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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.