UPDATE October 2018: I’ve since decided that for user experience, it is better to have a more specific or niche blog compare to general blogs. It is just better for your readers to access to specific topics. The new site does take time to get indexed as you are starting from scratch- however once the traffic starts to come in, the average time spent and pages visited is higher on a niche site than a general blog. It is worth the transfer.
Over the years, I have read and tried my best to follow the advise of well known bloggers- to create more specific instead of a general blog.
However, the niche blog concept does not work for me. And there are now more and more bloggers writing about why niche blogs may not be applicable to everyone.
This article would be applicable if you are creating blogs that you plan to maintain for a long time, ie you are not building a blog with the intention to sell it off later. If you are building a blog or site with the intention to sell it, then it is szbest to build niche blogs.
However as you would soon read below, it is now harder to build traffic unless you are willing to put in countless hours to build lots of quality content.
What I have learned over the years through creating separate niche blogs:
1. It is now getting harder and harder to get a new niche blog indexed and ranked
The situation now is very different compared to the time when I started creating my first site in 2002 and migrating to paid hosting in 2008 to creating niche blogs in 2009. During those days, almost any articles I have written could ranked easily.
In July this year, I bought a new domain and created a blog consisting of 4 specific topics. It has been 4 months and the blog gets literally no visitors despite my efforts at promoting it.
One of the topics I wrote was Thesis wordpress tutorials for version 2.3 and above. Thesis wordpress theme is the paid theme that I am using across all my sites. There were many old tutorials on Thesis wordpress themes but the advanced version of Thesis enabled you to create custom pages without modifying the CSS. However, I could hardly find anyone writing about it so I decided to buy a new domain and write about Thesis wordpress themes.
It took weeks before the new site got indexed. And then, the site disappeared from the searches. By the end of October, I felt there is no point to maintain a separate domain and decided to migrate back the tutorials to this blog, which is a general blog.
You know what, within about 3 days of migrating the content to this blog, the articles appeared in the top search pages when searching on specific tutorials on the Thesis theme.
The longer the blog has been around, the better it gets at being ranked, provided the blog has a lot of articles with some still relevant to search engines.
2. The more specific your niche goes, the faster you would run out of topics to write.
Seriously there is only so much you can write about ‘how to market your blog’ or ‘blog monetization’ or ‘kitchen organization’ without going out of topics or getting burnt out or bored stiff with it.
I have learned that no matter how much you love the subject or topic, you would get tired of writing about the same genre or theme all the time. I love intranets and spent 10 years working full time managing 2 intranets…. yet after probably 7 articles I find that I ran out of things to write.
Eventually niche bloggers who ran out of things to write may open to guest posting which may just kill off the popularity of the blog.
3. For specific niche blogs, you need consistent fresh content to keep your pages indexed
Yes, experts talk about evergreen posts or pillar articles to draw readers to your blog. It is true- that quality articles found in a blog can attract readers even years later.
But without fresh content, your traffic would definitely dwindle. Since 2009 I have managed a few specific topic blogs where traffic dwindled after I stop producing content. Search engine would send less traffic to your blog once your blog posting ceases.
Also, if you are writing blog posts about wordpress plugins tutorials or Smartphones apps/hacks, your post today may not be relevant few months and obsolete within few years. Once the content gets obsolete, your traffic goes literally to zero.
You would need to retire the pages by doing 301 redirects to new blog posts in order to stay relevant (you may also choose to update the content- provided the post is still generating traffic, else it is better to write a new one and do a 301 redirect because readers tend to click on newer content).
4. You would most probably suffer from blogging burnout or lose interest in that niche
We would grow and change with time. Topics that interest us during our growing years may not interest us anymore.
I find it is definitely true for my case- I used to love making crafts years ago but today my beads, ribbons and craft materials sit in storage boxes in my storeroom. From crafting, I move to blogging.
And once you suffer from burnout writing on that specific niche topic, without fresh content the blog readers would dwindle.
Some issues with General Blogs and How to Solve Them
1. Blogs that are too diverse would not get huge traffic… but it would be consistent traffic
For example, this blog which I write everything from finance, blogging, creativity, career, business, intranets and online website (does it make your head spin?) …..don’t expect phenomenal traffic unless you have managed to build a branding around your persona.
But you know what, the traffic from a general blog, due to the large pool of articles, some still hugely relevant may continue to drive consistent traffic. Over the years, even though traffic to this blog is not much but it remains constant even though I actually went a few years without posting anything much to this blog. Whereas traffic of my more ‘niche’ blog dwindled to almost nothing.
2. It is hard to build a subscriber list on a general blog
Visitors come to read about a specific topics of their interest. Hence if the topics that you write keep changing, it is hard to get them to subscribe. Even if they do, they would end up unsubscribing after getting a lot of irrelevant articles in their mailbox.
How to solve this:
One way you can solve this is to provide options for them to subscribe on the topics that they want. Then you park them to separate lists and then manage from there. I did see the feature in MailChimp that can probably cater for this.
I have tested with Feedburner (yes, it is old fashioned but I still love Feedburner) that can send RSS emails to subscribers based on categories. You can burn different feeds of different topics in the same blog if you are using Feedburner.
3. High bounce rate
Visitors who come due to organic traffic would read an article, then if they find your blog interesting, they would want to read more. So they scroll down to see your related posts or your sidebar.
And yikes, you talk about everything under the sun that literally do not interest them. So they bounced off and it is bye bye forever.
How do you overcome the high bounce rate?
You can have a niche within a general blog through the use of custom pages and custom sidebars. Paid themes would have this feature.
Throughout the years I am blogging, I only invested in very few things- example being a paid theme and paid hosting.
I also use my experience in managing information portals for largely diverse information to plan my general blogs.
Using Thesis theme, I am able to create custom pages and custom sidebars. You may explore other paid themes if they support this feature however as I am using Thesis, I can only write tutorials related to this theme.
For example, now you are reading this article which is under Blogging. Hence if you take a look at the sidebar, mostly the articles are about blogging. But if you go to other articles related to career or organization, the sidebar contents are very different. It is almost as if you are in a different blog.
When you have custom pages and sidebars based on the topics that you are writing about, you can achieve a niche blog within a general blog. I created the create custom pages and custom sidebars since July and since then I had seen the bounce rate reduced and the number of pages visited increased.