Pro tips ignored: focus

From time to time I happen upon the blogging advice Web sites, such as Problogger.net and others whose articles have been so inane that I didn’t bother bookmarking them. Mind you, I’m not out there seeking “help” or “advice” on blogging, but sometimes one of those sites’ headlines catches my eye in a Google search or linked via some other site’s RSS feed.

That happened the other day. I read an article by some “professional blogger” telling me how to increase the traffic to my site. I put “professional blogger” in quotation marks because I feel like that term represents a particular set of the blogosphere. The pros are in it to win it, so to speak. They are the ones worried about search engine optimization, the number of readers they have, advertising dollars and, well, making a living off of blogging. That’s why they’re pros; for them, blogging is paid work.

I am not that kind of creature. I don’t make any money blogging. (Though if some advertiser wanted to pay me an exorbant amount of money for an ad on this site, I would oblige. I have student loans to pay off, you know.) In fact, since I pay $10 per month for Web hosting, I actually pay for the privilege of writing a blog that only a handful of people know exists.

Though I’m not a pro, one idea from the pro’s article did stick with me through the reading. He urged those bloggers who want to be successful bloggers to specialize, to focus on one thing and give that one thing really deep attention.

I like this idea, in theory. If I choose a “beat” or “speciality,” I could generate some pretty good ideas, given enough time to research and read. I could tailor my RSS subscriptions to suit my focus and read only those things important to my research. Ideally, this is what I should be doing as a pseudo-academic — there was a time I would have called myself just an academic, but I’ve been out of school for long enough that some of that previous fervor has died.

But something prevents me from choosing a focus. Namely, I don’t know what to focus on. Chalk it up to my dispassionate and impartial nature (I should have been a judge.), but I don’t get really fired up about anything. Sometimes I get mildly obsessed with things, for a while. Like CSS and playing with WordPress. That absorbed an inordinate amount of my attention for weeks; I didn’t feel like writing about my experiences, but it was entertaining. World of Warcraft catches my attention in spurts, especially since the expansion. Sometimes good, old fashioned reading catches my eye too. It just depends on the time of year or the alignment of the stars or something like that.

With so much out there to draw my ever more valuable and precious attention and free time, how can I possibly specialize? I’d feel like I was missing something.

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