Ask Dave: Finding Your Blogging Niche and Passion

By Dave Fox
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Richard, a student in my online course on How to Deal with Writer’s Block, asks:

Sri Lanka clouds - Adam's PeakWhether trying to define a topic for a writing genre, or a blog, we are often advised to pick something we are passionate about. And this is where I get stuck.

After decades of struggle, I find that defining a passion is more elusive with each passing year. I have worked at many jobs, dabbled at many hobbies, and explored many subjects of interest, yet have never found that one thing that engages me for the long-haul.

My life-long belief that life is best enjoyed like a banquet, by sampling a variety of things. Not just one. And therein lies the problem for me. Without the strong driving force of a passion, I find myself unable to sustain any interest for long.

So, how do you feel about having a passion? Do you have one? How did you find it? Or do you find your driving force with a variety of interests instead of one passion?

Dave, you have a passion for travel and humor writing, and your website proves it. But, what brought you to that realization?

– Richard in Oroville, California

This is a big question, Richard! And yes, if someone asks me what my passions are, the first two words out of my mouth will be “writing” and “travel.” These aren’t things I went looking for. They found me.

But you bring up an interesting question: How important is it for a writer to have an easily defined passion?

It is important to have a passion if you’re blogging. Readers will keep coming back if they get what your blog is about. However, you can have a passion for humor writing and blog about a wide range of funny (and random) things. Your blog will be identified as a humor blog – not necessarily a blog about travel, or food, or parenting, or chipmunks, or any of the wide spectrum of other topics people blog about – and that’s okay. If you develop your voice, people will read you.

An example that comes to mind in the humor realm (Richard is also in my humor writing course) is David Sedaris. When people think David Sedaris, they think “funny writer.” But what does David Sedaris write about? That’s a tricky question to answer. Sure, he has some recurring themes – his family, living in Paris, etc. – but the range of topics he has written on is ridiculously huge, and that’s part of the reason for his success. The same holds true for my favorite humor writer, Dave Barry. And the same was true with me when I started blogging.

So I get what you mean when you say you are a dabbler. And maybe that is your passion – a passion for constantly trying new things? That could work well as a niche you write about: “What’s Richard doing now?”

Or, you could find a style or genre of writing you’re passionate about and do that. And if you’re still not sure, then my advice is to keep writing. If you write enough, you will start to see recurring themes you can develop into a niche.

That brings me to my final point: When people say writers should have a passion, what they really mean is a niche. That’s for the sake of marketability and “brand recognition.” It’s a little different from a passion.

I think we should all have a passion in life of some sort – something that makes us feel really happy and alive at least some of the time. But if you love trying lots of random, new things, if that makes you happy, and if that is what defines who you are, then that is your passion. It’s not as easy to capsulize into an elevator speech as “writing” or “travel” or “humor” or “chipmunks,” but if it feeds your happiness, it’s as valid as something more specific. Trickier to write about and market? Perhaps. But keep writing. Eventually, your themes and your voice will come to you.

If you’re interested in my online workshops on travel writing, humor writing, the psychology of the writing process, among other topics, you can learn more on my Online Courses page.

Published on Tuesday, March 15, 2016

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