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When Going Off Topic Can Help You Find New Readers

Off-Topic-On-Topic-PostingDrawing on other niches in your blogging can have benefits.

On the weekend I wrote a post here at ProBlogger titled 9 Lessons You Can Learn about Blogging by Watching Me Sell My House which was a post that I hesitated to publish for a day or two before putting it up on the blog because I wondered if it might be a little off topic.

While it was about blogging – it was also somewhat personal and if anything more focussed upon the topic of real estate than anything else.

However as I felt it contained enough ‘blogging related tips’ that I decided to go ahead with it.

The response from readers was very interesting.

The first wave of responses was from regular ProBlogger readers who made comments and linked up in a fairly typical fashion. I think giving a little insight into my personal situation was appreciated.

The second wave of responses was very interesting and a little unexpected. About 24 to 36 hours after publishing the post I noticed a second wave of incoming links to the site – from real estate blogs and other related topics (for example this one from Decorating Diva). What interested me about these secondary linkups was that they picked up the ‘off topic’ components of the article as their primary focus.

While I did know that some real estate bloggers follow ProBlogger – I hadn’t expected them to link up to my post on blogging. However using real estate as the illustration to teach about blogging was enough to generate interest in the post (which seems to have triggered other blogs to link up too).

I guess the lesson is that a little ‘off topic’ posting – or at least using another topic to illustrate your main topic – can help to attract a different kind of reader to your blog.

I wouldn’t suggest doing it in every post – but throwing in this type of post every now and again can be worth considering. The key is to keep it relevant to both your regular readers as well as potentially new readers.

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. I have noticed this quite a bit with my blog! It seems blog readers also love personal infomation, which is really the last think I thought they’d want!

  2. Starfeeder says:

    “The key is to keep it relevant to both your regular readers as well as potentially new readers.” – great point… I then to want to go off-topic a lot

  3. Karthik says:

    I did wonder about the post to be honest, it was not like you would blog about something personal every other day! But yes, like you mention, a little “personal touch” goes a long way!

  4. Mahesh Mohan says:

    It doesnt matter what .. You can write about whatever that comes to your mind.. A blog is simply to express your thoughts…

  5. DPeach says:

    Hmm, I did not really see it as off topic. It seemed like a great illustration to a point. As a pastor, I am constantly looking for ways to illustrate a point and thought this was just a good illustration.

    Though there was a lot more information about real estate than there was about blogging, it was appropriate.

  6. I feel that all things are related and as long as it does relate to the topic of one’s blog I feel that its alright to post something out of the usual as long as it relates to your blog and you can really tie one thing to another if you try hard enough. As a matter of fact – posting off-topic sometimes – I got that tip from you.

    I don’t think a blog’s readers will get mad if the info posted relates to the blog in one way or another.

  7. Yes, real estate bloggers also follow your blog. I had commented your post in my real estate blog (in spanish language), and also have received new visitors from other blogs, somes of them where about investing and business.

    http://www.tecnologiainmobiliaria.net/2007/09/similitudes-entre-el-bloging-y-la-venta.html

    Thanks!

  8. Brian Clark says:

    A post that uses another subject area to deliver blogging lessons is not off topic for this blog. It’s just smart blogging. Now, if you had written a post about what selling your house can teach you about parenting, that would be off topic.

    Seeing the seemingly unrelated connections is what creativity is all about. Good work.

  9. I think going off topic is more along the lines of talking about your cat, photoshop, your new car, a bag of rotten foot in your kitchen, and a swimming pool in a single paragraph.

    That paragraph was off topic.

  10. Simon says:

    Funnily enough, all the posts I contributed to the recent 31 days group writing project were technically off topic. I’ve not really written about blogging before, except some of the more technical aspects (tweaking wordpress for example). Thankfully it brought me quite a bit of traffic from both here and elsewhere, so maybe that “off topic” topic will not become an “on topic” topic. I can’t believe how convoluted that statement is!

  11. One of the biggest values I find about straying a bit off-topic is how it increases the range of Blog Carnivals I can participate in.

    I write an environmental blog, but have been able to put posts in blogs on everything from cell phones (recycling phones) to leadership.

    These allow you to bring readers in from a much wider variety of people. It also ensures you’ll get stumbled or dugg to different topics — again bringing in new readers.

    Kevin

  12. Firewalker says:

    I think you can get that type of response because your blog is already famous. Any post you made would make search engine tremblings.

  13. Bontb says:

    Darren,

    I will disagree with you on this one, it is easy for blogs that don’t runn google adsense to write “little bit off topic” but for blogs that run google adsense they have to stay on topic at all time.

    Here is my example for past 24 hours.

    I created 2 posts one about what is kontera and other one was about my blog.

    Those two posts ruined my google adsense, I recieved free advertising from GA ( hurricane ad). In order to get that back I had to remove two posts and probably I will have to write more about stuff to help other bloggers make money online.

    Thank’s God google adsense was not my main income. I only receive few hundreds of dollars per year.

    Got any other suggestions ? Darren?

  14. Since I don’t have a topic it is kind of difficult to get off topic. What I like to do is try to keep at least 3 or 4 general categories alive and well in my “Recent Posts” section. That way people can get a sense of the different things I’m likely to cover. Just because they don’t like one, well that means I have several other chances to catch their eye.

  15. Sean says:

    WEll, isn’t a blog for writing down what you think and passionate about?

    Plus your blog is already very popular, so it doesn’t even matter too much how off topic it’s.

  16. David Airey says:

    Hi Darren,

    I think I’d be equally hesitant at first, but I’ve found that my more personal posts are often the ones that generate the most interesting discussion.

    I enjoy connecting more with my readers through personal insights, and I’m glad this one worked out for you.

    Ciao for now.

  17. Corinne Edwards says:

    As a problogger fan and a real estate broker (I am taking a pass on that for now with the crazy market) I was fascinated at how you wove the two topics together. It was brilliant.

    I think it also enhances your image of being a real person just like the rest of us and not just a very successful blogger.

    Besides, your real estate tips were helpful!

  18. A Taylor says:

    Great Post Darren,

    I have 2 technology related blogs and for the oldest of the blogs I have for most part over the last 3 years always written 4 or 5 off topic (usually humorous) posts per year.

    The problem with technology related blogs is that oftentimes the subject matter can be a bit dry…so I think that going off topic occasionally is key in these type of blogs to keep readers coming back.

  19. Jaf says:

    Interestingly i am reading this post after i just set up a offtopic category in my newly setup blog…. normally i blog about tech and gadgets like that however at some points i wanted to share something else too but hesitated, i know it really annoys the readers if you post something offtopic…. but i just didn’t want to make offtopic after every other post rather randomly and as i had thought it could help me share more as well as pick up some new visitors….. and now after reading this post i am more convinced that my decision was right… however i have read you other blog post about going offtopic … how to let you blog 2 …. i took note of that thanks for your suggestions !!!