Blog Topics: Blog About Everything or Find Your Niche?

Written by   (author of Obvious Conclusions)

decide what to blog about I decided to create a blog about 3 months ago.  I decided to completely ignore the one piece of advice given to make your blog successful.

Today, I will probably spend about 3 hours writing this post: Blog Topics:  Blog About Everything or Find Your Niche?  In all likelihood, writing about blogging about everything will produce practically nothing.  Why?

I just checked the Internet for statistics on how many people search for Blog About Everything.  Guess how many?  Zero. 

I am writing this post on a Toshiba 46″ Flat Screen TV that is connected to my laptop.  I wrote about how to do this last night.  If you want to do it yourself, read the post entitled Connect Laptop Computer to Digital/LCD TV.

What is my point?  My point is that I blog about everything with no obvious focus point which runs contrary to all advice about blogging.  It’s like a contrarian Seinfeld approach:  They created a show about nothing; I create a blog about everything.

The experts say that you should not do this.  They say that you should:

Choose One Topic to Blog About

One of the foremost authorities in the blogosphere, Lorelle on WordPress, writes a piece called “Why Should Your Blog Have A Focus“.  In the article, Lorelle answers the question posed in the title: 

  • It establishes you as an expert.
  • It creates a consistent flow of information and content.
  • The blog and you become a source for information, not just a link.
  • Increased incoming referrer links and increased likelihood of being blogged about, not just linked to.
  • Like attracts like.

Lorelle writes about WordPress (the blog authoring tool) and WordPress exclusively.  She never runs out of material.  If you have your own blog, you know why she never runs out of material.  WordPress seems to be, quite literally, a black hole.  You can keep looking for an end but you’ll never find it.

Whenever I search for a new WordPress item (photos on blogs, best time to post a blog, best plug-ins for WordPress), Lorelle’s website appears in the top 10 on Google.  And I always click because the information is always useful.

And, yet, in creating my own blog, I completely ignored the advice of someone I find to be an authority on blogging?  This doesn’t make sense.

Why Do You Create Your Own Blog

Many people create blogs just to make money.  When you start reading about blogging for money, you’ll quickly come across John Cow, whose byline is “Making Money Online By Milking the Internet”.  I link to him because I have a peculiar respect for people who are so blatant about their base intentions.

If you are creating a blog just to make money, perhaps you should just write about one thing.  For example, cell phones.  Or, airline seats.  Airline seats?  One man, Matt Daimler, created a highly successful blog solely focused on the best seats in airplanes:  http://www.seatguru.com/.   He sold the site to Expedia in 2007 at a time when his site garnered 5 million visits a month.  I can only imagine what he was paid for this.

Seatguru.com focuses on the Best Airline Seats on Particular Makes of Planes.  I would have never guessed such narrow focus would be popular.  I just say “window seat” and hope it’s available.  I wish they had choices such as “Not Near Crying Baby” or “Not Next to Snorer” or “Skinny People Next To Me Please”.  But unfortunately, they do not. 

I wish I had the patience, or that requisite peculiarity, to blog about one thing…to have my niche, but I don’t.  I can’t fathom solely writing about cell phones, computers, cars, or certainly not the best seats on a plane. 

I decided to create a blog because I write everyday anyway.  Why not publish it? To contain my topics to a certain niche for popularity would then change my writing behavior.  Instead of writing what I wanted, I would have to tailor content to gain visitors and I would end up writing about topics that didn’t inspire or interest me. 

Blogging About Everything Takes More Effort Than a Niche Blog

While it may seem like an easy task, I write therefore I’ll create a blog, you will find the implementation quite the contrary…assuming that you want anybody to read your blog.  If not, then it is easy:  You can go to wordpress.com and create a blog right now.

If a niche blog takes a lot of effort, a blog about everything takes significantly more than a lot of effort.  Here, I am not talking about the writing of a particular article or post; I am talking about the publicizing and marketing of a post.

For example, one way to get your blog noticed is to register with blog search engines.  If you have a niche blog on cell phones, you can register under a blog category called phones or communications.  Or, if your blog is about movies, you register your blog as an authority on movies.  But what to do when your blog is about everything?  There is never a category called everything or general.    The blogosphere (I don’t like the word-it’s geeky) is not designed for those who blog about everything.  You need to find little ways around this; otherwise your blog will never get noticed.

Hope For Those Who Blog About Everything

Darren Rowse, in his piece, Principles of Choosing a Profitable Blog Topic, mentions that finding a niche is critical to blog success.  He even quotes Stephan Spencer who says that “… Nowadays even a blog specifically about Google is too broad. There is a blog about Google AdSense – now that’s nice and narrow.  You are more likely to be seen as an expert in a narrow topic area.”

And if you want to a blog about peanuts?  You best choose a part of the peanut:  the shell, the taste, the saltiness, or the method of cracking.  A blog about a whole peanut is simply too broad, much too big!

So are we general bloggers, we who blog about everything, doomed?

Absolutely not!

We need look no further than John Pozadzides for salvation.  John is the creator and author of One Mans Blog.  The tagline of John’s site is “Specialization is for insects.”  John, a man after my own heart-I love that.  John writes about many topics and advocates this in his blog. 

In his article entitled, 45 Ways to Power Up Your Blog, John says  “I’ve been hearing people advising authors to stick to only one topic per blog for some time now. And they are just plain wrong.  Any possible SEO advantage is more than outweighed by the fact that authors and readers become bored by the same subject after a while and content becomes stale and painful.”

This is exactly what I think.  How can people be that interested in the Best Airline Seats on Particular Makes of Planes?  The fact is they are.  While http://www.seatguru.com/ had 5 million visitors in one month, it only had 1 million unique visitors.  This means that the same 1 million people returned to the site on an average of 5 times that month.

Conclusions About General Versus Specific Blog Topics

Writing this article has illuminated a fact that I probably already knew but I am happy to re-learn.  Everybody is different. 

I prefer One Man’s Blog to a website focused exclusively on airline seats, cell phones, or home and garden.  But that’s just me.

Many experts say “have a niche.”  I might argue that being general is, in fact, a niche…perhaps even more of a niche.  With so many recommendations to get specific, writing on a wide array of topics is unique.    

The bottom line is this-there is no right answer in the sphere of general versus specific blogs.  We can find evidence of highly successful blogs in both arenas. 

Since my blog is general, I’ll take solace in the fact that One Man’s Blog has a higher page rank (Google’s gauge of importance) than every single blog I found that writes about finding a niche!

Richard Cummings, Live Your Way

P.S. Break Blog Rules

I noticed as I was writing this article that many of the most successful blogs break many of the stated blog rules.  For example, Lorelle on WordPress, who I mentioned in the beginning of this post, does not use her own domain name for her main blog.  Her URL is http://lorelle.wordpress.com/.  All of the articles that you read about blog SEO will tell you to use your own domain name, not one from http://www.wordpress.com/  or http://www.blogger.com/.   And One Man’s Blog with the highest page rank?  He uses a permalink structure that looks like this:  http://onemansblog.com/2008/03/29/45-ways-to-power-up-your-blog/.  Most blog SEO recommendations say to use a structure that includes solely the post name.

Moral of the story?  Your blog is your own Field of Dreams.  Till it with passion as you wish and People Will Come Ray…People Will Come

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Richard Cummings

Richard Cummings is writer, traveler, and web content developer.

Get your copy of his latest book entitled Obvious Conclusions, stories of a Midwestern emigrant influenced and corrupted by many years living in San Francisco and abroad. It just received its first outstanding review "...reminiscent of David Sedaris or Augusten Burroughs" on Amazon UK.
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Richard CummingsBlog Topics: Blog About Everything or Find Your Niche?

Comments 5

  1. Lorelle

    While you are right that I am one of the long standing proponents of specialization, I’m the first one in line who said, “Writing about WordPress isn’t enough.” Within a few months I changed my tagline to “WordPress and blogging” which gave me enough to chew on while staying fairly niche driven.

    More importantly, I tell my readers and students to blog your passion. Write whatever you write with strong keywords, as John Pozadzidies and Darren Rowse explained (misspelled in the article), and write with passion and energy for your subject matter.

    The worst stuff I see on the web is disconnected writing, writing that comes from the wallet not the heart. You can spot it in an instant. People are attracted like flies to honey with passionate writing, no matter the subject.

    But if you want to be considered an expert in something, you must have a name for that expertise. :D

    Great work!

  2. Richard Cummings

    Lorelle, thanks for the comment and for your great site. As I mentioned, I visit often when I am tackling a new subject of which I’m unawares….be it WordPress or blogging in general :)

    I agree with your assestment above and it probably not only applies to blogging but life. If you don’t have passion for what you do, you’re doing the wrong thing.

    Again, thanks for all and I’m sure I’ll be on your site shortly.

    –Richard

    PS: Mr. Rose is now Mr. Rowse ;)

  3. M

    Thanks for this article. You are the first one I’ve seen online say it’s alright to have a general blog. While I don’t think general blogs are going to be able to monetize as easily as niche blogs, I certainly don’t think I could keep up the enthusiasm necessary to write just about one topic for years and years.

  4. Richard

    M, thanks for stopping by. I just checked out your general blog and find it much more interesting than blogs with a single theme.

    I think that, in the beginning, it may be easier to monetize a niche blog. However, over time, you will have a vast array of advertising possibilities while a blog about cameras will still only be advertising cameras.

    In just looking through your blog, I see that you write about music and books. You can become an Amazon affliate to promote each of those topics. And you wrote about Vacuums??? I like that…now find a place that is a vacuum affliate like here: http://www.oreck.com/customer-service/affiliate_program.cfm

    I do believe it may be harder to build traffic to a general blog because each day you may write about something different. For example, this article was about blogging. People may like it and want to come back. However, tomorrow I may write about Politics and not Blogging which may turn off that visitor.

    I am slowly forming ways to deal with that. For instance, I am in the process of creating and publicizing an RSS feed for each topic.

    Check out my “Living in Uruguay” category page to see how I accomplish this.

    Anyway, best of luck. I’ll swing by your blog to check it out often.

    Cheers,
    Richard

  5. Ryan Graham

    Hey Richard, this is a really great article and it has given me hope to continue along my path of blogging about a general subject.

    I tried for so long to come up with something specific to write about that I also enjoyed, but honestly I enjoy writing about many different things, so I had a lot of trouble.

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