Being #1 in your Niche – One vs Many Blogs

How do you dominate a niche? Do you build 1 mega-resource website using categories / subdomains for your subniches, or you do you build a separate website for each niche?

Both approaches have their pros and cons.

A single big site benefits from economies of scale, is cost-effective, allows for a focused use of resources, requires less manpower to manage, can easily dominate search engine rankings in the long run, and can perhaps earn more revenue thanks to direct advertising deals.

On the other hand, if you have several small sites, it is easier to build a passionate user-base, it’s easier to be #1 in the sub-niche and there is no single point of failure where income, traffic or search engine rankings are concerned.

In comparison, both approaches offer strategic and financial advantages. Which one would you choose?

We had a discussion on this topic last week and we took one of two positions (I sided towards the ‘one big site’ method). However, what struck me this morning was that there was no reason for us to make an ‘either/or’ decision – we could just as easily combine the two approaches and build a crack network to dominate any niche.

The basic idea is to use a hub and satellites approach – the big, general-niche site being the hub and the specialised sub-niche sites being your satellites.

How does it work?

Nick wrote about this some time back, and I’m surprised to see how few blogs and blog networks have adopted this approach during that time. Here’s what he said:

  • Each sattellite blog posts exclusively within it’s very tight niche.
  • The Hub Blog reads all of the sattellite blogs, and rewrites the story to be a little more general, as opposed to simply copying it.
  • The uber blog credits the sattellite/specialist blog, providing readers with a way to connect from the content (which is arguably the best place for a link) to the specialist blog, and subscribe if that’s their passion.

The idea is to create many small, tightly focused blogs within a broader niche, that feed the uber blog – you sit an editor or 2 on each satellite, and have 2-4 people work on the uber blog – the uber blog would also cover more “industry news” type stories that may not relate to any particular model.

So enthusiast readers get specialized blogs, and general interest readers get the best of those stories (not all!) in the uber blog. Making the network much tighter, and more attractive a buy for advertisers.

The hub blog makes it easier to put a ‘face’ to the network, while the specialised blogs caters to specific groups of readers.

And before you think that it’s difficult to implement this using WordPress, I beg to differ. By simply using a decent RSS aggregator plugin (WP-O-Matic comes to mind, the new version is out, you know) you can automatically pull posts from all over your network into a single main blog where an editor or two can work on rewriting and posting the best articles. Need multiple themes? You can use something generic like the News theme or the ModernPaper theme and changing colours and headers for each satellite blog, you can save time and money on design and the launch process.

So, how many of you probloggers are using or plan to use the hub and satellites approach discussed above?

5 thoughts on “Being #1 in your Niche – One vs Many Blogs

  1. A tool like 103bees shows me which articles are very successful for which keywords. What I do is to enrich those single articles with more and/or new content. After a while the articles get too long and I divide the single article to a specialized subdomain or a single static site.

    In the first step the concept is to make successful articles more successful instead of adding new articles.

    In the second step my approach is to give visitors a more information friendly website for a single subject. The original lengthy article on the main site is cut down to more general information and the more specialized paragraphs are substituted with links to the new single articles on the satellite site.

    This way I get a user friendly information structure with single ‘info bites’ and a nice flat navigation on the satellites which is not depending on sections, categories and tags on the main site.

    If the competition for a keyword is high I recommend the new domain.

  2. Ahmed, thanks for your insights. If you remember I contacted you about this matter a few months ago (to be exact it was June 26, you can check your inbox here at Performancing). You gave me exactly same advice back then: start a new blog.

    I still haven’t made a decision though. I’m hesitant because the blog I’m talking about is my only blog with notable income and I wouldn’t like to screw it up . I guess there is nothing to screw if I start a new blog on a new domain, right? I’ll create a hub and the existing blog will be its satellite. Thanks again for the inspiration!

  3. Jaro,

    Depends on your domain name, really. If it’s something like, then you’re stuck with that topic. However, if it’s, or something like that, then you’re ok to develop a broader scope on the blog.

    You should make a few posts covering broader topics from time to time anyway – just to show that you have perspective of what’s going on in the whole niche.

    Also, is it possible that instead of going up one level in detail, you want to move sideways to a new micro niche?

    In either case, you should test things out with a few posts on your blog and evaluate feedback. Chances are that you’ll either create a new category on your blog to discuss such topics or find that you have so much material to cover that you need to start a new blog.

    But you’ll never know until you start writing about it on your blog.

  4. I’m dealing with a similar dilemma these days. I have a successful micro niche blog but would like to cover broader topics. I’m not sure if I should simply rename the blog and start covering more topics (new topics would be still very relevant for the current readers) or start a completely new blog. If anyone feels like discussing this in detail with me, please shoot me a private message.

    I’d also love to hear some opinions on the hub – satellite model that Ahmed suggested. Thanks for the inspirational post, Ahmed.

  5. I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while. In fact I am split if I should sell my remaining sites and domains (other than my chrisg.*) or if I should roll them into a network and get people to write for them Some lend quite well to subdomain type mini-networks …

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