tough to mess up :)

     
  • At August 4, 2011 at 11:22 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    It WAS helpful; it gave me some food for thought.  Though I would prefer lemon cupcakes!

    I guess I'm worried about people scratching their heads when they come over here, as in, "WHAT is that all about??"

     
  • At August 4, 2011 at 11:37 PM , Anonymous Olivemommy said...

    I think that a variety of topics will keep more people interested.  Organizing those topics by day (as someone else previously commented) would help readers know when they should come back to find the content they enjoy reading.  I think it showcases more of the real you and spotlights things that you view as important (which, to me, makes it more personal)

    I love the narration.  As for the gardening - I planted my strawberries next to basil this year.  No strawberries, but my basil is growing out of control. 

     
  • At August 4, 2011 at 11:42 PM , Anonymous Kristin & Megan said...

    We're no niche experts ourselves. We're kind of a mixed bag...but I like it that way!

     
  • At August 5, 2011 at 1:19 AM , Anonymous Jackie said...

    I really don't have any advice because I tend to write about whatever comes to my mind. It's mostly about family, but I throw in book reviews, and sometimes posts on couponing. The couponing posts are usually on certain days though.

     
  • At August 6, 2011 at 12:53 AM , Anonymous Paula @ Simply Sandwich said...

    After this awesome week I think it is safe to say we are all in the same boat. Instead of having to conform to a niche, can we all just be life bloggers? Really, if someone is focused on toddlers now, in a short time they will be in my shoes having teens. You are so fortunate to have the seeds and they have grown into a beautiful blog! Just keep going! :)

     
  • At August 7, 2011 at 9:15 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Life bloggers sounds good :)

     
  • At August 7, 2011 at 9:17 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I love book reviews :)  even though then I'm adding more things to my to-do list.

     
  • At August 7, 2011 at 9:20 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    But you're both so fashionable, and I go to you for my fashion tips (both for myself and my house!)

     
  • At August 7, 2011 at 9:21 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Basil is so delicious.  I definitely like the idea of having days scheduled for different things.

     
  • At August 8, 2011 at 9:35 AM , Anonymous Kir said...

    see, I find this kind of post helpful and good for me. Why? Because I am CONSTANTLY where you are, wondering what kind of writer, blogger, girl I am. How much to share, because I have SOME STORIES, should I stick to the mommy stuff, when really I love writing Kimmy & David more than anything.
    I have found that when I have things to write to prompt, (like RemembeRED and TRDC) that I look forward to that writing day, that I can "Count on it" and it makes me versatile and hones the skill that I am trying to learn.
     
    I think your blog is amazing, mostly because you find a way to post every day (VERY IMPRESSIVE) and make it interesting. You are one of my writing heroes. :)xo
     

     

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