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One Blog Many Categories or Many Blogs?

William (a reader of ProBlogger) asks:

‘I have so many diverse hobbies and interests that I want to start a blog about, plus I’d also like to make some $ through AdSense & the likes…. Am I better off having one blog site with multiple categories or multiple blog sites highlighting specific interests?’

Great question William and one that I think more ProBloggers would do well to think through.

One of the common ways that many bloggers start out in their entrepreneurial blogging is through a personal and very general blog that covers many topics of interest. It makes sense in many ways – it’s simpler to have it all in one place, to manage one set of statistics, one design, one set of readers etc. Most blogging platforms seem pretty well set up for this as they allow categories to be created for each topic being covered.

Whilst it might seem easier to manage one blog on many topics it doesn’t always make good business sense to do so.

After a year of blogging in this way myself I began to notice a number of things that made me consider a new approach:

  • Some readers became disillusioned with the blog – My blog had four main themes and different readers resonated differently with each one. A few readers shared my diverse interests in all four areas, but most came to my blog to read about one of the (or at the most a couple of) topics. A number of regular loyal readers became disillusioned with my eclectic approach to blogging and gave up coming.
  • I felt guilty about the variety of topics – I’m a pretty impulsive guy who tends to get into something for a while in a big way and then move onto something else. As a result my personal/general blog would go through identifiable stages. For a while the posting would focus upon the topic of politics, then there would be a burst of writing on the topic of blogging, then there would be a few weeks of reflections on spirituality etc. Knowing that my readers were disillusioned by this approach I began to feel more and more guilty about my impulsive bursts of activity on topics. As a result I’d o out of my way to post on things just to keep some balance, even if I didn’t really want to write about certain things.

In the end it all got a little too much for me to bare and I decided to splinter off my blogs into niche topics. Not only did this solve my problem of disillusioned readers and a confused and guilty me (it was quite a relief) it made good business sense to focus upon niches or specialty blogs rather than a big general meta-blog.

Whilst there are blogs out there that successful on a business level with a general or eclectic range of topics the majority of profitable blogs that I’ve observed have a defined niche that they are targeting.

The success of this approach can be explained on many levels:

  • Loyal Readers – Niche blogs develop a loyal readership who bookmark or follow the blog via RSS because they know what they will get there.
  • Specialist Authors – Authors of these blogs have the freedom to really focus upon a topic and don’t feel guilty about doing so. This can lead to increased quality and depth of articles.
  • Build Credibility and Profile – Blogging on one topic alone can build your profile and perceived expertise on a topic or in an industry.
  • Good for contextual Advertising – Ad programs like Adsense seem to work better on sites that are tightly focused. You’ll get better targeted ads and many believe will attract higher click values.
  • Good for Search Engine Optimization – Search Engines like sites that are focused on one topic, that have multiple pages on the one theme and that are integrated sites.
  • More posts – I find that I post more if I have 10 blogs on 10 topics rather than 1 blog on 10 topics. There is only so much you can write on a blog each day without overwhelming your readership. On my old general blog I tended to post a maximum of 7 or 8 times per day – if I did any more than this readers couldn’t keep up even though I had plenty more to say. Now I have 20 blogs – I post less on each one (most get one or two posts per day) but overall am adding more content/pages than I used to. The more posts you are able to add the bigger your sites are and the more potential entry points you have for readers from Search Engines.
  • Attract Advertisers – Niche blogs are usually more attractive to private advertisers or sponsors who are looking for content to place their ads on that is relevant to their product or service.

My approach to blogging has been along the lines of Niches for the past 18 months.

Since I moved to this approach I’ve gone from 1 blog with 1000 pages that had around 900 daily visitors and earned just a few dollars per day to having 20 or so blogs with over 11,000 pages with 25,000 daily visitors that earns a few hundred dollars per day.

Of course there are other factors that have led to this growth – but if I had to narrow it down to one factor it would be the niche blogging as a key. – I hope that answers your question William.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Ken Musante says:

    I understand this completely. I’m becoming concerned about my personal blog because it seems to have no general theme. My interests are all over the map, and the posts are starting to reflect that.

    Is there any particular plan you use to set up a niche blog about a specific topic?

  2. SmartMoney says:

    Is there a blogging platform that supports a single admin section for control of multiple sites. Ideally I’d like to be able to login once and post to any site. Also to assign the post to one or many sites (if relevant). I am moding my site to support mulitple sites from a single backend, but wondering if anyone knows of something that already exists?

  3. Larry says:

    Darren,
    You use the same domain (breakingnewsblog.com) for most of your niche sites. Is this the best way to do it or do you recommend buying several difference domain names for each topic? Is there a benefit to using only one (such as only having to build up one pagerank)?

  4. Lee says:

    In reply to ‘SmartMoney’ – I did a fair bit of hunting around for such a platform to handle multiple sites, but couldn’t find anything that worked well enough. It’s been discussed on quite a few blogs recently though, so I wouldn’t be too surprised to see something hit the market pretty soon. In the meantime, a custom solution is pretty much your only realistic option (thats what I went for in the end).

  5. SmartMoney says:

    thanks Lee. I have had an eye on releasing mine either as “Open Source” or “Back Link Ware”. What were the limitations that you discovered which weren’t available? – just so I can avoid these pitfalls.

    to Larry, having multiple domain names is more SE friendly, especally if the sites are not directly related. But as we mentioned, more difficult to administer.

  6. Lee says:

    If I remember correctly, they were badly structured in terms of usability. By that, I mean it seemed just as much hassle to run the system as it would be to simply have them seperate. If I can find any references to what I actually looked at, I’ll let you know so you can review them yourself.

  7. Nicole Simon says:

    I prefer more feeds where I now what I get out of one feed also, instead of one feed with everything in it.

    And yes, I am tired too of explaining why I write about those different things on one blog (too technical! to blogstuff! too marketing! who needs podcasting! why cats!).

    And especially on the blogging topic – I *love* talking about blogging, which is why I will transfer those postings to another blog soon. This might mean less posting on some other of my sides, but also less complaining. ;)

    hm. I think I need a cat picture blog on my list ;))

  8. Robert Basic says:

    interestin topic, Darren. Exactly the same pro’s lead to my decision splitting “my” (it isnt just mine) Blog into special topics Blogs.

    Im accepting that a part of the readership is interested more in general and mixed up postings. But this way i’m loosing a whole bigger part of potential readers with special interests. And yes, a big part is the information overflow problem. Not many readers can follow 10-20 postings each day on one blog. Some are scanning very quickly trough each posting and just here and there pick up some informations more in detail. That doesnt build a much stronger relationship with your reader. So even if the Blog has right now not just a few readers im willing to take the risk and give another approach a chance.

  9. Bill Peschel says:

    Great question! I recently considered doing just that, since I blog on several different subjects, but hadn’t taken advertising into account. Thanks for the advice.

  10. Even with a few different blogs, I always have trouble deciding where to talk about stuff. Perhaps that’s just indicative of having not specific enough blogs? I suppose it doesn’t help that I still have my personal blog, which tends to cover everything under the sun. And it always seems goofy to post the same thing on two blogs, or to rewrite the same post. Or to link to yourself.

  11. Alex says:

    I just ran a post asking my readers how to imporve my Blog, a lot of them crediting focus as a major concern. Basically even going as far as calling some of my post boring. So I added a news site, soon i’m going to be adding a writing and a pro site for myself. This will hopefully draw more readers and give people a solid retention of first time readers.

  12. Darren says:

    Smart Money – Movable type lets you run multiple blogs from the one log in. I have 6 or so tied together in this way – all on the one domain though.

    I wish Word Press would move towards this model too.

    However I use an independent/external blogging tool (ecto) which means I rarely actually log into WP or MT.

    Great discussion people – will try to add more soon.

  13. Darren says:

    Larry – your question about one domain or multiple domains is a brilliant one. There are definitely arguments for each way.

    I’ll write a post on this at sometime soon….stay tuned

  14. SmartMoney says:

    Darren, it’s the multiple domain admin that I am after. It is tricky because your hosting provider may have your different domain sites sitting on physically different computers. My app simply uses one database and then all the sites connect to the one database. I’ll check out ecto, maybe it does the same thing. I haven’t considered having an external administration for all sites – but it’s a very good idea.

  15. To me, the biggest question one needs to ask is, “am I making this blog to sell myself and my services or am I making this blog as an end in itself?” That could be one-in-the-same for some, and very different for others. My blog is all over the board, but it always comes back to me. I have other blogs that have nothing at all to do with me and so they lack “my flavor.”

  16. Hey Darren, what’s ecto? Could you tell us more about it? (or have you done that before and I just need to check out the archives?)

  17. Darren says:

    Kevin I posted a little about it here – basically its a tool that lets you post to blogs without actually logging into them. It allows offline blogging also.

  18. Jon says:

    hey Darren, the ecto link on your fav. blog tools story is broken…here is the new url: http://ecto.kung-foo.tv/archives/000990.php

  19. This is great advice. It took me just 3 days and 2 posts to realize that what is in my head belongs on different pages (or perhaps different heads!)

    I was starting a page that would have creative writing projects as well as tea related info. After my first writing project I realized that one topic would poison the other. I set up a seperate blog for the tea stuff and have found that to be interesting and funny in ways that would not have been possible if the page were not entirely devoted to tea. It lends a bit of authority or perhaps just legitimacy to you as an authority on the subject of your blog and you don’t have to worry about neglecting your alternate core audiences.

    Also, thanks in general for keeping the info coming. I find myself coming back here often as my site grows in search of “the next step”.

  20. Gary Miller says:

    “…your question about one domain or multiple domains is a brilliant one. There are definitely arguments for each way.

    I’ll write a post on this at sometime soon….stay tuned”

    Darren –

    Did you ever write the follow up to this question?

  21. miscblogger says:

    i totally agree with your argument. but I sort of add a twist to it. I have an eclectic blog. when a find that I am writing a lot about a topic, I do a “spinoff” (it makes me think of a TV show). then I gradually move the relevent articles over to the new blog with the appropriate redirects for SEO and viewers.

    For example, I was about post a bunch of freeware articles in my eclectic blog (The Information Bank) @ http://blog.art-app.com. I realized that this would add to the already huge repository of freeware articles in my archive. so, i decided to do a spinoff blog, the freeware reviews (http://freeware.art-app.com).

    btw, i concur with Gary Miller. I am also anticipating your followup on subdomains and multiple domains. This is because I am using subdomains and I want to know your take on it. Should I just get a dedicated domain?

    thanks!

  22. Much Obliged says:

    Hey, you’re a good guy. I have to say, I have been handed this idea of starting out my own blog(s) without much knowing what one was. Now I’ve read into blogs for a few days, a few hours per day, and was discouraged by the lack of comprehensive, responsible, and sympathetic articles on exactly how to get started. I got quips, one liners (start here) or else highly specialized discussions on technoutilityconversionformatting tools (for the uninitiated, that meant I didn’t understand a word).

    Finally, here is an intelligently put together site, with page after page of solid info that answers realistic questions AND builds on itself. Excellent, I will steal all your ideas and start my own thing, heh heh heh. But seriously, you’ve won a reader over here. One for your obvious capabilities in what you’re doing, two for your sensible and eye-friendly layout, and three and mostly, for your actual concern and sympathy. I can really feel you. Much Obliged.

  23. Simonne says:

    It is incredible how the power of intention works: this very morning I decided of splitting my blog into several, more targeted ones, I was thinking of how easy is for me to write several consecutive posts on one topic, rather than trying to jump from a subject to another. As my audience is now at an average of 600-800 visitors per day and my earnings only cover the hosting, the broadband connection and barely one pair of shoes per month, I decided that if I want to make a living out of this, I need to change things now (because I cannot live with only one pair of shoes: this goes with a matching purse, with assorted earrings and with some food to keep me moving). So this post came to me as a confirmation that what I just decided to do is right. Thank you, Darren for playing God in my personal play :)

  24. coveted?menaced salesgirl?Freudianisms heterogeneousness expressed?activated!treble

  25. Liza says:

    Thanks…
    I have been thinking about my direction on this. Your point of view is very helpful.

  26. Dustin says:

    Darren

    Do you think the domain name you choose will dramatically change your success? For example, this site is problogger.net. If you had chosen darrenrowse.com instead do you think this would have hurt you. There are successful blog that go both ways (ie you v. stevepavina.com).

    Thanks

  27. Jeff says:

    Hi Darren,

    I notice on your breakingnewsblog.com site that you essentially are still using one domain and having multiple categories like this… root/category

    EXAMPLE A

    breakingnewsblog.com/depression
    breakingnewsblog.com/printer
    breakingnewsblog.com/laptop

    Isnt the above (EXAMPLE A) an example of One Domain, Many Categories? I’m still confused as I dont really like the idea of having 3 blogs using the example like below (EXAMPLE B), although you recommend that and I would also think its the recommended way….

    EXAMPLE B

    mydepressionsite.com/
    myprintersite.com/
    mylaptopsite.com/

    I’m sorry but my impression is that you are using “one domain many categories approach” with breakingnewsblog and also livingroom with EXAMPLE A and not quite the niche scenario with EXAMPLE B. Am I wrong or right? Thanks and regards.

  28. Darren Rowse says:

    Hi Jeff,

    in a sense it is similar to having one blog with many categories – although each one is it’s own blog.

    BNB and Livingroom are my oldest projects and I wouldnt do things that way again (we learn from our mistakes. These days when I start a new blog its on it’s own domain (for example it’s what we do at b5media where we have over 150 blogs on over 150 domains).

    It can still work to host them all on the same domain but I prefer standalone domains these days.

  29. This is an interesting discussion (and an interesting site). I started blogging this month and quickly found that my diverse interests show I’ve got depth, but probably make me look scatter-brained. I’ve got 3 specific targets

    1. Helping advisors sell life insurance (my day job)
    2. Teaching consumers about tax planning using insurance (poorly done IMO)
    3. General interest (whatever comes to mind)

    My conclusion is to use separate blogs with corresponding wikis and push email. I also want to use separate domain names. Right now, my creativity is stifled because I can’t speak freely to any audience.

    Success in blogging (and in life) requires focus.

  30. Andy says:

    Thank you kindly for your information on this topic, Darren.

    I’m looking into the possibility of getting started in the world of blogging. I was wondering, if you have multiple sites and only one topic per site, is there a danger of simply running out of things to say on the one topic? I would have thought that there would only be so much to say on one topic and after a while you would simply run out of things to say.

    Do you think a sensible way around this problem would be to design your blog around a fairly broadly defined topic and then write posts which were more narrowly defined? For instance, would it be an effective strategy to start a blog, say on business ethics and then write posts on the blog relating to more specific topics such as unethical marketing practices, environmental issues in the mining industry, shareholder rights and corruption in the tobacco industry?

    Are there any other approaches you can suggest to combat the problem of maintaining a focused blog without running out of things to say?

  31. shiraj says:

    Hi Darren,

    would want to know how can catregories be used to optimize your blog. By having all your keywords in your category names boost your page rank.

    I have found competitors blogs doin very well and they have Categories and sub categories which cover most of the keywords.

    Can we have an exhaustive listt of categories and subcategories? What do u suggest

  32. Walt Goshert says:

    Deep vs. Wide?

    If your goal as a blogger is to create long-term income and equity, (an asset you can sell) you gotta go deep into a niche, research it, and provide fresh relevant content and related resources for your niche.

    Or, you can shot-gun the masses with the latest cool thing online, rake in a couple quick and easy bucks, until Google slaps your ass.

    Your choice.

  33. miss1932 says:

    Hi, thank you all for your advise on the multiple blog question. I am building a new site that needs 5 seperate subjects. I want to do them in blog form (for ease in updating), set into my build site, and don’t know much about blogging. Could someone suggest a blog host/program that I could buy/set up several blogs that would all link back to my website, or ideally, show up actually in the website.
    Thanks in advance,
    Miss1932
    http://www.boozeandyarn.com

  34. D Champ says:

    Wow! Although this isn`t a fresh post it is very refreshing info for me! I was asking myself the same question for some time and now I know it! I will now focus on creating several niche sites – I was so frustrated because I didn`t know what I was doing wrong. Thank you!

  35. Mattheous says:

    Do really need one, organized topic? Because I really like constraining myself to 10 categories, no more, no less. Is a niche blog really crucial to success?

  36. racquel lyle says:

    I also have blog that I put different topics, fortunately I only have few articles on it. I know as for now i can manage it but maybe later on I will having some confusion if I will not put the articles on their right category.

  37. Just did a follow up on this as I’m going to try a blog with a bunch of different categories and see what happens. I found that if the niche is too small you can get burnt out or will eventually run out of material. Here are some of my thoughts:

    http://www.myawesomeblog.com/blogging-tips/the-mega-blog-strategy

  38. While Blogging you may find if you have rotating topics then you will not get burnt out but also find what readers like and do not like so you know what to continue writing about. You are correct with the comment, “…that if the niche is too small you can get burnt out or will eventually run out of material.”
    If the subjects are rotating on a weekly basis or “x” time frame, then you will keep yourself interested and the readership enthused as well.

  39. Janie Ellington says:

    What about the same content on more than one monetized niche blog? Is that a good or a bad idea?

  40. andri says:

    make 20 blogs make me bothered. how many should i post a blog every day? is three times a week is enough?

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