When writing a niche blog, one of the most important things you can do is maintain your focus on the niche.
It’s tempting, when you have a blog and are having trouble finding something in your niche to write about, to toss in an off-topic post here and there. That’s not a good idea for a couple of reasons.
First, off-topic posts draw untargeted search engine traffic. These people will come to your blog expecting it to be about one thing, when it isn’t. They won’t click on your ads or read your other posts. They’ll realize they’re in the wrong place and leave. This is what happened at Selaplana.com. The blog gets a large amount of daily traffic, but most of it’s drawn by the off-topic posts and doesn’t convert well for the on-topic advertising.
Second, your regular readers read your blog because they’re interested in your views on your niche. An off-topic post doesn’t provide value to them. Put enough off-topic posts in, and you’ll lose the interest of your regulars.
If you have a significant amount to say about a topic other than your blog’s niche, then start a second blog targeted to that new niche. Maybe you have to cut down your posting frequency in your old blog to contribute to the new one, too. That’s okay. Pick a posting frequency for both you can live with, and go to it. Your regular readers in your old blog will still get content that’s valuable to them, if perhaps a bit slower. Readers to your new blog won’t be attracted thinking it’s about one topic, when it’s really about another.
I’m probably in the minority in my thinking on this, but I consider paid reviews to be off-topic for most blogs. Sometimes the topic of the review matches the blog’s niche closely enough that it’s valuable, and you can imagine the review would have happened anyway, but most of the time there’s the sense that the review wouldn’t have happened without the money. Paid reviews are a way to make you money, but don’t provide much niche value to your readers unless you’re pretty strict about which reviews you accept.
Also off-topic are the various viral marketing schemes designed to increase your blog’s page rank or search engine results positioning. If you have a blog that’s about SEO, then testing these schemes is entirely on topic. But I haven’t seen yet a blog that comes back with concrete data on the results of using a viral marketing scheme.
Of course, if you’re writing a personal blog, then anything goes. JohnChow.com is a good example of a non-niche blog. It’s supposed to be about making money online, but covers such a variety of other topics that I’d consider it more of a personal blog than a niche blog. A personal blog is where you post about whatever you feel like, airing your rants and wisdom equally, which pretty much sums up John’s blog.
People read niche blogs for the information they provide on the niche. People read personal blogs because they like who you are and how you present yourself through your writing. It’s important when you start a blog to know which kind you’re starting, and to keep your focus.
I’d love to hear other examples of niche blogs that do a great job keeping their focus on their niche content. Leave a comment and let me know your favorites.