On Niche Blogging and Authenticity

Oh, please, please don’t call me a “mommy blogger.”

No offense to mommy bloggers – I follow a lot of them.  I read them.  I enjoy them.

I just don’t feel like one of them.  Not really; not deep down.

I’ve never been good at keeping a niche blog.  There are a lot of people who do it and do it well, but to me it’s always felt like, in order to be “successful” as a niche blogger, I need to turn off (or at least tamp down) certain parts of my personality.  People who were following me for a particular brand of content wouldn’t, I figured, be interested in anything I posted that deviated from that “brand.”

When I was a creative writing blog, I attracted a lot of followers who were also creative writers.  And that was great; lots of them as interesting insight into the writing market, or wrote beautiful poetry, or intriguing short stories.

But all they wrote about – overall, for the most part – was writing.  And I felt like I, then, should only write about writing.

But I also wanted to write about cooking.  And art.  And parenting, and work, and family, and gender, and anxiety, and crafts, and fandom, and being a geek.  And I felt like I couldn’t, because no one was following me for that.  That’s not what my followers wanted.

Eventually, it became the question of, do I write about what I think my followers want, or about what I want?

Niche blogging is great.  I love being able to find blogs that go in depth about a topic I’m interested in, and reading and absorbing, and learning more about a particular thing.  But I’m not good at compartmentalizing my life – I love so many things.  I love children’s books, and cooking, and crafting, and organizing, and parenting.  I love writing, and fandom, and conventions, and my job.  I love bargain hunting, and thrift shopping, and home decor.  And yes, I love parenting.

So if you have to label me, “lifestyle blog” might be a little closer to the truth, since I write primarily about my life, and the things near and dear to me.  And honestly, while I welcome (and in fact, invite) others to follow me, I write for myself first and foremost.  I write to document my thoughts and catalog my ideas.  I write to keep track of my progress and remind myself of things that are good in my life.

But I think, even more accurately, would be “personal blog.”  Like, a truly personal blog.  Or at least, that’s what I’d like to be.  It’s what I’d like to return to.

Anyone else grow up on LiveJournal? Or Xanga, or Diaryland?  Do you remember, on the best day, how wonderful it felt, to meet and connect with people on a personal level?  How many bands, and books, and shows, and hobbies and interests did you wind up falling into because someone on your Friend’s List blogged about it incessantly?  Personal blogging – on LiveJournal for me, specifically – got me into Supernatural and Doctor Who; it got me attending conventions and helped me find awesome roomies for them; introduced me to Ludo, and The Decemberists, and Muse.  I got to read about people’s lives, live vicariously through the cool things they did while they were on summer break, or laugh conspiratorially over the stupid, mundane crap that took up their Friday nights.

So, ok, back in the heyday of LiveJournal and Xanga and all the rest, most of my generation were angsty teenagers sans a filter, and maybe I don’t want to return to that.  You can never truly, fully go home again, right?  I’m past that, past meandering “what I did today” daily posts, past passively-aggressively posting song lyrics and ending the post with “you know who you are,” past posting five or six random, non-sequitur one-liners in the middle of the night.

But I still want the freedom to talk about – thoughtfully, and probably with fewer XD emoticons – whatever the hell pops into my head.

Work.  Marriage.  Parenting.  Fandom.  Food.  Weight and body issues.  What I’m learning.  Goals.  Music.  My writing.  Craft ideas.  Gushing over books, or movies, or TV.  Gender.  Mental health.  Just… life, you know?

And I want to be concerned with readability – is this well-written and coherent? – but not marketability.  I don’t want to be a product.  I want to be a person, and I want to meet other people.

I’m here, everyone.  Let’s connect.

Author: Jessica Cross

Writer, maker, geek, feminist, mom. Not necessarily in that order.

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