In an interview with Lorelle Van Fossen on adii, Lorelle says,
I have a very narrow focus on Lorelle on WordPress. There are a lot of topics I'd love to cover but won't. I write about blogging and WordPress. That's basically it. If it doesn't tie in nicely, it won't go on that blog. I write very little about monetizing blogs as that turns blogs into businesses, and there are plenty who cover that market. The only time I cover that subject is when it directly applies to WordPress and WordPress.com blogs. So it's a narrow path I write on that blog.
Part of Lorelle's success is her tight focus on a highly popular topic, WordPress — especially with a how-to bent. (She also writes for The Blog Herald, which is another excellent resource to learn about blogging—but only about blogging.)
It's fine to keep your categories narrow and focused, but there are two small exceptions where categories become problematic:
On the other hand, much of what Lorelle says is true. As a prime example, the Hello Kitty Hell blog seems to be going on strong for almost a year now and has about 850 readers. It's amazing that someone can maintain a lively blog with such a narrow focus. (Of course I don't really read it.)
Beth Long, a creative technical writer, says that having a focus for her blog gives her more inspiration to write. She says,
My former blog was anemic and badly tended, with random posts about random topics interspersed through the months with no regularity or common theme. This blog, on the other hand, has a clearly stated focus (the intersection of the creative and the technical), and while I'm not afraid to stray from the main topic of the blog, the very fact of having a main topic has been crucial in enabling me to post almost daily.
So yes, content springs from having focus. And having focus creates appeal for readers. But ...
Despite the importance of having focus, there are also variables of voice and personality. Some writers can write about anything and I'll find it interesting. My wife's blog is a case in point. She's just a clever, witty writer and I enjoy reading her perspectives.
I would find it boring if she always wrote about the same topic. Can you imagine our dinner conversations?
Same goes for novelists. It's not the subject or topic they're writing about that matters — it's their voice, their charismatic literary persona that draws us in and captivates us. Like a good date, you can spend the night talking about everything and nothing — and be perfectly happy, not remembering a thing of what you talked about. Instead, you remember the liveliness, the emotion and energy.
And like dating, blogs are tools that build relationships. They are not encyclopedic entries. Blogs are social software, a realm where voice, persona, authenticity, and realness matter. (Which is why I can't understand why Scott Abel writes his blog in third person.)
So while yes, categories are important. You should have a focus on your blog. I should expect to find a somewhat common theme. But I should also learn to love reading you.
A question for my readers: Do you read any blogs with a voice and persona that stands out in a captivating way?
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I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include technical writing, authoring and publishing tools, API documentation, tech comm trends, visual communication, technical writing career advice, information architecture and findability, developer documentation, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here.