As I struggled to determine my blog’s focus, I debated like many about the definition of “narrow”. After all, how narrow is narrow in your niche?
After years of personal debate on this issue, I came up with this answer:
Your blog focus is too narrow when you run out of things to write about.
We often start out with a flourish of ideas, creating lists and lists of things to write about on our narrow subject matter. Somewhere down the line, three, six, even eighteen months later, we can run out of steam. After you’ve said just about everything there is to say about a subject, then what?
This is when many start turning away from the ideas in their head and to their feed readers, looking for what others are saying on the subject, quoting them. There is nothing wrong with highlighting other experts – unless this is a sign that your blog path is too narrow and your creative writing well has dried up.
When Your Blog Focus is Too Narrow For Your Readers
If your readership level has plateaued, or is only creeping up in tiny notches, maybe your blog’s narrow focus has maxed out your narrow demographics. After all, there is only so much you can say on a single subject, and there are only so many people interested in that specific topic.
If your blog focus is too narrow for your readers, then you may have reached the saturation point where readers leave when they’ve gotten what they need and moved onto the next level.
If you are bored with your blog content, its possible that your regular readers are also becoming bored. Maybe it’s time to stretch your blog focus a little to spice things up, but to also spice up your creative juices.
Finding Commonality in Your Blog Focus Topics
When I started Lorelle on WordPress, I needed a diverse collection of post content in order to put WordPress.com through its paces as one of the testers of this new free blogging service. As a contributor and editor of the WordPress Codex, the online manual for WordPress Users, and writing extensively about WordPress on my own blog, it was natural to move and start writing new WordPress-related content to this blog.
Writing technical articles is a great way of pushing content limits. Many technical articles include number and bullet lists, tables of data, font sizes and styles, graphics, and other post content styles. I created a few categories, poked at the blogroll, and clicked everything I could, documenting the lessons learned along the way, privately for the development team, and publicly for those interested in how this new blogging service and version of WordPress worked.
While I was presenting content solely for the purpose of testing the service, readers attracted to the content clamored for more. Why not? So I became a resource for WordPress tips and techniques.
Within a few months, however, I found that I was getting a lot of questions on blogging in general, so I started adding some posts about blogging to complement WordPress technical articles. The two go hand in hand naturally. While I wanted the focus to remain on WordPress, I found myself becoming a hot expert on the topic of blogging.
Almost three years later, I haven’t changed my blog focus from WordPress and blogging on Lorelle on WordPress. I haven’t ran out of things to write about. If I had stayed solely focused on WordPress, I might have gotten bored covering only technical information, but by expanding into general tips and information on blogging, I’m not bored yet.
With two related subjects – specifically two highly interrelated subjects – I found a never-ending source of article ideas pouring out of me daily. I soon had a file folder full of ideas and topics to cover. I could barely keep up. This list continues to supply me with blog posts even three years later.
Andrew Dubber is an expert and educator on the music business and industry and runs several blogs covering the music business. Talking with him recently, he told me about how everyone was covering their niche on the music industry, but he wanted to get more intimate with the conversation. “There are a lot of music bloggers and websites, but few helping musicians understand how to make blogs and websites work for them, as well as how to work within in this new online market.”
He created New Music Strategies with discussions on new and online strategies for music business, The New Music Biz to explore the international music industry in the new digital and online world, and New Music Ideas which reviews online music websites and blogs and helps musicians and music businesses understand how the online market works. Andrew brings together business and music across the three blogs, but keeps each one narrow and specific in its coverage, with one offering specific technical help and advice, another getting down to the music business marketplace of today, and the other providing news and information resources. While the blogs could easily be integrated, he’s found enough to blog about to keep them separate, related, but still narrowly focused.
Christine Kane is a world renowned singer and song writer with six hot selling albums and a popular blog. Christine could use her blog to promote her music and concerts like most celebrities, but that doesn’t feed her passion. She blogs about a variety of subjects beyond music, covering spiritual and inspirational topics, healing, depression, and relationship issues. For her, her songs and her blogging voice are one in the same. Each a creative expression for her talents.
I write this blog to inspire people to live creatively, consciously and courageously. I write this blog to help other people heal depression, eating disorders, or hopelessness. I write this blog to encourage people to act in spite of fear. I write this blog because if it weren’t for other people out there teaching and inspiring, I never would have found the courage. This is my way to be one of those people.
Christine found unity with her blog topics and her music, giving her endless sources of blog content.
Finding Unity in Blog Diversity
I’ve met a lot of bloggers who struggle with too narrow a niche or trying to connect three or more totally diverse subjects into one common denominator on their blogs. If the niche is too narrow, then broadening it can open up the creative channels, but trying to force square pegs into round holes with disparate subjects can cause more confusion than traffic.
A recent client wanted to blog about his love of animals, wood carving, and cars. He thought he needed three separate blogs, but he wanted my expertise on how to combine the three into one. We brainstormed for a while to find a common thread. Without a common thread uniting these diverse three subjects, it would be a three subject blog. This caused problems with the blog design, categories, and developing a strong, consistent readership. There aren’t a lot of people truly enthusiastic about those three subjects at the same time.
Animals and wood carving means working with nature. There isn’t much nature in automobiles. We explored his love of cars and I found out that he loves rebuilding old cars.
“What about animals do you enjoy and will you be blogging about?”
Without hesitation, he replied, “Rehabilitation of animals into the wild.”
Rehabilitation of animals. Rehabilitation of cars. Can we get a rehabilitation out of wood? Probably not, but we eventually found that these three subjects were not just labors of love for him, but manual labor. He loved working with his hands, getting literally down and dirty. It’s the hard work that excites his soul, using his hands to help animals return to the wild, wood becomes furniture and artwork, and old cars become drivable feeds his passion.
By finding the underlying passion for these three diverse subjects, his blog now has an underlying theme. It also gives him more to blog about than just animals, wood carving and cars. He can talk about the work, about how satisfying it is to use your hands to help rebuild and create, whether it be living or inanimate objects. He now has more things to blog about than he ever imagined.
Without the common thread, the blog subject matter, as diverse as possible, was still too narrow. With the underlying connection, a whole world opened up to explore.
If your blog focus is too narrow, you may run out of things to blog about. If it is too wide, you might be overwhelmed, and your readers may lose interest as you aren’t an expert they can trust to deliver fairly consistent content. Finding the right combination to establish yourself as an expert and authority while keeping your creative juices flowing is a challenge, but finding the underlying commonality between the subjects may open the door to a whole new world of blogging and readers.
Blog Struggles Series
This is one of an ongoing series of articles on blog struggles, the challenges of blogging as I see them from 15 years of experience.
- Blog Struggles: The Search for Blog Content: We put so much energy into “finding” blog content that we often forget the best source for good blog content: from within us. I offer tips and techniques for pulling content from your head.
- Blog Struggles: Ideas and Drafts: We come up with such great ideas and then what? We jot them down, make lists, start post drafts, and they sit there staring at us, as we procrastinate over what to do with all these ideas and how to keep them in check. I offer tips on how to best keep track of your ideas and drafts.
- Blog Struggles: The Blog Focus: As part one in a sub-series of posts on Blog Struggles, I look at the issue of the blog focus, your blog’s ability to turn you from a blogger into an expert.
- Blog Struggles: Why Should Your Blog Have a Focus: Your blog doesn’t have to have a focus, but if it does, these are the reasons, and benefits, of why it should.
- Blog Struggles: Finding Your Blog Focus: Continues the Blog Focus theme and offers tips for finding your blog’s focus and direction.
- Blog Struggles: Changing Your Blog’s Focus: Once you find your blog focus, how do you change your blog? Or should you start a new blog? I cover the tips you need to know to redirect your blog.
- Blog Struggles: When Spelling, Grammar, and Punctuation Interferes With Your Blogging looks at the issues around the impact of poor writing habits and skills and whether or not they impact the success and reading of your blog.
- In Blog Struggles: When Are Too Many Comments Too Many Comments?, I share a struggle I faced not long ago about an over-enthusiastic commenter who left a ton of comments on my blog within a few hours, making me very suspicious. We are often faced with suspicious comments, so what do we do? How should we handle them?
- Blog Struggles: Taking The Moral High Blogging Ground addresses the issue of deciding which ethical and moral road to take on your blog.
- Blog Struggles: Blogger’s Depression looks at the rarely discussed by normal aspect of blogging: depression. When the enthusiasm for the effort is lost and apathy sets in, and how to overcome it.
- Blog Struggles: It’s The Rituals That Help Us Focus: I share some of the rituals I use to get me “in the blogging mood” and ask you to share yours.
- Blog Struggles: When An Old Post is New Again takes a look at some of the struggles I’ve had when a past post suddenly gets picked up and sensationalized. I discuss the methods I use for keeping my old posts up to date, especially when fame comes knocking.
- Blog Struggles: Recovering From a Traffic Spike really touched a lot of people as they related to the addiction that traffic spikes bring, as well as the hassles.
- Blog Struggles: Surviving the When Blogging Goes Bad Blues look at how to keep on writing when life gets in the way.