It's no secret: I'm an Oprah admirer.
Admittedly, I haven't watched Oprah religiously. I've only seen a few dozen episodes of her show and read a handful of O Magazine issues. I'm subscribed to her email newsletters, but do not get to visit the site too often. I just read the occasional article when something catches my fancy. I've never posted anything on the site or sent any kind of adoring emails.
Yet, I do consider myself a fan of sorts.
I like the fact that Oprah has one of those stories that can easily inspire people to do their best and to follow their dreams, regardless of obstacles. I love how she is able to encourage people to do more and better.
And, having heard Oprah talk and having read about her, I reckon it's worth following some of her lead in blogging and social media practice. I mean, if it worked for her, it should work for some of us too, right? Not that we're aiming to be Oprah! 😉
But yeah, I suppose, you can say that having Studio Notes is like having my very own Oprah show. Well, okay, maybe not. But, you get the idea. Heh.
So, what are these things that I like about Oprah that I intend to implement (or to continue implementing) in my own practice in blogging and social media?
1. It's okay to be interested in many things. Your brand is you, not your subject matter.
When it comes to covering a wide variety if topics, Oprah's show covers just agoit everything. She talks about food, travel, shopping, health, entertainment, and many other things. Yet, people still want to listen to her and know what she is interested in, regardless (or maybe especially because?) of the variety.
Oprah is the brand, not the topic.
For a very long time, I struggled with the idea of having to give my main blog, shaicoggins.com (Studio Notes), a niche area. People keep telling me that I won't get enough pull if I don't have a specialty, an area of expertise.
Looking at the vast world of the web, they're probably right. Most of us won't stand out from the rest of people can't associate us with a specific point of topic. We must either be just a food blogger, a mum blogger, a business blogger, an art blogger... You get the picture. If you're going to be a personal blogger, then be prepared to be a REALLY PERSONAL blogger.
As you can see, Studio Notes is NOT just any one of those things. I blog about whatever topic that comes to mind. I have both my personal and professional face on when I blog here. And, even though that used to bother me, I feel much comfortable with it now.
2. The important thing is to have a focus for your brand.
This may seem like the complete opposite of point number one, but it's true that even though Oprah talks about a lot of things in her shows and her magazines, which shows the different facets of her personality, her brand has a focus:
Oprah is all about making the world a better, happier place, especially for women.
That focus may be achieved through a variety of ways - from finding great books to read and supporting worthy causes to shopping for cool things and personal development. It all goes back to her tag line of "live your best life".
For Studio Notes, it was a long and completely random journey. I just did things that felt right at any given time.
It took me over half a decade of blogging before I finally realised that my focus is: Creative Geek Lifestyle. It may or may not be catchy enough. But, these words helped me a lot to focus and to accept the direction I wanted to take for this blog.
I love art and craft, cooking and baking, photography, writing, literature, style... All things creative.
I love gadgets and technology. Social media and the web. That's the geek part of me and my work.
And yes, I like finding the best possible way to live a balanced, blissful lifestyle - from travel and fashion to education and personal development.
If I can mix all these in one place, great.
Understanding these things helped me to see the method in my blogging and social media madness.
3. It's never all about you. Or me. Shine the light on others.
Oprah may talk about a lot of things, but she never professes to be an expert in most of them. In fact, she often invites guests and experts to shed better light on the subject matter. And, not only does she invite them, she helps to make stars out of them too. Heard of Dr Phil? Martha Beck? Dr Oz? Yes, they all can say thanks to Oprah for helping them to give them the best exposure.
And now, Oprah has completely taken this concept in to another level by converting her show in to the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).
In Studio Notes' case, I may not have access to a lot of extremely famous and talented people to showcase. But, I do enjoy trying to feature some of the best folks I encounter... Either by reviewing or highlighting others' work here, by providing quotes and anecdotes, and/or by doing interviews.
This kind of thinking is actually what inspired me to start blogging projects here like 52WoC or Tell Me About You / Meet My Readers. It's also the source of inspiration on how I started a blog network many years ago.
4. It's okay to have an opinion that goes against the flow.
Oprah doesn't always follow what everyone expects of people in general. Like choosing not to have kids. And, she is open and honest about these things, even though they may not always prove to be something people will accept or understand.
There are many situations where I refrain from blogging and posting on my social media accounts, simply because I think that my point of view doesn't go with the flow. I worry about the backlash.
Slowly, however, I am working on getting better at expressing what I think, even if it's not always reflective of what everyone else is saying or thinking.
5. Whatever you like to do, use it for good.
Out of everything Oprah does, one thing that really resonates well with me is the way she has used her influence and wealth for making the world a better place. Regardless of what critics and naysayers say, I'd like to believe that Oprah has been influential in improving many lives. Even to inspire people to do good too... To "pay it forward" so to speak.
And, I want to be able to do just that. Even though the scale may not be as huge, I want to know that I'm able to make some kind of difference in this world. And, if I can do bits and pieces of that through Studio Notes, then, I'd like to think that this blog is then doing what I'd like it to do.
Oh, and yes, an extra lesson with this in mind: It's okay to be fabulous, and still be socially conscious*.
* Partly inspired by @RichendaG.
Oprah's photo: Screen shot from Oprah.com
Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.