5 Signs You're Having a Blog Identity Crisis & 8 Ways To Fix It

Hats, hats, hats...

Photo by Bob Mical


First of all, before I get into today's topic, I should probably let y'all know that I have a book coming out TOMORROW! Eek! MELT INTO YOU, Jace's story, will be out in print and ebook everywhere. I loved writing this story, and it has two of my most favorite heroes I've ever written in it. So, ya know, if you like this blog and want to help me keep up my iced tea fund, go buy it and stuff. :) 

CONTEST ALERT: And if you want to see an exclusive excerpt and enter for a chance to WIN one of my backlist books, stop by Lauren Dane's blog today.

BLOG TOUR ALERT: I'm also at Novel Reflections today with an interview, excerpt, and a separate contest. And there is an early review for MELT INTO YOU over there as well. :)


Alright so onto today's topic--my deep, dark admission that I may be in the middle of a blogging identity crisis. Feel free to insert a shocked gasp here. It's no secret that I love to blog. Even though I know I'm "supposed" to be doing this, that's not why I do it. I just like talking, apparently, because I can't seem to stop doing it here.

But after three years of blogging and shifting from pre-published to published, there's been a lot of evaluating and re-evaluating of what this blog should look like. How do I connect with readers? Who is my audience? Should I stop talking about writing and blogging (clearly, as you can tell from this post, the answer so far on that has been no.) Is it even possible to reach potential readers who are not writers? Am I interesting enough for people to continue to want to show up? Why are my hits going up but my comments going down?

And on and on the questions go.

I'm not going to tell you I know the answers. But I can tell you that blogging is a moving target and that you have to sometimes rearrange the furniture to keep things fresh for yourself and your readers.

So first, let's go over some signs of how I knew I was in a blogging identity crisis:

1. Your current theme days start to seem like prison bars. - Ugh, I don't want to be in this box today.

2. You start to develop blog envy. - Man, look how cool and interesting this person is. I'm not even cool enough to comment on this blog much less write one as full of awesome.

 3. You get all existential and "What does it all mean? Do my words even matter?" (Or maybe that's just me. I do err on the dramatic side when it comes to these things.)

4. You consume posts about blogging and platform like an addict going for their next hit. - What is the secret/magic bullet that is going to make my blog sparkly and special?

5. You start to feel like every new idea is lame, so you don't try anything new. (And some ideas probably are doomed, but you can't tell the difference anymore.)

Part of my own crisis is no doubt tied to the fact that I had/have two releases within a month of each other. There is a lot of extra stress and work that goes into preparing for a release, so when one thing becomes stressful, everything does.

But even so, I know there is probably more to it than that. So what am I going to do about it? Or more importantly...

What can you do about it if you find yourself in the same position?

1. Refresh and rearrange

Blogs can get stale, even if you're posting regularly. Consider shaking things up every now and then. I'm going to adhere less to theme days and maybe just having recurring features that I do when the inspiration strikes. (This, btw, does not mean only blogging when the inspiration strikes. All I mean is  that I won't be tied to a certain type of post on a given day.)

2. Take that blog envy and study the blogs/bloggers that you admire.

What are they doing that draws you in? What can you learn from them? This doesn't mean copy their ideas, but look for inspiration.

3. Evaluate what you can do better.

Sit back and see where you can push yourself more. When I looked at bloggers I liked, I realized that they were good at telling personal stories while still conveying a message that readers can relate to. I know that I can be better at opening up a bit more on here. A lot of times I've stuck to things like theme days and that inadvertently has meant I share less of myself. I rarely talk about my life or things outside of writing going on in it. Now, I have no intention for this to become some journal type thing, but an occasional personal story (with a point) could be good.

4. Venture out of your comfort zone.

Sometimes we paint ourselves into a niche corner. I know I did on my old writing blog Fiction Groupie. Teaching and sharing information are my comfort zones, so it was easy to let my blog become one-dimensional. You have to remind yourself that you are more than just *insert niche*. If your goal is to have a niche blog, that's one thing. But for the most part, authors (particularly fiction authors) need something a bit more well-rounded, especially once you're published.

5. Have enough structure to keep you on track but not so much that you lock down your creative wiggle room.

I love having a plan and a structure (despite the fact that I'm a panster when writing.) Having theme days was one way to lower the what-to-blog-about anxiety because there was a plan in place. But it also stifled me at times because maybe I wanted to write about A on Monday, but it was a B theme day. So if you are going to have themes, make them broad. Or, don't even tell your readers what the theme days are. You just use them as a loose guideline. Then if you veer off that path, no one even realizes you've taken a detour.

6. Write down a long list of (I think Kristen Lamb says 100) blog topics so that you have a go-to on days you just can't think of something.

I haven't done this yet, but it's own my agenda. If I'm not going to have as structured of a weekly plan, I need an emergency kit for back up. But beyond using this as a back up device, it also can help you hone in on what you want your blog to look like, what topics/themes recur and inspire you.

7. If some post/angle/theme flops, don't worry, just move on and try something else. 

We have to be willing to try some things and take some risks. If we're afraid of doing something different because it might not work, things will get stagnant. The beauty about a blog is that each day is a new day. If yesterday's post bombed and got no hits, you've got a brand new day the next day to try something else.

8. Rediscover your blogging confidence.

Only you have your voice. If you make sure you're being authentically you on your blog, then no one else can duplicate that. Figure out what makes you unique and special and mine that for your blog. If a reader can connect with your blogging voice, then they'll probably connect with your novels. So show them a piece of what they will get between the covers of your books. (For instance, no, I don't write R-rated stuff here on the blog even though I write erotic romance. But I guarantee you if you like my blog and pick up one of my books, you'll probably recognize a lot--my sarcasm, the way I put words together, my occasional shamelessness, my obsession with mancandy--you know, the important stuff.) My voice is my voice. 

So, I'm going to take my own advice and go through this process of blog revampization (<--spellcheck didn't immediately highlight that word and for a second, I got all excited that it was a word. Alas, it's not. But it should be.) So anyway, you'll see some changes coming up. Hopefully, you all will like them. If not, feel free to let me know. I'm open to feedback.

*And remember, the only salient point you need to pull from this entire post is: BUY MY BOOK TOMORROW or pre-order it today. ;)

Her first love has returned, and he's brought a friend...

You can buy MELT INTO YOU in print of ebook from any of these retailers: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | BAM | Indie Bound | Powell’s | Chapters

QUESTIONS FOR YOU: Alright, so am I the only one who has had a blog identity crisis? Do you feel stagnant sometimes on your blog? How did you find your blogging mojo? What do you wish you could be better at on your blog?

Are You Hiding Behind a Wall on Your Blog?

Photo by Lance Neilson (click pic for link)So we hear lots and lots and LOTS of talk about being authentic on your blog and in your branding. Be yourself! Be genuine! Put yourself out there! And that's awesome. I agree. 

And I would say if asked, most of us would say--of course I'm being genuine! But lately there have been a number of blog posts that have got me to thinking more about this.

It seems that many of us, unknowingly, erect a nice, thick wall between us and our blog readers. I think a lot of us do this because we don't think we're all that interesting OR we're afraid that if we do show our personality, people aren't going to like us. It's not a conscious thought, but I think many of us still have that first-day-of-school, what-if-no-one-wants-to-hang-out-with-us phobia.

So we build up these lovely little shields, where people can sort of see us, but not really.


What kinds of things can create distance between you and your blog readers?

1. Blogging only about writing

I did this for a long time because it's what I liked to talk about (and what I still like to talk about), but also because it didn't require me to really put "me" out there. Sure, I used my personal style and voice to deliver the information, but I was still in teacher mode, hiding behind the advice-giver role. (Kind of like this post *cough*)

Solution: It's okay if you want to talk about writing. So what if everybody else is doing it too? But think about how you can shine through those types of posts. Don't just put up a list of rules and move on. Talk about how this affected your writing personally. Talk about a struggle you had with that particular issue. Inject the information with your voice and your personal experiences. Need an example? Check out Chuck Wendig's blog. No one would ever accuse him of holding back personality in his writing posts. :)


2. You hide behind a niche.

Once again, not necessarily a bad choice to have a niche blog. Niches attract niche audiences. People know what to expect and you can get a great following. But sometimes a niche can act like a security blanket. If you have a niche like Scary Mommy, where it has an over-arching theme of shining light on the reality of motherhood, but the posts are injected with personality, humor, and personal stories, well that's awesome. But if you have a mommy blog where you're just doing reviews of kid's products or a food blog where you just share recipes, you run the risk of not really letting people get to know you.

Solution: Look at your blog. Could someone else slip into your role and your readers wouldn't notice? Then you're probably hiding behind your niche. Look for ways you can put your stamp on the information you're sharing.


3. You're leaning too much on theme days or memes.

So this is one I'm guilty of too. Themes can be a great way to help you keep a schedule on your blog and streamline things. I'm not saying don't do theme days. But sometimes, we get so hung up on themes that the blog can start to suffer from generic-itis. Now, not every post has to give a piece of you. My Boyfriend of the Week posts and my Friday round-ups aren't chock full of personality. But they're fun (mancandy, yay!) or helpful (links!) and that works for me. However, if that were the ONLY type of blogs I was doing all week, then I think it'd be hard for readers to ever get to know me.

Solution: Use theme days if you enjoy that and it helps you keep your blog going, but schedule in some "free" days where you can talk about whatever and share your personality.


4. You shy away from giving your opinion or tackling a controversial topic.

Okay, so this does not mean you need to start talking about religion and politics (unless that's the kind of books/blog you write). But I think many of us--especially once we're published--back away from giving our opinions or touching controversial topics for fear of alienating readers or attracting trolls. I've chosen, for instance, not to do book reviews and I never talk negatively about any book or author. I don't plan on changing that policy. But that doesn't mean I can't give my opinion on other things. Giving opinions shows a part of who you are.

Solution: Give your opinion and do it with conviction. BUT still be aware that some topics are better left alone. Make sure what you're taking a stand on is worth it.


5. All you do is non-stop promo.

Yes, your blog should hopefully lead people to check out your books. But you're not going to get them there by beating them over the head with--hey, look at my book, let's talk about my book, here's an excerpt, here's a contest, here's a discount code, check out my blog tour. People will only get to know you as an annoying salesman, not the impression you want to leave people with.

Solution: Don't be an annoying douche-bag, firstly. :) Secondly, intersperse promo type posts amongst your normal blog content. People won't get upset if you post that stuff sometimes. Just make sure it's not all the time.


Okay, now a few warnings...

A) This does NOT mean you should just ramble about me, me, me. 

Yes, we want to get to know you and your personality. We do not, however, want to hear about your trip to the grocery store unless a spaceship landed in the parking lot or something. People are still most concerned about "what's in it for me" so make sure you are always providing something--a laugh, information, advice, inspiration--just provide those things with your own personal flavor.

B) This is still the internet, and you need to be careful about what you share and how personal you get.

You're never going to see me posting pictures of my son, giving my address, or discussing me and hubs' sex life. There are people who do and that's fine. Those are just my personal lines. No one needs to know THAT much about me. :)


And here are the blog posts that inspired this post:

Not Just Another Writer’s Writing Blog - Write it Sideways

Welcome to the Blog Home of Tabula Rasa, Indie Author « Me and My Shovel

Is A “Niche” Or “Non-Niche” Blog Right For You? - Write It Sideways

The Controversy Over Controversy - Amber West


So what do you think? Am I overthinking this (always a distinct possibility)? Or do you think you sometimes hide behind these walls? What do you do on your blog to show your personaity?