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.
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:
- Shortcodes 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.
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.