How to Find Your Big WHY for your Blog

How to find your big WHY for your blog

It’s hidden where you can’t see it.

In between your heart and your feet.

The thrumming in your belly, the core of purpose you can feel if you just stop and focus for a minute.

The reason you’re creating. The reason you’re writing. The reason you’re blogging.

And…it may be different than you think.

For years, I struggled to write a blog that I could actually stick to.

I would start out with an excited burst of creative energy, only to have that energy – and my blog – fizzle out.

There were so many reasons for my waning excitement about my blog – picking a topic I wasn’t driven to write about, loneliness, the lack of feedback from my readers, imposter syndrome.

The list goes on.

But, at the very center of it all, is this: I didn’t understand my WHY.

Without that WHY, that solid core of purpose, it was all but inevitable that I would abandon my former blogs.

Without knowing my WHY, no editorial calendar or inner pressure to “just do it” would save me.

When I started this blog, I would love to tell you that I saw a flash of lightning, had an awakening, and came home to my WHY in a dramatic rush of insight.

But it didn’t happen that way.

It started with an insatiable urge to write. And as I wrote, I managed to dig my way through, to carve out a path toward finding my purpose – and then sticking to it.

I think the reason I was able to hold on to my WHY this time was because I accepted my WHY in all of its complexity. I let myself hold it loosely, give it a chance to change, to morph.

I took the advice of experts but I turned the volume way up on my inner wisdom.

I allowed myself to struggle with weeks painfully devoid of inspiration.

And after those weeks, I always came back to keep doing the work.

I can’t give you a list of neat and careful ways to find your own WHY, but I can give you some words of wisdom on how to stay close to your purpose, the thing that will keep you coming back to the work again and again.

1. Choose the medium you love the most.

When I tell people I’m a blogging coach, many of them ask me if they should start a blog.

I’ve traveled to some amazing places, they’ll share. I’ve always wanted to blog about it, but have never been consistent.

Or, I want to start a blog because I want to quit my job. How do I do it?

The first thing I ask them is, Do you actually love writing?

If they say no, I tell them to do something else. Because let’s face it, blogging is hard work. And if you’re not really into it, if you don’t love the work itself, you won’t want to keep doing it.

So choose to create in the way that you love. If you love photography, go with Instagram. Make short blog posts that are 80% photography and 20% writing. If you could make videos in your sleep, start a YouTube channel.

Don’t listen to the so-called experts who insist you have to create in a specific way, in their way. They aren’t experts on you or your creative process. Better to follow your own urges than the advice of someone who knows nothing about you or your work.

2. Be honest.

The truest way I’ve found to get closer to my purpose? Writing with blinding honesty.

Sometimes honesty doesn’t feel all that comfortable.

Sometimes what you want to write doesn’t fit into what you think you should write.

Sometimes the words that come pouring out of your fingers aren’t the words you thought you wanted to share with the world.

That’s okay. As long as they’re honest.

And be honest with yourself. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing something you’ve written, it’s perfectly okay to leave it unpublished.

Writing or creating with complete honesty is the best way to speak to your inner self, the self that knows what you need to express.

Trust yourself. Trust your writing. It will keep you close to your purpose. Really.

3. Create your own unique niche. One that lives outside the box.

I know you’ve heard a million times that you need to find a niche.

And you’re probably struggling with that. You don’t want to get too narrow. You have so many things you want to blog about and it feels painful to cut them out of your blog.

So I have great news for you. That niche doesn’t have to look a certain way.

My friend Orana blogs about living abroad with her family. Her blog is colorful and bright and full of stories. And she also does design work for bloggers like me. Her online presence is one of a kind. It doesn’t fit into a nice little box with a bow on top. But neither does she.

Missy Miller, an amazing mother and Have Your Cupcake member, blogs about traveling the country with her 7 kids and husband in a school bus. And she writes about her daughter who has a developmental disability. And she helps families convert their own buses. A typical niche? No. One that inspires people and helps them see what is possible? Absolutely.

You don’t have to confine your blog to a niche that feels uncomfortable. You can bring yourself into it fully.

When you blog, you create an online world that is completely yours.

So include the things that make you jump for joy.

Don’t be afraid. Don’t worry that you’ll lose readers if you include your random quirks.

Because if you force yourself into a niche that is too small for you, you will resent your writing. And blogging will become a chore.

4. Nurture your true genius

Remember how I just wrote that you can create a niche that embraces all of the quirkiness and weirdness that is you?

Hang all of that quirky, weird beauty on something solid. Hang it on your genius. The things that you really freaking ROCK at.

You may say, I’m not good at anything. Well, I don’t often cuss, but I call that bullshit.

Because we’re all incredibly talented at something (or many things). Even you.

Take me, for example.

I freaking rock at writing. I am great at giving advice. I’ve been told that I have an uncanny ability to see the big picture. (Thus my obsession with knowing your why and having an overarching content strategy.) And I also see my clients’ brilliance with stunning clarity.

Things I’m not as great at? Following other people’s rules. Looking perky on video. Being “one of the popular kids.” Writing about the “what” without the “why.”

Admitting you are a complete genius at something isn’t being egotistical. It’s not wrong to stand up and say, Yeah. This is my thing.

Know what you’re good at. Stand confidently in that knowledge. And get out there and kick butt. Click To Tweet

5. Write about things that matter to you

This might seem like an uh, duh… one, but it’s essential. And I have personally battled with my own inner demons on this, so I’m guessing you may have, too.

There are a bajillion posts and experts that tell you to base your content on what is popular already. Look on BuzzSumo, Amazon, etc. Find the trending hashtags on Twitter.

And yeah, it is a good idea to see if there’s an audience who wants to read your ideas. (More about that in a second.)

But it’s even more important to write about what you really care about. Even if it seems stupid. Even if it seems like no one else cares. Because that’s what you’re here to do in the first place – create something you care about and that makes an impact on the world.

And guess what? By focusing solely on what’s popular and forgoing your own zany interests, you will end up writing the same things as everyone else. Which is NOT what you’re here to do.

Stand up defiantly and write what matters to you, first.Click To Tweet

Your posts will buzz with an energy you can’t achieve by just doing what’s popular.

Your people will find you. And you’ll find them. I promise.

6. Become BFFs with your blog readers

I often tell bloggers to get to know their readers as well as they know their BFFs. But in this post (and from now on), I’m taking it a step further.

You don’t just want to know your readers as well as you know your dearest friends, you actually want to become friends with them.

Here’s why.

Your best friends are the people who appreciate you for all of your strange quirks. They’re the ones with whom you can let down your guard and be vulnerable and honest.

Your dearest friends like what you have to say and the way you say it. They come to you for advice because only you can help them in your way.

What you want to talk about is what they want to talk about, too. So it’s easy to write posts that you care about and that they love.

And they never, ever expect you to be someone you’re not.

So yes, get to know your readers extremely well. Learn what they fear, what they want more than anything in the world.

And also, only focus on serving readers who believe in you, who give you the space and the courage to stand up and be yourself.

Only serve readers who believe in you, who give you the space and the courage to stand up and be yourself.Click To Tweet

Forget about everyone else. Let them go. You don’t need them in your blog.

7. Give yourself a break (or rather, many, many, many breaks)

Be kind to yourself.

Let your journey take as long as it needs to take.

Don’t feel pressured to make money, to get a certain number of readers, or to do anything else that’s outside of your control.

When you fumble, when you fall, stand up and give yourself a healing kiss.

Give yourself the space and acceptance you need to do work that really means something to you.

If what a guru says doesn’t sit right with you, ignore it. If you feel out of alignment with your purpose, take a few breaths and come back to yourself.

Finding and nurturing your WHY is a worthy process. And anything worth doing deserves respect, care, and love.

So love the heck out of yourself and your journey. You deserve it.

How to find your big WHY for your blog (1)

Here’s the deal, oh online BFF.

You won’t find your WHY by following a formula.

You can’t dig it up like a nugget of gold, or catch it in your hands like a firefly.

But you can write yourself into it.

You can give yourself a framework for creating that invites more meaning and purpose into your work.

Here’s how…

  • Choose the medium you love the most
  • Be honest
  • Niche outside the box
  • Create around your area of genius
  • Write what matters to you
  • Become BFFs with your audience
  • Be kind and loving to yourself

Go out there and blog with purpose. Blog with passion.

And most of all, blog with joy.

I believe in you.

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  • I love this post, thank you for publishing this. I’m going to bookmark it and refer to it often.

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks Mindy! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Have a wonderful day, and stick to your big WHY!

  • Karen Hume

    Daniela, you said exactly what I needed to hear today. The blogging idea that I’ve been working on and cajoling myself into for the last month just isn’t going to work for me. It’s a good thing to do, an important thing to do, but I don’t LOVE it. I did your Blogging Voice workbook yesterday (awesome process!) and have passion for the voice I will write in. Onward to finding the big WHY. Thanks so much for the tips and the reassurance.

    • Daniela Uslan

      Karen, I’m glad you’re letting go of a path that isn’t working for you! I’m excited that you’re finding your voice and are going forward to find your WHY as well!

  • Boon Ong

    Thank you Daniela for the post. It actually got me thinking of it and I gonna read over and over again to get my mind open wider, bigger and freely. =)

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks Boon! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  • Tania Collier

    Thank you for writing and sharing this Daniela… for many years I have started blogs which inevitably end up on the curb side forgotten and forlorn. All because I have tried in vain to ‘fit in’ with what I thought was the ‘right thing to do’… only it wasn’t my right thing… so I struggled, immensely! I am about to, yet again, start up a new blog that conveys who I am, what I stand for, what is my ‘purpose’… I realised this was the part that was and has been ‘missing’ from my blogs especially my current one. The good news is I now have the courage to go beyond that box of expectations and be uniquely me… the good parts, the joyful parts, the passionate parts and, yes, the messy parts.

    • Daniela Uslan

      Hi Tania. Congrats for starting a blog that conveys who you are and what you stand for! That is so exciting. And definitely include the messy parts!

  • John Martin

    Daniela, when you said “for years I struggled to write a blog that I could actually stick to,” I felt like you were really talking to me. I’ve started a number of them and nothing stuck. A Peter Voogd book motivated me to write down my goals, my reasons why and who I would reach out to for help.

    I carry my reasons and goals around with me now like a compass. I reached out to Sue Dunlevie and she has been a tremendous help. I started a new blog I’m excited about and things are really starting to work for me.

    As you say, blogging is hard work. Being an entrepreneur has many challenges, so true. But knowing your reasons why and your true genius – I can see how these can really carry you through hard times.

    Thank you so much for sharing this great advice!
    -John

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks for your comment, John! I love how you put that – you carry your reasons and goals around with you like a compass. YES! Sue is amazing. I know you’ll love working with her. I look forward to connecting further with you, too!

      • John Martin

        Likewise, Daniela! So glad to find your blog, and I’m happy to help you however I can!

  • Daniela, your posts lately have been amazing. They are making me rethink EVERYTHING — good, but a little scary. Thanks for getting so real!

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks Julie! I’ve been giving myself permission to write what I want to write and strip away all the stuff I think I “should” be writing. It’s made a huge difference! I agree – it’s exciting, but a little scary! I’m glad you’re rethinking things as well!

  • ElfinW

    Daniel, a B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L post. I rarely comment but this time I really had to say something. 🙂

    I also love how you give so many other options to blogging too. Great post, thanks !

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks Elfin! I am glad you enjoyed the post. It’s one of my favorites I’ve written. Have a wonderful day.

  • Katharine

    Okay, so, YES!
    I worked so hard for years–trying to write a post that was 500 words. When really, I preferred long form. So I’d divide the actual post into 3 or 4 in a series, which always is such a pain, especially when it comes to linking it to someone.
    I should have done what I wanted, and am in the process of sewing all those chopped posts back together and re-issuing them. Lots of work, but pulling good stuff out of the past and making my site look like me. So I don’t have to put on my “blog face” every time someone comments.

    • Daniela Uslan

      I’m glad you’re following your voice, Katharine, and writing longer posts if that’s what calls to you! Good for you!

  • Great tips, Daniela.

    I really like the point about being honest. If we’re honest, we don’t need good memories, do we?

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks Brent! Honesty is so important! But not sure what you mean about the good memories…

      • It’s an expression.

        If you always tell the truth, you don’t need a good memory. As in, you don’t have to remember which lies you told to which people. 😉

        • Daniela Uslan

          Oh yeah. Oops. Brain fart here.

  • G2W

    Thank you Daniela for a beautiful post, that, as always, speaks to me. When you ask, “Do you actually love writing?”, it hit home for me. Right now, I am just more of a visual blogger than a word/writing blogger. Maybe that will change,…but that was a really great question. Thank you.

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks Gigi! I’m so glad this spoke to you. I love your photos! Maybe you don’t need to add that much writing.

  • Tania Vaughan

    This is a great post – just what I needed to read right now – thank you 🙂

    • Daniela Uslan

      I love hearing that, Tania! Thanks for commenting!

  • Daniela Uslan

    I’m glad! Do you have a unique niche, Paula?

    • Not yet! But I’m working on it!

  • Daniela Uslan

    Yay! If this inspired you to write a post, I did my job! Thanks for your comment!

  • Daniela, this is a life changing post. I hadn’t even finished reading it when an idea POPPED into my brain about what I should write about for “back to school month.” I clicked over to my site and started writing. It’s not finished yet but I just feel so excited and at peace about my topic. I have teenagers and while I could reach back into my past and talk about how to organize your pantry so your small child can independently make their own lunch what really fires me up is how desperately teens need to be taught to stress less during the school year. High school is super intense now. Anyway, thank you for shining a light on this topic and also scraping away all that guru info to provide a truly clear path to our why.

  • Shaili Dewangan

    This is an amazingly inspiring post, not just about writing the heck out, but also about being you. This is my favorite quote:

    “When you fumble, when you fall, stand up and give yourself a healing kiss.”

    It’s beautiful. I’m gonna post it on my wall (a real wall) that’s in front of my face all the time. Thank you! And also, for some reason this one made me laugh:

    “You may say, I’m not good at anything. Well, I don’t often cuss, but I call that bullshit.” *laughs*

    Keep doing the good work! I appreciate you.

    • Daniela Uslan

      Aww thank you so much for this comment, Shaili! It made my day. I’m glad you loved the post, and I am honored to have my words on your wall. I appreciate you, as well!

  • Awesome post, I love this and have book marked to re-read, many times.
    Found you via Paula @ The Ultimate Rabbit Hole.

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks Sarah! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I will go check out the Ultimate Rabbit Hole, now!

  • I.love.this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve been blogging for years, but due to some life happenings, haven’t been able to get back into it. It is my ultimate goal to make money blogging, but there are so many out there with so many rules that I’ve been stuck in info overload. I just recently posted about creating my own rules. While I’m totally into bettering myself, I’m sick of being stuck because I don’t feel that I’m following someone else’s “formula” for overnight success. It’s so much more about the journey. There’s no reason that I can’t be successful following my own way. Thank you for the insightful thoughts on finding YOUR OWN why (and way)…….it was truly what I was looking for today! Found you on Pinterest 🙂

    • Daniela Uslan

      Yay! I am so glad it helped. Thanks for leaving such a wonderful comment, and yes, stick to your own rules. We all have to follow our own rules to make unique online platforms!