Blogging Niches: One Topic or Two?

By: | Updated: December 10, 2020

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This is a long post – 2000 words, 10 mins to read – but it’s worth it. It’s an exclusive with blogging and business advice from Leo Babauta, Penelope Trunk, Chris Brogan, Chris Guillebeau, Jonathan Fields, Glen Allsopp

Read if it you want:

  • An introduction to some great bloggers and their smart ideas.
  • Tips on how to build good relationships with influential players in your field.
  • The script for a persuasive email people will reply to.
  • Expert advice – are two blogs are better than one?

Blogging Advice From Professional Bloggers

I’ve been confused for a while because I want to start a new blog on another topic but don’t have time to work on a second blog. I don’t want to start again from scratch either, it’s taken long enough to build up my subscribers and I don’t want to reset the clock to zero.

But I live in a blogging bubble ~ most of my friends don’t write or even read blogs and they don’t want to either. So it’s just me trying to muddle through as best I can. I’ve done a reasonable job of it but sometimes you just hit a wall and need external feedback.

I’ve tried to decide if I should start a new blog on another topic or blend it into this blog for ages. My head was spinning and finally, I couldn’t take it any longer. I decided to call on some expert advice so I emailed eight top bloggers to see what they’d say.

When I say top bloggers I’m not exaggerating. I’m talking about the likes of Leo Babauta, creator of Zen Habits who just removed his RSS feed counter from his blog because it had maxed out at about 140,000 readers.

Now, when a little blogger emails eight major bloggers asking for help how many of them do you think will email back their free advice to one person on the other side of the world?

Have a guess. One? Two? Three? Eight? Oh come on, be serious. The answer is six.

Why 6 Top Bloggers Gave Me Their Advice

A 75% conversion rate is good and I got it by writing the best email I could.

It seems formulaic when I write about it below but it wasn’t, it came from the heart. I dearly wanted to hear from my blogging heroes, not so I could write a blog post about it, but because I genuinely wanted their advice. I knew I’d only get one chance so I did my best to write an email that would get their attention, get them to read it and get them to reply. If I analyze my email I can break it down like this:

  1. I followed some of the tips I shared in 5 Tricks For Getting People To Say Yes. Specifically, I explained that it would only take two minutes of their time by using the subject line: Please can you spare 2 mins to answer this critical blogging question?
  2. I kept that promise too by making my email concise and clear and offering them a quick way to reply by picking one of three choices like a multiple choice question.
  3. I asked a specific and interesting question.
  4. Just for when my heroes couldn’t place me I reminded them I’m a loyal reader and filled them in on my own blogging experience and qualifications.
  5. I also said I might write a post including their advice.
  6. Finally I mentioned the other blogging experts I was contacting so they’d know they were in with a good crowd.

Tips on Building Good Relationships Online

Most importantly, I’d been building a relationship with all these bloggers for about a year before I bothered them with my problems. I think that good relationship and the social networking helped me most. I didn’t even realize I was building a relationship or networking either but I:

  • read their blogs and commented;
  • subscribed to their newsletters and replied;
  • tweeted their posts and, sometimes, even wrote about them;
  • wrote guest posts for them and still loved them whether they published them or not.

A Killer Persuasive Email Script

Here’s the email I sent:

Dear XXX, ( I used their first name and it definitely wasn’t a mass emailing.)

I’ve been reading your blog and writing my own blog for a year now. It’s going well but there’s one thing I’m agonizing over and I’d really appreciate your advice.

I know you’re busy but it’ll only take you 2 mins to read my question and 2 mins to answer it. Please help me out, I’d love your advice. (There was a little trick there – I said it’d only take 2 mins in the subject but admit here that 4 mins is more realistic.)

My Blogging Dilemma

As you know I have a blog called Get In the Hot Spot. I’ve got about 1000 subscribers after 12 months of blogging. The focus is on helping people live their dream.

But I also want to write about Internet marketing for small businesses. It’s a topic I’m passionate about, knowledgeable of and qualified to tackle (MA in Design for Interactive Media, 14 years Internet design experience, 12 years running my own small business etc). The only problem is that along with self-improvement it’s one of those heavily saturated blogging topics.

My Blogging Question

Should I:

a. Try to integrate the new topic into my existing blog? or
b. Set up a new blog and start again from scratch? I’d keep the self-improvement blog and have two blogs to keep up.
c. Forget it and stick to the one blog with one topic.

Please take a moment to tell me a, b or c. If you have more time to explain your reasoning that would be great but it’s not necessary.

Having said that I’m asking a few other well-known bloggers I’m in touch with for their opinion too and, if I get some interesting replies, I’ll probably write a post about it as I’m sure many other bloggers have the same dilemma. Of course, if I do that I’ll be singing your praises and linking to your site. I know it’s not much but it’s the least I can do. If there’s anything else I can help you with in return I’ll jump to it. The other bloggers I’m asking are:

Leo Babauta
Chris Brogan
Glen Allsopp
Penelope Trunk
Chris Guillebeau
Jonathan Fields (There were two others who I haven’t heard back from yet. I deleted the name of the person I was emailing.)

Many thanks for your time and support of my blog and writing. I really appreciate it.

Annabel

Blogging Advice From Top Bloggers

So should I set up a second blog or stick to one? Here’s what the pros said. You’ve probably heard of all these people before but if you haven’t done it, check out their blogs and their writing. You’ll be glad you did.

Leo Babauta – author of The Power of Less, creator of super blogs Zen Habits, Write to Done and Zen Family Habits.

Congrats on your success so far – you should be proud of it!

As for your question, my answer:

I’d start a new blog on this new topic, but *only* if you feel your first blog is at a point where it will continue to grow without 100% of your efforts. As you know, growing a blog is pretty hard, especially in the beginning, and I recommend that people focus on growing one blog at a time. Once a blog seems to have some momentum and the word about the blog continues to spread, then a second blog can be started and focused on, as long as you don’t forget about the first blog.

It’s tough to split your time on two blogs — you have to focus a lot of your efforts on the new blog, but still post great stuff on the first blog.

However, integrating the new topic into your existing blog probably isn’t the best answer. The readers of your first blog (and you already have at least 1,000 of them) expect a certain thing from you — it’s an unwritten contract between you and your subscribers. If you change the terms of the contract, the readers might feel betrayed and unsubscribe.

Hope this helps!

Penelope Trunk, author of Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success and creator of social networking site Brazen Careerist.

All career stuff is about self-improvement. All Internet marketing stuff is about self-knowledge in some way. Keep the topic. Write about whatever you want. Don’t make a second blog. You have a great topic and you’re doing great. I’m happy to look at a bunch of Internet marketing posts and tell you how to relate it back to your topic of self-improvement – it’ll only take a few sentences.

Everyone has varied careers. You can’t change blogs every time you have a new skill or new interest. The brand you develop via your blog, your public, professional brand, is multifaceted, with varied skills and talents. Everyone is like that. Let your blog show that.

(Quite profound and amazing that Penelope actually offers to help out more by reading my posts. Please note I won’t be bothering her with every half thought out post I write but I might call on her again next time I’m struggling.)

Chris Brogan, author of Social Media 101 and Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust.

A. integrate it. It’s hard to split audiences.

For the future, see whether you can build a next step bridge that incorporates BOTH topics.

Chris Guillebeau, prolific traveler and writer of Unconventional Guides and eagerly awaited book Art of Non-Conformity.

Maintaining more than one active blog is difficult for most of us. Darren Rowse does a good job with that, but he’s the only one I know operating at a high level that way. Of course you can have all kinds of different projects, but “blog energy,” so to speak, is limited for almost everyone.

I also don’t think I’d completely start over… those 1000 readers are hard-earned, so you should have this conversation with them and see what they recommend. (Good point, Chris, I’m opening it up to the readers now.)

Good luck, all best.

Jonathan Fields, author of Career Renegade and creator of Tribal Author.

Great question, some thoughts, especially as tied to your ability to post frequently here…

(Side note, check out the post yourself I recommend it and reading between the lines decided that JF was erring on one post with multiple topics. I could be wrong though… he has a couple of blogs.)

Glen Allsopp, Internet marketing boy wonder and writer of Cloud Living: everything you need to know about how to generate a decent monthly income online and built a blog with 4,000 subscribers in less than one year by a 20-year-old who’s been doing it for four years.

I’ve tried running multiple blogs myself and it’s just really hard to know where to put your focus and time. For example, which are you going to use as a link in blog comments when you’re interacting online?

Either try to integrate it or focus on one blog is my advice ?

Life Lessons From This Experience

1. If you want people to help you, you have to care about them too.

2. Successful people are incredibly generous with their time and knowledge.

3. Decent advice from people you can trust is invaluable.

4. But in the end you have to make up your own mind.

So what will I do?

I’m not sure. There will always be what ifs, choices to be made, advantages and risks with both paths. In life as in blogging no way is correct. It’s an art, you have to take your own path and wing it sometimes.

I’m leaning towards introducing the new topic on this blog and seeing how it goes.

What’s Your Take?

I’d love to hear what you think. To remind you, the choices are:

a. Try to integrate the new topic into my existing blog? or
b. Set up a new blog and start again from scratch? I’d keep the self-improvement blog and have two blogs to keep up.
c. Forget it and stick to the one blog with one topic.

Update

About 11 months after writing this post I ended up starting a second blog. The original goal of my first blog had changed and I was focusing on writing blogging tips in response to reader demand.

In the end Get In the Hot Spot continue its travel/writing/self-discovery evolution. I think it will make it clearer for readers and allow me to blog more naturally without worrying about alienating some of my readers who are only interested in specific topics.

by Brett Helling
Brett has been starting, growing, and monetizing websites since 2014. While in college, he began to learn about digital marketing. After graduating, he continued to build a diverse portfolio of websites while working a full time job. After years of building the portfolio on the side, he made the jump to run his websites full time.

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