Know your subject; don’t dilute it

This isn’t about being an expert, it’s about knowing the topic you’re writing about, and sticking to it.

I don’t mean ‘know everything about your subject‘ I just mean know the subject you mean to write about.

How many multi-subject blogs do you read avidly? Humour sites don’t count! Even news sites, which may well cover anything and everything, arrange their content in to clear sections.

So what’s your subject? If you can’t answer right away then don’t you reckon you have a problem?

How will new visitors to your site understand your intentions? Yes, the ‘About‘ page is incredibly important, but if a new reader can’t tell what the heck your site is about from the front page, then they’ll have no reason to fall in love with your stuff. They’ll go elsewhere and find a site that clearly and obviously matches their wants and needs.

Having a niche is OK – those people who love translation spelling mistakes will adore your Chinglish blog; those people who adore Eighties stuff will love your Smash Hits magazine covers (that you’re been naughty enough to scan in…). Niche sites get attention, and can be seen as the authority within the niche, although if you want to get traffic and a larger audience your subject should be wider than a niche, perhaps wide enough to allow you to digress once in a while. But in any case, you yourself* need to know what your subject is. You need to have a clear idea of what falls within and without your subject. And like I said, this isn’t about being an expert in your subject matter, it’s just about being clear about what your subject is, and communicating it.

Think of Mastermind. “My name is Wedge and my specialist subject is communications, my time starts… now.”

My subject is communications, and my focus is online communications, written communications and internal communications (within a company). My subject has a wide enough scope for me to digress into ‘good writing‘ and even ‘better blogging‘ but you won’t find me discussing adverts or film trailers (not unless I dip into marketing…).

So, do you know what you’re writing about? Please do share your Mastermind specialist subject and your web address :)


* Yes editors, I know this is a superfluous tautology, but it’s for emphasis.

  1. You’re so right but being clear isn’t always easy to manage. Especially if you don’t blog in one language only or if your readers come from different countries.

    So here we go for me, Annette Schwindt, schwindt-pr:

    My subject is communications too, focusing on online communications and exploring social media.

  2. Mine is I think Critical Culture for the Tech Generation.

    I’m not 100% certain of that yet though.

    Now I’m going to disagree slightly about multi-subject blogs seeing as I read quite a few of them; good writers are good writers whether they are running a commentary on one subject versus a multitude. Sometimes that blog is less about the subject, and more about connecting with people, be they fans, or just others who are like-minded.

    I’ll give the former Computer Gaming World/GFW magazine EIC’s blog as an example;

  3. (Having been up too many hours in the last 48 what with the birth of some pups in the Buscall household, I’m a bit wary of commenting; will anyway because this is a subject I often mull over. Geronimo…).

    I absolutely agree with you. But there’s a BUT there somewhere.

    I think it’s ideal to have a tightly based niche blog if you’re looking to build regular readers. My favourite blogs (, SwissMiss, SearchEngine Journal, etc.) all have this. But I think it can be useful to be a little more eclectic if you’re trying to generate clients with a slightly broader portfolio of skills / services.

    For example, in my head I would say: “My blog is about communicating effectively through online channels like blogs, email, social media, and blah, blah”.

    But it’s not as neatly niched as I might want.

    This predominantly stems from the work I do but it’s also how I use to market myself as a jobbing freelancer.

    I do a broad spectrum of things that involve working with words: journalism, to copywriting, editing, translating and so on. But hand on heart, a lot of the new work (as opposed to return customers) I get comes directly through my blog.

    It’s how people find me.

    I know this having collated some data. So, bottom line, my slightly more eclectic approach works. It brings in work.

    Perhaps if I woke up tomorrow and decided I was only going to concentrate on, say, SEO copywriting, I would rebrand my blog. Niche it. As tightly as drainpipes.

    But in the meantime I’m wary of focussing in one area.

    I come across so many blogs that are niched and on the money but don’t resonate with authority simply because they ARE niched.

    Ideally, I’d love to have a Marketing blog, a journalism blog, a Social Media blog, etc., but I just can’t multiply myself ten times over.

    So can I go with the following, please: – a hotch-potch of musings about communicating effectively with the occasional reference to basset hounds and Wagamama.

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