I write TomBeingTom.com because I like writing, and I like Tom. It’s important, I think, to know ourselves, to like ourselves. I like me enough, and what goes on in my head enough, to share it with the world. Generally speaking, two or three dozen people read each new blog I post. Sometimes, that number doubles. Sometimes, it halves.
It isn’t “successful” or viral, but it is fun.
When I started it I knew, it would be neither successful nor viral, it would just be fun. A personal blog. Me, writing about stuff. Something for me to write and friends and family to read. I never figured it would be very interesting to people who didn’t know Tom, and I was right.
But it might be time to say goodbye to Tom, just being Tom.
Not because I don’t enjoy it anymore or that people aren’t still reading it. I love it more now than I did on day one, and I have more of a following now than I did then.
The reason I started TomBeingTom.com was to get myself to write, to challenge myself to become a writer. To prove to myself that, if I put my heart into it, I could write consistently. And consistently well. I think I’ve proven that.
So, if TomBeingTom.com has fulfilled its original purpose, then it is time to evolve that purpose, if that purpose can evolve, or to put it on the shelf as a memento to my very personal and internal success.
In other words, it’s time to find my niche.
If TomBeingTom.com had a niche it was this: me, talking about stuff. Any stuff. Politics, religion, ghosts, dogs, love, my day, her day, moving, Stephen King, crime, the future, seasons, beer, yadda yadda yadda. In fact, when I first started it I told people I had the Seinfeld of blogs. In the 90s, Seinfeld was often jokingly characterized as a show “about nothing.” My blog is a blog about nothing. I come up with an idea, I write about that idea for 400-1400 words, I post it on my blog, summarize it on social media for friends and family, and they read it. Sometimes I get comments or even questions, or a kudos, and sometimes I get pretty much nothing at all in response. Great. My formula worked to perfection.
But for a blog to be “successful,” the sphere of reach must necessarily be larger. And from the very beginning I knew that a larger reach comes from a specified niche. To understand that, just think about what folks type into Google machines when they’re looking for a topic. Almost nobody in the world randomly types in “Tom” to see what Tom is being.
Bless you if you do. 😉
So, to drive the world to Tom I need to be more than just Tom. Really. Apparently, that’s a thing.
For the last couple of weeks I’ve been googling “how to be a successful blogger” and all sorts of things (that were not Tom) popped up in response. Some of it I’ll get to in a minute, but the best summary is this:
- Find your niche
- Add value
There are a lot more, deeply important, responses, but these two are vital. I have to know what the overall theme of my blog is and, every time I write, I have to add value to that theme and to the lives of the reader.
I tell my boss and co-workers all the time (or, at least, I used to) that the first, most important aspect of running a successful business is to define its core mission and values. Every decision we make from then on can refer back to that core mission and those core values.
That same principle applies to a successful blog or, if you’d like to get all existential and stuff for a minute, to a successful life. Define your mission. Define your values. Work, write, and live according to them. So easy an ape could do it.
But I’m not here to change your way of doing business or your life. At least not yet. I’m here to change the way I write. To find a niche. A mission. To add value.
To add value to my mission and to your life I have to be more than honest, interesting, and original, three things I think I did pretty well on TomBeingTom.com. I have to, in some way, help you, the reader, discover something new. All the other things are important – consistency, outreach, identity, authenticity, transparency, originality, honesty, and great content – but none of it matters to the larger world without value.
All those things are true in business, too, by the way.
So, from now on, Tom will be thinking about something more than Tom. Tom will be thinking about his core mission and trying to find that one thing he’d be passionate enough about (besides Tom) to write about every day.
Tom is going to try to find his niche.
And then, by god, he’ll find a way to add value to it and value to the lives of every person who stumbles across it.
Because, in the end, it’s not about me, being me. It’s about something bigger than that.
P.S. When I say “successful” blogger I don’t mean money or fame or notoriety or even lots and lots of readers. All of those things can be byproducts of success, but they are not the definition of it. The definition of success, to me, for my blog, would be this: defining my core mission, passionately writing about it, and getting great, interactive feedback about it every time. If that happens I will know I have done something I truly love to do, and that it has added value to the life of the reader.
What could be better than that?
P.P.S. Having a niche does not exclude a variety of topics, or content. It doesn’t mean writing the same thing every day and changing the adjectives and nouns. It means that every topic of every blog falls under the scope of the mission, and relates back to it in some way. For example: when running a business you can sell a variety of products (topics), but how you sell them and who you sell them to relates back to your mission (niche).
Does that make sense to you?
P.P.P.S My wife just told me I can’t completely quit BeingTom, or she would cry. I’ll find a way to do both, for love. 😎