“What should I write about on my new blog?” is a question I’m asked very often. I always reply with my own question, “What do you want to write about?” which always leads to an interesting conversation, so today I figured I’d take to my blog to blog about blogging, because I want to.
A lot of folks think they need to pick one subject to write about in order to build an audience fast and get rich quick, and they’re not wrong. If you write only about fish, people looking for sites about fish will find you often, and ad revenue and subscriptions can build up quick if your content is good. But, are you willing to write about fish daily or weekly for the next year or more? I’m asking not only do you have the knowledge at hand, but are you ready to put in the work solely about fish? Some people are, the existence of popular single-subject sites is proof of that, but even most of their founders have taken a back seat and hired writers instead.
Burnout is real, and if you find yourself repeatedly doing something you don’t enjoy, you may find yourself giving up or paying someone else to do the work. I know this, not only from watching single-subject sites fail over burnout, but from having personally experienced it too. I kept my Splash Panel and Rewatch reviews going for quite some time, but eventually putting the work into them became tedious. I just didn’t enjoy them anymore, and by extension, I didn’t enjoy blogging anymore.
There’s an alternative to having a single-subject site, and that’s to just write what you want to when you want to. When inspiration strikes, write it down and share it. Don’t hold yourself to a single subject or schedule, just show the world who you are. If you don’t have time to write a post at the moment, jot some notes down really quick and write it up the next day. You won’t build a following as fast as you would with a single-subject, but I can say from experience that audience will hang around a lot longer. They won’t be one-time visitors from a search engine, they’ll be long-time subscribers. That’s what I used to do around here, and I think that’s what I’ll do again.
If you’re burning out over a single subject and don’t know how to get out of that rut, start by sharing small bits of content you enjoy elsewhere. I really have to credit MLTSHP and Tumblr for reminding what it felt like to just share what I want to without being beholden to expectations, and for that reason, I’ll keep sharing things there. Stop by MacManX Aside or signup for MLTSHP any time for some random fun, but do expect more longer form random fun here from now on.
Writing for a single-subject on a schedule will almost certainly grow your site quicker, but it’s nowhere near as fun as sharing yourself with the world by sharing what you like when you’re inspired to. And, if you’ve never blogged before, stop by WordPress.com where we’ll be happy to get you started!
> share what I want to without being beholden to expectations
That’s something I’ve struggled with recently.
I went and watched the Leonids meteor shower with my kids recently, and it was a beautiful night that I hope to remember for a long time. I wanted to preserve it in writing, but didn’t know where to share it. On my blog? No, that’s web dev focused, my subscribers won’t want to hear that… Maybe instagram? I didn’t have a photo…
I think I should start using tumblr for that, or start posting it to my blog and not worry about it 😅
Give Tumblr a try for that, it’s easy to get started with, so it should open up a desire to share more things like that.
As that grows, start thinking about whether you want stuff like that on your main blog or if you want to start up a second blog. Personally, I’d recommend keeping it all under one blog, but choose what works for you. 🙂
I love this advice, James! I’d never thought of the burnout factor for a single subject site (or having to constantly generate new material for it). I also blog about whatever I want whenever I want, so I love getting validation for that here 😂.
Happy to help with that validation! 🙂
I like your advice and will make this post one of my inspirations.
I also like this inspiring posts about what to blog by Matt
(https://ma.tt/2014/01/intrinsic-blogging/). I like the idea of writing blog for the current and future self and also special ones. After that, for people.
Yep, I keep Matt’s words on that in mind every time I blog, and I had some similar thoughts on Likes as well: https://macmanx.wpcomstaging.com/2015/02/10/likes-self-censorship/
Hey James, I’ve been through the burnout myself trying to create useful content that people can actually get value from and take action upon, but been limited by a narrow topic.
It’s tough, no doubt, especially when juggling a couple of kids and working night shifts at the same time, then writing blog posts that are banging on about the same old stuff.
There’s no fun in scraping the barrel for fresh content ideas when I have already covered everything there is to say on a narrow topic.
This is why I stopped focusing on creating blogs with such a narrow topic and went more broad within a topic I’m passionate about, as then you have the freedom to explore a wide range of diverse areas within that niche.
This post reminded me of that shift which is like a weight off my shoulders and gives me the room to breathe.
All the best.
It sure is nice to have room to breathe isn’t it? Blogging should be fun. 🙂