Friday, September 11, 2009

The "fight club" of starting a blog

I am not a movie person, so I have never seen "Fight Club," but I've repeatedly heard an audio clip from the film that states that a fight club has hardly any rules.

Contrast this to Neil Patel's suggestions for someone starting a blog. I don't think that he meant people to take things completely literally - what if I do something on day 16 rather than day 17? - but he clearly expressed his views on various topics related to blog management. For example, here's what Patel said for day two:

Day 2: Pick a topic and stick with it

Even though it’s your blog and you can write on whatever you want, you have to pick a topic and stick with it. Although there is nothing stopping you from doing whatever you want, your blog will be much more popular if you stick with 1 topic.

It’s very rare to see a popular blog that covers dozens of different topics. Most of the popular blogs (TechCrunch, I Can Has Cheezburger, Gizmodo, Perez Hilton) write on 1 topic.

I heard about Patel's post from an Andy C Google Reader share, and Andy C had some strong feelings about Patel's advice in this instance. I'd say that when someone uses the word "despise," the person has strong feelings about the matter. Here's part of what Andy C said in his share:

It's your blog. Write about Persian cats. Write about LOLcats. Write about Linux. Please yourself. Let me decide whether I care to read it.

Neither Patel nor Andy have an exclusive lock on the truth in this case. For every single-focus blog that Patel names, you can find other blogs that dare to cover multiple topics. I often quote from Duncan Riley's The Inquisitr, and Riley has worked on perfecting a formula of offering multiple topics to his readers. Riley started with a tech-slash-entertainment focus, in which a post about an API could alternate with a post about Lindsay Lohan. (I'm not sure if I'd want to see a post about the Lindsay Lohan API.) Riley continues to tinker with the formula, and has recently upped his sports coverage. I'm sure that you can think of other "unfocused" online services out there.

Since I began blogging in October 2003, I have gone back and forth between the two schools of thought. For the last couple of years, I have veered back toward the "one topic per blog" theory, which is why Inland Valley Daily Bulletin columnist David Allen is rarely mentioned in my Empoprise-BI business blog, and why Andy C is rarely mentioned in my Empoprise-IE Inland Empire blog.

Frankly, I'm with Andy. Blog about what you want to blog about. Perhaps use labels or subcategories if you like. (It's possible to get a feed of Inquisitr technology items that excludes the celebrity gossip.)

Or don't use subcatories/labels and throw it all together. The Beatles did that with their album "The Beatles," and although most people don't recognize the album by name, it didn't do too badly.

But the issue of whether a blog should be focused or not actually leads into another issue. Another issue for another post.
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