Focused Vs. Freestyle: Is There A Formula For Successful Blogging?

Categories Social Media

Being indiscriminate has not done any good to anyone. So, is blogging any different?

When I started this blog, I had no idea what I will write about. I didn’t even know whether a personal blog should be limited any one interest area or whether it can be about anything at all. I still don’t know. Looking at the blogs I read and follow seemed like a good idea and that’s what I did.

Despite the fact that I can never write about food, most of what I read are food blogs. Here are a few of my favorites:

When I am not reading about food, I read a little about technology and internet culture etc.

  • Anil Dash
  • Seth Godin – Seth is Seth, so he can write about anything. But even he does not.
  • Our very own Kiruba Shankar – He writes about all he wants and it works.
  • Farhad Manjoo – Compared to what he writes for Slate, his blog is a shame. But he is a blue blood technology writer.

Then I read a few more which I have no idea how to classify.

  • Vir Sanghvi – He writes about travel, food and politics. He is a journalist with credentials in all the three segments, so he can.
  • Hugh McLeod – One of the blogs that I have been following for a long long time. Though his work is all about freedom, his blog is all about focus. I don’t know how freedom ~ focus works out.

Focus works
Now, most of these blogs have a singular focus or theme. I also read a few other blogs by serial and social entrepreneurs (Rodinhoood, Neil Patel) and a very good photography blog. These blogs are also quite focused ones. Even though the entrepreneurs talk about a thousand things, they will all be in the form of advices, guidelines or something about the life of an entrepreneur. You won’t find them talking about the fantastic food they eat or the exotic places they see or the latest political movement that’s happening right in their city.

It is possible that the foodies above don’t think of anything other than food and the entrepreneurs are locked in a thought wrap. Or, it may happen that focus is a part of the strategy to build a dedicated readership. People go to McDonald for a burger and Café Coffee Day for a coffee. Even the corner knick knack shops have their own specialty. So is there a lesson there?

But is focus the only way of doing it?
Suddenly, the world seems to be fond of straight jackets. Blogs, which mean freedom in all its aspects, seem to follow the principles that order the rest of the world. I know it is convenient to have a theme for a blog or anything else for that matter. I know where to go to read about travel, food or if I want to know about how to remove password from a PDF file.

This ordering makes things easy in the mornings when I want to start my day by reading about something specific. It also helps us get the best content, people writing about what they are really passionate about and are good at. However, my only concern is that while focus has worked wonderfully, has it also become the only way it should be done?

There are a few who say writing is an art. You should not worry about the response, just work on your art and the world will follow. I have my feet in two boats here, so time for some gyan from elders.

Out of context quotes from my grandfather
My grandfather, who is a great intellectual and has a following of his own, never wrote a book, not even a chapter. Few of his contemporaries and friends became famous authors and won some awards too. He would congratulate them, celebrate them, tell us their stories but never emulate them. I have always been one of the biggest fans of his quick wit, charm, rationality, knowledge of folktales and classics as well as his skills with the language.

So one day, I asked him why he refused to write something. His instant response was that he did not wish to be read. But then he could write for himself. He retorted that no one wrote for themselves. Writing is always done with a reader in mind. Even those who maintain personal journals understand that someone will read their very private records in future. Without the anticipation of a reader, writing is impossible. I did not want to agree but I didn’t know how to respond to it either.

The other reason why he did not write was that he did not wish to be remembered after his death. And, writing is a way of preserving one’s soul. But I am straying too far from the topic at hand.

I started this little talk about my grandfather is to prove that there is no writing without a reader. So, all of us want to have readers, followers and comments. So if there is a strategy to blogging, we should know.

What about people like us?
People like us are the ones who have no specific expertise or overriding interest in any one field. People, who might be very good at something, but can’t dedicate all their writing to this one deity. I am sure there are numerous bloggers like me, even though I don’t know of many. Anuradha Goyal has  a blog which encapsulates all her life, please let me know if you know of any others.

Blogs like Anuradha’s or mine are not personal blogs, as opposed to professional or business blogs. A personal blog is generally thought of as less serious, something done to fill a few idle hours and from which the author does not have too many expectations. Moreover, a personal blog will be full of ramblings, and I am not sure if in this day and age, any one has the time for ramblings.

The reason why I have written this blog is to know how much elbow room serious bloggers like me have. Is there a fine line that we should not cross? Is there a golden ratio to keep the blog professional and multi-dimensional at the same time? Should I write ten posts about social media before I can sneak one in about the weather?

Let’s start with you. What will you have me write?