Staying Focused Is Tough

When you read advice telling you to “stay focused” when blogging, doesn’t it seem like the easiest thing in the world to do? It does to me, but then i start writing, and man, it is not easy.

The thing is, there are just too many tangential ideas, related items and sub-themes to any topic. Really, I can’t think off hand of any topic that would force you to stay on track, it’s something I find very hard, and im reasonably certain im not alone…

Asking the Question

One way i’ve found to help me stay on topic is to define a question for that topic. With this site, it’s “will this post help bloggers make money?” . If i can answer yes to that question, then the post idea is good to go, if not, it’s out of scope and no matter how much i might want to talk about it, it’s off limits.

It’s not always ideal, and in fact, can be more than a little frustrating. But i see bloggers do this all the time (and I include myself in that observation!). It’s easy to spot it from the outside looking in, but i reckcon it’s a little harder to recognize when you’re “in it” you know?

Typical Distractions

They’re easy to name, and pretty easy to spot when a blogger you follow starts down that path;

  • Broadening the scope – When a tight, niche topic strays into a wider area. Often i think this is caused by “fear of missing out”, and I think it’s possibly the hardest distraction to ignore
  • Being drawn into off-topic conversations – You know, when someone links to you with an opinion that’s outside of your scope, and you respond on your blog, again, outside of scope. So easy to get drawn in..
  • Can’t keep your mouth shut – Maybe it’s just me, but i find it very hard not to respond to some vaguley related issues in a topic area, even if im not the subject of the conversation heh..
  • He says, she says – this one’s a classic. As you get to know those that post in your niche, the “gossip factor” starts to kick in, and you know what? In many cases, your readers couldn’t care less for gossip amongst bloggers — it’s another damn tough one not to get drawn into though, particularly if you feel the need to either defend yourself or someone you like on a subject.

There are a ton more, im sure you can tell me if i missed any big ones.

How to Avoid Going Off-Topic

So bearing in mind the fact that I don’t always follow my own advice, take the following with a pinch of salt!

  • Respond to off-topic conversations off-site. Use the comments of the blogger you need to talk about rather than your own blog.
  • Start another blog, and just have it linked/promoted on your topic blog
  • Start a personal blog (presently i keep a wordpress blog for this) if you dont already have one
  • Always ask the question (see above), if your topic is complex, ask several questions — the point is that you need to answer “yes” to your question to deem the topic on-theme

As you can see, i’ve been thinking a bit about this today, and trust me i speak from experience heh! I’d love to hear any other ways in which you manage to keep your focus.

Or any other “classic distractions” – come on, break out of that monday mood and tell us what you think…