This guest post is by Lars Holdgaard of Gode Karakterer.
So you have a blog which has some kind of self-defined success. You are maybe making a good portion of money and you can see the visitors numbers rising. Your position in Google is also doing better and better every month, and everything is progressing.
But maybe it doesn’t feel right. You can see the results, but it still doesn’t feel right. Writing every blog post feels like a pain, and you postpone it as much as possible. Actually, you would much rather just write about something else. But your current audience are used to your current way of doing things—so, what to do?
Let’s take a case
Let’s take a look at Timothy Ferris as he is a good case for this subject. I bet most of you know who he is, but for those who don’t, you should really consider buying his book The 4-Hour Work Week.
He wrote that book in 2007. It’s a book about building a lifestyle earning money from passive income, so you can spend the time just the way you want it. Back when the book became popular, his blog became massively popular too. Every new blog post got between 50 and 100 comments within days. Tim primary posted about business ventures, productivity and tips to outsource.
However, some months before the release of his second book, The 4-Hour Body, the blog changed slightly. There were several blog posts about training, the body, and sport. Now, there could be many reasons for making this change, and of course, one of them being marketing and building up the hype for the book. But the other reason, which Tim also have revealed in interviews, is that The 4-Hour Work Week made it possible to write the book he was really passionate about—The 4-Hour Body. His biggest passion is the body.
I personally stopped following the blog at this time, because the focus was different from when I signed up and followed the blog. I know quite a lot people stopped following the blog because of this change, but at the same time, its popularity grew. So when he changed his style, more people actually came and followed Tim.
Why change style?
Why is this case interesting? I am a firm believer that you have to follow your passion. When we follow our deepest passion, we as human beings, have so much more power. We will find solutions we wouldn’t have found otherwise.
And let’s be honest: if you have been blogging on the same subject for several years, your current biggest passion has probably changed. Changing your style of blogging allows you to come closer to your current life situation. If you have been blogging about growing orchids for two years, maybe it is time to expand to sunflowers or ranunculus. As our interests change from time to time, it is very wise to question how we can change our blog’s style regularly, too.
Changing style has its consequences
However, when we change our style, it has consequences. It doesn’t matter what you do—if you change your theme, change subjects, change writing style, or anything else—it will have consequences.
Some people will definitely not like your changes. Some will most likely even hate it. If you have a fair amount of followers, some people will mail you and tell the change is the worst thing ever you’ve done in your whole life. Just look at the global rage each time Facebook makes some kind of update—everyone has to give their opinion and share it with the world.
When you change style, you will lose followers. If ProBlogger suddenly started to blog about Java programming, a fair chunk of the regular followers would most likely be upset and stop following, as the new style is not what they signed up for. This is what happened with a lot of people with Timothy Ferris.
But when you change, there is a very positive side too. You will attract new followers. As any change you make hopefully will make come closer to your passion, it will shine through. People can feel your energy and passion in your words. So something you will probably experience during change of style is a decrease in visitors for a short time span, and then it will rise again.
Case example: Maj Wismann
I’d like to show you a real life example. Maj Wismann runs the Danish sex and relationships website www.websexolog.dk. She teaches people to focus on love and the relationship before focusing on the sex.
Now, when you write about sex, there are two obvious styles you can choose. First, you can choose the boring and factual way. However, you can also choose a more subtle angle by being very direct and naughty in your communication.
When Maj started her website, she took the first approach. This attracted quite lot followers who bought her products. Maj actually made quite a lot of money from doing this, and changing her approach was really risky. But she wanted to change her tone to become more direct, to write about subjects which are taboo in a very open way—and even to write her articles using profanity!
Even though she was extremely scared about making the change, she adopted it 100%. After her old website had run for three months, she changed the style overnight. Her new style of writing was what was “real” to hear. However, she feared correctly—some of her readers did not like the new style, and she actually lost quite a lot of followers.
But a funny thing happened—the new style let her connect better with the rest of her readers. Those readers started to recommend her website, and today she has many times more subscribers than before. Now, nine months later, she has eight times more subscribers than before.
Why did this change work? It’s hard to say, but I would guess it’s because Danes are open towards sex. An open attitude towards sex and being direct, and even a bit naughty, wasn’t a problem. Doing the same trick in USA or Asia wouldn’t necessarily be a good idea.
Ways to change your style
Let’s now look at how you can change your style of blogging. Not everyone will do it the same way as Maj did, so let’s look at the options.
1. Doing nothing
The first and easiest solution is to do nothing. You can ignore your decreasing passion, and keeping on hating writing each and every blog post.
But truth is that you will most likely burn out. Even if you live from the income you earn through the blog, it won’t be suitable in the long run. Hopefully you don’t see this as an option.
2. Slow and steady change
The easiest and probably most common way is to make a slow change. Give your audience an appetizer of what you really want to write about, and move slowly toward that new position over time.
If it is a new writing style, try that. If you want to write more about cats and your current blog is about dogs, try to make some posts about cats—and make sure they are high-quality posts.
By looking at the response from your audience, you can estimate how well a radical change will be perceived. This was what Timothy Ferris did—since the launch of his blog, he had few posts about the body and health. People responded really well to these articles, and since it was his passion, he knew it would be a success.
3. A complete change
Instead of making a series of small changes over time, you can do it will a full heart. Change your style overnight, and let the followers live with it.
This will, of course, have bigger consequences than making the change slowly. This way, you can risk losing a large number of followers within a very short time span.
However, if you do it, it has its positive sides too. Yes, it is a big change—but it lets you come closer to what you really want to be doing, in a much shorter timeframe. Therefore the quality of what you do will most likely be much higher.
4. A new blog
Another option is to create a completely new blog. By making a new blog, you can keep the old audience. This is a totally risk-free option, as your old audience need not know about your new project.
However, you will have to start over. Getting visitors for a new blog can be a huge amount of work—especially because you can’t rely on the search engines for quite a while.
You have to be unique
Remember that today, more than anything, blogging success is about being unique. Just look at the comments on all these blog posts on ProBlogger—there are so many people trying to compete on the Internet. And if we are being honest, how many blogs do each of us really follow? It is primary the best ones.
Those we follow are the ones that are really exceptional and unique. Mediocrity isn’t interesting anymore, as we can go to another blog right away. As so many people have written before me, today it’s about being the best, as the competition online is fierce.
If you currently don’t love what you blog about, change. You can either change slowly, fully, or take on a new project—the most important thing is that you do change. You will lose followers, and you will hear from people telling you that you are making a mistake, but believe in yourself. Your passion will shine through, which is exactly what we need and want today.
This article was written by Lars Holdgaard. He owns two websites which both have active blogs: Gode Karakterer which helps Danish students with everything regarding to school and Mulius which is a Danish toys webshop.