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Many Topics, One Blog

Focus, branding, search engine optimization… optimization schmoptimization, we say! Who says you can’t blog on whatever tickles your fancy? The key is to find the focus in your lack of focus.

Header image by Pentocelo, aka dynamosquito [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

We all deal with blogger’s block sometimes. But what about the opposite, when you have dozens of things you want to blog about? Are you going to turn your audience off by blogging on a range of topics? How can you have a focused brand if your posts are all over the map?

You had your focus all along!

Some blogs take a narrow look at a particular subject, because of the blogger’s interests and goals. Others are wide-ranging reflections of their authors’ interests. If that’s you, it doesn’t mean your blog has no focus — it means the focus is, essentially, your point of view.

(Does that sound self-centered? I think about it like this: I blog not because I think the world needs Michelle’s Precious Opinions*, but because telling my stories connects me to other people in a way that makes both our lives richer.)

*They are pretty great opinions, though.

We’re drawn to blogs because of their topics, but also because we enjoy the blogger’s voice and perspective — and that’s what allows multi-topic blogs to be successful. If your perspective is consistent, readers will follow you from idea to idea. Think about it: you’re sitting down to tea with a friend, and they start talking about their newfound love of kayaking. Do you get up and walk away because you’ve never been interested in kayaks? Your readers are no different.

But aside from just being diverse, interesting you, there are a few things you can try to make your multi-topic blog reader-friendly — if you’re feeling a bit jumbled, give one of these a try!

Organize, organize, organize.

Make finding your topics easy — let your fantasy football-loving readers quickly find your weekly reports among your knitting posts:

  • Category pages let you add menu tabs that pull up all the posts in a specific category — and they’re simple to create from the Appearance → Menus tab of your blog’s dashboard. Here they are in action on Girl, Always Interrupted:
By approaching quietly, we are able to observe category pages in their natural habitat.

By approaching quietly, we are able to observe category pages in their natural habitat.

  • LAP screenshotShortcodes allow you tell tell a page to display a particular set of posts. Unlike category pages, which only display single categories, shortcodes let you filter posts in all kinds of tailored ways. Display them by category, tags, combos of tags, date, and more. Show thumbnail images or excerpts alongside the post titles. The possibilities are limited only by your willingness to dive in.
  • Custom image widgets are an eye-catching way to draw readers to particular content. Take a look at the image to the left — those are widgets in the sidebar of humor mag Long Awkward Pause, giving readers an easy way to get to their favorite features and showing off the range of content the magazine offer. (Graphic design degree not required; our tutorial will help anyone create custom pieces.)

Visually distinguish posts.

With small text or graphical touches, you can give different posts a distinct visual style. As with custom image widgets, this serves dual purposes: making it easy for readers to find what they enjoy, and highlighting the fact that your blog is multifaceted.

  • Themed days require no graphics at all — you can just decide that Thursdays are “Sunset Photo Thursdays” or Sundays are book review day. The Book Wars has “Top Ten Tuesdaysl” Studio Moms publishes a new “Creative Intentions” post each Monday. Make it easy for readers to identify these posts by putting the day’s theme in the posts’ titles.

If photography isn’t your thing, no worries! There are many sites where you can get beautiful, free images to use for things like this.

  • Add featured images for different topics; perhaps you can give every parenting post the same featured image of a toybox, and every career-focused post the same photo of papers scattered across a desk. You can do something similar with boilerplate text — put the same short description, perhaps in italics, at the start of all posts of a certain topic.
  • Use post formats creatively to add unique visual touches. If your theme supports post formats, selecting different formats allows you to give posts fun styling add-ons — an icon, a different font size for the title, a bold background color. Experiment with formats, and see what happens when you use particular formats to set off particular posts. Themes that offer post formats with background colors are particularly well-suited for this; take a look at the same blog with and without post formats:

Take some time to play with the options your theme gives you and to experiment with images, and you’ll soon figure out what works for you.

Be consistent.

Sometimes, starting a second (or third, or fourth) blog is the best way to go. If you’re thinking about branching out, ask yourself these four questions first.

You can house lots of topics on one blog — but if you write each one in very different styles, the lack of focus starts to become an issue. Your point of view is what drew readers to your blog in the first place. If there’s a jarring disconnect between posts — if your voice shifts depending on what you’re blogging about — your blog fragments, your readers lose trust, and all the visual cues in the blogosphere will not create a coherent whole.

No matter what you write about, write as you. When your enthusiasm shines through a post, readers will follow you to all kinds of topical nooks and crannies.

(In the end, if you’re doing that, you probably don’t need organizational bells and whistles. Author Caitlin Kelly writes on a vast variety of subjects on Broadside, but all her posts have her signature clarity and wit — and readers love them, no matter the topic. Ditto for Alec Nevala-Lee, who blogs on everything from television to science to writing. But the bells and whistles are still nice options to have.)

There are plenty of good reasons to have separate, focused blogs to address different issues, but identify those reasons and blog accordingly — don’t do it because an article somewhere told you it was good for SEO. How you define your online space is up to you.

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  1. I have a VERY broad blog that discusses a lot of topics. However, I do find that my voice is fairly consistent from one post to the next. Or so I’ve been told. I think specializing would have been easier but I prefer to have one blog where I can talk about anything I’d like to write about!!

    Liked by 13 people

  2. Right down my alley. My blog seems to be heading in this direction. I am using the category widget, and featured image.
    Will try experimenting with the post format, seems fun.
    Thanks for this!

    Liked by 6 people

  3. I always thought my blog only had one topic (my teenage diary) but I think I need to organise it better now I’ve got more posts up there and there’s a lot going on (sort of) within it. I’m just not sure how to organise it. Boys, crap drawings, poetry, lists, worryings…? It’s all in date order but it’s probably time to have a think about how I could link certain sub-topics together.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. Good post 🙂 My blog is a real hodge-podge mix, just like me. It’s just about my life… and therefore covers farming in southwest Turkey, global travel in 5 decades, being a late dad to a small geek, a love of photography with a basic camera and a positive and zany outlook on life. I too am a follower of numerous blogs, most are subject focussed, but I must admit that I most love those that are multi-wotsitted, covering all sorts.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. I have one thing in mind. Epilepsy awareness is my topic. My problem is putting it in categories. I have my blog, other friends stories, and I am going to feature a friend’s blog. I also want to give more information that people might not know. There are also video interviews. I found the business template, and am trying it. One day I want to be non-profit. I am working on the tax paperwork now. Already planned non-profit.
    Thanks for noticing my problems,
    Roxanne
    seizeuretheday.com

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Really good tips! My blog is about my life as an Englishman in the US and I often want to blog about other topics but can’t because i’m afraid to turn off my readers. I’ll check out categories 🙂

    Liked by 7 people

  7. I have one of these broad-topics blogs and use categories on the side to guide people to repetitive issues or themes. That said, I couldn’t restrict my blog if I wanted to, because new items just arise each week and at least one of them begs to be expressed. The blog leads me, so to speak. I do try to use some humor and I am consistently posting my latest Flickr photos, as I am also an amateur photographer. If I don’t reach thousands of people, that’s fine. I treasure those that I have and keep. It is like having a coffee klatch once a week with good and varying friends.

    Liked by 10 people

  8. Hallo there,

    I have a relatively large number of blogs – and I almost always advise against having multiple blogs. Yes, you can benefit from your own “private network” when it comes to SEO, but trust me, that takes a LOT of work – a lot more than makes sense for a personal (especially a non-commercial) blogger.

    Also, when considering a private network of sorts for SEO purposes, you have to remember that at least some of your sites must have a good page rank to be able to pass this page rank on to others. Not only this, but if a significant percentage of your inbound links come from one domain, search engines may even choose to disregard all links from that particular domain. Additionally, page rank is only one of 200 indicators that search engines look at – and some of the other indicators are much easier to get a good “score” for.

    There are MUCH better ways of going about SEO. Firstly, (and this cannot be stressed enough, except by Matt Cutts, who has said it ad nauseam during his various podcasts), you need great quality, unique content. And then, you need to bust your bum and take part in the community!

    I keep my flagship blog, Paddastoel, which is specifically aimed at the various challenges faces by working moms (but you don’t have to be working, a mom, or even female to read it!), as well as my business blog, a parenting blog, an environmental blog and a challenge / test blog and a couple of “minor blogs”.

    The reason why I decided to go for separate blogs is somewhat complicated, but I will explain a little for those who are interested.

    Each blog aims to build up great quality “static” content, which will be used for pages on different websites. You see, each blog was started for a specific business / community project. Except for my business blog, which is mainly there so potential management consulting clients can have an idea of what I do and how I do it, these are part of a five year plan and it will still be a while (if ever) before I will receive any sort of financial benefit from these other blogs. I still believe that it will be easier to implement these projects if the sites meant to advertise them, have already been optimized for SEO and are already attracting the “right” sort of viewers. I am using these sites to test data in terms of the countries the traffic originate from and all sorts of other items that will be useful for marketing purposes in the future. So yes, for market research, it is invaluable.

    There are a couple of things to keep in mind when deciding on multiple blogs, one of the most important being to choose a “low-maintenance” theme that does not necessarily require a large number of graphics in your posts.

    Happy blogging!

    Liked by 4 people

  9. I’m one of those who blog whatever comes to mind. Do I find my blog out of focus? Of course not! I see it as conversations with friends/acquaintances/colleagues and random strangers about range of topics out of day to day life. Like Michelle’s said: You don’t walk away from a conversation with your friend about kayak just because kayaking is not your thing.

    Besides, there is always a new way of bringing up old topics. It depends on the person who’s doing the talking. Even if someone is telling exciting things in a boring manner, people would not listen.

    I am an avid supporter of staying true to yourself and not losing your own unique voice for the sake of views and follows. People read and follow you in the first place because of who you are, why alienate them? Besides, posing as someone else other than yourself is not sustainable in the long run.

    Liked by 6 people

  10. This is something I struggle with. It makes me sad that a very small number of people who follow my blog read it regularly. Other than the personality of my posts, I suppose it is having limited interests helps with at least keeping the blog going and maintain some sort of continuity. I’m gonna try these tips!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think your blog reflects well on what your title is OF OPINIONS. That gives you a great stretch of writing anything you want. I like that you begin almost every post with OF, I feel like it syncs in with the theme of your blog which is to give your opinion on the topic. I’m following now 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Thanks you so much! The inspiration was to write the way essays were initially written by writers like Francis Bacon and John Locke. It was to title with an ‘Of’ and then write your opinions on any subject of choice.
        Thanks again!

        Liked by 2 people

  11. My last post talked a little bit about this! I started out with an idea to talk about my journey with self love, but was worried if I delved into talking about other things, such as a random documentary that it could cause my readers to be confused or if I talked about a serious topic that maybe it would offend someone. I came to the realization that writing about my thoughts on a documentary or a serious topic doesn’t deflect my ultimate goal as a writer, it adds to it. My blogger voice is in sync so I think at this point I just need to keep in mind that my blog doesn’t have to be for EVERYONE.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dear Buffguy101,

      Comments like these are considered spamming. Not only that, but few people are likely to actually respond to a request like this – quite the opposite. Most of us (who also have our own blogs to concentrate on and very little time to spare between parenting, working and blogging) are put off to such a degree as to prohibit even visiting out of principle. So it is actually counter-productive.

      A much more effective method is to actually engage in the community. READ the article and give your (considered) opinion.

      Kind regards,
      Adel

      Liked by 4 people

    2. A great place to start is by signing up for one of the Blogging University courses. As far as I am aware, Blogging 101 will be presented again in February. It is running now, but it is a bit too late to join. Follow the Daily Post so you can be sure not to miss the next round of registrations!

      In the meantime, you can always promote your blog (preferably a specific post and specific aspects of that post) on the Community Pool. A new one is posted every Monday!

      However, the best way is still to visit other blogs, to READ what the author says and to leave a well-considered, content-related comment. You will find that there is a 80% chance that the author will at least visit your blog – and if the comment is really good (not butt-kissing, well-considered and thoughtful), about a 50% chance that they will end up following you!

      Happy blogging!

      Liked by 5 people

  12. since mine is more of a personal blog with sections of fitness, foodies, etc…. i definitely do find it helpful to use categories and tags to organize everything.

    awesome tips!

    Liked by 7 people

  13. I was stuck forever trying to pick a niche that I cared about but which didn’t feel to limiting. Super hard, since I have many varied interests. I finally went for a blog called “More Than Just One Thing.” https://morethanjustonething.wordpress.com/

    Anything that interests me is fair game, though I try and link it to psychology, self-improvement, and learning. I want my blog to spark thinking and learning and the tone is more serious than light. That may go against the conventional wisdom of blogging, but I hope it will eventually let me connect with like minded people!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Every blog is a perspective of an artist..!!
      And art needs no definition..It can be nothing to anything..!! Sometimes its a cliché and sometimes more; but its a part of the game..!!
      I am new to blogging, and I am trying to find out ideas, and put more into my blog 🙂
      Any ways all the best..!!

      Liked by 5 people

  14. I cover a variety of different topics at my blog, Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian. However, each topic falls under the umbrella of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice.

    Thanks for writing this post, and for the reminding us that how we define our online spaces are up to us.

    Liked by 5 people

  15. I’m certainly a variety blogger…sometimes I think it’s because I’m greedy, but really, I do hope that others will be interested in a similar variety if things as me… baking, books, travel, style, humorous social commentary. As you say, it seems crucial to maintain the voice, your character, then the variety of posts have one huge, super-glue-esque similarity – you!

    Liked by 4 people

  16. As someone who is just starting out as a blogger this is incredibly helpful…I don’t know exactly what my blog topic will be (right now I have it planned as just about my life) and I am unsure if one thing will call to me as I continue on so these are great to keep in mind! Thanks!

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Great post! As a new blogger, I find myself awash with TONS of ideas to blog about. I figure I will post what I want now and maybe eventually I will find my true focus. Thanks for the tips and helpful links. I will definitely be exploring more options in the future!

    Liked by 3 people

  18. I can declare that I blog on many different topics from sports to tech to my personal views on the day. I am slowly becoming a blogger with a voice even on those tech or sports blogs. I thank you for posting this well done article highlighting other blogs who cover many topics. Even when I write about glitter bombing someone (yes that is a thing) you can here my voice on the start of the post.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Agree with you on this. Besides, they don’t have to put links to their blogs since user names are clickable if people really want to find out who you are. In my experience thoughtful comments are what get readers interested not downright requests. As for me, I only like, comment, follow out of genuine interest and only post comments if I really have something to say or otherwise not.

    Liked by 4 people