Have you ever had that gnawing feeling in your blogger gut? Feeling torn between what you want to create and what you think you’re supposed to create? I promise you’re not alone. Not only is changing your blog’s focus an option, but it might be the best thing for your blog… and you.
I’m gonna go out on a limb and say (and if I’ve got fellow bloggers reading, please comment if this is the case) that most bloggers either grow into their topics or grow out of their topics.
I’ll use myself as an example. For any long time readers (hi mom), you might remember the days when In it 4 the Long Run was focused on, you guessed it, running.
I first started this blog as a training log for my runs. Like seriously that was it. Just a post every week with how many miles I ran. I picked it back up in earnest when I had an internship that gave me no work to do, so instead I learned about blogging. In hindsight, best internship ever. I loved running so I thought, naturally I should write about it.
But I got to a point where I hit a wall with running. No, not that running wall. I mean the wall of hobby versus “set your soul on fire passion.” Running was always something I used as an escape and when I began to blog about it, it lost that therapeutic quality.
One of my favorite bloggers, Regina from ByRegina.com, explained this idea so perfectly, the notion of the “100 hour topic.” What Regina meant by that is you have to ask yourself what is the one area of focus that you could talk about for a 100 hours, or at least have the passion to learn to speak 100 hours on.
For me, I saw those people who’s passion for running oozed out of them and inspired others (myself included). However, I wasn’t one of of those people and I didn’t really want to be. I wanted to run on fall mornings slowly to a podcast. And honestly I didn’t want to write about it. I didn’t have an expertise or the desire to become an expert in running.
Right about the same time, I started picking up my camera and really learning to use it. Slowly but surely my content shifted from running with a bit of food to food with a bit of running and now my blog is focused almost exclusively on food, creating a sustainable healthy lifestyle and resources for fellow bloggers. These topics excite me every day. I want to pour myself into this work and continue to learn and grow and share.
Oh and I forgot the most important part… the results. Well when I transitioned slowly from running to food, healthy lifestyle and blogging my readers and engagement increased 10 fold (if not more). Passion shows.
Ok, ok you get it. Changing is cool. But how exactly does it happen? I broke it out into 4 steps.
Step 1: Do a Blog Audit
Are You focusing on the right Topic?
My friends, life is too short to not blog about something you’re obsessed with. Not only you, but your audience deserves to consume content that’s unique, valuable, entertaining, inspiring, and useful. If you don’t feel that way about your blog right now you have to stop and be 100% honest with yourself. Does your blog excite you or drag you down? Are you excited to sit down and create? Do you take pride in the content you publish? Could you think of 20 new posts ideas on the spot? Do you get inspired by your world around you?
No, you don’t need to be the energizer bunny every day when it comes to blogging, but if blogging feels like a chore then you’re definitely not writing about the right thing.
I would never in a million years call this easy, but I absolutely love it. It’s work that doesn’t feel like work at all.
Step 2: Identify the New Focus
Ok, so good news, you’ve already done the hard part. You’ve admitted that it might be time to change the focus of your blog.
The next step is to decide what’s next. To figure out how to create a sustainable blog that has the power to transition into something bigger you want to ask yourself 3 questions.
These questions are adapted from Jim Collin’s book: Good to Great, where he talks about the how businesses that go from good to great embrace these 3 things (I’ve adapted them to be relevant to blogging):
- What can I blog about that I am uniquely talented in?
- What topics am I passionate about?
- Is there a market or audience for this content?
It will take time to answer those questions fully and honestly, but if you can, then you have a winner.
Step 3: Is it a Focus Shift or Total Rebrand?
Ok, so you’re ready to change and now you’re confident about what your new topic is, so what’s next? You need fully understand the shift in focus and how dramatic of a pivot it is.
In my case, I was a running blogger who slowly shifted into a healthy living and recipe blogger. Much of my audience overlapped, which meant I didn’t have to rebrand at all. I may have lost followers over the year that I transitioned, but my audience was also small to begin with and didn’t grow dramatically until I made the shift.
But that’s not the case for all switches. You might be a crafting, DIY blogger who wants to switch to blogging about personal finance. They’re two very different audiences and there aren’t a lot of ways to slowly transition a focus like that. In this case, you may want to consider a rebrand. That doesn’t mean you have to ditch all your old followers. They may be interested in your new content, so don’t leave them high and dry.
But don’t be surprised when most of your niche following is ready to move on too. That’s a-ok because when you start writing about something that you’re passionate about and skilled at, it’s so much easier to build a strong audience. Plus you’ll have all that blogging knowledge from before to use in your new endeavor.
Don’t forget that you can always ask your audience questions too. I found it incredibly helpful when I had my audience do a survey. From that survey of my most loyal readers, I learned that running was the topic they were least interested in.
Step 4: Execute & Adjust
You’re ready to change, you know your new topic, you know whether it’s a shift or a rebrand which means that all there is left is just doin’ it.
If you’re looking to rebrand consider redesigning your blog or just updating your theme. You’ll need a new name, a new logo, new URL’s, new social media handles all that fun stuff. But just keep reminding yourself that this is what you’re meant to be doing. It’s scary in that “omg this is awesome” kind of way.
If you’re looking to shift focus slowly, start testing your new type of content gradually. If you get a good reaction introduce more and more. You have the option of either announcing what you’re doing all at once, or incorporating your focus shift into posts as you go. Whatever feels natural. You may want to update your imagery so it matches and maybe look for a blog friend to give you a visual audit to make sure that your new content focus matches what your blog looks like. If your audience isn’t receptive to the change you may want to consider a rebrand.
As you transition don’t be afraid to get feedback, but take it with a grain of salt. Some people will embrace change with open arms, others might leave, but like I mentioned earlier, the more intone and connected you are to your topic the more it will show through your writing and building a following when you have authentic content is so much easier.
Hopefully if you’ve been feeling that “this topic doesn’t fit me anymore” feeling that is all too familiar with so many bloggers, this will help guide you to the blog you’ve always wanted to create.