« Avoiding the Danger of New | Home | Because Who You Are Matters: Eight random facts about me. »

Three Reasons to Know What You’re About (Life Lessons from Starting a New Blog)

By Tiffany Monhollon

One of the most powerful things in the world is having clear picture of what you’re about. Here’s why:

1) It gives you direction. In the first month of this blog, one of the things that’s served me best is having a clear picture of “About.” In fact, that the most popular content by far on this blog is the About page. Each day, it consistently outranks the rest of the content.

When I started my last blog, I didn’t have a very clear sense of what it was about. This was okay, because I was in the searching stage, exploring what this whole blogging thing is all about, figuring out the power of relationships. And as soon as I figured all that out, suddenly, a new direction appeared. In fact, that’s the reason for this new blog.

This is an important lesson I’ve learned in the process of defining what you’re about: You’re not actually defining what you’re not. A lot of people get this wrong, and it really messes with their heads. As a blogger, for example, the idea of creating a specific niche to write within was paralyzing to me with my old site. I was so focused on all the things I would not be able to write about if I chose something to be about that I was sort of directionless.

Then a good blog friend of mine told me to stop focusing on this and to pick something to be about. She told me that once you choose what you’re about and form a perspective, you can talk about anything. The trick is to relate everything to what you’re about. This is easy when you get to the other side of the process, and really, it’s empowering because it gives your messages direction, and it helps you differentiate your content as a blogger, and it helps you reach your goals. But getting there is hard, because first you have to realize that having something to be about does not mean defining everything you are not about.

In your life, this same thing applies. It’s critical to see that determining what you are about doesn’t have to limit you. Chosing one job or a career doesn’t mean you will never get to do anything else. But that sort of thinking cripples thousands, even millions of job seekers, college students and individuals, particularly in the Milllennial generation. Too afraid they will be missing out on – everything else – if they pick just one thing, the miss out on opportunities that come only with choice and action.

By defining what you are about in your career, your life, your relationships, you are actually giving yourself permission to do more, because you are choosing action over the inaction unlimited choice produces.

2) It helps people help you. Once you know what you’re about, it’s easy for other people to understand what you are about, too. On this blog, when people visit my About page, they get a taste of the perspective I’ll be providing. And it seems like so far, people are interested in that. Here’s how I can tell: Last month, 95% of my traffic was new. Now, 77% is new, and my feedburner subscriptions are climbing daily. Which means that others get me, and they’re coming back to get more.

Having people understand what you are about is important for another reason. It helps them tell other people what you are about, which helps you. For example, when Steve Rubel recommended this site from his blog, my traffic shot up, and my feedburner subscriptions nearly doubled. Not bad for a month old blog. This happened because he found me interesting. He was interested in what this blog is about. And that got even more people interested in what it’s about.

Here’s how this works in your career. When people understand what you are about, they can tell other people. They can become powerful personal advocates - for you, your brand, your ideas, your work, you career. When they don’t understand what you’re about, they’re not going to recommend you to a friend, refer clients your way, or help you find a job. It’s as simple as that.

3) It gives you room to grow. This is an undervalued beauty of defining what you are about. Determining what you are about helps you benchmark your personal evolution. Because you will change some aspects of what you are about as your job, your career, your life, your relationships, your interests, your family and your priorities change. That’s the way life works. And when you know what you are about, you give yourself room to grow. And that’s important, because if you never understand where you are or what you’re about, you’ll never get to the step of wondering where you want to go or what you want to become.

Think about college, for example. A great many college graduates don’t actually work in the discipline of their major. This doesn’t discredit the college experience, or your degree, though. And here’s why: Choosing a college major is typically one of the most life-defining, difficult processes a person goes through. It is difficult because the answer forces a lot of direction. But it’s important, because it helps people understand what you are about, so you can get a good job. In the end, however, it’s just a point in life that gives you the push you need to get to where you’re growing.

It’s a daunting process, but it’s worth it. Take some time to consider what you’re about. Take a minute. Write it down. 

Discover what you’re about.

By Tiffany Monhollon | January 9, 2008

Topics: Uncategorized |

29 Responses to “Three Reasons to Know What You’re About (Life Lessons from Starting a New Blog)”

  1. Raza Imam Says:
    January 9th, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    Excellent post… Point #2 is spot on.

    Raza Imam
    http://BoycottSoftwareSweatshops.com

  2. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    January 9th, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    Raza,
    I think that especially from the personal branding perspective, the idea of helping other people understand what you about so they can help you is critical. It doesn’t make it easy, but it’s very much worth it.

  3. Lid Says:
    January 9th, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    Hi Tiffany

    I seem to be visiting more and more - nice blog!

    You’re right, it does take time for people to work this out; it took me well over a year.

    Interestingly, although I was thinking along the same lines, I came at it from the audience perspective: who am I writing for?

    It works out the same, who is your audience, or what are you about - the end result is you can then tailor each post so it relates.

    Thanks for pointing out another way of looking at it - nicely put!

  4. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    January 10th, 2008 at 12:30 am

    You make a good point - you can figure out what you’re about in many ways. People need to realize that there’s no one formula to how to go about doing it. But everyone needs to go through this process. Sometimes more than once!

    Glad you are enjoying the blog. Look forward to seeing more from you here!

  5. Denise Says:
    January 10th, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    Great post, Tiffany. I am at a stage in my life right now where defining what I am about is a major issue. You have made some excellent points that will help me with that. I like the analogy you made to blogging and definitely agree.

  6. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    January 11th, 2008 at 12:02 am

    Thanks, Denise. I think we all go through those times when we struggle with defining what we’re about, and there are different stages in each of the important areas of our lives. What am I about in my career, in my personal life, in my relationships, in my goals? Of course, these can overlap and inform each other, but I think that process is normal.

    Glad these ideas will provide some direction for you - that’s one of the best things in the world to hear!

  7. Because Who You Are Matters: Eight random facts about me. at Personal PR Says:
    January 11th, 2008 at 11:05 am

    [...] Three Reasons to Know What You’re About (Life Lessons from Starting a New Blog) | [...]

  8. messels Says:
    January 12th, 2008 at 4:36 am

    hi tiffany,

    question w/ a bit of back story:

    i write for a collaborative blog with a few friends. we each have a different perspective and approach to our subject matter (stocks, investing, etc).

    would you say this will work against us?

    you seem to be saying that consistency of message is important, but becuase we’re all very different in our paradigm of investing, we aren’t consistent in the way one author can be.

    so far i’m super into the blog because my last blogs failed for a couple of reasons: not enough personal interest in the first topic and a “gag” order from my employer (i’ve since left the co’…but for other reasons).

    just curious what you think.
    thanks! (i’m adding you to my feed!)

  9. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    January 12th, 2008 at 6:02 am

    Hey, Messels. Great Question! I may turn it into a post! To answer your question though, I took a quick look at your blog. My first impression that you have an interesting topic, and even more than that a really strong name. So the image you’re trying to convey is very professional.

    There are a couple of issues that I can see. And having a group blog isn’t one of them. In fact, some very successful group blogs feature many people with many different perspectives on one topic. The problems definitely relate to “About” but not in terms of what you’re doing or trying to accomplish. It’s more about the how. Here’s what I mean:

    1) You about page is very vague. Commentary about Wall Street is way too general - I can get that almost anywhere
    2) You don’t share anything about the authors
    3) It doesn’t seem very clear why you are writing

    Nailing those things down is going to help you in a lot of ways, and that’s exactly why knowing what you’re about is critical to blogging success.

    Thanks for the question. Glad you’re joining the conversation!

  10. messels Says:
    January 12th, 2008 at 6:47 am

    hi tiffany, thanks for the quick response. i’m going to def’ speak with my friends about your points, all of which were spot-on btw. i guess sometimes we don’t see the obvious until someone points it out for us. lol
    have a good one!

  11. Links for 13.1.2008 « Harmony of Letters Says:
    January 12th, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    [...] Three Reasons to Know What You’re About  [...]

  12. Mary Says:
    January 12th, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    This was a timely post for me to read. I’ve been contemplating blogging for a while now (I know, I’m so behind the times), but keep talking myself out of it because of the things I’m not, just like you say. I don’t know that I could define a niche, I’m not really an expert in any one thing, there are so many smart people out there already that I won’t be adding any value… etc. etc. But when it’s framed in your terms, what I am about is totally unique and no one else has my same perspective. So why not just give it a try?

  13. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    January 13th, 2008 at 12:00 am

    @Messels - Glad those ideas helped! Looking forward to what you come up with.

    @Mary - I know first hand dealing with how and why to start a blog can be confusing and complicated, and I’m glad sharing my experience might help empower you to get out there and share your perspective. For me, the decision was a life-changing one - in all the good ways! So please make sure to update me as you progress!

  14. Twentysomething: Five ways people get screwed early in their career » Brazen Careerist by Penelope Trunk Says:
    January 15th, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    [...] give you? It’s not your employer’s job to help you find yourself, so if you don’t have a clear picture of what you want to do, then you are an easy target for tasks that no one else wants to do. Not every manager is good at [...]

  15. Too Many Options . . . A Fish Tale of Decisions - Liz Strauss at Successful Blog - Thinking, writing, business ideas . . . You are only a stranger once. Says:
    January 23rd, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    [...] Tiffany knows what I mean. By defining what you are about in your career, your life, your relationships, you are actually giving yourself permission to do more, because you are choosing action over the inaction unlimited choice produces. — Tiffany Monhollon [...]

  16. Franck Saragossi Says:
    January 28th, 2008 at 12:01 am

    Hi Tiffany;

    Great and timely blog. I recently started blogging about Caribbean retailing to satisfy my desire to contribute more to a fun industry and region. More to what? This is where your point #1 comes in. I’m still crystillizing that part.

  17. One Blogging Command and Seven Sacred Tips to Beat Writing Burnout and Avoid Lazy Blogging at Personal PR Says:
    February 1st, 2008 at 1:57 am

    [...] debate. If you’re a deep thinking blogger, you’ll already be making the connections between your subject matter and the things going on around you. So keep track of your ideas to aid your writing process. You [...]

  18. waraney Says:
    February 5th, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    thanks for this. i’m still having problems on deciding what i want to share with others. reading this helps a lot.

  19. career help Says:
    February 6th, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    Hi!I got the most valuable information aboutfinding the right career is important but not always an easy thing to do. There are many ways to go about it, and many helpful resources. Your long term happiness with your employment starts with good research upfront.

  20. Finding Inspiration: 5 Blogging Secrets Inside an iPod at Personal PR Says:
    February 29th, 2008 at 10:43 am

    [...] change. So admit that first – that you’re doing this because you want something. Define that something. Embrace it. Don’t let it do you in. And then realize that since everyone in this grand [...]

  21. Newly Corporate » Blog Archive » Are personality tests a useful in business tool? Says:
    February 29th, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    [...] stress. Instead of trying to figure out your personality type why don’t you lay out your strengths and weaknesses. That’s going to help your career better than trying to figure out what personality types you [...]

  22. 5 Blogging Secrets in an iPod : Brazen Careerist Says:
    March 2nd, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    [...] inspiration, change. So admit that first – that you’re doing this because you want something. Define that something. Embrace it. Don’t let it do you in. And then realize that since everyone in this grand [...]

  23. Myers Briggs: Office Tool or Fortune Cookie? : Brazen Careerist Says:
    March 2nd, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    [...] don’t stress. Instead of trying to figure out your personality type why don’t you lay out your strengths and weaknesses. That’s going to help your career better than trying to figure out what personality types you [...]

  24. Steve Errey Says:
    March 6th, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    Spot on Tiffany.

    For me, knowing what you’re about has two angles:

    1. Knowing what you have 10 thousand feet down inside you; your building block, cornerstones and foundations. These are your personal values - the things in yourself, in other and out there in the world that are most important to you.

    Demonstrate your values and you’ll automatically feel more at ease and more confident - plus you’re a heck of a lot more likely to find real success.

    2. Engaging with something that matters to you. This is about participating in your world, putting something on the line and making a choice to plug into what matters to you.

    When those 2 things come together you’ve got something pretty special.

  25. Starting fresh and online transparency « Alexandra is Online Says:
    March 3rd, 2009 at 5:40 am

    [...] most oft-repeated piece of advice from all the pro bloggers I read was the same: know what you’re going to write about and find your niche. Unfortunately for me (and my old blog), I don’t really … have a niche. Yet. My [...]

  26. amos3 Says:
    June 1st, 2011 at 8:46 am

    By Tiffany Monhollon | January 9, 2008One of the most powerful things in the world is having clear picture of what you

  27. Irea Says:
    April 10th, 2013 at 9:55 am

    A Second Class stamp order diflucan availability of sites and preceptors.

  28. Reyna Says:
    December 7th, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Do you have a spam problem on this blog; I also am a blogger, and I was wanting
    to know your situation; we have created some nice procedures and we are
    looking to trade techniques with other folks, please shoot me an email if
    interested.

  29. http://www.sustainablevaluepartners.com/key/cheap-office-2010-professional.html Says:
    January 27th, 2014 at 2:21 am

    http://www.sustainablevaluepartners.com/key/cheap-office-2010-professional.html...

    Some handbags possess a wallet on the very same kind and colour or only of the exact same color inside. It is actually connected so as the bags’ style to be complete should you an beginner of wallets also. The wallets, in reliance on the handbags’ si…

Comments