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Blogging Tips: Avoiding the Unfocused Blog Syndrome

Heidi Thorne is a self-publishing advocate and author of nonfiction books, eBooks, and audiobooks. She is a former trade newspaper editor.

Trending now in the blogosphere: Unfocused Blog Syndrome, a malady that can plague newbie, frustrated and burned out bloggers. Symptoms include:

  • A single blog with several widely divergent topic categories. A single blog could have navigation links for categories as diverse as business, crafts, recipes, travel, raising kids, relationships, pop culture, health & nutrition, gardening, movies, self-improvement and more. Blogs with six or more distinct topics have been observed.
  • Sporadic blogging, usually hopping from topic to topic. Why not? The blog has soooo many categories anyway! One day it's movies. The next day (or month) it's politics. Then we might see one of grandma's recipes two months later.

Sure, variety is welcome on ANY blog! So, yes, throw in a special off-topic post here and there to reveal human-ness, add a bit of variety and create personal connections. But here's the downside: If a blog continually lacks clarity and cohesiveness, it makes it difficult to define the audience and to realize positive results.

What Causes this Blogging Blunder?

If, logically, bloggers—who can be expert writers and thinkers—know that chaotic blogging can be counterproductive and actually hurt a blog's performance, why do they succumb to this behavior? Common causes vary based on where they are in their blogging careers:

  • Newbies. These enthusiastic folks are anxious to tell the world all about themselves, as well as what they think and what they like. They erroneously reason that the more multifaceted they appear, the wider the appeal their blog will have.
  • Frustrated and Fried. These folks may have been blogging for years and may be bored, frustrated or burned out trying to come up with ideas for a blog whose topic may be limited or worn out.
  • Retired & Reborn Bloggers. These folks may have blogged as part of another life or career. Like their "Frustrated and Fried" counterparts just discussed, they're tired of the topic(s) they've been required to address in the past. They may also be out of the business or community for which they blogged previously. They view this as their chance to set themselves free of any topic constraints and they're exploring ALL avenues.

Problems that Unfocused Blog Syndrome Causes

Here's what happens with an unfocused, chaotic blog:

  • Fragmented Appeal and Audience. What is this blog about... really? Readers may be confused and wonder if there is enough reason for them to follow this blogger's work. It seeks to serve everyone and, in the process, serves no one.
  • Shifting Gears and Going Nowhere. Mentally shifting gears from topic to topic can be time consuming and draining, causing bloggers to become frustrated and frazzled.
  • Juggling and Struggling. In addition to the drain of shifting gears, pursuing multiple topic paths can be a huge time investment. That means the blogger has to continue to remain conversant in multiple topics as well. That takes research and engagement with the target community. Now multiply that by the number of topics. The result is a constant juggling of priorities and struggling to keep up with all of them.

If a blog continually lacks clarity and cohesiveness, it makes it difficult to define the audience and to realize positive results.

— Heidi Thorne

Preventing Unfocused Blog Syndrome

So what can a blogger do to avoid falling into this blogging hole?

  • Narrow the Focus. Narrow the focus of the blog to a couple primary topic categories OR a primary topic with relevant subtopics.
  • Know the Why. Newbie bloggers may have heard that blogging is a cool thing to do. But they may not have a clear idea of why they should do this (or not!). Experienced, burned out bloggers may just want an escape from their previous blogging. Neither is a legitimate reason to make a significant investment of time and money (yes, blogging does have hard costs). There may be outlets other than blogging that could be a better fit for their creative energies and resources.
  • Assess the Topic's Depth. Some topics are so limited that it's almost inevitable a blogger will lapse into exploring more and varied topics soon after launch. If a topic lacks enough depth to inspire, at minimum, a once a week post for years into the future, it may not have enough content fuel to keep going and should probably be abandoned in favor of a more expansive topic opportunity.
  • Find Other or Additional Writing Outlets. Instead of taking on the huge task of creating and maintaining a separate blog for less viable topics, explore others' blogs and websites that might be interested in hiring someone to write posts on these subjects. This can provide a lower investment outlet for varied creative energies.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2015 Heidi Thorne


Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on May 26, 2015:

Hi Joyette! Glad you found it interesting even though you're not into the blogosphere. :) But it does apply in so many other areas, too. Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful day!

Joyette Helen Fabien from Dominica on May 26, 2015:

Interesting information shared here. I'm not int blogging, but I found it interesting anyway!Thanks for sharing

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on April 13, 2015:

Hi bdegiulio! So glad that you're weighing the investment in a blog before launching headlong into it. Wish more people did! Thanks for stopping by and you have a great week also!

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on April 13, 2015:

Hi Heidi. I have yet to start a blog but have thought about. If and when I do jump in these tips will help a lot. My fear at the moment is that with a full-time job and trying to write here that I won't have the time to do it justice. Perhaps when I get to retirement it will make a nice part-time job. Thanks for the tips, have a great week.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on April 12, 2015:

Thanks, FlourishAnyway, for your kind and continued support! Have a wonderful week ahead!

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 12, 2015:

I am back to share this wonderful hub.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on April 12, 2015:

Hi Writer Fox! You are sooooo right! It is incredibly difficult to create a successful blog now that both the Internet and blogging have matured. Like any other development, those in the game early usually reap the greatest rewards. So the blogging strategies that worked, say, 10 years ago, have little relevance now.

I have seen so many "dead" blogs and many that are headed to an early grave. Blogging takes a great deal of commitment and energy for which most are not suited.

The good thing that came out of the blogging boom is that now many "websites" are on the robust and flexible WordPress platform. And, yes, I'd always recommend creating a "website" with good content over a "blog," especially to small businesses who may not have the resources (human, time or cash) to sustain a blog.

Thank you so much for adding that insight to the conversation! Have a wonderful weekend!

Writer Fox from the wadi near the little river on April 12, 2015:

It's much more difficult to create a successful blog today. I find that it is much easier to rank a website than it is to rank a blog, unless you are a famous personality. You give some great tips, though, for people who still want to try blogging.

What I find, more often than not, is that people abandon the blogs they create. If you are not willing to write three or four posts a week, the blog is doomed. With a website, you don't have to upload new content at that rapid pace.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on April 02, 2015:

Hello Iris! Good to see you here on HP. True, bloggers should ALWAYS write for their audiences. However, many don't. I think part of that stems from the fact that many "weblogs" started as online journals, with their authors spewing out what was on their minds. Luckily, the rise of online article writing fueled and rewarded by organic traffic has helped to turn blogs into content rather than musings. Thanks for stopping by and adding your insight! Happy Easter!

Cristen Iris from Boise, Idaho on April 02, 2015:

Excellent advice! Blogging is like writing. We must always keep our audience in mind. We write for our readers, not for ourselves.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on April 02, 2015:

Hi Penny! We've all suffered from this malady at some point or another. Glad you found it motivating for defining your audience. Have a beautiful day!

Penny Miranda from Portland, OR on April 02, 2015:

It seems I have the symptoms! Great info. I'm going to try to narrow my focus a little and really define my audience!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on April 01, 2015:

Hello The Examiner-1! If you have one topic to which you're committed, and you're not bored with it yet, that's great. If you think your topic is a little too limited, maybe there are some subtopics that you can explore. Keep going! Thanks so much for chiming in and have a great day!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on April 01, 2015:

Hello Ron! Honestly, I've been more sporadic, too, of late due to other business commitments. It totally does take quite a bit of disciplline (and time!) to keep multiple blogs going at the same time. Been there, done that! And, yes, committing to a schedule, say maybe twice a month per blog, does really help keep the blog in motion and focused. Don't worry, you'll get there! You've got a lot of great things to share. So we'll hope to see you continue regularly here in HP. Thanks so much for adding your experience to the conversation! Have a wonderful day!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on April 01, 2015:

Hi Catherine! I've found that the really good hubbers are quite focused on a few niche topics. But it really does take a conscious decision to limit oneself to those niches. Glad you found the post helpful. Thank you so much for stopping by and have a wonderful day!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on April 01, 2015:

Hi FlourishAnyway! Hmm... I've tried to maintain my focus on marketing/sales topics here on HP simply because I'm using it for my business blog headquarters. So I don't want to mix business and personal. What I've seen some hubbers do successfully is focus on maybe 2-3 topics (or types of writing) for which they are experts. Take you, for example. You write a lot on HR issues (good stuff BTW!) and your list type posts are extremely popular (some of my faves). The 2-3 topic limitation can really help focus on what you do best. Thanks for that great question since I'm sure many other hubbers are asking themselves the same thing. Thank you for your support (as always) and have a beautiful day!

The Examiner-1 on April 01, 2015:

That was interesting Heidi. It may be helpful to my blog, I have to see. Reading through this it may not, I only cover 1 topic and I am not bored with it yet. I think that my topic does not attract readers. I shared and pinned this.


Ronald E Franklin from Mechanicsburg, PA on March 30, 2015:

My problem is not so much being unfocused as being much too sporadic. I have three blogs, but I tend to get so focused on one thing (like writing a hub) that the blogs don't get any attention. I'm working on developing a disciplined schedule to make sure everything gets updated with reasonable frequency. But I'm not there yet.

Catherine Giordano from Orlando Florida on March 30, 2015:

Thanks FloursihAnyway: Where were three years ago when I started blogging. I'm not quite as unfocused as in your examples, but I could be a lot more focused. I'm keeping yur advice in mind as a go forward. Voted up++

FlourishAnyway from USA on March 30, 2015:

Just curios about your thoughts about whether on HP we should try to narrow our focus? Great topic and even better answers!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on March 30, 2015:

Thanks for stopping by, Venkatachari M! Glad to hear you don't have this issue with your blog. But lots of people do. :) Have a beautiful week!

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on March 29, 2015:

Useful information here. I am a blogger, blogging on lifestyle tips. But I have various categories in it and whoever may want whatever information, he can click on the category and easily choose his topics. So, I do not have any problem regarding this.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on March 29, 2015:

Hi ThatMommyBlogger! I think we all, at some point, have gone through the Unfocused Blog Syndrome stage. Live and learn, eh? Thanks for stopping by and have a lovely day!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on March 29, 2015:

Hello poetryman6969! Yep, sometimes we don't want the advice we need. Thanks for stopping by and good luck with finding your headless space alien zombie! :)

poetryman6969 on March 29, 2015:

Voted up. I don't want the advice but I need it. I just need to remember: There is a headless space alien zombie for every occasion. I just need to find it!

Missy from The Midwest on March 29, 2015:

This reminds me of my first blog. I was definitely suffering from Unfocused Blog Syndrome back then.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on March 29, 2015:

Hi billybuc! You should be proud of the fact that you had the wisdom to separate the topics and keep them focused. I've had multiple blogs myself, but would be way overwhelmed with six of 'em. Wow. Well, today we have high winds (they don't call this the Windy City for nothin') and rain. So at least it ain't snow. :) Thanks for stopping by & Happy Weekend!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 29, 2015:

I just counted...over the past three years I've had six blogs. To my credit, each blog was on a different topic, so I'm feeling pretty good about that. :) I hope today is a spring-like day for you, but somehow I have my doubts that it is. :)