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Blogging Tips: Avoiding the Unfocused Blog Syndrome
Trending now in the blogosphere: Unfocused Blog Syndrome, a malady that can plague newbie, frustrated and burned out bloggers. Symptoms include:
- A single blog with several widely divergent topic categories. A single blog could have navigation links for categories as diverse as business, crafts, recipes, travel, raising kids, relationships, pop culture, health & nutrition, gardening, movies, self-improvement and more. Blogs with six or more distinct topics have been observed.
- Sporadic blogging, usually hopping from topic to topic. Why not? The blog has soooo many categories anyway! One day it's movies. The next day (or month) it's politics. Then we might see one of grandma's recipes two months later.
Sure, variety is welcome on ANY blog! So, yes, throw in a special off-topic post here and there to reveal human-ness, add a bit of variety and create personal connections. But here's the downside: If a blog continually lacks clarity and cohesiveness, it makes it difficult to define the audience and to realize positive results.
What Causes this Blogging Blunder?
If, logically, bloggers—who can be expert writers and thinkers—know that chaotic blogging can be counterproductive and actually hurt a blog's performance, why do they succumb to this behavior? Common causes vary based on where they are in their blogging careers:
- Newbies. These enthusiastic folks are anxious to tell the world all about themselves, as well as what they think and what they like. They erroneously reason that the more multifaceted they appear, the wider the appeal their blog will have.
- Frustrated and Fried. These folks may have been blogging for years and may be bored, frustrated or burned out trying to come up with ideas for a blog whose topic may be limited or worn out.
- Retired & Reborn Bloggers. These folks may have blogged as part of another life or career. Like their "Frustrated and Fried" counterparts just discussed, they're tired of the topic(s) they've been required to address in the past. They may also be out of the business or community for which they blogged previously. They view this as their chance to set themselves free of any topic constraints and they're exploring ALL avenues.
Problems that Unfocused Blog Syndrome Causes
Here's what happens with an unfocused, chaotic blog:
- Fragmented Appeal and Audience. What is this blog about... really? Readers may be confused and wonder if there is enough reason for them to follow this blogger's work. It seeks to serve everyone and, in the process, serves no one.
- Shifting Gears and Going Nowhere. Mentally shifting gears from topic to topic can be time consuming and draining, causing bloggers to become frustrated and frazzled.
- Juggling and Struggling. In addition to the drain of shifting gears, pursuing multiple topic paths can be a huge time investment. That means the blogger has to continue to remain conversant in multiple topics as well. That takes research and engagement with the target community. Now multiply that by the number of topics. The result is a constant juggling of priorities and struggling to keep up with all of them.
If a blog continually lacks clarity and cohesiveness, it makes it difficult to define the audience and to realize positive results.— Heidi Thorne
Preventing Unfocused Blog Syndrome
So what can a blogger do to avoid falling into this blogging hole?
- Narrow the Focus. Narrow the focus of the blog to a couple primary topic categories OR a primary topic with relevant subtopics.
- Know the Why. Newbie bloggers may have heard that blogging is a cool thing to do. But they may not have a clear idea of why they should do this (or not!). Experienced, burned out bloggers may just want an escape from their previous blogging. Neither is a legitimate reason to make a significant investment of time and money (yes, blogging does have hard costs). There may be outlets other than blogging that could be a better fit for their creative energies and resources.
- Assess the Topic's Depth. Some topics are so limited that it's almost inevitable a blogger will lapse into exploring more and varied topics soon after launch. If a topic lacks enough depth to inspire, at minimum, a once a week post for years into the future, it may not have enough content fuel to keep going and should probably be abandoned in favor of a more expansive topic opportunity.
- Find Other or Additional Writing Outlets. Instead of taking on the huge task of creating and maintaining a separate blog for less viable topics, explore others' blogs and websites that might be interested in hiring someone to write posts on these subjects. This can provide a lower investment outlet for varied creative energies.
Disclaimer: Any examples used are for illustrative purposes only and do not suggest affiliation or endorsement. The author/publisher has used best efforts in preparation of this article. No representations or warranties for its contents, either expressed or implied, are offered or allowed and all parties disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for your particular purpose. The advice, strategies and recommendations presented herein may not be suitable for you, your situation or business. Consult with a professional adviser where and when appropriate. The author/publisher shall not be liable for any loss of profit or any other damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages. So by reading and using this information, you accept this risk.
© 2015 Heidi Thorne