August 13, 2012

The Summer Series - Gigi Ross

My guest today and I must have been destined to be friends, because we are married to the same man. No, not literally. Our husbands just have the same name. Which makes us both do double takes when reading each others updates on social media.

Gigi, known as Kludgy Mom, is a popular blogger who has a knack for saying what so many are thinking. Her posts often strike a chord, and get people talking. And I believe the same will be true of this one...

It's All About The Atmosphere

Several months ago, as part of my freelance work for The SITS Girls, I was critiquing someone's blog. The blogger was concerned that the tone of her regular posts had changed, that she had lost focus and it would alienate her readers.

The advice I gave her was this:

What makes your blog particularly special is how your stories are packaged up – between the images, and your layout, and your writing – everything has a simplicity and openness to it. Your blog has a particular atmosphere. When I read through the last three weeks of your posts, I simply see a microcosm of how you’re feeling right now. You have a lot on your plate. There has been a lot of life change. And whether we intend to or not, I think our blogs always reflect our backstory. But I don’t know that you need to be worried about your lack of focus – 2 months from now your life might be very different than it is now. And your blog will evolve to reflect those changes as well. Isn’t that what makes blogging amazing? I recommend embracing this.

It's only been recently that I've learned to actually take and follow some of the advice I gave that blogger.

When I first started blogging, I read every article I could on social media, writing, blogging, and technology. I learned that niches can be important. That finding your own voice is critical. Self-promotion is essential. Being authentic? A must-have.

I did everything I was supposed to do in order to have a "successful" and quality blog. KludgyMom was primarily a humor and parenting blog. I joked about popular culture and my kids and talked about typical parenting issues, usually with a humorous, snappish and snarky twist. That was my nebulous niche. That was my voice. I was diligent about self-promotion. I worked very hard to keep this brand, this package, this authentic blog together.

But as I reflect back on the last year of my writing, I notice something pretty glaring.

My humor posts are fewer and farther between. When I write about my kids, it comes from a different perspective. I tackle larger issues versus day to day ones.

My writing has gotten much more introspective.

This has given me bloggy angst from time to time. I've never had a strong niche anyway, and now I've started to not write about what people expect me to. I've always been confident in my voice, but that voice is changing. I self-promote, but in a more measured and judicious way. I don't share every single blog post with my personal Facebook account and I broadcast fewer tweets.

My backstory is changing, my voice is changing, and so is my blog.

But while the perspective from which I write, and the topics I cover, might be evolving, the vibe you get when you come to my site is still the same: mostly lighthearted, with a little bit of heartfelt stuff thrown in for good measure.

And that's when that advice I gave the blogger really sunk in for me. That all of this blogging stuff? It's not about boxing yourself into a niche, or a voice, or an idea of what you think you should be or what your readers want, or promoting X post Y number of times in social media.

It's all about the atmosphere: the intangible feeling people get when they visit your site and read YOUR stuff.

Think about your favorite restaurant. If they changed up the menu, would you still eat there? I'll bet you would, as long as they still served fantastic food, and had great service, and you enjoyed the overall experience.

Our blogs are no different. It's ok to offer up something new. It's ok to change. It's ok for your life to evolve and your blog to reflect that.

Don't waste energy on boxing yourself in that you could put toward writing. Give yourself permission to explore and reinvent. Your blog is always YOUR space. And as long as you've got good atmosphere and quality content, the world is your oyster.

I love this, Gigi! And it is advice I intend to take to heart. Thank you so much for participating in my Summer Series!

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