Copyright (c) 2011 Enzo F. Cesario
Blogging is held up in many circles as the epitome of the
personal project. Blogs are praised for their focus on the
personality of the blogger, the flexibility of the medium (text
only, vlog, podcast) and the relatively limitless topics that can
be blogged on.
Given that the division of labor allows for the formation of
specialized approaches, it shouldn’t be a surprise that niche
and specialty blogs have become part of this great journalistic
movement. There are blogs covering all manner of specialties,
from arts and craft-focused publications to hard-hitting
diatribes on the political situation in foreign hotspots. The
powers of SEO and keyword writing allow these blogs to stand out
to their intended audiences during searches, so clearly all that
remains is for the next blogging genius to unleash his
specialized knowledge upon the world, yes?
Well, as ever, the situation is perhaps slightly more complex
than that, and for good reason. Let’s have a look at some of the
pros and cons alike of dedicating a blog to a particular topic.
There is something very satisfying in reading a well-crafted blog
on a particular subject when it’s put out by a skilled and
well-versed master of that topic. A specialized blog is more than
single mindedness when done properly — it is a treasure house of
many varied gems.
A genuine expert writing a specialty blog is what really makes
the medium come alive, in fact. It’s one thing to simply have
anyone writing about something they care about and focusing on
that topic. Having someone who knows it, who “groks” it as
Heinlein would say, means that the blog can cover the various
shades in between the obvious postings.
As an example, consider a blog focusing on the latest in board
games (and if you think gaming of all sorts isn’t a topic worth
considering, you haven’t seen Steve Jackson Games’ 2010
shareholder report, in which they posted $3.5 million in gross
earnings). Our gaming blog, written by an interested observer
rather than an expert, could cover the major releases for the
year. Big gaming companies like Wizards of the Coast, Steve
Jackson Games, Battlefront and so forth could be profiled, the
occasional interview with a game designer could be featured,
trade shows could be reported on. It would be nice and
informative, and safe for all those reasons.
A genuine expert in game publication and game theory, on the
other hand, could get into the subtleties of game mechanics. They
could explain how a certain game is literally impossible to play
properly because of bad designs in the rules, or illustrate how a
new game just released takes all the problems inherent in a
timeless classic and makes a much better game of it. Rising stars
in the independent development industry could be pointed out and
brought to greater prominence.
Basically, the blog would look very similar, but would have many
varying shades of interest and subtlety between the more common
flavor of post, allowing for so much more interaction and
engagement with the material.
Specialization is, by necessity, also exclusive. Choosing to
specialize in a particular topic to any degree automatically
alienates a set of readers not interested in that specialization.
So while a specialty blog can allow an expert to really
illustrate the varying shades and joys inherent in their favorite
topic, each level of focus it dives into cuts away that much more
of an audience — and readers are certainly not an infinite
Again, take our gaming blog: Gaming as a whole topic is fairly
broad, encompassing video games, board games, roleplaying games,
casual games, serious-hardcore games and so forth. And yes, there
is a certain amount of overlap; many people enjoy playing games
of all sorts, so a blog about any one of them isn’t going to
outright sever all connection with the others.
However, there are people who are interested in some things, but
not others. Focusing a blog on RPGs and not video games
eliminates a major portion of the gaming crowd (RPGs haven’t
been the largest contender in the gaming market in more than a
decade now). There is a lot to talk about in roleplaying game
development, of course — but it will never approach the scale of
video game development as a market, and thus any blog about it is
never going to attract the same degree of attention.
So, what to about it.
There is fortunately a very clear answer: Do what you can do
best. If you know your niche, and are confident you can make it
work, try it. Start right now, put up that first post, and begin
shopping around for good keywords, listing your blog in
directories and promoting gently on social media networks. You
will never have success if you don’t try. If, on the other hand,
you feel more comfortable taking a generalist approach,
understand that this isn’t bad. There are many readers out
there, and a general approach to blogging can bring them in. And
if you start wide, there’s nothing to say you cannot drill down
to a more specific angle later.
About The Author:
Enzo F. Cesario is an online branding specialist
and co-founder of Brandsplat, a digital content
agency. Brandsplat creates blogs, articles, videos
and social media in the “voice” of our client’s
brand. It makes sites more findable and brands more
recognizable. For the free Brandcasting Report go to
http://www.BrandSplat.com/ or visit our blog at
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