The Dilemma That is Real Advice

3 min read

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The dilemma of being real and honest with your audience.
I often come across a situation that I absolutely hate: Giving real advice.

You know, the kind of advice where you’re trying to be real and honest, but you know that your audience will not appreciate it? It’s not just the harsh reality of many things, but also the innumerable “generic” advice out there being peddled by the so-called “gurus” that make it so very difficult to stay real and honest.

Case in point: When speaking of starting a blog, most “gurus” will say that you need to pick a niche. They’re not wrong, necessarily. I mean, in effect, that’s the “correct” advice for anyone trying to make money from their blog. A niche website is easier to monetize, drive traffic to, and start making money faster. And yes, even I give the same advice.


But the dilemma here is that most new bloggers have no idea what it means to pick a profitable niche. Often blogging is about trial and error. You start a blog, you write in one niche, which then morphs into another niche. Sometimes you come across a topic by accident and it sticks not just with you, but also with your readers.

But when you’re trying to teach someone about blogging, that’s not the kind of thing you’re supposed to say.

So, what do we do? What do I do?

I peddle the obvious “tips” and “advice”: Choose a niche that you can monetize, and then stick to it.

Often times I wonder if I’m helping my readers or harming them.

Because the truth is that you might think you want to blog about a topic, and then realize you hate writing about it. The truth is also that a topic you may not consider “profitable” will end up becoming such for you based on the kind of readers you attract.

So, as 2022 rolls around, allow me to share something real with you.

Yes, it is good and “correct” advice when we say that you should pick a niche first and then start your blog. But also understand that it’s OK to:

  1. …not know what your niche should be. If that’s the case, just start a blog and write whatever you want for 6 months. You’ll start to see a pattern emerge. You’ll notice that you enjoy writing about one topic more than another. And that’s when you’ll know that you’ve found your niche.
  2. …start with a niche but then realize it’s not for you. If that’s the case, pivot! It’s completely fine to pivot. I mean, I started this blog as a way to document what I was learning from blogging. That changed into me writing about blogging, making money, side-hustling, writing, and much more. And also, Canva! Who knew Canva would become such a big part of what I do with this blog? I mean, more than half of my online income comes from either selling Canva templates or teaching others how to sell Canva templates. Who would’ve thought? I for one didn’t have a clue when I started The Side Blogger back in 2018.

Do you see the problem here? If people come to me asking for blogging advice and I tell them that it’s OK to not know what to blog about and just go with the flow in the beginning, people will look at me like I’m crazy… They’ll lose their trust. Herein lies the dilemma. Do I help them? Or do I tell them what they want to hear?

It’s a vicious cycle.

What I’m trying to say is that all the pieces of advice we peddle are good, for sure, but they’re not the only way to do things. Yes, choosing the right niche from day one is great advice, but it may not always be the right advice depending on the person on the other end of the conversation. Because if you’re a brand new blogger and you have no idea what you want to write about, how would you even start? How would you pick your niche?

Does that mean you stop writing or blogging until you’ve miraculously found exactly what you want to write about?

That’s nuts!

Writers should be writing. Period. Even when you don’t know what you want to write about.

So, once again…

How do you start a blog?

  1. Pick a niche.
  2. Decide how to monetize.
  3. Start blogging.

And also, if you have no idea what you want to write about, then,

  • Don’t pick a niche and just write whatever comes to mind for six months and see where that leads you.

Trust me, the second piece of advice is just as good as the first set of advice. Depending on where you are with your writing and blogging journey, you might find one method more suitable to you than the other, and that’s totally fine! Take the pressure off, and try to have fun with the process. And stop being so damn serious. It doesn’t always help.

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6 thoughts on “The Dilemma That is Real Advice”
  1. MALIHA! In a word (well, actually, four words): this is absolutely awesome. I have struggled for a year, now, since losing my job (geologist/consultant), in a small 7-person office, to the consequences brought by COVID-19. I have learned WordPress, secured all the needed legal requirements and my LLC, taken all the gurus’ courses and programs, found you and others I now follow and learn from, studied and purchased softwares (like Canva, which I purchased through your link 🙂 ♥), secured third-party selling platforms and email management system (CK) to use, etc etc etc… and I am STILL feeling stuck and not entirely “there” when it comes to defining what I do and want from my business/website… the “scared to start” mentality… all because of this CLARITY issue you’ve spoken about above… the “so, what the hell is my story, my niche, my avatar!?” fear we all have when starting our blogs, businesses, etc. So, I have decided I cannot wait any longer (financially or otherwise; I am now dipping into my 401k to survive!), and I just need to freaking START…start writing more, start sharing and doing video and just whatever. Ugh. So much more to the story, but, you get what I’m throwing down here 😉 … I just wanted to pop in here and say THANK YOU… thank you for saying the true parts OUT LOUD… this made me feel so much better, to hear you speak honestly. Because yes, if we sweat the small sh*t (and most everything is small sh*t), then we never get going and never get anywhere… and THAT, in itself, is frustration and detrimental. So…just, thank you for speaking this and for being REAL. I love your voice. Peace and Blessings to you (and us all) in the coming new year and beyond. ♥ ~Barb
    (website coming soon – LOL! Pebble and Pull)

  2. Thank you for the honesty!! That’s what I look for, I want the real down-to-earth nitty gritty. We’re adults, we can handle it haha!
    I’ve read so much advice over the last 4-5 years while building my own website that I figure what it comes down to is ultimately, just find my voice and write about what I feel will serve enough people.
    Again, thank you for this!!!

  3. Hi Maliha,
    That just goes to show that not all advice is meant for everyone. Everyone is different so we can’t give blanket advice like that. I believe you are right that many writers need to experiment first until they find that perfect niche for THEM. Great topic!

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