Don't Focus

Don’t Focus (or In Praise of the Niche-Less Blog)

One of the quotes on my outgoing email is this one from Francis Ford Coppola:

“Parents always say focus on something. Don’t focus. Do all the things you love and someday it will come together and you will see what you are. And the things that you did … will all be relevant.

When I began this blog about a year ago, I did what any diligent person would do: I read everything about blogging that I could get my hands on. I then proceeded to pretty much do everything wrong. I have not fixed that. I’m still probably doing everything wrong. But right now, I want to talk about one particular thing the blogosphere warned me not to do: not to be a niche-less blog.

Now, I can see the sense in that advice. Without a niche, my blog might be lacking direction; it might be lacking purpose. Without a niche, opportunities to monetize it would be scarce, if not impossible. Without a niche, who would be my audience – how would I find them and how would they find me. I don’t disagree with any of that.

So why didn’t I fix it, find a niche, settle in, seek out my peeps, get the money? Well, my answer to that ties directly into Mr. Coppola’s quote.

If I found/created/settled into a niche, then this blog wouldn’t represent ME at all. It would be false. It would be a sham. I would likely have done it simply to be able to monetize. Why is that?

Well, I have lamented, through much of my adult life, that I am not like what I perceive other people to be. I have never been able to just find my ONE THING, that one thing that would make me happy, satisfied, successful, useful, interesting, interested. No, all my life I have been inundated by an insatiable appetite for so many different things; often one at a time but even more often, all at once. My skills and interests for both vocation and avocation have always gone all over the place. I’m one of those people who throws herself into learning something new and just when it seems like, “Hey, I could master this if I go ahead and CHOOSE it as my one thing,” (which often goes hand in hand with other people telling me the same thing) like a squirrel, some other opportunity/endeavor/challenge grabs my attention and off I run.

Only in recent years have I stopped believing that something must be very wrong with me. And that’s really saying something because this year I turned 61.

I’ve not only pursued and delved into many things, I’ve also experienced many things; it’s debatable whether my experiences have leaned more to the positive or the negative, or even the foolish. It doesn’t really matter; they all have made me who I am now, today.

So, when starting my blog, I tried. I really did. I tried to – nope, can’t finish that sentence because no, I didn’t. I wrote about what came to my mind, when it came, as it came. I still do this. However, what I DID do is I tried to care about getting down to the nitty-gritty of monetizing, going through all the steps the experts tell me will help me to one day be able to live off my blog. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you it almost killed my soul.

Now, I’m not naive (which is ironic, considering my last post discusses me experimenting as a naive artist). I know that the day may come when I will need to, just for practicality’s sake, grow up and get serious about using my blog as a source of income. I wish I knew what percentage of bloggers do so, whether most do or most don’t.

But I may be off-topic here. This post is not about monetizing; it’s about staying true to myself which is to say, staying true to the fact that myself is many different things and many different experiences and I don’t want to limit my blog any more than I’ve limited myself throughout my life.

But back to that quote. As I’ve aged, I have seen more and more that all the things that I’ve learned, pursued, cultivated, accomplished, though they seemed unrelated, have actually turned out to be very much related to each other. I needed to step back from the picture (which, I think, is the purpose of aging) to see it. It’s the whole reason I went off and worked for myself for over 20 years; because I didn’t fit into any one thing, so I had to create my own thing and cater it to myself. In the crazy quilt of my life and my loves and my tries and my successes and my failures, I found who I really am. The journey has proven to be my reason for existing: to taste all the different things my heart yearns toward.

Thus my niche-less blog. Perhaps I won’t attract a huge percentage of bloggers; or a huge percentage of people who have suffered and recovered (or not) from depression; or a huge percentage of self-employed people; or a huge percentage of spiritually-minded people; or a huge percentage of people who like to make things; or a huge percentage of people trying to figure out what the heck is poetry exactly; or a huge percentage of people who love nature; or a huge percentage of married ladies, mothers, grandmothers; or a huge percentage of any type of person at all. Perhaps this blog won’t ever attract any huge numbers of people at all.

Regardless, this blog represents who I am, all the pieces of me. Actually, though it’s been a year, I haven’t even begun to touch on many of the things I’ve done and tried … and failed at.

I guess being niche-less is my niche. And it has served as the proof of my existence.

I want you to know, if you don’t feel like you can find yourself, stop worrying about that. Like Mr. Coppola said, do all the things you love and one day you will see how they all tie in to make you uniquely you.




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