tips on changing blog focus

I received a question via email last week and requested permission to post it here so I can answer. The main reason for this is because I hear this question a lot, in varying forms, and have actually been meaning to write about the topic for some time. So that’s a nice coincidence!

The question:

I would like to ask you how you re-aligned your blog topics after you changed from a parenting blog to a creative/writer’s blog? Now I am stuck about what direction to write in for my actual blog, I don’t feel qualified to offer writing tips as I am a newbie. Do I take a business blog approach or write about opinion lifestyle topics or go down the creative biz road?

Before I go into details I want to touch on a point that is relevant to my particular circumstances. I recall a conversation I was having only a few weeks ago when a girlfriend, upon hearing me describe my blog as a parenting blog, questioned my classification.

“Do you still call it that?” she asked. “I think it’s something different nowadays.”

And this is true, to an extent. Which leads me to my first tip.

1) Change of blog focus is (usually) more of a change of mind than a change of heart. But without the heart, you’ll have problems. 

While this this blog’s purpose has changed into something different than it was, say, four years ago, it looked much different for the four years before that. I think it’s natural for a blog to have a natrual trajectory, especially when it is in the personal/parenting niche. So while it has changed, I also think that there will always be a thread of parenting influence about Miscellaneous Mum. This kind of ‘bet hedging’ doesn’t gel with some people, but my approach to blogging has never been very blinkered.

In your question, you wonder whether you’re qualified to write writing tips for your new blog. From this I sense you’re still finding your voice on your new blog, and this I can understand. Changing direction can take time in order to set yourself straight, and be done for all the right reasons, but if you feel like your starting on the back foot then maybe the focus still needs a bit of tweaking. Maybe you can write your blog from a newbie’s perspective, offering tips and info, along the way? (That might not work if you want to take the business approach and are wanting to set yourself up as an expert.) Opinion pieces, and pieces about creativity, as you suggest, might be an option – there’s certainly been a proliferation of those kinds of pieces on blogs and on MSM in recent years. Above all, do what you’re comfortable doing!

It’s not an either/or scenario either – relevant to point two.

2) Ceasing to blog about a subject doesn’t mean you’ll stop writing about it.

Writers will always write (ideally for money, if that’s their desire!). While I don’t write about parenting as much anymore on Miscellaneous Mum, I do for other places, like Essential Kids, and have even started writing book reviews again, having done two for The Big Issue.

I think the fact you’re thinking about what places might be best for the kinds of writing you’re interested in means you’re ready for this new phase.

So if you’re worried that focusing on one topic means closing a door on others, that’s not necessarily true!

Another note: I’ve kept one of my older blog topics (I’m guessing you mean ‘categories’?) ‘Thrifty Thursday’ because I still like it, but I have deleted others. I keep Thrifty Thursday around because I know a) people liked it and b) I think there’s still ‘life’ in the concept.

Just because a topic is rested doesn’t mean it’s retired – not on this blog anyway!

3) ‘Forewarned is forearmed’ – keeping readers informed is important.

This is more for bloggers who are contemplating a big shift, and not in the midst of one, but I think in both cases it’s important to keep your readers informed, whether that involves directing them to a completely new website, or a heads-up on new developments as to what’s about to happen. Every situation wil be different. In my case, when I did my first re-direction, I locate it to 1 February 2008. After that, I talked about writing (and I’ve asked myself ‘who am I to give advice?’ at times!) and self-publishing and I lost readers. But found others. My journey stayed on track with the exact right people: water finds its own level, and so do we, if we try.

In the last two years, rather than ‘guesstimate’ I’ve put together quick (that’s important!) reader surveys. The results from each have been vastly different, which is fascinating. Last year, the most popular kinds of posts were about parenting, now it’s a tie between books and writing/creativity. That kind of knowledge is so helpful. Would your readers tell you what they like you to blog about? It wouldn’t hurt to ask!

 

Conclusion: It might not feel like it, but you’re in a place of great experimental potential. I like how you recognise that you’re faced with a range of avenues – and that’s a good thing! You ask how I managed the shift in blog perspective – the answer is gradually, and with a healthy amount of conscientious soul-seeking. I asked myself what I wanted and didn’t want. I think if you do the same, you’ll come up with the answers.

Good luck! x

Image source: Stuck in Customs (modified)

karen-portrait

Karen Andrews is the creator of this website, one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Her latest book is Trust the Process: 101 Tips on Writing and Creativity