Blog-dentity Crisis!

I’m not gonna lie to you.  I’m a little confused about my brand as a blogger.  I’m not confused about the concept of branding, mind you.  I know all about the concept of picking a topic/identity and sticking to it.  But when it comes to branding my blog … *breathes out a heavy sigh*  So I need a little direction here and I’m hoping you can help me out.

See, here’s the thing.  I like it when people read my blog.  It makes me feel like I’ve got something interesting to say.  So when I log in and see higher numbers it makes me happy.  However, and in keeping with advice I’ve seen on many people’s blogs, I don’t want to blog about Writing.  (Okay, sometimes I do, but for the sake of this argument let’s pretend I don’t.)  I see a lot of blogs offering advice to Writers that stress the point that Writers shouldn’t blog about Writing (all the time).  What I find ironic about that is that these blog posts are being posted by Writers, retweeted by Writers, and followed by Writers.  So Writers shouldn’t blog about Writing, but Writers read Writing blogs in droves.  Hmm.  Something isn’t right here.

I’ve posted a few things about Writing now and then and, well, occasionally they’re some of my biggest hits.  Some of them aren’t.  Those posts are cathartic to write, but I wouldn’t say they’re my favorite.

I also like to write about myself, my life, and the lessons I’ve learned.  Those sorts of things are fun to blog about because, let’s face it, I’ve had a lot of THINGS happen to me in my life, good and bad, and I would like to think that (with the help of therapy) I’ve learned a lot from those experiences.  I’d love to flatter myself to say that I have something that can be shared with the world.  But is blogging about yourself an exercise in narcissism?  Is it blogterbation?  Hmm.

I also love, and I mean LOVE, writing my Unlikely Hero of the Week blogs.  Actually, I love surfing the net for pictures of the guys I profile each week.  That’s a whole other form of blogterbation, but I think I have this account set at a PG rating, so I will not be elaborating today.

But honestly, my absolute most favorite posts to write each week are my Medieval Monday posts.  I love History.

Cleo, the Muse of History

No seriously.  I LOVE History.  I majored in History … TWICE!  Yes, twice.  I have not one but TWO bachelor’s degrees in History.  I got the first one in straight-up History (emphasizing on the era between and including the French Revolution and World War One in Europe) and the second one as an interdisciplinary degree (translation: double-major lite) in History and Education.  Because I thought I was going to be a high school History teacher.  Long story about how that didn’t happen.  Ooo!  Maybe I’ll blog about it someday!  Anyhow, point being, I love History, I know a lot about History, I grew up playing in a museum that houses the largest private collection of Medieval artwork in the United States, and my brain excretes a thousand happy chemicals when I find myself engaged in a conversation with someone about all topics Historical.  And I love BBC costume dramas like they are crack (Downton Abbey – Woot!  Lark Rise to Candleford – Woot Woot!)

Have we established the fact that I love History?

Because I love History.

And in my own humble opinion, I know how to talk about it like it deserves to be talked about, i.e. like it’s interesting.  Because it is.  This stuff really happened, folks!  Today’s History report was yesterday’s hot gossip!  I do believe I learned this delicious fact when I spent two summers at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire as an actor, running around in costume 12 hours a day, three days a week, convincing other people that I honestly believed I was a 16th century peasant.  My motto for History has always been “This s%@t’s about to get REAL!”

Oh, by the way, my Medieval Monday blog posts get the highest number of hits of anything I post in any given week.  They continue to get hits weeks after I write them.  Hmm.

Okay, so tell me why I am in denial about the fact that I should spend more time blogging about History?  It seems pretty clear, if you ask me.  I personally think it has a lot to do with the fear of being put in a box.  I think a lot of Writers fear being put in a box.  Some apparently love it, or so I’m told, but to me it seems like the kind of person who is attracted to living on the wild side of their imagination is also the kind who likes to color outside of the lines and occasionally make the sky pink, not the sort who likes to be pigeon-holed.

So anyhow, in order to narrow down my branding for this blog I’ve come up with an idea and I’d love your feedback.  Here it is…

Historical Romance.

I write Historical Romance.  I blog about History, I blog about Unlikely Heroes, and I blog about my life.  The History bit is obvious.  Unlikely Heroes are, in most cases, romantic in some way.  And I am really hoping that my life turns out to be a Romance in terms of the classical definition of a Romance in literature.  (There’s a great explanation of this in the film “Stranger than Fiction”, btw)  Romance implies a happy ending where all the characters who should get together do get together.  But I think I would also love to blog about these truly awesome Historical TV series, most of which are British, and why you should be watching them.  With an occasional film thrown in.  I’d also love to blog more about Historiography.  And if you don’t know what that term means, then yeah, I need to start blogging about it because it will make you stop and think and go “Oh!”  I would also love to toss in the occasional book review and, yes, maybe a piece of Writing advice here and there.

But I also want people to actually READ my blog.

So, does that sound interesting to you?

And while I’m at it, has anyone else experienced the existential crisis of figuring out how to narrow your focus as a blogger?  Please tell me I’m not alone!

 

P.S.  So when I went looking for a picture to represent my love of History I found that awesome pic of Cleo depicted on a Greek pot (which I also love, btw).  But half an inch away from that picture on the same webpage (http://sailortwain.com/sailortwain183/) was THIS picture:

Okay, have you seen the Horatio Hornblower series????  This is my point exactly, folks!  Oh my gosh, Ioan Gruffudd!  It’s a sign, I tell you, A SIGN!  I would never get a chance to talk about him either because he’s not an unlikely hero.  He’s a VERY likely hero.  *fans self*

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25 thoughts on “Blog-dentity Crisis!

  1. Go for it with the history. My advice though, is start a new blog or at least radically overhaul the existing one. My first blog still lives on the web somewhere, it was a random collection of ramblings. While this was good therapy for me, it wasn’t so interesting to read and garnered pretty much no traffic.

    A few months later and I started one on model-making (www.philsworkbench.co.uk) where I just talk about thinks I’m building. People seem to like this a lot more and I put this down to having a theme that I stick to. They know what they are going to get and if they like it, will keep coming back.

    My other main blog (www.nolanparker.co.uk) is about writing but to be honest it’s most about 2 people writing and things we relate to our book. To be honest we talk about cake a lot and sometimes about fashion. At least the later appears in the story ! Writing about writing is difficult unless you have an existing fan-base who want to follow you.

    So, go for the history. If you make a new blog, move the posts. Get links from other related sites and I bet you’ll see the numbers rise. Goof luck.

  2. The way I see it, a blog is kind of like a diary, except you’re sharing it with everyone, and you’re sharing things that interest you. When I wait for your blogs (like I did excitedly last night for Medieval Monday – best thing about Mondays IMHO) I’m not waiting for something “I” would like, I’m waiting for you to share something that interests you, in the knowledge that I might learn something, or ponder something you’ve written that I’ve never quite thought of myself. Make sense?
    Personally I love that you have different blog subjects at different parts of the week, and I love the topics.
    I also find it amusing how many topics you talk about are topics that I love. How did we not realise this when I was in BA?! Mind you, those two years were a big adventure out on my own, I think I missed a lot of things. I mean so far I think I’ve been in love with almost all your unlikely heroes at one stage – not to mention I only have one other friend I know of who loves Downton Abbey – but don’t blog about it yet cause I’m an episode behind!!!!!
    So, in a nutshell, I’m all for your next blog idea…plus I also think Ioan Gruffudd is mouthwateringly gorgeous in Hornblower. I have the series on DVD 🙂

    • Hornblower is awesome! I own all of it on DVD too.

      Yeah, I think when we were in college together I was just an entirely different person. Or rather I had no idea who I was yet and was hanging out with a bunch of people that ultimately I didn’t have anything in common with. Too bad hingsight is 20/20, cuz I would have hung out with you a lot more! I remember having a few really good times with you. And dude, you were RIGHT THERE across the hall in the dorm! =P

      Glad you feel like my humble little blog is worth staying up for. =D

  3. I love history, too, and also am an author of historical fiction. I do not follow the crowd, never did, and write about anything I want to share in my blog. That’s the fun of having a blog. It’s not about forcing myrself to write about something, but writing about something I love.

    • That’s a really good point. And I think that a lot of bloggerss I’ve seen out there have made the mistake of getting tied into something that they don’t love because they feel like they “should” make that their blog topic.

  4. I enjoy reading your blog no matter what you write about, it’s fun. I see what you mean about branding. I recently split my blog persona in two and started a second blog. My first one is all writery stuff and I enjoy interacting with other writers. I don’t really want to give that up.

    But, readers are a different matter altogether. Think of how you would be if not a writer. You enjoy a certain someone’s books, so you go looking to see if they have a blog/website etc and if you find one that’s all about writing, you’re probably going to think ‘meh’. So if you write historical romance, I’d say your readers are going to be people who enjoy historical romance – so what better to blog about?

    • Sometimes I think that Readers are a thousand times more complicated than Writers, as strange as it may sound. And I guess part of my “problem” is that I’m in denial about what I can plainly see works for my blog.

      Although the thought of having two blogs is a little daunting. I tried that for a while and it just didn’t work. =P

  5. I think it depends on how much of a “personality” you are – the quotes are to distinguish it from having a personality. If people want to know what YOU are thinking then a blog with random posts is fun to both write and read.

    However, I think that most people tripping over a blog won’t bookmark something full of randomness, they want consistancy. It’s easy to understand the sort of site you’ve found if it’s always about a norrow subject. Doing this gets the regular visitor (the ones who keep coming back) stats up and makes you happy because you are being seen by lots of people every day.

    The other path might get you loads of visits one day and none the next because you’ve written something that has attracted lots of attention from Google. It’s higher risk but you might get lucky.

    • That’s another really good point, Phil. Different people can get away with different things at different points in their career. I mean, J.K. Rowling could blog about the mold in her shower and half of the world would read it. If anyone else tried that it would likely get ignored.

      In my perfect world I can find a way to balance everything out. But yeah, I like your idea that consistency is key in getting started.

  6. I love your Medieval Monday posts (I try never to miss them because I’m a history nerd myself), but I also really enjoy your unlikely heroes posts. I think they both go well with your brand as a historical romance author.

    As for writing about you, well, that’s how your fans get to know you better 🙂

    Sounds to me like you’ve got a good idea about how to move forward. And you’re not alone. I currently have a writing blog (which I love), but I don’t always want to write about writing, and I feel like it doesn’t really let people get to know me. Plus, it really is only interesting to writers. No one else cares. Not even my husband or my best friends read it because they’re not writers and don’t really care how it works as long as the final product is good.

    • I love that there are so many History nerds out there! It really motivates me to start a series about these History shows and films like I was talking about. And yeah, as a Writer I am sometimes surprised (without really being surprised) that all of my friends are not rabidly interested in Writing the way I am. =P I’m just grateful that one of my best friends, who I also work with, is also a Writer. (Shout-out to J.R. Tague!)

  7. This is totally the writer’s dilemma! Because writing is what we do and what we try to get better at, we’re a little obsessed with writing but, you’re right, readers aren’t that interested in HOW we do what we do. I write mysteries and so I try to have one of my three blogs a week about mysteries in general. Like you, I love all the BBC mysteries and dramas, but instead of just doing a bit of a mash up for “all things mystery” (which, let’s face it, would dry up content-wise pretty quickly), I am starting to realize that it’s not really the mystery, itself, that engages me–it’s the people and the relationships among all the people in the story that I find interesting. It’s a total conundrum! Is it the genre or the story I should blog about? Is it the sexual tension between the characters that drives the boat, or is it the plot? B/c that makes a big difference when you’re steering your blog down that path. I, too, love your History Mondays. I love all-things-English, starting with their history. Kristen Lamb, social media maven, suggests 3 blogs a week: one a topic blog, one a writing blog and one a out-of-left field whatever-you-want blog. Then, if people only really want to tune in for history, for example, they can leave the others alone. But they won’t. All your blogs are delightful!

    • Yeah, I’ve been trying to follow Kristen Lamb’s process as much as I can. I loved her book! I think my concern is whether I’m doing what works for everybody else while still staying true to myself and what I’m interested in. … You’re right! That is the Writer’s dilemma!

  8. OK – Marcy’s been holding out on me! I LOVE history – same thing have a dbl major in History and English – and a degree in Education but I’m not teaching either. We’re going through a blog crises too. Will def. be coming back for history Mondays 🙂
    Lisa Hall-Wilson

  9. I think ‘historical romance’ is a great idea. It gives you leeway to cover a lot of things, like history, your unlikely heroes, and other things related to the genre, including movies. A lot of blogs have a specific focus, but do things like “Free-for-all-Friday” where they can post about whatever floats their boat and whatnot. That would let you post on occasion about your own life, too.

    I went through a Blog-dentity crisis as well. I’m slowly working through it and gearing my blog more toward fantasy. I had to take my beloved Tales of the Milk Maid posts and put them on their own page, but I refuse to get rid of them completely, because they’re a part of who I am.

  10. It is really hard to figure out what to blog about- right now I’m taking Kristen Lamb’s class on blogging to make sure that what I’m doing will attract readers.
    If you write Historical Romance then yes keep up with the history posts, and the unlikely heroes I think make us look at what we want from our heroes in a different way giving you the opportunity to write about them. 🙂
    I like the idea of you reviewing historical movies and shows.
    Also as a writer I really try to not write blogs about writing- I’m doing one on Creating Diversity because I got a burr up my butt from people’s comments on the issue over agents asking writers to make gay characters straight and characters of color white. Anyway point being I don’t read ‘writers blogs’ If a blog has a post about writing I skim it to see if anything catches my attention, but 98% of the time I don’t get past the second paragraph.
    The two exceptions- Kristin Lamb, because it’s more on social media and she’s funny. And Chuck Wending because he is so crass and hysterical.
    If I was to buy one of your books I would expect it to be historical, romantic, intellectual, and the hero while handsome wouldn’t be a beach buff airhead, but someone others might put as a second character, but we will get to see his strength of character, charm, intelligence, compassion and that will be what’s sexy and makes us wish we’re the heroine.
    Is that what you write? If so your blog is fine.

  11. I guess I was unaware of blog identity. I just thought it was ramblings that some people might or might not find amusing or interesting. I just go on in mine….but then, I’m not saying I’m a writer, even though I thought of it a lot in my younger years…luckily any talent in that direction was picked up by Julie!

    I love reading your blogs. It makes me happy that my daughter has such a cool friend and that I get to sort of share you! I’m definitely an Anglophile…so much so I married, not one, but two Englishmen(not at the same time, of course!) I watch a lot of the documentaries over here, and if my pea brain could retain better, I’d be a history whizz myself!

    So, I say, what you are doing is great, the Medieval Mondays are great, I like your attitude towards history…even when you are telling the truth about Robin Hood. I think having themes for different days of the week the way you do is a good idea, and that way, there is something for everyone. I read them all, even if I don’t always comment. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll be a writer, but I think its too hard work for my idle brain!

  12. Another history nut here. I think that your Medieval Mondays posts rock. Definately keep them going. I already follow quite a few writing blogs but I am a sucker for Twitter links. If you have a great title and topic, I’m always wiling to check it out and ReTweet. But as I am a writer, my RTs will mostly be seen by other writers and…. the same old vicious circle 😛

    I recommend you to try Kristen’s pattern with your own spice and see how it goes for you. Alter if there is need but I don’t think that you’ll get less readers, quite the contrary.

  13. I enjoy almost every post I read here, I can’t think of a single one I’d classify as not liking. There are some I like more than others, but the categories vary on those.

    I know exactly what you mean about a reluctance for pigeon-holing a blog. When I started reading that I should narrow my focus, not post about this, not post about that, suddenly I was worried about “my brand” and getting stuck in a box unable to write about whatever strikes my fancy.

    I’m still not sure I have a “brand” and I really haven’t narrowed my focus much, perhaps that’s why I’m still on the visitors low-end. I’ve decided I don’t mind. I find I don’t really want to narrow my focus though. Most of my works are every bit the eclectic mess of interests that I am, so my blog embodies that. I just avoid writing topics about some things I could because they seem at odds with the idea of a singing muse who loves to write and what not (for example, blogging over my irritation with the new Dr. Pepper 10 not for women commercial that assumes I hate action movies and whatnot).

    I know the decision isn’t for everyone, and maybe not wise, but I decided to take my blog and my love of writing it for what it is, whatever new post might be calling my name. I use to have so many different blogs for different things. I definitely wouldn’t suggest that, I ended up letting them all fall by the wayside because it turned into this huge struggle to keep them updated. Eventually I updated them all, one per day, despite many times wanting to write in X blog that day rather than Y blog (rarely happened that way) or (more likely) I procrastinated on ALL of them. So, I just let my muse sing whatever tune pops into her head and hope someone else likes it or finds it inspiring, or at least interesting.

    I honestly don’t find anything wrong with your blog at all -maybe- you could personalize the basic design a little more, make archives a little easier to access, or a tag-cloud somewhere, but I think your focus is sufficiently focused with some lovely wiggle room for other things you post that we might find interesting.

    I will say that I read a suggestion that you start over with a different blog, maybe more than one, splitting to your various interests. I’m not sure I like that idea, I like going to one place for all things Merry, I generally get as scattered about keeping up on people’s multi-blogs that are split focused as I do about writing in my own multi-locational-narrowed-focus blogs.

    You have inspired me to more seriously consider my own re-occurring themes. I’m still “trying them on” and the MM mnemonic (since I update Mondays and Fridays) is now part of my Memory Mondays. A few people have told me that the posts where I share a poem or photograph with a real-life story attached are their favourites. I figure all of these so far can fit the category “monday” Fridays can be for random reviews, the occasional post about art and writing, interviews, snippets of story, etc. I am also giving thought to writing up fictional “episode” bites for some blog-only story and posting them.

    I like my blog the way it is, I enjoy it, maybe someone else will too, maybe I’ll grow more slowly because of it, but at least I’ll be working on something I enjoy for the sake of enjoyment, rather than focusing on pleasing a potential audience.

    As narcissistic as it might sound, the intended audience for my blog is me. If I would find it interesting to read (and write, of course), and it fits into the very general artistic/muse theme, I write about it. I just trust that I’m not so unbelievably unique that no one else could relate and find my posts interesting, even if they get eclectic (maybe even because they do) 😀

  14. I just sum my blog up as a craft blog belonging to a concept artist. That way it envelops all the topics I want without me feeling like I’m being too specialized.

    For you I’d say def write about whatever you love and want to share. That’s how you truly tell the good bloggers from the bad ones – the best speak from their heart. 😀

  15. Hey Merry!
    You know I LOVE your writing on your blog. It is HOT and fits well Historical Romance – so which of your books does it fit with?????
    My co-writer and I have decided to write 17 different adventure romance history novels because we LOVE adventure, sailing, horse riding and fighting, we LOVE romance – and we LOVE history. Esp ancient history and researching it – eg how wolfsbane could be used to poison attacking pirates etc… So when we have our first novel Atlantea Soulmates ready to publish we will launch a blog to go with the book and post samples and stuff we researched for the book and how we designed our maps of a mythical place and so on…
    and we do write other generas of books and so are developing blogs for detective murder mysteries – with the two cops conversing about the latest messed up perp. Then we are building blogs for erotic romances, Fantasy adventures and so on… so our readers can find us and read about what they are interested in on this particular blog. We will link all our blogs together for those interested enough – but I agree, my main blog is a MESS of all kinds of stuff.
    In my opinion a blog doesn’t need daily feeding – once a week or 3x a month maybe…. good quality writing is worth your readers waiting for and they will.
    Only another author is going to be interested to know that I write biographies, erotica, fantasy adventures, historical adventure romances and family history.
    Readers know they like certain generas of books… so maybe you could think about that concept and give readers something for readers.

    • You know, you sort of inadvertently hit on my entire reason for writing in the first place with this response. I love doing that research, developing the ideas, and figuring out a way to execute them. That’s why I would continue to write, novel or blog or on the back of a napkin, even if I was guaranteed that no one would ever read a thing I wrote. I actually had a blog that I wrote in EVERY DAY for 6 years and I think I had about three people who checked it now and then. I like the process more than the outcome.

      But it is reassuring to know that other people find the stuff that I find interesting. And yay for research! =D

  16. What I want from Merry’s blog:

    1) Your personal experiences. I find other people’s lives interesting if they can express them well and you can. I am curious.

    2) Historical fiction musings of all kinds. It’s my number one preferred reading genre that I have read since I was about nine years old. This has translated to every costume drama on tv and the movies ever since.

    3) Unlikely heroes (with the occasional likely hero thrown in for measure). We all have our quirks in taste and it’s fun to see where they intersect.

    So in other words, keep doing what your doing without worrying too much about the parameters. Generally speaking I don’t read your writing posts because it’s not my field. But that’s not to say they’re not valid.

    I do think you’ve hit a seam of gold with Medieval Monday. It seems a neglected corner of the web and you write about it so divertingly that it’s a delight to read.

    Everything you post is an expression of you. And you express it well. So keep doing what you’re doing.

    One small request though: more cricket! Obviously I’m biased but as an Aussie where it’s a mainstream sport, I love the tales of your team and games in the USA.

    • Aw, thanks Kate! You know you make me wish I had enough money to hop on a plane and visit Australia! =P

      I keep meaning to blog about cricket and then other things keep coming up. It’s sort of frustrating. I’ll get to it eventually though. I promise!

  17. Pingback: Finding my Inner Blog-dentity « K. Lauzon

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