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.
“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
- 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
- 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.”
My Reply to Agnes
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.
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.
Styling You – Nikki Parkinson
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 …
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.