Friday, September 2, 2011

The experts agree: no more than three blog topics

I’m not a highly focused person.

I probably don’t need to tell my readers this. All we need to do is take a look at the subjects of my blogs to see what I’m talking about:mandel bread, the Jewish biscotti; a new photography app for smartphones; spring returns to my garden; doctors say grumpiness helps us live longer; Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, my son’s disability; completing my new book; the beauty of collective nouns; one minute memoirs; hiking the Appalachian Trail; Rihanna and Neil Young. Whew! What didn’t I talk about?

Sometimes my highly unfocused mind serves me well. I’m curious. I take in a lot. I’m interested in just about everything except numbers and machines, therefore have a lot of information and knowledge at my fingertips.  I’m able to make order and connections out of seemingly disparate ideas and thoughts. I have a good photographic eye because I see so much.  At the best of times, my writing reflects all that I see, smell, taste, hear and feel. And because I’m not a linear thinker, I don’t see the world from one point of view. I can bring fresh, new ways of looking at things to any discussion. I’m a godsend at parties.

But sometimes my lack of focus does not serve me well. While I’ve always known this, it really hit home this week when I started browsing the web about what makes a good blog. Besides getting repeatedly lost during my search because everything that popped up fascinated me, I learned this. The experts agree. If you want to attract a good following, a blog should be focused. At most, it should not cover more than three topics. Better one or two. That’s it. One is good, two okay and three if you must.

Well, blow me down.  I’ve written 62 separate blogs, and guess what. Except for one or two repeated themes about writing, photography and food, all my other blogs were on different topics.

According to the experts, I’m everywhere and nowhere. I’ve been fortunate though. My blog readers seem to enjoy the all-over-the-place approach I’ve taken, They see my entries as good reads. They’re not particularly concerned that whatever it is I’m going on about one day will be different from what I blather on about the next. They, like me, probably lack focus.

But I can see that this approach has its shortcomings. My blog is not a go-to stop for people interested in learning about a particular topic or subject matter of interest to them.

Though I might write an entry about housecleaning, aficionados of bacteria-free zones aren’t going to come back to me again and again. They’re not interested in my next day’s entry about making the perfect chicken soup (the secret, by the way, is parsnips in the stock). They’ll go to a blog they know will provide the inside scoop on getting rid of mildew on bathroom tiles, or recommends green alternatives to Mr. Clean.

I might write about the glories of baking soda too, but there’s no guarantee when, and of course if, I’ll ever get around to it.

Note to self:  find more green alternative to Mr. Clean for cleaning tile mildew. Then blog.

I’m too hit and miss. No one has a clue what’s coming next in my blog, so they’re hardly breathless waiting for next installment. I understand that. I don’t have a clue what’s coming in my next blog, either. Not good when you’re looking for followers.

Well, all this is about to change. Wish me good luck, because I’m about to make a big about turn with my blog based on the experts’ advice . Knowing myself, however, there is absolutely no way on earth I’ll be able to blog about one, or even two topics. I might as well be in prison.

So I’m bound and determined to try to focus my blog on three subject matters only.

It hasn’t been easy narrowing down what these three will be, but I’ve done it. I’ve come up with three.  Three rather B-R-O-A-D subjects, I might add. I need all the leeway I can get.

So here it goes. Since I’ve recently completed writing my memoir and the next step is getting the book published, I’ll be blogging about my real life experience of getting my book published. It will include a good hard look at the pros and cons about self-publishing as well as going the traditional publishing route, which involves finding an agent or submitting manuscripts directly to a publisher.

Both looking for an agent and/or a mainstream publisher is more complicated than most people realize.  I will have no problem filling up blog entries about the process. It’s going to be one bumpy roller coaster ride for me considering the state of the publishing industry these days, and my plan is to take my readers along for company. It may be enlightening.

Topic #2 will be about the book itself. I’ll include excerpts and things I learned during the six years it took to write it, including writing tips editors taught me along the way.

I’m up to Topic # 3. Much, though not all of my memoir is about raising our adopted son Michael, who at age six was diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. He is permanently brain damaged by the alcohol his birth mother consumed when pregnant with him. Though Michael is 24, much of my life is devoted to helping him find a place in the world. I’d like to write about Michael, FAS and one of its major symptoms, ADD. I’ll also write about the struggles raising a special needs child, and how, as a mother, I try to live my life with as much joy an courage as I can muster in the face of our family’s struggles.

There you have it. I’m sure blog experts would be taken aback by the long-winded paragraphs I’ve created to tell you what Topics #1 – 3 are. They were probably thinking of subject matters that could be described a little more succinctly, like skydiving, perfect picnics fare or how to become a billionaire, for instance.

Clearly, they have no idea what it’s like to be unfocussed. I’m not only proud of coming up with three blog topics for myself, but being able to describe them in a mere 260 words.

Now, all that’s left is sticking to my plan. I know it won’t be easy. What do I do with all the other thoughts and ideas swirling around in my grey matter?

You know what’s going to be the hardest thing about staying within bounds of these three topics?  Sticking to one of the topics in each blog rather than infusing a little of topic one two and three in each posting.

You have no idea how hard it is to stay focused when it doesn’t come naturally.

Never mind. Honest and truly, I’m going to give it a few months and see how it goes. All thoughts, comments and suggestions from readers are welcome, even encouraged. I’m going to need all the help I can get.

Just don’t get me off topic, okay?

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