jmonen

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Category: Writing (page 1 of 5)

Remembering Why I Started This Blog: To Document My Journey

I have a bad habit that drives me crazy sometimes.

It’s one of those things that, even though I know I’m doing it, I feel like I can’t stop myself.

The habit is overthinking things.

Take this blog for example… I started it because I wanted to document my journey as I leave “Egypt” (a broke self-employed guy) and enter the “Promised Land” (owning a business that generates profit without my presence).

I got really excited about this after reading Austin Kleon’s book, Show Your Work (my notes here). Austin wrote:

“Become a documentarian of what you do. Start a work journal: Write your thoughts down in a notebook, or speak them into an audio recorder. Keep a scrapbook. Take a lot of photographs of your work at different stages in your process. Shoot video of you working. This isn’t about making art, it’s about simply keeping track of what’s going on around you.”

When I read that I was like, “Boom, that’s it! That’s what I want to do!” Continue reading

8 Reasons for a Personal Blog by Darren Rowse

I’ve been feeling disillusioned lately about having a “personal blog.”

Maybe that’s what I get for publishing a blog for 185 days in a row without having a clear vision about “why” I’m doing this.

Some days I feel like this is such a waste of time. I mean, why write on a blog that only a few people read when I could be getting paid to write blogs for other people?

When I start to think like that I can get in a bad mood pretty fast. So when I read this post by Darren Rowse titled, 8 Reasons Why I Highly Recommend Having a Personal Blog, it encouraged me.

You can read the full post here. But here are his 8 reasons:

Continue reading

Changing Where I Publish Daily Blog Posts

OK. I’m officially done writing a daily blog without having a clear plan!

180 days ago I committed to publishing a post every day for 10 years. And I fully intend to do that.

But lately I’ve been feeling frustrated with my current process, which basically consists of me writing a random post about something I think is interesting or useful.

Some days it’s about work, other days it’s about addiction and then there’s the random “spiritual” post in there for good measure… it’s all over the place!

And I hate it. I hate doing things that don’t serve a clear purpose.

Plus, I have 4 other blogs that desperately need some content! Blogs where I sell products or services.

And yet, here I am writing every single day on the ONE blog that does not serve any business purpose.

My “personal blog.” It feels stupid. So time to stop being stupid and to approach this “publish daily” habit a little smarter.

This doesn’t mean I’m abandoning jmonen.com. It just means I’m giving myself permission to post on any of the 5 blogs I own instead of only posting on here every day. Those others blogs are:

So I sat down at Starbucks today and created a new master editorial calendar to manage all these blogs. By the way, if you think I’m crazy for having so many blogs I want to explain something… I am crazy. So I guess no further explanation is needed! Ha!

I’ll still update this blog but not daily.

I want jmonen.com to be more of true personal blog where I can just update you with what’s going on in my life and different businesses. And who knows, maybe one day I’ll choose a specific focus for this blog (originally it was going to be about the lessons I learn as I build these businesses… and maybe I’ll stick to that).

But for now, just know I’m still publishing daily but just in different places. 🙂

Breaking Free from Sacred vs Secular Writing

About 9 years ago I was wrestling with the idea of writing. 

“Is God really calling me to write?” I thought. 
I wrote a lot but I didn’t know if it was something I was just interested in or if it was something I was called to.

During this time I bought a book called Writing for the Soul by Jerry B. Jenkins. I stuck it in my red Jansport backpack and took it with me to a special meeting my church was having.

We had a couple ladies from Weaverville, CA to speak. After they spoke they invited people to come up to get prayer so I went up.

When it was my turn one of the women took my hands and looked me in the eyes and said, “I see you writing…”

I don’t pretend to remember exactly what else she said after that so I’m not going to make it up. But I remember she specifically said she “saw me writing” and something about God calling me to the ministry of writing.

My jaw probably dropped because this question was on the forefront of my mind and the Writing for the Soul book was literally in my bag 20 feet away while she said this.

I still don’t know what “being called to write” means. But I’ve tried hard to cultivate this gift since then. 

I’ve even managed to make a living as a freelance copywriter. It doesn’t always feel like I’m walking in my calling, especially when I’m doing things like writing ads for insurance agents, but I suppose I am.

I’m still trying to separate the artificial walls of separation of sacred vs secular but it’s not easy for me. 

Over the years I’ve compartmentalized my writing and made sure the lines didn’t blur too much. 

For example, I would write about spiritual things on BeyondCliches.com and copywriting/marketing on Joshuamonen.com. And TheMonens.com was of course for family writing.

But now I have this personal blog where I want to start building an audience who will stick with me for 10 years or more. 

I want to get in touch with that sense of calling I had almost 10 years ago when that woman gave me that prophetic word.

And to do that I feel I need to stop compartmentalizing my writing so much.

Therefore, I’ve decided that I’m going to be more open about my faith on this blog and not shy away from sharing supernatural stories like the one I shared earlier.

This doesn’t mean I want to exclude agnostics or people from other faiths from my writing. I still plan to talk a lot about business, money, freelancing, etc. but it’ll just be from an openly Christian perspective.

When I thought about keeping God and my faith out of this blog I felt like I would be hiding a part of my life that has a great influence on everything I do. And I want to have a place where I’m free to write without any restraints. 

My goal in doing this is not to “convert the unbelievers.” I just want to be free to be myself and to help others who can relate to me and my situation. 

So there you go. Thanks for reading and for going on this journey with me!

3 Questions to Help Clarify Your Blog’s Focus

Are you struggling to figure out the main “focus” of your blog?

Do you wish you could just settle on a theme instead of writing about a hundred different things?

Well if you want to know the secret to figuring out your blog’s focus then you’re NOT in the right place.

Yes, I’m sorry to let you down. I am not the expert at this. Honestly I’m trying to figure this out myself too.

And the way I figure things out is by writing about them. So if you want to come on this journey with me then keep reading. 🙂

Lately I have not been happy with the posts I’ve been publishing here on jmonen.com. I committed to publishing a daily blog for 10 years straight. And I have no intention on changing my mind about that.

But I’m still struggling to figure out what my main focus is. It’s hard because I feel like the conventional wisdom of “pick a niche” and focus on that is useless to me because the purpose of this blog is not to make money or to rank on Page One.

I have no problem blogging for money. For example, my direct response copywriting blog exists so I can get more copywriting work. And it does a fine job at that (just today someone just found me online and booked a discovery call with me for Tuesday to discuss a new project).

But this blog is different. I’m not trying to accomplish a specific business goal or build an email list.

I just want to change the world. That’s all.

And it doesn’t have to be in a grandiose way or anything. I just want to pursue my calling and use the gifts I have to make a positive impact on the world.

I believe writing will be a big part of this so that’s one of the reasons I’ve committed to publishing daily for a decade. But I don’t just want to write for the sake of writing. I want to have a clear focus. An assignment. A calling to answer. Otherwise it all feels so pointless.

I was thinking about all this while driving home from Costco tonight when it occurred to me there are really only three basic questions I need to answer. I think these questions will help you too if you’re wrestling with similar thoughts:

1) Why do you write?
2) Who do you write for?
3) What do you write about?

The first step is to figure out your “why.” Why do you wake up in the morning and open up your laptop to write?

Why do you take the time to improve your craft and spend all that time writing when you could be doing other things?

What motivates you? What compels you to do this? Be honest.

After you discover your why then you must get crystal clear about “who” your target audience is. You can’t please everyone. Don’t try to. And don’t worry about offending people or scaring people off. Instead focus your energy on your target audience. Speak to their hearts and stir their souls.

Once you know why you write and who you’re writing for then you can focus more on the what. What does your audience want to accomplish and how can you help them do that?

Do they want to quit their jobs, start an online business and shave 20 hours off their work week so they can have more time to do ministry? Then help them do that.

Do they want to figure out how to learn a language quickly so they can become full-time traveling missionaries? Then help them do that.

Do they want to learn how to be a better parent to their kids? Then help them do that.

Of course your audience will want lots of things. You should also ask yourself what you know so you can find out where their needs and your expertise intersect.

Again, I’m not the master at this. I’m on this journey right now. I’m still trying to figure out “who” my audience is and I’m trying to get crystal clear on my “why.” But I feel like every day I’m getting closer. So it feels good! Hopefully you are too.

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