Should Your Blog Be General or Specific?

A very common question asked by many beginning bloggers is whether their blog should be more general in scope or if it should only approach a very specific topic area. This leads itself back to the initial motivation you have for your blog and the goals that you would like to achieve.

If the blog is going to be purely personal in nature, documenting your personal journey or just giving you a space on the Internet where you can voice your thoughts and opinions, then it really doesn’t matter all that much. If you don’t really care about traffic numbers or monetization potential, your blog can be about just about anything. The writing itself is cathartic in nature, so you might keep the blog open and general so you can approach whatever ideas come to mind.

However, if you do care about how many monthly visitors come to your blog and you do care about whether or not your blog is profitable, then you will need to approach this with a different mindset. The problem with having a general blog is that it can be much harder to achieve any real level of success with it.

Generally Speaking…

Yes, a general blog makes it easier for you to come up with ideas, since you can write about anything, but the very nature of writing about anything and everything is that your blog ultimately becomes about nothing. That makes for a hard sell to advertisers. That makes it difficult for ad networks to place you within a certain niche or industry. That makes it difficult to build an audience who is interested in a particular topic. That makes it harder to build up your reputation as an expert in any one area, since you write about every area.

It wouldn’t be fair to say that there are really hard and fast rules when it comes to blogging — by its very nature, blogging is what you make of it and there’s more than one way to be successful at it — but it is a good general rule of thumb that you will have a better shot at making it as a blogger if you stick to a more specific subject area than if you were to branch out into having an open and general blog.

There may be such a thing as going too far and choosing your blogging niche is not immune to this possibility. Sticking to a particular vertical or industry is likely in your best interest and you’ll want to zero in on a subject that you are passionate about. At the same time, you don’t want to get too specific, because you could be severely limiting the kinds of topics you can approach in your blog posts.

How Specific Is Too Specific?

Let’s look at a hypothetical example. Maybe you’re into sports. If you’re just starting out and you don’t have the massive reach and scope of something like ESPN, it’s probably not the best idea to write about every sport under the sun. As a single blogger, that’s just too much to handle and you’ll be doing your readers a disservice by trying to tackle it all (no pun intended).

So, you might pick one sport. Let’s say that you like football. Having an NFL blog might be a good idea, because it gives you the breadth to talk about anything to happen in the league, while being specific enough to avoid discussions of baseball, hockey, basketball and other sports. But is that specific enough?

Going one level deeper, you might create a fan blog for your home team. Let’s say that you are a Green Bay Packers fan. You might only write about stories and ideas that concern this one team. That could limit your audience potential, as Seattle Seahawks fans or New England Patriots fans might not want to read your blog. At the same time, you could develop a smaller but more passionate reader base among fellow Packers fans. There’s a lot of potential there too.

But what if you went even deeper? What if you created a blog about only one player, let’s say Aaron Rodgers. There are fan sites out there dedicated to individual players and athletes in almost every sport, so the potential is there too. Again, you are limiting your scope for material and audience potential even further. This would be a more difficult blog to grow, because you could hit your limit much sooner. It might also be harder to monetize or to attract advertisers.

Running a Zone Defense

This isn’t to say that a site dedicated to just one player can’t be successful; it’s just that it will be a lot more difficult and it will be a much steeper uphill battle. Under this example, developing a blog writing about a single team is probably a good place to start. If you think that you have the time, energy and resources to devote to it, writing about an entire league could be a very good idea too. Anything more general than that can prove problematic.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to find a comfortable middle ground. The subject should be specific enough that people know exactly what to expect when they visit your blog (including advertisers), but it should be general enough that you have greater potential for audience growth and you have enough fodder to keep blogging about the subject for years to come.

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