With the success of “multi-bloggers” like Problogger‘s Darren Rowse, there’s a tendency for new bloggers to want to build ten, twenty or more blogs in rapid succession, hoping that the volume method of blogging will somehow pay off. It’s scary to some people to have to focus on just one niche, wondering if it can pay off, worrying about whether you’ll miss the boat if you ignore niche X.
One Niche, Two Niche?
However, here are a few things to consider. Firstly, Darren Rowse is a rare individual who could post up to fifty times a day on the weekends while holding down three part-time jobs. From all accounts, he had a lot of support from his significant other and he started early on (over four years now). The blogosphere is significantly more competitive now, and there’s no guarantee that building multiple blogs will result in better online career income-wise. Of course that’s true for building a single blog as well.
Still, my non-scientific research over the past four calendar years suggests that more bloggers who focus on a single blog tend to have greater success than most bloggers who do not. Focus allows you to be more passionate in your writing in general. It’s hard to be passionate when you write in ten different niches. (Even I rarely write in more than five niches at any given time.) Passion is what holds readers, not necessarily posts about “hot topic X”. This is something that all successful writers pre-Internet days understood: passionate writing works.
The Right Niche?
If you’re worried that you’ve picked the wrong niche, just know that various members of Performancing’s Hive have shown that earning $4-6K/month is possible in a wide variety of topics. I’m referring to real bloggers who’ve achieved some success and discuss what they are doing. (Join the Hive!)
Regardless of the topic you pick, the key to a successful blog is achieving high web traffic. Seems sort of obvious, right? That means that your blog can have either lots of posts per day or just a few per week. It really depends on your topic and how indepth you plan to get. Newsy sites simply must have lots of content daily, and because the posts are short, they’re easy to absorb for most readers. Indepth posts require more time to read, and sometimes read again. So you’ll want to limit how many indepth posts you intend to publish weekly.
Clearing the Rubbish
Are you having trouble focusing? Here are a few tips:
- Drop the clutter.
Do you have a lot of sites? No problem, but get rid of useless, non-performing domains and websites. They just clutter up your operation. It’s hard not to worry about the money and time you are putting into them. Even if you do all the writing yourself, you are spreading your efforts over everything. If you prefer to have a portfolio of websites, keep in mind that people who build stock portfolios regularly replace underperformers, and not necessarily with another stock. Sometimes they take the loss and put the money into a different investment vehicle. Maybe some of your money is better spent in a long-term, high-interest savings account.
- Don’t try to be all things to all readers.
Don’t try to write about the day’s fad topic, just because 3,733 other bloggers did too. Focus on the topics you enjoy and cater to those readers who would appreciate your content. As mentioned above, focus allows your passion to come through, and passion makes readers feel like you care about the information you’re sharing.
- Writers write.
Writers are people who write, not just talk, Twitter or Plurk about it. Likewise, bloggers are people who blog, not just plan all the posts they’ll write someday. If you’re having trouble writing, here are some tips for breaking writer’s block.
Ultimately, you have to decide whether you’d rather have a stable of blogs or to focus on just one. I’ve done the multiple blogs thing and realized it’s not for me, outside of freelancing work. So I’m brutally whittling down my own web properties and currently focusing on just one site, building up towards premium content. But that’s a discussion for another post.
This post reminds me of the danger of spreading myself too thin. It’s tempting to do a lot of things at the same time but focus is what we need to succeed. Thanks!
Indeed, Brett. Good points. I myself do a fair bit of screencasting, and when I have time, podcasting. I’ve also now focused down to 3 specific but tightly related sub-niches that are part of a larger niche, with the occasional foray into a few hobby niches. Now this is just for my own projects, not for client work.
Hey Raj, I think you and frets both make good points. There is definitely no ‘one size fits all’ solution for people and almost always there are different ways to get things done based on what works with any given bloggers individual personality.
Over the weekend, I was speaking with a reporter following an interview. The reporter worked for a local news channel, and was leaving the news business to focus solely on blogging.
They had worked successfully in news for over 20 years, but had found that they were basically creating and managing content for a news site, and not getting any upside for their efforts.
The reporter was passionate about his video work and experience and desire to do more work in that area and train other people to improve their own video skills. The guy was infectious and I’m sure, he will make a great blogger, now that he has finally gotten serious about blogging and literally quit his old fashioned day jobs in news.
The thing is, he is embarking on a new life adventure and even though he had a very tight focus on his niche of teaching people better video skills, he also had some life lessons to share about his past journey through news and his current journey out of news. Both of those areas could definitely be related to his niche and his passion, it was really a question or an opportunity for him to cover his passion from 3 sides instead of just 1.
In running a blog, on a highly focused niche, he would put his investment of time into one basket, but if he faces his passion in three directions he has a better opportunity of making this thing work as one or more of those directions takes hold.
Unlike a blogger like myself, that covers doing business in Belize, direct marketing, mortgage news, technology, comedy and satire, and politics, he had a much tighter focus, but that didn’t mean that he had to restrict himself.
On that note, the power of WordPress has been significantly amplified with the advent of the templates option on pages. If you haven’t looked at this functionality, it can definitely add a much deeper dimension to your blog and enable you to keep things focused on one site while creating a differentiation on the different dimensions of your passion.
I think it’s true that it must take a certain kind of person to run several different blogs, and kudos to them…but I’m not in that club! I’m on the opposite end of that spectrum in that it took me almost a year to find a niche that I found exciting and sustainable enough for me. And the jury’s still out on how successful it may be. But this is a good reminder to me to stay focused and consistent.
Brett, that’s a good point you raise. In fact, because I started so many different blogs, it was easier for me to decide where I should focus my time. But at the same time, my thoughts now are that if you are a person who feels strongly about writing for a particular niche, don’t get distracted by other niches. Try to see if you can’t get things going on one site.
In my experience, this works fine either way, multiple blogs or not. Passion is definitely key, and it really depends on how eclectic your passions are in my own real life experience.
I think if you are starting out, starting multiple sites can be a great way to build up your income level. Later, you can start to make business decisions about which business lines (blogs) deserve more attention, marketing dollars, time, writers etc. Let your passion show you which ones work, but let the bottom line guide your business decisions. If you start by working with topics and blogs that you are passionate about, it won’t hurt you at all to make a calculating business decision later on as you will simply be choosing from amongst your passions.
Good luck to you both, Sarbjit and Marly. Focus is something I’m finally trying myself, after 3 yrs of blogging all over the place map.
I honestly say that I have this now. I want to be somehow successful in blogging. Your post is like a slap at me but I am taking it as a constructive one because I admit I have clutters. I try my best to clear out the clutters and focus.
Thank you for the great post.
Its very true that focus is a must for writing, Building a portfolio is always difficult quality-wise. This was my biggest mistake. I tried to write on too many topics in the beginning. Now I focus on just one blog.