Ever since I started blogging, almost nine months ago, I have been a teensy bit obsessed with my site’s stats. How many people read it today? Where do they live? What, specifically, did they read? How long did they stay? It’s just so much fun for me to have people read what I’ve written. I have long considered myself to be a writer who doesn’t actually, you know, write anything, so now that I am writing again, and now that people—strangers, even!—are reading it, I can’t help but focus on getting even more “fans.” Ultimately, I know that the more people who read my blog and enjoy my writing style, the more likely I am to be able to make this writing thing my job, and that would be simply amazing.
As I’ve started to blog, though, I’ve also started to read more blogs, and I’ve noticed something: there are a lot of us. I’m not the only person who writes well, and who wants to gain a larger group of readers. So what sets me apart? What makes my blog about my thoughts and my little family special? My four daughters are each beautiful, hilarious, busy, difficult, smart, and covered in dirt or boogers to varying degrees, but none of them is exceptionally so, and most children are these things. But I’ve noticed that blogs with a “niche” tend to have an advantage when it comes to finding readers. And when you are a parent blogging about your family, having a family with something interesting going on makes it easier to find that niche.
Having two sets of twins, for example, would be fascinating. Living in a culture outside of your own, or travelling a lot in general, would be interesting for people read about. Having an adopted child, or even having been adopted yourself, would give you lots of opportunity for content and to share your personal expertise. People would want to read that stuff, just based on the captivating nature of those experiences.
And then, of course, there is the real gold-mine, blog-wise: personal struggle and tragedy. Infertility, depression, divorce, poverty—all of these life circumstances offer a wealth of opportunity to be vulnerable with your readers. I think of Kelle Hampton coming to accept and appreciate her daughter’s Down Syndrome; Glennon Melton and her life-long struggle with an eating disorder and addiction; even my talented friend-of-a-friend who started her blog to keep her friends and family up-to-date about her baby’s life-threatening heart condition.
You see, if life were only about getting more blog readers, I could hope for tragedy. I could wish I’d had a traumatic childhood; I could hope my child would have special needs; I could beg my husband to let me exaggerate our arguments and over-share details of his own anxiety disorder. I’d get more readers, after all, and that would be so cool.
But life, of course, is not about getting more readers. My beautiful, “normal” family is not for sale, and I am so thankful for them, just as they are. The wise and wonderful Anna Whiston-Donaldson from An Inch of Gray has had a very successful writing career recently, but I’m certain she’d give it up in an instant if she could change her own compelling and heart-wrenching story—even though the post she wrote about her son’s shocking death must have had a huge impact in launching her career.
So I want more people to read my blog, but I sincerely hope I have to keep relying on Facebook giveaways and top-notch writing quality for that to happen. Going viral is amazing, but not at just any expense. I am so grateful that my life—and maybe my blog, too—is just a tiny bit boring. I pray it stays that way … and maybe that more people start to read it anyway.
And speaking of gratitude, I am also appreciative of those people who write the blogs that I have discovered, and who inspire me and make me laugh daily. I don’t begrudge you your hard-earned readers, even if you have a fascinating or difficult or compelling life story to draw them in. I know that your niche story is not what’s keeping me (and so many others) reading—it’s the vulnerability, wisdom, and straight-up skill with which you write about it.
This blog, though, I do share, of course. I obviously don’t want anything difficult to happen in Juli’s life either, but maybe I can convince her to adopt a baby who has special needs. It’s really the least she could do.