Niche Blogs or Blogs for all Seasons and Reasons?

niche blogs, a blog for all seasons by Jo CAstro

Niche or a blog for all seasons?

I received an email the other day that read:

“I’m in a dilemma and I would love your advice. Should I have one blog or two?”

It was from a fellow West Australian blogger, Agnes Lim, who writes a blog called Taste Travel Talk.

Is it best to have a Niche Blog?

“I’ve been looking at my blog and the more I write, the more I notice that my focus and lean is more towards lifestyle rather than just food and travel, and I don’t know now whether to have one blog or two, ” she said.

Niche Blogs, Ag Lim

Ag Lim from Taste Travel Talk

“My friends say I’m like the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland, always smiling and enjoying life.  I believe that our lives are so much more enriched when we can share our experiences, which is why I enjoy writing things that brings me joy and which I hope are inspiring. These days, at Taste Travel Talk I’m focusing on, and also writing about:

  • food and places that I have eaten at
  •  my hikes/treks/walks, kayaking
  • events
  • places (mainly around Perth) and overseas to a much lesser degree (but I am hoping that will change very soon)
  • wellness related posts relating to happiness, health etc
  • adventure sports
  • culture
  • fun stuff
  • giving back (social consciousness)
  • gear or products I like
  • things that inspire

“I guess because of my professional background I have a lean towards the wellness, fitness, health and happiness related things but I also like to write about culture etc, which is why I thought that calling my blog a lifestyle blog is more appropriate than calling myself a food blogger.”

Is my domain name still relevant?

“So I have been thinking that maybe my domain name, TasteTravelTalk is perhaps not so relevant as a blog name. Although I can say it’s a lifestyle blog, maybe those who read it may get pee’d off because I also write about other things not just food and travel.

Anyway, I have another domain name that is more generic – HappinessEveryday, and I was going to use that for those things similar to the above … and I am in the process of writing an eBook about happiness everyday based on my experience as a psychologist and passion strategist.”

Niche Blogging and Blogs for all Seasons

“I’ve been Google-ing and reading up about changing a blog’s name. I see that lots of bloggers say it’s best to choose a name that will suit your niche,  or use a more generic name so that in 5, 10 ,15, years come and if your focus has changed, your name doesn’t have to. Some have said they have changed their blog name 2-3 times but wouldn’t recommend it if you’ve been blogging for a long time because of your followers.”

“I’m not sure what to do and I guess, because it’s still fairly early days for me and my blog, I want to decide now before I am too far down the track. I understand that it’s best to use your real name for your Twitter accounts etc in case you decide you want to write about things other than what you originally set out to write about, because life changes.”

I am just wondering if you could shed some light and provide me with some insight into what you think because you’ve been blogging for a while now and I respect your advice and feedback.”

Thanks,

Ag

My Reply to Agnes

Hi Ag,

You raise lots of valid points, and I’m sure once the first flush of excitement is over and the hard yards of trying to attract readers begins, many bloggers ask the same questions because we realise that actually we can (and want to) write about a whole assortment of things, and that readers respond to one thing or another, but probably not to everything.

Generic or Idiosyncratic name?

I’m not the oracle, but choosing a generic blog name over a clever or idiosyncratic name I think is a good idea. Having a unique blog name is something that to begin with we think is really clever because it is different from anything else we find on the net, and we think perhaps we can brand the name, but then we realise that …

a)The search engines don’t find any keywords in the title (although I’m told this is becoming less important) and ..

b) People either can’t quite remember the name of your blog or they can’t spell it. I question my sanity in choosing the name ZigaZag (especially putting the A in the middle!) I had my reasons at the time, but I’ve made life difficult for myself in one respect, although in another way if I really wanted to change focus, I could because it’s not exactly generic.

Conventional blogging wisdom

Tried and tested blogging wisdom from the likes of Darren Rowse, Annabel Candy and Jon Morrow would probably state that niche and focus are the two most important things about a blog – along with posting consistently useful content.

Of course I’ve mostly ignored all that too!!!!!!!! To my detriment. And so I would urge you to take heed to the “Masters’ out there.

Having an umbrella

Amanda Kendle in Perth has made a cool move, and uses her own name  for her consultancy business website which acts as an umbrella for everything else including her blog. Smart.

So for her, starting another blog, or changing direction is not a problem in the future. Having a strategy like this means that Twitter, FB, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc can all be under one name, no matter how your content might change.

But don’t forget or underestimate the fact that having more than one blog is a lot of work!

Become the authority

If you’re aiming to make your blog your business, my take would be to go the conventional route and focus on ‘niche’ rather than ‘magazine’. Have a clear domain name which points people to what the blog is about.  Delve really deep into a particular subject and make it your own – become the authority that people seek out.

I found that when I started diversifying and making ZigaZag more of a magazine my brain nearly frazzled – there was just so much I wanted to write about, and the content went here there and everywhere and despite what I thought was awesome and varied content (ahem!), my blog readers didn’t rise. People were confused, so were the search engines it seems.

So to get back to should you change your blog name?

1. Keeping Taste Travel Talk as the EVERYTHING domain.

I think Taste Travel Talk gives you a fair degree of latitude to talk about food, travel and lifestyle – I think you could angle the lifestyle part to encompass your ‘Happiness Everyday’ ideas (and e-book) and the content would not be out of place.

If you  write about many topics on your blog it’s my gut feeling that you need to become a personality, and become ‘personal’. Think how MamaMia started out, although her site has grown into something different now. You need to be somewhat of a personality blogger (not just a useful blogger), someone people follow because they like you, they’re interested in what you do, where you go, what you have to say, and how you think – Another, but different example would be YTravel Blog - I believe people follow Caz and Craig’s adventures not only because of their great travel content but also because they put their lives out there in an engaging way, and so readers feel as if they know them as real life friends, even if they’ve never actually met them.

Like Reality TV shows

The feeling we have when we read blogs is sometimes a little like watching a TV reality show, and don’t most of us enjoy a little peak into other people’s lives? Families and children are something we can all relate to and there’s a huge army of successful Mummy bloggers to bear witness to that.

But you may not want to go this route. I know I find it hard to talk about the inner workings of my life and my brood. And to have magazine content I’d say you definitely need to post often and post lots of really useful stuff so that the search engines find you.  This might be more exhausting than splitting your blogs into two defined niches.

2. Two Separate Domain Names

So yes, you could  start a separate blog for the Happiness Project with its own domain name, and keep Taste Travel Talk  focused  on ‘Talking’ about Food and Travel. This would keep things very clear cut, and not confusing for either you or your readers, because sometimes trying to find an angle to bring everything back to one focus is hard.

3. Domain name focus

Having a focused blog name does mean that you need to stay on topic, but this in itself can be angled to include different things -  I guess The Happiness Project could encompass food and travel too if it’s something that you think  ‘makes your readers happy’ so you could be back to having one blog again but with a different name.

Just options

So up to here I’ve just given you options!! And each one will probably work if you put enough time and energy into them because perhaps successful blogging is all about time, energy, passion and dedication. Making small changes all the time, BUT putting your heart and soul into keeping your blog useful, interesting, relevant and topical – that’s what gets bloggers noticed in the end.

What would I do?

What would I do? Should I have one blog or two?

Well, I’m in the process of thinking about starting another blog  because from ZigaZag I’ve learnt a lot.

1. That ZigaZag works best if I stay in my niche which is all about living, working and playing in Western Australia. (Plus a bloggie day on Fridays which has become popular).

2. I’ve learnt that people get confused when I post different content, and people don’t seem to search for that other content, or equally the search engines don’t index it – such as memoir, travel and life after fifty.

3. That promoting my posts is something I need to do, all the time, and it’s easier to develop relationships with other people in the same niche, and those who post about similar topics on social media sites, rather than trying to spread myself too thin and too wide (when promotion becomes spamming, rather than spending the time and joining meaningfully in the conversation).

4. I’ve also learnt that Western Australia is considered really remote, and people view us as off the map! So it’s been slow to grow, and it’s something which I’ll have to invest years rather than months in if it’s to become really successful.

5. So why not change ZigaZag’s focus altogether? Well, it’s been a hard (but interesting) slog to grow a subscriber list, develop fledgeling relationships, and get my Stats to a half decent state, and I don’t want to lose the small advantage I have. Therefore, starting another blog to grow alongside ZigaZag makes sense. I can talk about other issues that interest me and help others on that same journey, plus I can link back to each blog where it’s appropriate. I’ve also decided to give my new blog a name that better describes what the content is about.

6. Luckily Twitter and LinkedIn are under my name, although my FB page isn’t. I’m not too worried about starting another Facebook Page for the new blog (you’d laugh at the number of FB followers I have for ZigaZag, except for the fact that they are  very attentive when new blog posts go up.)

7. However, none of this is cast in stone, and I’m going to watch and remain flexible.  I’ll remain vigilant to see what works and what doesn’t work, along with watching how the blogosphere changes, and also how my own life changes too.

Successful Niche Blogs around the Net

Looking around the net I’d say that some of the most successful Australian blogs seem to be Niche blogs.

Problogger, Digital Photography School, TwiTips, Feelgooder – all Darren Rowse’s.

Get in the Hot Spot and Successful Blogging - Annabel Candy

Styling You – Nikki Parkinson

Hair Romance – and Mr & Mrs Romance – Christina and Jim Butcher

Y Travel Blog, and Mojito Mother – Caz and Craig Makepeace

and let’s not forget our WA friend the lovely Not a Ballerina, who recently slanted her blog to become even more on topic, focused and interesting.

When we visit all of these blogs we know exactly what to expect, and the type of information we might find. So although we read many blogs for entertainment, I’d say a lot of the time we also want to know where we can go for relevant, and on topic information.

Ok, here endeth the lesson … I hope it’s been some use …

Take care, and good luck Ag. Here’s watching you …

Jo

So ZigaZagers what’s your take on one blog or two? It would be awesome if you’d add your comments. Or do you have a bloggie question you’d like answered – why not email me, or ask it in the comments section and I’ll try and shed some light on your queries.

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Comments

  1. Jenna says:

    I want to start a blog, but can’t decide whether to concentrate on one topic about my work or many about my life, so this was a really helpful for me.

  2. Thanks for giving our blogs a shout out Jo! I agree it’s easier to pick a niche but make sure that the niche is broad enough. You need to have enough ideas for years of content, as well as enjoy writing it so I recommend making a list of 50 blog post ideas. If you can’t get to 50 it’s probably too niche a topic.
    It’s also ok for your blog to develop and change. You can always add new categories, or drop ones that don’t feel right anymore. Also be aware of the extra time it takes to run two (or three) separate blogs. It is very time consuming so be sure that each will be sustainable before you start.
    The most important thing is just to keep blogging! X
    Christina @ Mr and Mrs Romance recently posted..From where you’d rather be – VanuatuMy Profile

  3. I’m all for building your brand under one blog umbrella. While my primary focus is fashion, secondary beauty, the lifestyle – travel and food – has been able to expand because of my take on those areas. They won’t ever be the core content but they do support my core content. Good luck and thanks for the mention Johanna!
    Nikki @ Styling You recently posted..Comment on Keeping it Real: Whitsundays Islands style by Miss PinkMy Profile

  4. Thanks Nikki, that’s really valuable advice, and looking at your blog with a broad brushstroke I can better see how you have built, and continue to build your very successful brand under one umbrella.

  5. Thanks Christina :) Really great of you to take the time to offer such helpful information, along with those couple of warnings. Having 50 blog post ideas before you even begin I think is a great idea, and understanding just how long it takes to build a blog is definitely something that can be underestimated. I hope your second blog is coming along swimmingly :)

  6. Hi Johanna and Ag,

    I sympathise entirely since I split my first blog Get In the Hot Spot into two and set up Successful Blogging so I could cover the online marketing side of things. That works better for me and my readers because they’re clear on what they’ll find on each blog but I also run separate social media profiles so there is more work and less time to focus as much as I’d like on each blogs.

    Having said that if you have diverse interests and can’t focus one topic it makes sense to run two blogs and as Christine says blogs do evolve and that’s a good thing.

    In fact I just updated my slogan at Get In the Hot Spot to Advanced Adventures for Body and Soul – so it’s still travel but with a tighter focus which feels good and lets me write about both my interests (which are similar to yours Ag) of travel and personal development.

    I like the food and travel niche for Ag though although it sounds like personal development or happiness might be more of a passion and the Western Australia niche for you Johanna – I think we need to remember that fewer readers are fine if you have a tight area of focus.

    So Jo, what is this new blog about?!
    Annabel Candy, Successful Blogging recently posted..How to Increase Your Blog Traffic with Interviews: Blogging Success Story with John DumasMy Profile

  7. Thanks so much for your fab and illuminating input, Annabel. You’ve split your blogs so successfully and they are both so focused, although I’ve watched with interest how you’ve updated your slogan and slant for Get in The Hot Spot and I’m really enjoying the more varied content. My new blog is about Life and Style after Fifty – although having read yours, Nikki’s and Christina’s replies, I’m a little swayed and not sure that I shouldn’t incorporate it into ZigaZag!! Arghh, decisions.

  8. Thanks for popping by Jenna. Hope that you are feeling a little clearer now, especially after some of the awesome add on comments. Good luck and here’s watching;)

  9. From my point of view the problems with having multiple blogs focusing on different things takes up a lot of time, and if you work for an employer, blogging (in my case at this stage) is a sideline which already takes up a lot of time, without having more than one! But when I think of it, I do have 3 blogs (though only one main blog I regularly post on – well once a week anyway), a Flickr page, a Facebook page, and a Linkedin page! If I had more blogs I would never get any housework done!
    For me, I like that my blog, and yours Jo, isn’t focused on just one genre. I think this makes it interesting for readers.
    Another interesting post Jo and food for thought.
    Life Images by Jill recently posted..Exploring the Western Australian wheatbeltMy Profile

  10. Thanks Jill, and all so true. It does take a lot of time – but bugger the housework I say!!

  11. Such a difficult decision. Blogs are always evolving and they must evolve with you, so you do have to plan your domain name and strategy around this, which can be tough as you don’t always know how you will evolve.

    I branched off from y travel blog to create Mojito Mother as I had so many other interests I wanted to talk about. Although our travel blog is very personal it is also niche to travel, so I knew the content I wanted to post just would not be suitable for our readers. Therefore I started a new one.

    It’s very difficult to run two blogs especially having the two different social media accounts, although I have Craig to help me. If you are going to do the two I would look at possibly taking on someone to help on the one that is a little less personal.
    Great post Jo
    Caz Makepeace recently posted..How do you take your coffee and who makes it the best?My Profile

  12. Thanks for joining this conversation, Caz. Your take on the evolution of personal blogs is definitely something to guage, I think. If a blog begins to evolve and spin too far from the original niche, then it’s time to pull back or start another blog. You do it so well with Mojito Mother and Y Travel Blog, but as you say, it’s all down to being able to find the time to manage two.

  13. I’m a bit late to the party here Jo (but as you know I was too busy travelling!) but wanted to say a big thanks for the shout-out and compliments. It is such a tricky decision! I also have some “stalled” blogs (no time to work on everything) and so many ideas of alternatives, if only we all had 150 hours a day to blog and promote our blogs then everything would be OK!
    Amanda Kendle recently posted..Why I’m not cut out to be a typical modern-day travel bloggerMy Profile

  14. Thanks for popping by, and yes I know you’ve been travelling :) It is such a very tricky decision, and since writing the post, I’m again in a conundrum about the same issue. As you say, more hours in the day is definitely required!!

  15. I have had the same dilemma, just trying to decide whether to start more than one website or blog. I have decided to keep one and try to integrate so I will see how that goes!
    Emma Kelly recently posted..Changing Perspectives: How to Create Your RealityMy Profile

  16. Fabulous, Emma – I’ll be keen to see how it goes. Splitting them has meant a ton more work for me ;)

  17. Great discussion. I’m a multiple site/blog person. When the audiences are from very different segments then there is no choice but to have different sites, social media and more. It is difficult managing it all of them, however necessary. Or the choice Is to give up some of them. You can see me at http://www.rosewall.com.au and a number of other places eg http://www.decorheaven.com.au. Fran
    Fran recently posted..New Years Honours 1 January 1953 Dolph KittoMy Profile

  18. Hello Fran, yes after writing that post it became evident that splitting my blogs was the way to go, and I haven’t been disappointed. Thanks for the heads up and will pop over and have a look at what you’re up to as well :)

  19. I have the same problem because I blog about Townsville where I live. Namely Tuesday in Townsville, but the main focus of my blog Budget Travel Talk is budget travel presently overseas. I think I should have two blogs but I spend so much time blogging with just one blog that my husband might shoot me if I started another.
    budget jan recently posted..Fantastic Friday Street Art in Montreal CanadaMy Profile

  20. I know Jan, as you get more into blogging the different opportunities become apparent and even necessary, but like you say, and I can vouch for this … Two blogs are a lot more work … Yes, my husband is often unhappy that the computer takes up more of my time than he does :(

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