Do Niche Blogs Attract More Readers & Subscribers Than A Scatter-gun Approach?

Posted at 04:05am on 2nd May 2009

Have you ever thought about what makes the best blogging sites so attractive, and why you subscribe to some and not to others? Yes, I asked a similar question in a previous post titled Six Blogging Styles: Which Approach Turns You On? but, today, I want to take that further. The issues I’m raising are:

  • Do you understand why only a fraction of the readers of your blog sign up for free notification of new posts?
  • Is there anything that you can you do to retain your readers by persuading them to register their allegiance to you?

I’m going to examine the matter in reference to my own website, using my findings to illustrate my points.

It’s now nine months since I began my blog and, in that time, just short of 10,000 people have viewed it and read it. I don’t know whether that’s a good number or not. What matters to me is whether I’ve provided my readers with something they’ve found useful, life changing, or enhancing – and Google Analytics doesn’t supply that data!

NICHE BLOGS

Make niche your priority, many professional bloggers advise. And I am aware that this is a recommendation I have – quite deliberately – rejected. Not out of arrogance or ignorance – I’m sure that it is wise counsel – but because I know I haven’t the sort of mind that can be focused in this way.

My father once described himself and me as ‘full of useless information’ because we both have an inclination to gather snippets: grazing on a broad variety of topics; feasting on few. But in researching and enlarging upon those snippets, I prefer to think of myself and my blog as a purveyor of useful and varied information and opinion; a Department Store, or a One Stop Shop, rather than the single product boutique of a niche blog.

SUBSCRIBE TO MY BLOG – OR NOT!

This, however, has had its downside. Mixing metaphors, I realise that my blog, like a river, has been fed by numerous streams and tributaries. In other words, topics have been broad and varied.

The result is that, apart from faithful fans, this has probably made it difficult for my readers to want to subscribe to my blog. After all, if you are interested in posts on writing and publishing a book, you don’t, necessarily, want to be notified when a new article on divorce has been posted. That topic may be of no value to you whatever! Or if advice on relationships is what you’re after, you don’t particularly want to be bombarded with gardening tips (not that I give them!)

GREAT ONLINE CONTENT

So it would appear that niche blogs – i.e. those that focus on one topic – are key to attracting more subscribers? Well, yes and no! Certainly the content for your blog will be a major factor as far as your readers are concerned. It doesn’t require much common sense to understand that they are more likely to sign up for regular feeds from blogs that provide the information they want, than from those that don’t.

Many bloggers, realising this, and the fact that, like me, they have multi-faceted topics on which they wish to write, begin a second – or even a third and fourth – blog. Each has its own particular blog personality: its own blog branding. By creating unique content for each, they are thus able to attract a different type of reader to each site.

BRANDING BLOGS DIFFERENTLY WITHIN THE SAME SITE

I have decided to do things slightly differently. Mel’s Muse continues as it always has, with its own blog personality: articles which are researched and informative but which are, for the most part, quite abstract in style. There are exceptions, of course, when I express opinion or anecdotal material.

However, as some of you will have noticed, I’ve redesigned my Dear Mel page ever so slightly. Initially, this was the home of Feedback from readers of my books who wanted to write to tell me how much they had enjoyed them (hopefully!) or where they thought I could and should have made improvements (comments which, however, unsettling, I have included for all to read).

READERS’ LETTERS

Since its reinvention, my Dear Mel page has taken on a new brand vision of its own. Last month I launched a Readers’ Letters blog, which includes - but is by no means exclusively - an Internet Agony Aunt. My husband and I used to lead Family Forums and Marriage Enrichment courses some years ago, so this was simply another way to offer our help and support to people in need of advice – or just a listening ear! This week’s letter about bereavement rituals and the effects of grief is particularly poignant. Subsequent ones have been about blogging.

I find it satisfying on two counts: first, in that I know I’m helping real people with real problems. And second, because it gives me the opportunity to write in an entirely different style. If you have a problem on which you’d like some guidance, whether it's to do with writing, relationships or any other topic, write to Dear Mel via the link on My Contact page.

ONLINE BOOK REVIEWS . . .

Which brings me to my latest venture. I run a book group and, from the outset, I’ve been posting online book reviews following each meeting. Naturally, as these relate to a dated occasion, they appear on My Diary page. After the last event, I decided to post not only the conclusions reached that evening, but also the book group discussion questions which had inspired our discussion. And it occurred to me that this could become a resource for others setting up a book group.

Although I retain copyright in my material, many of the articles on my website may, where specified, be copied or used by any third party, providing the conditions are met for reproduction. Alternatively, the book group discussion questions and conclusions for The Shack by William Young can be found among my contributions to EzineArticles.

. . . AND EXCERPTS FROM BOOKS

Finally, today, on Mel’s Muse, I am launching yet another initiative: excerpts from my book Stepfamilies. Published originally by Lion (who, at my request, recently reverted All Rights to me) and the subject of many of my radio and TV broadcasts, it has been hugely popular. As a stepfamily ourselves, we brought our own experience to the topic; but we also interviewed many others who willingly contributed their stories and advice. More up-to-date anecdotal material has been added for the sake of this exercise. Tonight’s post is the Foreword to the book

As always, your comments will be more than welcome. Anything you can add to the debate will, I’m sure, be of help to others. As will any comments you have to make about this blog post on the subject of Niche Blogs

SUMMARY

Mel’s Muse: Continues as usual with posts on Creative Writing, Relationships and Personal Growth

Mel’s Muse: NEW – Excerpts from Mel’s book Stable Stepfamilies

Dear Mel page: RECENTLY LAUNCHED Readers’ Letters (on ANY topic) includes Internet Agony Aunt letters, plus Feedback from readers on Mel’s books.

My Diary: NEW – Online book reviews, and book group discussion questions – a resource for anyone setting up a book group.

This article may be reproduced on any non-commercial website or blog on condition that it appears unaltered, in its entirety, and that the following copyright line and bio are prominently displayed beneath it.

© Mel Menzies: USED BY PERMISSION

Author of a number of books, one a Sunday Times No 4 Bestseller, Mel Menzies is also an experienced Speaker at live events, as well as on Radio and TV. This article, in its original form, can be found at http://www.melmenzies.co.uk

ALL PROCEEDS FROM HER LATEST NOVEL, A Painful Post Mortem, ARE FOR CHARITIES BENEFITING CHILDREN WORLDWIDE. PLEASE BUY A COPY AND HELP A CHILD LIKE RACHEL, ORPHANED BY AIDS OR EDUCATE TEENAGERS ABOUT DRUGS

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