Why nicheless blogs are better, especially for autistics

I’ve come to realise how much better I am at thinking, articulating and writing—as a whole, in general—when I read. Oh, right—I regret to inform everyone I’ve fallen back into reading, so much so that it’s basically become a special interest…so I’m staying up at night, a flashlight delicately placed in the curve between my right shoulder and my neck, to read whatever I’m reading, provided I’m too interested in the book to stop reading. This hasn’t happened since I was in high school and The Twilight Saga was all the rage. The only difference between then and now that I can think of, however, is the fact that I don’t have school tomorrow.

Adulthood is basically the best time to read books, it seems, though this opinion would likely be different if I a) had a day job and b) didn’t have reading books as a special interest right now.

Anyway, I got to thinking about my latest blog history, or resume, if I had to have one: 6birds is my only constant; otherwise, I start and close projects as much as my favorite songs change. The simile, by the way, is funny, because autistics tend to listen to their favorite song over and over again until it’s been repeated at least 51 times in a row, and then they continue on with it until they find one (or a few) that becomes their new favorite(s)…and the process repeats. It can be anywhere between an hour and a few months until a new favorite is found.

Autistics’ favorites are a lot like their special interests, in that special interests may last anywhere between a few days and several years—and we often have one, or a few, major special interests, then a few minor ones.

Because of this, nicheless blogs—despite so-called experts’ opinions—are better for autistics, and could also be for allistics who open their minds enough to allow themselves to think like autistics. Actually, I think the nicheless bloggers already are thinking like autistics, because they rock at the nicheless blogging so well to the point it feels as though their various topics are—wait for it—their special interests.

Nicheless blogging is superb for autistics because

  • our special interests vary;
  • we can’t necessarily turn one off or on by choice1;
  • if/when we grow burnt out of our special interest(s), we want absolutely nothing to do with them—as if our brains have turned the switch off for us;
  • we become such experts in our special interests that we can provide enough of a balance between the categories, depending which special interests are at their climax.

The last point is the most important: we become experts in our special interests. The whole point of niche blogging is so you can establish yourself as an expert—but give an autistic a week to learn about his/her special interest, with the Internet at their disposal, and s/he’ll become an expert at it in no time.

I self-taught myself HTML in two days. I was in seventh grade. I taught myself CSS in about three days; sure, I didn’t know what selectors and all that jazz were until a fairly recent conversation with Georgie, but I was so good that I was helping my fellow Girlstart members with their coding.2

Niche blogging, for autistics, is pointless—and if the world knew how autistics’ brains and their special interests worked, more experts would think like autistics.

For so long, I’ve been trying to follow neurotypical blogging advice and accept how so much of the world wants people like me dead, but…wow. The world needs autistics, because…well, I’m beginning to think it isn’t autistic people who have such black-and-white mindsets, but many allistic people who insist a person can only become an expert, or establish themselves as an expert, in one or two things3.

Like, because of my autistic brain, I can’t imagine how niche blogging would ever totally be a good thing for me. If I had to blog about just one thing, I’d easily become burnt out. I would wonder, time after time, what the hell to blog about that hasn’t been done a billion times before.

But because of my autistic brain and my nicheless blog, I almost always feel as though I have things to blog about. I have a Google Spreadsheets file of more blog post ideas than I could write and publish in 2-3 years, even if I blogged daily—and that is just what I came up with for A Dash of Jane.

The only blog burnout I suffer from is that of my brain switching off the light to the blogging department on the special interests floor of my brain, because I’ve been doing it for so long I begin to feel annoyed with and at it, to the point that I feel like giving up. If you’ve been following me for a while, maybe you’ve noticed the burnout begins around North America’s winter, circa October and January, when I begin to feel stressed by all the holidays coming to fruit between those months.

Some notes

Bloggers claim it’s easier to maintain a niche blog because you only have to blog about one topic, but…it’s not if you think like an autistic. It actually makes more sense to have a nicheless blog, because everything may very well be related.

For example, a gamer who loves to bake could totally make game-inspired dishes, a bookworm could create book-themed party and interior decorating ideas, and a model could show the world how s/he’s more than just a model and actually eats.

Because people are more than that one thing they do. Celebrities are more than their fame; they’re real people, like you and I, who have friends like you and I. They’re people who like to stay up all night watching movies and eating popcorn with their best friends, wanting their not-so-famous friends to keep them grounded, and sometimes need that outside reassurance that they’re doing great—that their non-celebrity friends don’t see them as monsters/livestock like the tabloids do.

Speaking of which, celebrities become experts in so many things—from languages to skills—and the world doesn’t judge them for it. They’re essentially nicheless, even if they’re “just” an actress who only auditions for supporting roles in romantic comedies because that’s what they personally prefer.

Why is that, when celebrities expand their expertise, they’re commended and favored more for it, whereas bloggers are expected to conform to one thing for their entire blogging careers? It doesn’t take that long to become an expert in something.

I think the people who claim niche blogging is easier are just doing it wrong.

Opinions? I want to hear all kinds of sides, man.

  1. Allistics seem able to do this.
  2. Is it worth noting the entire unit was spread out over about four or five weeks?
  3. And, you know, the ones who think autistics are the Devils’ spawn

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Comments on this post

Georgie’s gravatar

Amen, yo. When I publish my talk and possibly a transcript (or at least some text to) about how I became a web developer, I think (or at least hope) you will agree with me on many levels.

I found that my life particularly resonates with your section of notes – my talk starts off with what we usually hear from other people and that is a lot of discouraging things about the things we are interested in. But as someone who has a wide variety of interests and pursued a lot of almost-careers in them (ballet and music, to name a few), I simply cannot sit there and accept that having a ‘niche blog’ is easy. It’s not easy to do it well. Similar to having a career with one absolute tiny focus, it’s hard and requires a lot of hard work, not to mention bores the hell even out of allistics.

It’s also why the notion of the generalist/specialist balance came about, ditto ‘T-shaped developers’. Even in the technology industry, it’s nicer to have people who are willing to take on things outside of their comfort zone, willing to learn new things, and help out in all aspects. It just isn’t about being a specialist anymore. You are more valuable as a team member if you are able to be a bit of a generalist.

I was recently thinking about the phrase ‘what do you do?’ when you meet people, and I really want to hate on that phrase because I realised that people all assume they are being asked ‘what is your job?’. Why can’t I say things like ‘I write music, poetry, build websites, go for walks, read about technology, dance when I feel like it’? Because I bet if I did, someone would laugh at me and ask what I actually do to earn money. Just as a model does not simply ‘not eat’, just as a celebrity is not just ‘in the spotlight’, we are not just our damn jobs, either.