Building a Better Blog: Love What You Write

It’s an oft-repeated statement, but it’s true: your blog will only succeed if you really love what you’re writing about. Without that passion for the subject at hand, it is basically impossible to maintain any level of discipline with your writing; whenever something else comes up or you simply fall into the doldrums, you’ll stop writing and then your readers will stop reading and then, well, you might as well just start over.

When I think of passion and blogging, weirdly, the first example that pops into my mind is Heather Armstrong over at dooce. She’s a splendid writer, no question, but I would probably not visit her site very often if it weren’t for the fact that her passion for her daughter and her dog oozes out of every post. The site sidetracks occasionally into poking fun at Mormons and such, but it really clicks when she’s writing about the things that drive her, and that’s her family.

From a completely different perspective, the passion over at moleskinerie is similarly overwhelming. That site has opened the floodgates to a torrent of passion that people feel about a little black notebook, and it pops out several times a day. Most of the time, the writer is able to stand back and let the passion of others flow through him, but the end result is incredibly engaging.

Passion grips me, as well. As much as I love spending time with my family and playing with my son (right now, he’s really into stacking up block towers about four or five high, knocking them over, and doing it again … we do this for hours), there are days where I almost can’t wait until he’s firmly asleep and I have a couple hours set aside to catch up on personal finance news and write about what I’ve learned. I’ll flip through the Wall Street Journal, write like a madman, visit a bunch of blogs, and basically be in a complete frenzy for a few hours before bedtime. Sometimes, I’ll even wake up at three or four in the morning to get in a couple more hours of reading and writing.

If you want a blog to be a success, you need to find a topic that you feel so strongly about that you find yourself thinking about it during idle moments and you can’t wait to learn more about it. If you don’t feel that way about your blog, it’s probably not going to be successful.

What if you don’t know what that topic is? The best way to find out that one topic that brings out your passions is to spend some time away from the concept of blogging. Focus only on yourself. What do you find yourself thinking about? What sorts of books are you drawn to reading? What television shows do you find yourself idly thinking about? What do you do in your spare time?

Once you start seeing patterns there, you’ll begin to see a thing or two that you’re really passionate about: it’s the thing you keep returning to time and time again in your idle thoughts and your actions. Maybe it’s baking cookies (I’m actually guiding someone in getting started in a really sweet blog about this very topic). Maybe it’s clipping coupons. Maybe it’s baseball. Whatever it is, that’s what you should be blogging about because that’s where your heart is.

Some people might be convinced to quit their blog because of this post. If this post is making you think of quitting your blog, I think you should quit. There are millions of blogs out there written by people who are just churning out mush without real feeling or sentiment; what the internet really needs is more bloggers who have found that one thing inside of them that rings true. If a simple post at The Simple Dollar is making you question that truth, then it’s probably not the thing that will inspire great passion within you. And it is that passion alone that makes a blog great.

Building a Better Blog is a month-long series at The Simple Dollar, outlining steps you can take to build a long-term healthy blog that will attract readers. Jump ahead to the next essay, Addressing Your Readers, or back to the previous one, Essential Reading.

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