Read any “How To Blog” post or book, and you’ll quickly learn that if you want millions of visitors to your site (which is how you earn money from the ads on your site), you need to have a niche.
To be a successful blogger you need to have a reasonably narrow subject matter, and keep most, if not all of your posts confined to the subject you choose.
So, you can be a travel blogger, writing about places to go, and things to do while you’re there.
You can be a political blogger, reporting political news, or engaging in political opinion (or conspiracy).
You can keep a blog about being a mom, and the trials and rewards of motherhood.
You can be a photographer and showcase your photos.
You can blog about celebrities, or music, or books.
You can devote your entire blog to stories about elves.
To be a successful, widely read, widely followed, income-earning blogger, you must specialize.
There are a few of you around here who have followed me for awhile, and have heard me mention a time or two that I don’t want to be a niche blogger. In fact, I am The Anti-Niche.
Perhaps it has to do with years of depression and anxiety, and all the medications. Perhaps it’s just my personality. Perhaps I’m just evil spawn from some flummoxed corner of the internet that didn’t get the Niche memo.
Or, maybe, it’s just that I think I’m too complex to be stuck with just one topic. And, by complex, I don’t mean “too good to follow the rules”, or that “I’m too smart”. I mean that I am much like a good many people: I’m interested in many things, and to pick just one to blog about is like asking me to only breathe in. I’m not made that way. If I breathe in, I need to breathe out, I need to take short breaths, deep breaths, gasping breaths. I need to exhale slowly, angrily, hurriedly, lazily. I need to sigh.
I started blogging in 2004. I’ve changed blogs, changed locations, tried to narrow my focus, and, every time I’ve tried to niche myself, I become comatose and lose interest. Once you’ve lost interest, it is tough to keep blogging. So, I decided when I started this blog that it was going to be varied (full of all kinds of breaths, to continue the metaphor — or is it analogy?)
Then, you know what I did? I niched.
Part was an attempt to earn some money, to sell my wares (i.e. my photographs). So, I took the photos that I used to share on here, and moved them to their own space. Well, I’ve since learned that photography is a tough business to break into. And, that selling prints is not really a profitable business (unless you’re an event photographer, and people from the events are buying prints). The best way to earn money with your photos is to have them printed, mounted, framed, and sell them as a complete package. At the moment, I don’t have the resources to mount and frame photos, and wait for them to sell — and, I don’t have the time to do gallery shows. And, let’s be honest: at the moment, I’m struggling through a depression, which, in practical terms means that my camera has been idle. When the Depression Demons grab me, my photographer’s eye goes blind. I can’t seem to see the beautiful things around me. So, for the past few months, my photography blog has been quietly gathering dust, because I’m not taking new photos. I gave myself a year to get the photography thing off the ground, and, as I approach the end of the year, my dollar output was more than my dollar intake. And, with no new material, it makes no sense to keep that going. (And, to be truthful about it — I think I’m more of the ‘amateur’ type of photographer. It’s more hobby than career interest — especially now, when caring for my mom limits where I can go, and how long I can stay gone.) So, I’m bringing my photography blog to a close. At least as a blog/website that costs me money. My photos, when I take them, will be a part of this blog.
Then I niched again. I started a poetry blog. Over the past year or so, my interest in poetry has been reawakened. Like most of us, school ruined poetry for me, and I spent several decades avoiding it. But, when my interest was rekindled, I decided to take the poetry from this blog, and post it elsewhere. When I think about it, I realize that by doing so, I am acting against what I’m advocating on my poetry blog: that poetry isn’t the scary thing we learn in high school, that not all poetry is unintelligible and incomprehensible. There are many poets, and many, many poems that truly are open, accessible, inspiring and beautiful.
A few weeks ago, I said that I wanted to explore some darker writing, some tales of horror and suspense. I asked if you thought I should make a separate blog, or keep everything here, in one place. Granted, not every follower answered the question (but, how could they, when so many followers are fake blogs anyway?). But, of those who answered, all said “keep it here, keep everything in one place.”
I think I’ll take that advice and un-niche myself completely, and reintroduce the poetry back into this blog. If my goal is to help people be less afraid of poetry, then why should I have it shoved off here, and posted on another blog, as if I’m ashamed that I like poems and poetry. So, I’ll be saying good-bye to my poetry blog.
Johnbalaya, a play on the word jambalaya, the Creole dish. Etymologically speaking, the word jambalaya “comes from the Provençal word ‘jambalaia’, meaning a mish mash, or mixup”. And, that’s what I’ve always imagined my blog to be: a jumble of things, the anti-niche.
I don’t blog with the goal of getting a million hits a month; I don’t blog to make money. I blog to share whatever I happen to find interesting at any given moment, and I blog to tell stories — mine, both factual and fictional.
I don’t expect everyone who follows to like everything I post, to read everything I post. In fact, I rather hope that my followers have a variety of interests as well. And, because of that variety, they may or may not find certain types of posts interesting — some won’t like the creepy stories, others won’t like the music, still others will hate the poetry. If those don’t interest you, feel free to skip over the post. I don’t hold anyone’s feet to the fire and demand they read every single thing I post. The posts are there — read them if you wish, skip them if you feel like it. Never feel obligated to read a post, watch a video, listen to a song; never feel that you’re obligated to “like” a post, or comment on something.
In a way, I think of my blog as a big, giant binder where I collect things. Not a binder full of women, but, a binder filled with thoughts, ideas, photos, poems, music and whatever else I want to save.
So, here’s the final sum: this is a blog of anything and everything. Some blogs are the small, eight count box of crayons — a small variety, but, sticking to the basic colors, the single topic of coloring. Me, I’m the 150 Crazy Tower — more shades of red than you’ll ever need.
Hopefully, along the way, you’ll find one or two posts that you like.