Why Every Scanner Should Start a Blog

Why Every Scanner Should Start a Blog

Written by Emilie

Topics: Lifestyle Design, Scanners

Think back on your life. What were the moments when you felt most alive, most creatively inspired, like you were perfectly in your element?

I love asking this question to my coaching students because they usually light up as they begin telling me their stories.

Often they talk about times they worked in teams, when everyone was doing what they’re best at to create something bigger than themselves. Sometimes they describe themselves in leadership positions or performing on stage. Other times they talk about moments when they were on their own, in a flow state and lost in words or art or brainstorming for some new project.

After exploring as many of these magical moments as possible, we try to pull out some common themes and design a blueprint for a lifestyle that will produce more situations like the ones they described.

Scanner Similarities

What’s funny is that I’ve noticed a lot of similarities between my coaching students. The specific activities are different, but the principles remain fairly constant. I’m starting to think that as wildly varied our many interests are, us scanners may actually have a lot in common.

Most scanners seem to feel most alive when they’re helping others, leading in some capacity, working on something creative, collaborating, and utilizing their strengths. They’re usually project-oriented and enjoy having free time to write, think, create and explore new interests that arise. They often express an interest in traveling as well.

Sound familiar?

As we brainstorm possible revenue streams that might allow for this kind of lifestyle, we almost inevitably wind up talking about the blog-based business. I try not to intentionally steer my students in that direction, just because it’s my current obsession and I don’t want them to feel pressured or anything. (I try to keep our sessions about them, not me.)

Nevertheless, the coaching sessions often end up going to the blog-based business organically, and I think that’s because it’s sort of the perfect model for puttylike personalities.

Why the Blog-Based Business is Great for Us

Variety

First, blogging provides for variety. You get to do any or all of the following on a regular basis: write, make videos, create audio shows, design graphics and display your artwork or photography, and so on. There’s almost always a way to integrate any new passions or projects that emerge into your blog, even if only through writing about them.

An Opportunity to Master New Skills

Anything you don’t want to do yourself can be outsourced. But of course, many scanners enjoy taking on new challenges. Running a blog provides opportunities to master and integrating new skills, if that’s your thing– which I’m guessing it might be.

Helping People

You get to put your ideas out into the world and share what you know in a way that helps other people. After a while, your community takes on a life of its own and becomes something larger than you. Starting an online community is a way to make a real impact in the world.

Connecting with People

You also make amazing new friends and get to collaborate with all kinds of interesting people. If you want to work one-on-one with community members – through coaching for example –  or if you’d like to start speaking publicly, you can.

It’s a Calling Card

You can use your blog as a calling card and sell your own artwork or design services through the site. A blog is a great way to get freelance work.

Freedom

What’s even cooler is that you can live and work from anywhere (assuming there’s wifi or a smart phone nearby). I mean, you can literally chill out in a cafe in South America or lie on a beach in Thailand and just type away.

And perhaps best of all, blogs don’t require 40 hour work weeks (not even close)! They free up TONS of time– time that can be spent pursuing all of your other projects. It’s like getting paid to be who you are, for doing precisely what you love!

The Downside

Okay, hang on now… It’s not all candy and teddy bears.

A blog won’t generate instant income. You always want to have some steady sources of income to support you while you’re building up your online community. (Check out this brilliant problogger article about revenue streams.)

Plus blogging is a lot of work. It takes months of consistent posting and building connections before you see any substantial financial return. Srini over at BlogcastFM says that something like 95% of blogs are abandoned within the first three months. Most people aren’t persistent enough to pull it off, or they pick topics that they’re not truly passionate about.

Topic Selection can be HARD for Scanners

Topic selection can be an enormous challenge for us, considering our issues with commitment and specialization. It’s one of the things we spend the most time brainstorming in my coaching sessions. We try to find some sort of mission statement or overarching philosophy that encompasses all of my student’s interests, which isn’t always easy!

It’s Possible

If you’re willing to work at it, it’s absolutely possible to support yourself by building a little online empire around your interests. People are doing it. It just takes a lot of determination and the willingness to experiment, fail, and then experiment some more.

***

I get the sense that my audience is made up mostly of other multipotentialite bloggers and would-be bloggers. To all the bloggers: have you found blogging to be a satisfying way to keep your lives varied and interesting?

And to the non-bloggers: why haven’t you started blogging yet? What specifically is holding you back?

If you’d like to learn more about designing your ideal scanner lifestyle, check out The ‘Undeclared for Life’ Manifesto (it’s free), or contact me to book some coaching. I really love helping other scanners figure this stuff out! It’s like my favourite kind of problem solving.

37 Comments

  1. Hello Emilie,

    Ever since coming across your post; “Who the fuck am I” I feel like you’ve opened a new world to me with new words that have sent me on a mission of discovery. Your post was the inspiration for a post I later wrote on the subject.
    My blogging adventures have only just begun recently but I love the different levels of creativity that it encompasses and the way it is sending me in so many different directions. I’m learning so many new things and having such an amazing time with it and for a Scanner that’s great.
    Another plus side is coming across so many inspiring people like you. Thanks for helping me discover myself anew and I can’t wait to learn more :)

    Jess

  2. Emilie says:

    Hi Jessika,

    I’m glad you’re enjoying the blogging and the puttylike community too! I love hearing stories like this (another perk of having a blog. :)

    Thanks for the comment and good luck with your website!

  3. Mark Powers says:

    Right on, Emilie- we are definitely most alive when utilizing our strengths! I find that a blog tends to allow you to share those strengths and interests, that expertise, regardless what it’s topic is. Blogging is a great way to share what you have/know, find others that are either like-minded or seeking the type of information you possess, and gradually build that “empire.” Even if you’re not out to create an online business, it’s a fantastic method of finding new friends that will help keep you on-track and motivated. Friends you most likely would not have stumbled upon otherwise. Thanks for this- have a few peeps in particular that I’m looking forward to sharing this with!

    • Emilie says:

      Thanks Mark! That’s a good point, blogs don’t have to be businesses. They can be nice creative outlets on their own. And yeah, I’ve made a ton of new friends these past few months! It’s been really awesome.

      I’m looking forward to my move to Portland because I just know that I’ll be meeting all of these great friends I’ve been tweeting with and working with for months. It’s going to be incredible.

      Are you going to the #WDS by the way? Either way, we definitely have to hang out!

  4. Heya Emilie, looks like you got a good gig going on here. How should scanners blog is a good question. I can think of a couple ideas off the top of my head.

    One is to use your name as your brand. Be your own brand. You most likely would blog under your own name. As things change your blog content changes but the name doesn’t have to change.

    Another is to look at all the things which pass through you, which you scan and synthesize over a long period of time, and look for common themes. That will give you some ideas, too. For example, I’m really good at weaving together seemingly disparate elements into a holistic marketing/blogging story/product arc. That’s why I do blog consulting. It’s multidisciplinary in just the right way for me. It can be whatever I say it is.

    By the way, I’m glad you found my post helpful enough to link to it. :)

    • Emilie says:

      Hey Michael,

      Thanks for swinging by! I really loved your article. My podcast co-host @AHAbraham sent it to me a few weeks back and we actually discussed it in an episode. (The podcast isn’t out yet. Launching VERY soon though!)

      Cool ideas about linking up disparate interests. I’ve found themes to be quite useful. But I think that even if you create a personal brand, you’ll probably want a tag line of some sort that brings your writing together thematically. Similarly, I think it’s always a good idea to inject your personality into everything that you do. So even a theme-based blog could end up being pretty personal.

      But yeah, there’s no need to feel like you must niche down your site to be super specific. There are definitely ways to bring different interests together.

      Thanks for the comment Michael. :)

    • Nick Laborde says:

      Solid points, I like the idea of using my name as my main blog to allow for some flexibility. I know my interests shifts and that works with me, rather then against me.

      A couple of concerns with that, one, my name isn’t that easy to spell. Two, if I ever wanted to sell it then It could be challenging. Plus I wouldn’t wanna sell my name.

      I do own my name, I’m just not doing anything with it right now. I thought about doing a landing page with all my web projects on it.

      • Emilie says:

        I had the exact same concerns as you Nick. And I actually ended up doing just what you described. I created a landing page with my web projects (in this case, samples of my web design work). I’ll definitely update it at some point, but I just wanted the domain registered.

        I think you can still make your brand highly personal though, even if you don’t use your name as the domain name. A prominent photo and injecting your personality into your writing goes a long way. You do a good job of this on your site. (Plus you’ve got a killer header!)

  5. Lex Mosgrove says:

    Oh my, topic selection… I’m really awesome at going off on a tangent, and it took me five or more scrapped blogs until I was able to stay on topic (well, most of the time anyway).

    Right now I have no idea what to do with all those other interests that don’t fit into my current blogs… they’re really all over the place, and I don’t want to make a miscellaneous blog. Any suggestions?

    • Emilie says:

      Ou.. I may regret asking this, but what are some of your interests?

      • Lex Mosgrove says:

        To name a few – social issues and development, science and technology, religion and philosophy, various fandoms, stupid challenges I give myself, and all those really random, but really cool things I discover along the way.

        I see how I could group social issues and religion together, but to be honest, the result would be a perfect troll magnet. Then some of it fits into my worldbuilding blog, but most of it doesn’t.

        • Emilie says:

          Hm what about something about how the world is changing and evolving? Not sure how you’d brand that exactly. You’d need something a bit more focused (and catchy) than just “the evolution of society”.

          But something along those lines might allow you to include most of your interests. You could write about existing religions, philosophy and apply that stuff to current social issues, development, etc. Like a “what can we learn from the past” sorta thing. And your little challenges and random fandoms could probably be tied to bigger ideas about how society is changing. Are you familiar with Colin’s blog (exilelifestyle.com)? I like how he occasionally uses film references and his nerdy interests to make bigger points.

          The challenge really would be finding a title and tagline. Maybe if you made it a personal brand like Michael suggested or just featured your personality in a big way, that would help.

          Hm..

    • Emilie says:

      Haha wow. I wasn’t expecting such a big response! I don’t know about brilliant, but you’re welcome. :)

      You’re also going to want to start thinking about who your audience is, what sorts of problems they might have, and how you can help them– Assuming you want to turn it into a business, that is. If all you want is to build a community, that’s cool too.

      • Lex Mosgrove says:

        Well, it did have that last-piece-of-the-jigsaw-falling-into-place-effect. :)

        I’m not yet sure if I want to turn it into a business. I can see some possible ways to make it one, but I think I’ll start out with building a community and see what happens.

  6. Bob says:

    As a reference librarian (professional scanner), I agree. We should all have blogs.

  7. Let me toss in another point if I may: just because we have many interests, that doesn’t mean we should be blogging about all of them. Extreme example: maybe you like a particular kind of porn. Well that doesn’t mean you need to blog about it! ;)

    As Emilie pointed out, if you’re going to run a business, you’re not “just” blogging. You’re blog marketing. Your topic has to be something that reaches your target audience (hint: it’s not everyone). Your content has to cause them to move closer to you and become a lead or a sale (conversion). Within the framework of these objectives you have a lot of freedom to play.

    A way to group or theme content many people overlook (because we get niche-blindness or we’re paralyzed by choice) is by lifestyle. Lifestyle blogs allow for topic breadth and depth simultaneously.

  8. ayngelina says:

    I’m traveling as I blog and I love it. I seem to have found something where I thrive on the challenge. It was completely new to me so the learning curve was steep but I love every moment of it, the new challenge is to find a way to monetize in a way that doesn’t make me feel like I’m selling my soul.

    • Emilie says:

      You’re doing a great job of it too Ayngelina. I’m actually curious, how long have you been blogging? You have quite an impressive audience!

      And yes, the monetization issue… The way I see it, as long as you’re helping people and are upfront about your offer, if people want to buy from you, then let them. People are happy to pay for valuable information, plus you deserve to get paid for your work.

      I actually think we often even appreciate things more when we pay. Putting money into something like an information product is like investing in yourself.

      I know what you mean though. It’s a hard shift to make. Makes me a little uncomfortable sometimes too.

      • Ayngelina says:

        I´ve been blogging for a year now although the audience didn´t really come until about the 8th month mark. But that´s probably for the best because it took about that long for me to find my own voice and feel comfortable with blogging and selling myself.

        Now onto the next step feeling comfortable selling :)

  9. Michelle says:

    I LOVE blogging, for exactly the reasons you mentioned. I actually started out my blog in too narrow of a niche (fashion/style), which was a no-no for my Scanner self, but have since revamped it & now have an overarching philosophy instead (I had to smile when I came across that in your guide!). It gives me plenty of opportunities to do different tasks, including tasks I love that get me into flow state (writing, playing with design), and I’m always learning new things. It is indeed pretty much the perfect gig for a Scanner – perhaps coupled with freelancing until they build revenue streams through their blog? (Which, of course, can in turn help their freelancing, as you mentioned!)

    • Emilie says:

      That’s awesome! And you totally hit on something else really important, which is that it’s ok to change directions and refine things as you go. You don’t need your philosophy or mission statement perfectly defined before you start.

      Actually, going forward in an imperfect state might be the ONLY way to get a clear sense of your mission statement. It sure was for me… I think my original tagline was something like “Confidence and productivity for the person with many interests and create pursuits in life” lol kinda wordy. It took about 3 months of blogging and finding my “voice” before I was able to refine it into something short and to the point. Couldn’t have done that without going through the process though.

      Thanks for the comment Michelle. Can’t wait to hang out at the #WDS. For reals!

  10. Emilie you rock! yet another brilliant post from you! For someone that doesn’t live with a lot of consistency in their lives like me what with being a scanner and all, I love the consistent awesomeness of your posts!!

    Since I’ve started blogging I’ve been able to harness and embrace being a scanner so much. It’s a way for me to explore my interests and write about them. I have so many things I want to talk about and share! So, I do agree choosing a topic can be hard! :)

    This is a great post! I hope it inspires other scanners to get into this wonderful world and to also just feel more proud to be a scanner like we’ve talked about before!

    You rock Emilie!
    LAUR :)

    • Emilie says:

      Heh thanks Laur. Yeah, I really believe that online entrepreneurship is the future, and us scanners are so well suited for that kind of thing. Preeeetty sweet.

      Aw you rock too! :D

  11. Great post Em!

    I love my blog. It’s an incredible outlet to help so many people, and not only that I love the feedback I get when I blog. So many people have complimented me on my writing, or have said that my content was timely, and just what they needed to hear. I’ve always wanted to become an author, and even though it might take some time to reach somewhere, I definitely haven’t seen any signs of backing down within myself.

    Cheers!

    • Emilie says:

      Oh that’s great Jonathan! Yes, I forgot to even mention that. Getting feedback from people and hearing from your community members is incredibly rewarding. It really goes a long way toward boosting your confidence and helping you feel like you’re contributing in a meaningful way. Also a nice sign that you’re on the right path.

      I mean just writing my manifesto was really great because it was like ‘wow, I can actually write a book… I totally have this in me!’ It’s such a great feeling when you see yourself doing what you’ve always wanted to do and people are reacting positively.

      Thanks Jonathan. I’m going to go read some of your stuff now. :)

  12. Great post and discussion!

    I just started blogging. My blog is about ALL of my interests. Because Barbara Sher told me it had to be (really!). So far I’ve written about some wildly varied topics (playing guitar, teaching, indexing, and Harriet the Spy). I’m slowly but surely collecting readers. The blog is not directly commercial, though some of my topics are related to things I do for money. It is linked to my other websites focused on indexing, art, teaching (soon), and band (eventually) websites. We’ll see how it works, but I’m pretty happy for now!

    I’ve been thinking about blogging for quite a while but have gotten stuck because I was told a blog had to be focused, and I didn’t want to. (I don’t wanna!) I’m so glad Barbara and I gave me permission to be my whole self on my blog. It’s so fun to write about anything that enters my head, and people are liking what I write. I encourage everybody to get in there and start blogging.

    Thanks for the encouragement, Emilie!

    • Emilie says:

      Haha I’m so glad I’m giving out the same advice as Barbara! That makes me happy. :)

      It also sounds like you’re having a blast with your blog, which is great. That stuff about how you have to blog in a very specific niche is totally not true. Some of my favourite blogs are about many different things.

      Actually I think it might work better in a lot of instances since it forces you to really inject your personality into the site. And people tend to form much closer and longer lasting bonds with bloggers they know on a deeper level.

      Thank YOU for the encouragement Do Mi. :)

  13. Cassie says:

    Emilie I would just like to say a huge thank you! I ended up at your blog form Mad To Live and things are finally making sense. I have always been interested in lots of things, getting stuck and consumed by one interest for a while then finding something else to delve into. I always hated it when adults would ask me what I wanted to do when I grew up because I never had a definite answer. I could picture myself doing and enjoying many of the jobs my friends were headed towards – but doing any one thing for the rest of my life was a scary thought. Now that I’ve found people out there validating and advocating being a “scanner” or a “multipotentiality” I understand myself better! Now I’m not as stressed over the fact that I can’t find my “dream job” or the fact that I’m constantly being pulled in a million different directions. I love the “wake up and pick a project” strategy. That is exactly how I’d love to live!

  14. Dave says:

    Hey Emilie,

    I finally decided to start a blog around October and it has been a great outlet for my creativity. Starting the blog has also led me to blogs like yours where I first heard the “multipotentiality” term and I love it. I probably don’t post as frequently as you should but, there’s nothing like the rush of publishing something and then checking your Google Analytics to see that people are actually reading what you’re putting out there!

    Scan on,
    Dave

  15. Yes, this is exactly why I started my blog. I have a lot of different interests and I wanted to create a place to connect them all. It took me a while to decide how to frame it, but it’s evolved over the past almost 3 years and it’s brought me into contact with a lot of interesting people.

    cheers,
    leslie

  16. Blogging is deinately an invaluable outlet for exploring my ideas and praticing writing skills.

  17. Joshua says:

    Hey Emilie

    I know this article is over a year old, so I’m not expecting a reply at all, but I wanted to get this down before I forgot. I just opened the link you put in to the problogger.net article in your post above. In it he talks about how he had to learn to take his grandfather’s advice despite his own stubbornness, which basically was: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket…

    Which for him meant he realized he should start several blogs and have a few plates spinning at once. Doesn’t that plan seem like a pretty great idea for multipotentialites also?

    The problem I have come to with blogging is I am trying to funnel everything into this one blog, which I think is anti-multipotentialite in a way, and possibly why I have *slightly* sort of neglected it…

    So for us multipotentialites also, doesn’t it make sense to run several business ideas / blogs at once?

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