I check my site stats daily, just wanting to see how many people have been checking the site out. I check what posts do well, what’s speaking to people, search terms, and referral links. Way back when I started blogging, I wrote about whatever came to mind, and what I was interested in.
I try to write for a particular focus; lifestyle priorities and management. But going all the way back to my early blogging days, I wrote a post that continues to drive small chunks of traffic to my site.
The keywords from this particular post (which people are finding this site through) are:
Ryan Gosling, Crazy Stupid Love clothes, Ryan Gosling style.
Ugh. It goes back to this post. ONE POST. The stats beg the question… should you write what’s popular, and may generate more site hits? Or write about what drives you, and you have a passion for?
Thanks to niche communities fostered by the connected nature of the web, there’s a third way. Find the convergence between what your skills, passion, and what people need (and will pay you for).
Let’s make a list…
- What do you enjoy doing? – Exercising, playing guitar, writing, being with friends, reading, traveling, kayaking, cooking.
- What do you have a talent for? – Writing, motivating people, making people laugh, learn things quickly, seeing the possibilities.
- What will people pay you for? – Writing, teaching, coaching, creating.
This is a simple visual I use to help people figure out the convergence between their passions, talents, and potential pay. I share Chris Guillebeau’s belief that simply asking people to do what they love is misguided, they must work towards a convergence. I love playing guitar, but my talent is so-so, and so no one is going to pay me to chop away at chords for an hour. I could eventually work my way up to above average, and will keep playing, but my convergence lies elsewhere.
Right now, I believe it lies in writing, teaching, and coaching people. Here’s some good news…
People have multiple points of convergence.
I also worked as a summer camp director, where I was able to use my passion and talent to teach, mentor, write, motivate, and inspire. Write down as many things as possible in those 3 lists, and work towards convergence.
When you’re trying to figure whether you should write for eyeballs or write for love, and how it convergences with people’s needs, here are three things to keep in mind.
1: Keep Writing and Hitting Publish
This is especially important early on in your writing. You’ll get better as the process continues. So write about topics you’re interested in, write as well as you can, without getting terrified that your writing isn’t catchy or challenging enough. Because…
2: Don’t Judge Your Posts
you can never predict what is going to be popular and speak to people. The post in question, Road Warrior – Tips When Packing for Business Travel, took me under an hour, and I didn’t care that much about it. I thought it was a worthwhile topic, and I had knowledge to impart, and people have obviously picked up on it.
Now the post on Haiti, Minimalism, Fight Club, and being Homeless, it was my baby. I spent 4 hours and over 2000 words on it.
Site stats on those posts?
- Travel Clothes – 20 views, 50% via tag and search terms
- Haiti – 45 views, 2% via tag and search search terms
Yes, Haiti had more page views, but the majority of my traffic comes from direct links via email or facebook. Tag and search terms are usually the new/unique visitors. People are searching for ways to be fit and look good, and no surprise there.
3: Don’t Care about what’s Popular, but Don’t Ignore It
Should you care about what is going to be popular? Yes and no. It’s nice to see stats increase to have people following your blog and visiting. It’s good to write content that people are looking for and interested in. Which drives traffic, which can drive revenue.
But ultimately, I say no, don’t write for popularity, write for your passion and creativity.
If you are continually seeking out the latest popular search terms and tags, and trying to craft your essays around that, you will burn out. Because the fire isn’t inside you, and your writing will be hollow. People don’t want to read hollow writing.
So go tell your story and share the things you are passionate about. This is the best writing you can do, and what will ultimately resonate with people. If you got in to this game for the money and the fame, go try something else. Figure out how you best serve others, and I believe you’ll be rewarded for it.
Ultimately, I believe that is what the world needs from me. What do you think it needs from you?