Updated post first published Jun 18, 2008
Letting Your Blog Go #2
One way that I see some bloggers ‘letting their blog go‘ is to become distracted and move off topic more and more. When I asked readers why they unsubscribed from a blog’s RSS feed they told me that the forth highest reason was when blogs change focus or go off topic.
There’s nothing wrong with a personal blog that covers many aspects of your life – but IF you’ve decided to start a blog with a niche focus that sets out to cover a particular topic – it can be quite frustrating for readers to suddenly be hearing about other aspects of your life in every second post.
The problem isn’t that you post about a wide array of topics – but instead it’s about setting up reader expectations that you’re going to talk about one thing and then that you go off topic and keep talking about other things.
This can happen for numerous reasons.
- For some it’s just that you get sick of writing on your chosen topic
- for others you run out of things to say on that topic while other interests come up
- for others it is tempting to write off topic content because it might bring in more traffic or make you more money (eg I saw one blog recently that was on business start writing about Britney Spears in every second post because they saw it as a fast way to get traffic).
The ‘solution’ really is to identify what you want to write about, to name it so your readers know what to expect and then to stick to that topic.
Tips To Help Your Blog Stay ‘On Topic’:
Implementing this solution can be more challenging than it sounds of course – but here are a few thoughts that come to mind on how to do it:
Define Your Niche
It’s pretty hard to stay on topic if you don’t know what your topic is. I’m presuming that most ProBlogger readers have already done this stage so I won’t go over how to do it again (if you havn’t yet chosen a niche check out my post on choosing niche topics for your blog).
Redefine Your Niche
Most blogs start out targeting one niche and then at some point in their life need to make adjustments to it. This is perfectly natural as blogs are quite evolutionary. It may be that you need to change niches completely – but in most cases this will involve simply broadening or narrowing your focus.
Some bloggers make the mistake of starting out with a niche that is so broad that they can’t keep up with it without burning out – in these cases I’d advise focusing down on one aspect of the topic. Some bloggers choose a niche that is so narrow that they can’t find enough to say on the topic – these bloggers need to broaden their focus.
Occasionally I’ve seen bloggers successfully completely change their blog’s topic from one niche to another. This is possible – but if you have an established readership it’s going to mean you need to manage the process as readers can become very loyal to a blog and it’s focus.
Communicate and Manage any Changes
Making adjustments to the focus of your blog is fine – however some bloggers get into trouble with it in communicating it to their readers. It’s amazing how much ownership a blog reader takes over a blog.
Readers invest time into reading a blog and participating in the conversations that go on in it – as a result when you make a change in something as fundamental as the topic of your blog they can find that process challenging and push back. If you are making a change you might like to:
- involve readers in the process (ask for their feedback and suggestions)
- share reasons for changes that you are making
- ask for their involvement in the transition (people are more likely to accept a change that they are actively participating in)
Going Off Topic
Once you have a niche defined you then need to make some decisions about if, when and how you will ever go ‘off topic’.
Thinking about this before you do will help you to know if you’re doing it too much. Some might say you should never go off topic – but I think there are ways to do it that can add something to your blog. The question I always try to ask though is ‘does publishing this post add or take value from my blog’.
Going off topic can help to show a different side of you, draw new readers to your blog, add interest to a blog and more… but it can also prove to be a distraction and the difference between people perceiving you as an expert in your field or not.
Have Your Say
Do you go off topic on your blog? What have you learned about how and when to do it? How tight is your niche? Do you mind when other blogs go off topic?