There is a question I get asked every week, sometimes several times during the week. The question goes something like this “I am so excited I am launching my blog/website. It is going to be about Heath and Travel and Parenting, and Relationships”
The person then goes on to explain how they think they can link the topics. (When I say the “topic” of your blog or website I mean the overall subject matter of the content on your site, the ideas that you will be writing about. In this post I will use topic, subject and niche interchangeably.)
They usually choose 4-6 subjects that they think they can somehow connect. These are things that they are interested in personally and they think that their readers will also find these things interesting. From Pet Care to Finance, Cooking to Sewing, Fashion to Fitness almost anything, and the combinations are endless.
Here is the thing, it… won’t… work. Starting a multi-topic blog is a terrible idea particularly if this is your first attempt at starting a website.
Now I am talking about a site that you want to make money from, a site that can provide a passive income, I am not talking about a website that is your personal blog that is just for your own entertainment.
If you are writing just for yourself then have at it. Write about anything and everything that occurs to you, but if you want to make money, be found in Google and generally be a success online then you need to take a step back and rethink what you are doing.
The basic thinking is that people are interested in a wide variety of things, so why not write on a wide variety of topics. There are many problems with this line of thinking. First off the odds of a person that is reading your blog having not only the exact same interests that you have but agreeing with your point of view are slim to none.
Say you write about photography, religion, parenting and relationships. Maybe your reader thinks your parenting advice is crap so why would they want to read what you have to say about photography?
Another problem with this line of thinking is that this is not how people consume information. When you search for information online or in a book store or library, you search for the topic you want learn more about. When you want to learn about landscape photography you want to get to a website that is about landscape photography, not one that talks a little about photography as well as baby care and extreme couponing.
Reasons Why You Should NOT Start a Multi-Topic Site
A common thinking of new bloggers is that their readers will inherently care about them as a writer and be interested in everything they have to say, but the ugly truth is where you are first starting out nobody cares about you or your experiences.
I don’t say this to be mean, I am just stating a fact. When you are just starting a WordPress blog, you do not have a track record, any readers that might stumble upon your site know nothing about you and you will not have very much content on your site for them to read so it will be hard for them to get to know you. Add to that a site that has just a handful of posts and each post is about a different subject, you will quickly see those few readers bounce from your site never to return.
SEO, Google and Other Search Engines
Not only will your readers not initially care about you and your opinions, Google and the other search engines won’t care either. The thing that most website owners want the most is to have high rankings in Google so that their sites will get get lots and lots of free traffic.
If Google has no idea what your site is about you can kiss any hope of ranking for anything goodbye.
How Google ranks websites has changed a lot in the last 5 years. More and more Google is concerned about a websites brand and the writers “authority”. Google wants to send its users to the best website that answers the search query. The best website is usually the one that is an expert or authority on the subject matter.
Building authoritative reputation takes time, effort and a massive amount of content. In fact one of the biggest additions to Google’s recently released Search Quality Valuators Guidelines was the addition of “creators reputation”. Google now looks at who is creating the content and evaluating what expertise the creator has on the particular topic.
How do you show your expertise on 6 different topics if you only have a few articles on each one? Sure you can buy content but Google now is looking at the author’s reputation as well as the sites. Buying cheap, poorly written articles and publishing them with you as the author does nothing to improve your reputation and having experts supply well written articles will not be cheap.
The SEM Post has a well written post on things site owners and content creators can do to make the most Google’s creators reputation criteria.
A blog or website that has been created with intention to earn income needs to be cognizant of proper SEO so that they can rank highly in Google. Maintaining proper SEO is far easier in a single topic blog.
In the Search Quality Valuators Guidelines, Google use the acronym E-A-T, this stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. Google wants to rank pages that have a high level of these attributes.High quality pages and websites need enough expertise to be authoritative and trustworthy on their topic. ~ Google's Search Quality Valuators GuidelinesClick To Tweet
The sheer amount of content, and time or money to correctly establish a multi-topic website as an authority is mind boggling. So it is far more likely that you will be able to create an authority site by sticking to a single topic.
Visitor Experience – Your Readers
Let’s talk a moment about you, your readers and their experience of visiting your website.
As I said above, people consume content in a specific way. When you buy a magazine it is on a specific topic, fashion or gossip or sports etc. The same it true when people search on Google. They search for a topic looking for a website that will answer a specific question.
Once they land on a site they are looking for info related to their search query and if they subscribe to a newsletter it is presumably because they want more information on the subject. Say you sign up for my newsletter that focuses on making money while living a location independent lifestyle and you get an email from me telling all about how to cook Atlantic Salmon. I suspect you would be surprised and may unsubscribe because that is not what you signed up for.
Ask yourself “why is it that you subscribe to a blog?” and “why do I go to a website I find on Google?”. My guess it is because you have an interest in the subject matter that you searched for. You want to get information on a specific topic, from someone who has some expertise in the subject. If you have an interest in online multi-player video games, what type of blog would you subscribe to? One that is dedicated to online gaming or one that has articles on gaming and relationships and travel?
As for you the site owner will be much harder to define your audience when you have multiple topics, which makes it harder for you to drive traffic to your site. What type of person do you target with your marketing if you have 4 different topics?
Driving traffic to your site and have a defined audience is extremely important when you are trying to monetize your blog which brings us to the next point.
Here is the all important question how will you make money from your website? Do you think it will be easier if you are focused on one topic or if you have multiple topics?
Consider this:The income from your website is directly proportional to the amount of quality targeted traffic your blog receives.Click To Tweet
The amount of high quality targeted traffic will determine how much money you make from your website. Perhaps you believe that you can drive more traffic to a multi-topic blog. But ask yourself this how targeted is this traffic?
If I have software that is designed for editing photographs and I am looking to advertise and to start an affiliate program. Where should I focus my efforts.
- A site that gets 15000 visitors a month, focused on photography, cameras. All the traffic that comes to this site is looking for information on photography and cameras.
- Or a site that gets 60000 visitors a month, but the site has articles on travel, parenting, photography, relationships and DIY home care.
Do I choose the site that is dedicated to photography where every single visitor is looking for photography information? Or do I choose the site that has more traffic but the vast majority of that traffic will not be interested in photography editing software.
I think the answer is obvious. You want the site that has the targeted audience. The people that are most likely to buy your product.
It is the different side of the same coin when you look at your site. If you have your own product or are recommending someone else’s product via advertising or joining an affiliate program and you are marketing your site to the masses, what would rather have, traffic that is targeted and interested in your product, or a bunch of traffic that is focused on a bunch of different topics.
It is not realistic to think that you can develop a product or service for every subject you have on your site, when your site has 4 or 5 or 6 different topics.
So what should you do instead?
Start a Single Niche Website First
When starting a single topic niche site you can start one of 2 ways. You can pick a domain name that gives you the freedom to change or add niches and you grow. Or you can pick a domain name that instantly lets people know what your site is about.
I choose Daemontown because I was unsure what the site was going to focus on when I started. I too thought in the very beginning that I could write about multiple topics and be successful. If you search for an old version of my about page you will see how ridiculous I was.
On the other hand my wife and I also started another site at the same time called The Expat Experiment. Which as you can guess, is more of a travel site. That focuses on our travels in a quest to find a place to live.
So what do you do if you want to write about different things? I would suggest that you first focus on the topic that excites you the most and build a site that has a narrow topic. Write content , develop a content strategy, and build it up so that you can see what it takes to make your blog a success.
Once you have a significant amount of content and you are driving a decent amount of targeted traffic then you can start to think about starting a second site. (By the time you have done this you will understand my point of view and I doubt you will want to add a second topic to your blog).
If you have not actually started your blog then check out this post that explains how to get great hosting and how to set up WordPress, it is not as hard as you think!