I recently went onto a blog about social media tips and tore right into the first article it featured. It took me until I was halfway through the article before I realized that it had nothing to do with Twitter, the site’s main topics. It was about some horror movie writer or something like that, and though it was not necessarily a bad article but it came off like a fart in a prom dress. It just didn’t match the rest of the site; it wasn’t what I was expecting.
I automatically clicked away — gone, easy as that.
It then became obvious to me that my readers probably approach my sites with the same harsh judgement. If I don’t give them exactly what they are looking for, they probably click away.
I then realized that if I have a blog that says it’s about Twitter tips then it damn well better be all about Twitter. If I want to start doing interviews with screenplay writers then I should start a blog about movies or stick it in a variety type personal blog.
I learned this lesson the hard way. For year and years I ran and maintained a super-blog, which is to say: a blog that covered just about every topic I felt like writing about. While it mostly focused on travel, I stretched this topic to its furthest extents. I would publish travel narratives next to travel tips, gear reviews next to philosophical rants, journalistic articles mixed in with personal blog posts. I realized that I was alienating readers with this extreme variety, not providing them with options as I previously thought.
Forbes.com can handle dominating 100s of micro-topics, as can wired.com and other Big Brand sites, but VagabondJourney.com could not. After tracking reader engagement for a period of time it became evident that I was hooking readers with some topics and driving them away with others. My site lacked a clear focus, and I found myself treading water with it for a number of years: we’d gain a reader just to lose a reader.
What I needed was focus. So I evaluated the site and came up with a handful of parent-topics and branched each out into it own site. Now, for the readers who like travel tips and how-to-travel instruction, they can go to Travel Tips Book; for readers who want to read about air travel, they can go to AirTraveler.org; for travelers on the hunt for the best gear, then Trusted Travel Gear is the place for them; for those who want to become a digital nomad, this is the site for you; and for those who like my philosophical rants, they can read my personal blog. For those who like it all they can subscribe to the network feed.
While this move essentially divided up my reading audience, it also allowed me to give each topic the individual attention and cultivation it needed, and a way to deliver to reader the exactly the type of content they’re looking for, and the results have been overwhelmingly positive.
Single topic sites are better for monetization
Another advantage of single topic, super focused sites is the fact that they are far easier to make money with. The value of advertising/ affiliate marketing is directly connected to relevancy. Punto. Once you have the topic of your site(s) whittled down you can devise an appropriate monetization strategy.
There is no single monetizations strategies work equally well for all types of content. Adsense performs better on some type of articles, while affiliate banners work better for others. By separating out your blogging topics into individual sites you stand to launch radically different monetizations strategies for each topic.
On a single topic site there can be a direct correlation between the topic of the content and the topic of advertisements, and a bridge can easily be built between the reading audience and the provider of a product or service. In point, on a site that’s only about air travel, you can go all out with affiliate programs for plane ticket search engines and vendors. On this site, I recommend the products and services that I use as I make my living as a digital nomad, which is directly related to its content. The chain of relevancy between content and promoted products and services is direct, and the affiliate banners perform way better here than they would on a mixed topic site.
Patience is no longer a virtue of the blog consumer, there are simply too many options out there now, fierce competition in almost every niche, and if you think someone is going to wade through a sea of articles they have no interest in until they find what they’re looking for, guess again. Media is an immediate demand marketplace: you give the reader what they want when they want it or they go elsewhere. Sharping your blog’s focus down to a razor sharp point is one of the best ways to make it in this game.