Should You Narrow the Focus of Your Blog?

Should you narrow the focus of your blog?

The experts – and let’s face it, there is an expert on everything these days – recommend a single theme for successful blogging.  Gardeners should stick to what is sprouting or blooming, photographers should post lovely pictures, and chefs should offer recipes and little else.

New readers find you through the categories and tags that describe your posts.  When a reader is looking for solid gardening advice, they will likely want more of it on a daily or weekly basis.  If they see that they have found you through a single random posting and more information on the topic isn’t necessarily forthcoming, they may not hang around for very long.

Most people don’t study the basics of blogging before diving into it, jumping off into the deep end without as much as a life raft.  That was certainly my path.

I had not read anything on blogging when I started my blog titled Writingfeemail.

Through it, I learned how to blog and all of the little intricacies that accompany it.  I learned how to post links and have them actually take the readers to the places I wanted them to be able to go.  And I learned about widgets, stats, spam, rss feeds, and so much more.

But the tagline says it all:  Random observations on writing and life.  It’s a real salad bowl over there.  Writingfeemail takes a very broad perspective on blogging.

Renee Johnson Writes will have a narrow focus.

This site will be dedicated to writing and the mistakes and accomplishments that I manage to make and achieve as I weave through this new frontier of publishing.  I feel as though it is shifting sand.  One site advises the aspiring writer to self-publish, another says to make it the last resort, while a third advises getting an agent and letting him or her decide.  It is a lot to take in.

So, let’s talk about it right here.  Let’s discuss writing triumphs and failures.  Let’s discuss conferences and contests.  And let’s begin by hashing out blog writing and the theory that it is best to narrow the focus to a single topic.

What do you say?

Narrow focus or random and wide?

Renee Johnson is the author of Acquisition, and The Haunting of William Gray.  She is currently working on a Young Adult novel, while editing a suspense novel which has international flair–an homage to her love of travel and foreign food.  She lives on a farm in North Carolina with her husband, Tony Johnson, and one very spoiled German shepherd named Gretel.   

About reneejohnsonwrites

I have recently returned from University of Iowa's Novel-Writing Intensive during their Summer Writing Festival. Other credits include two stints at The Essoyes School in France, two terms at a writer's residency at Noepe Center for Literary Arts on Martha's Vineyard, and a retreat in Italy. Join me in 'writing the world.' -- Renee Canter Johnson, author of "Herald Angels", "The Haunting of William Gray", and "Acquisition" published by The Wild Rose Press. Coming soon--an international intrigue set in Venice, Italy--where adventure and danger are as masked as the characters.
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58 Responses to Should You Narrow the Focus of Your Blog?

  1. Pingback: Should You Narrow the Focus of Your Blog? | Writingfeemail's Blog

  2. Elyse says:

    It’s funny you should ask, Renee. My blog is a total mish-mash, as you know. Stories, commentary, things that make me laugh and/or that I think will make other people laugh. Things that make me scream. I write and post when I feel like it and keep no schedule. People follow me and I’m sometimes surprised that they come back because frankly they never know what they will find. I follow other blogs that are like that and I think that it lets people see different sides of you.

    But I have just enrolled in a memoir writing course, to try to put together some of my stories about my crazy alcoholic German shepherd, Goliath. So if you don’t mind (and if I can figure out where to click to follow this blog), I’d like to follow along and see just what is in store for me once the collection of stories I have in my head is in a more shareable format!

    This could be quite a good narrow focused helpful blog Renee! Well done!

    • Memoir writing – yeah! You have had an interesting life and hopefully we will all get to hear about it. I’m certainly looking forward to that.

      Thank you for the encouragemnet. We’ll see where this goes!

  3. pattisj says:

    I’m sticking with random and wide, though I have certain themes I follow. However, if I had a singular topic of interest, I can see the benefit of a narrow focus. Go for it!

  4. E.C. says:

    I think that sometimes a salad-bowl approach to a blog is just fine, one blog with entries of the authors daily life and activities. But sometimes, I believe more than one blog is required… well it was for me. I like keeping my gardening blog and crafts blog separate. I’ve been seriously thinking about opening another blog for my random nonsense and get my craft blog focused back on it’s main theme. I’m just not sure it’s a good idea for me because I have so many wonderful followers for my blogs that I’m afraid they’ll get frustrated with me and leave. Hey, wait a minute, I just remembered, I have a 3rd blog for my friend rss feeds… mmm maybe I’m not the right person to comment on this subject. 😆

    Anyway, I like your writing blog. I think it’s a good idea to focus a blog on your main interest and then have one (or many more) focused on other interests.
    I look forward to visiting and reading along with you as this blog grows. Who knows, I might learn something. 😉

    • You sound so much like me. I still need a place for the random chatter and the things I just need to get off of my chest.

      But since we don’t have to choose just one, we can have a random site and others devoted to special interest. That sounds just perfect!

  5. Dianna says:

    Good luck with the new blog, Renee. As for me, I guess my “narrow” focus is what goes on in my life on a day-to-day basis!

  6. I think I started off with a “focus” (a blog called “Critter Tales”), but then moved on to the salad bowl. I really think it would be better if I had a focus, but I’m also very disorganized over my posting schedule. I used to post daily, now it’s more like weekly (or weakly). I still love the people I’ve met this way, and maybe for me, that’s the important part.

    • You have a great blog. And if you’ve read the comments, I think you’ll see that experts can be wrong. Maybe a variety of topics under one heading is the best way for many of us. And I’ve loved meetiing (virtually) my dear readers too. Not giving that up!

  7. Lee Isbell says:

    A single focus blog is good for those with that interest. Personally, my favorites are “daily living” ones that have a variety. My interests are too eclectic to blog on a single topic, and I don’t want to have to do much in the way of research to write something. I’ll follow you on the topic of writing, but you may get more technical than I’m interested in, since selling isn’t my goal.

    • You are very diverse – travel, quilting, remodeling. I can see the attraction for a well-rounded blog. And for the time being, I’m keeping writingfeemail for those occassions that have nothing to do with writing. Thanks for following along. I appreciate you.

  8. Arindam says:

    I loved the concept of your new blog Renee. I can’t disagree with you on any of your observation on blogging. I used to believe we blog, so that we can bring versatility in to our writing by trying out new styles and new genres and by covering different topics that makes us think; but then I do not see people like reading posts when someone writes lengthy post does not matter how good is that one. So I too started realizing that blogging and writing are two completely different thing.
    I wish you all the best with your new blog and looking forward to this journey of yours and your new blog. 🙂

    • We do seem to like our blog posts in short snippets and vignettes. Thanks for the well wishes Arindam. You have been on a ‘publishing’ journey yourself and have a lot to offer in this venue.

  9. annieboreson says:

    Great new site, Renee. I am going to have to say I’m more of a random and wide writer. My blog is a hodgepodge of humor and daily braveries. My previous blog that I started about five years ago, I somehow pigeon-holed myself into one category and eventually got tired of writing it. I do like your goal for this new site (and using your own name) and I know it’s going to be a success. But, of course I loved your last blog too. I’ll be back for more.

  10. I think whatever you decide is vital for you. Some have narrow focused blogs, but a number of blogs. Others have a general focus and maintain many pages within in the blog. Whatever floats your boat. It’s a good thing. 😉

    • It reminds of Pinterest. I started out with one board – general ideas. Then quickly it became two, four, and so on. And it might be good to have a personal interest blog and one for the business side of writing. We’ll call it an experiment and see how it goes.

  11. Astra says:

    Good luck Renee! My blog also used to be a mish-mash of musings as I dabbled in a new-found interest and, dare I say, talent in writing. Slowly, as I found my voice, I narrowed the focus to humour as it related to motherhood and hockey mom-hood. Doing so, however, challenged me to write specifically in that genre, and therefore I posted less as I couldn’t always find the “funny” in motherhood and hockey life. I also sometimes miss other types of writing. Nevertheless, it’s a journey, right? There are lots of meandering paths 🙂
    Looking forward to reading more!

    • Meandering paths for sure! I think we start out wide and gradually narrow as we find our real joy and search for clues about things we are interested in but can’t find the answers to. Humor in hockey and motherhood? You sound like my kind of mom! If you can’t laugh about it, what’s the point? I’ll be following along with you as well and thanks for the input!

  12. Bella says:

    Renee, I love the concept of this new blog! I’m already following because I think it will be very helpful to us as writers to discover more of the writing process as we walk along this path! 🙂 As you know, my blog is random and wide. I don’t like the idea of only writing about one thing. Instead, I want to think of my blog as a medium where I can try to get my point across using humor or a more serous side. And I want to be able to stir the pot and discuss issues that might be a bit controversial. I find that this opens the lines of communication and the discussion is more interactive. I look forward to reading new posts on this blog! 🙂

    • You have a great blog Bella, and thank you for following along with this one. I hope it will lend itself to conversation about this business of writing as so many other sites can be intimidating to post to.

  13. rangewriter says:

    This is an interesting topic, and a valid one to launch your new site. I think a blog’s focus depends entirely on what your blogging goal is. If, for example, you are using blogging as a marketing tool for professional writing or other business endeavors then I think a narrow focus is imperative.
    However, I think a lot of people are blogging simply as a form of communication, entertainment, sharing, exploring, and expanding horizons. For that group of people, there is no need to rein in the focus. My wildly diverse little blog has taken me to parts of the world I never expected to learn about. I have met people I would never have engaged in conversation with. I have stretched my writing skills in ways I never would have imagined. For me blogging has been a cornucopia of eye-openers and I love it for that.
    I wish you well with your new blog. Will you keep both going now, or focus only on this one?

    • For now, I’m keeping the other site as well. Over time I should be able to tell if I have enough content for both blogs – writingfeemail as more of a personal site for the randomness, and reneejohnsonwrites for the sole focus of all things writing. Perhaps you would be interested in posting a blog here about your editing service. I’m sure there is a lot of information you could share with us that would be helpful.

  14. varungenius says:

    I’d prefer random and wide. It gives me more freedom 🙂

  15. aFrankAngle says:

    Although my choice is to be on the random side, both have a place. Good luck with this venture!

  16. TBM says:

    I like blogs that explore different avenues. Once I get to know a blogger, I like to know what’s going on in their part of the world. It’s a real treat to travel via blogs. I wish you luck with this blog! I’m looking forward to reading more. As long as I find the topics interesting, I don’t care what they are about.

    • I can tell by your wonderful blog that you enjoy travel in all venues. We do get a real education cyber-traveling, that’s for sure. Thanks for the good wishes.

    • Michael says:

      Gifts, talents and exposure differ. Some of us can write on almost anything. Some prefer to specialize. For me, I write as and when I get the inspiration to do so. I get inspiration from virtually anywhere, anyone or anything. In all, I think what really matters is write a good post that adds value to someone’s life and undertakings.

  17. I’m afraid I have no focus. I write what comes to mind when it comes to mind. For the most part they are stories about stuff that happens to me. Apparently, this is not the way it should be done. I have very few followers and I am told that it is because I am not consistant. I was actually “Freshly Pressed” but for a post that I did as a guest blogger, so it doesn’t really count. I shall follow along on this new venture of yours and hopefully I will learn something.

    • I didn’t even know how to connect a link when I posted my first blog. It was rough. I just jumped in and learned as I went. And this is another learning experiment that hopefully, will be helpful to us all. Thanks for joining in.

  18. dearrosie says:

    I’m very impressed with the new blog and your enthusiasm Renee. There are pros and cons to writing with a narrow theme. Though all the experts recommend a narrow focus, a friend of mine who started a blog just about yoga soon got frustrated trying to come up with fresh yoga ideas and changed it to include “mish mash” and that’s why mine is all over the place.

    I’m thinking of changing my theme and cant decide between 2010 and 2012. You’ve got both. What are your thoughts?

    • I love 2010. It is clean and bright and easy to read. But I chose 2012 for the new blog because it looks a bit more professional. I’ll be keeping both blogs for a while at least. That way, if I have something amazing to share that isn’t about writing, I’ll have a place to put it. Maybe that’s the answer.

  19. Inspiring post. Personally, I like it narrowed. When I started I got no clue as well. Other than my Yahoo mail, I have no computer talent at all. At first, I was into the wide ideas, broader scope but then I realized it was hard. Then I decided to focus on what I am passionate about, my family as well as the my journey in life including the painful part of it. It worked. One thing I learned is that readers want something they can relate to. Something they can see themselves at. Something that’s real and honest.

    • You have just nailed it – being real and honest and relatable. Plus, it’s good to learn something along the way, or be inspired by someone. You have a great blog, so I know you are doing it right!

  20. hotlyspiced says:

    This is quite a topic! I think it’s good for your blog to have an identity and I guess for that to happen you need to have a narrow focus. But people don’t really know where to slot me – am I in parenting or because I post recipes, am I a food blogger? Perhaps the categories are too restrictive xx

    • Being a parent requires one to be a bit of everything on the planet. And that definitely includes what you are feeding them – or just yourself when you have a few moments alone. Maybe we need to start some new categories that expand along with us.

  21. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    I love this, Renee. It sounds promisingly interesting, for sure.

    I am self-publishing The James Diary, as you know, but don’t think it would have the word count a mainstream publisher would be interested in. So not even a look-see in that direction, I wouldn’t think.

    As for getting an agent and having them decide – but WHICH agent? Who do you trust? Who is doing it from home and without credentials, and who has real cred & experience? As I say, this looks heaps promising :).

  22. Sheila says:

    Renee, you and I have been on a very similar path! My blog is just what you describe, a salad bowl! I agree there can be benefit to having a narrow focus. I’m currently working on setting up a site to use for business / professional writing, but I think of it as less a blog, more a digital store front, although I won’t be selling directly through the site. Like so many things in life, blogging is its own journey! I’m excited to read your posts here…I can certainly benefit from better focus and honing my skills! Good luck with the new venture! ~ Sheila

  23. My blog topic is like an umbrella with a variety of categories that comprise many topics – maybe that’s also a salad bowl, but as they say, variety is the spice of life!

  24. Joanna Fay says:

    I’m still trying to figure out what to blog, along the guideline of ‘does this feel good or not?’
    Good luck with the new blog, and thanks for folllowing, Renee! 🙂

  25. philip469 says:

    thanks for the like on my blog,
    I am curious if you are interested in doing promo for promo.I would follow, like and share your post if you would do the same for me.This ranks your website higher on google search.I’m trying to get lots of views to help my snowboarding , I want ot advertise for companies by getting traffic to my blog in return the companies would help me.If you wonder how you can do the same let me know and i’ll help.Thanks for your time.-Phil

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