Photo by Shell de Mar
Due in part to the launch of The Blogcademy, I’ve been getting a lot of blogging-specific questions lately and felt they deserved their own category and column! If you have a blogging question of your own, please send it my way at advice @ nubbytwiglet.com. The following question just hit my inbox:
“What is the balance between topics/features that you like to keep to maintain reader interest (e.g. your lifestyle, thought leadership, career advice, reviews of stuff you come across) and was this balance different when you first started out?”
How to Find Your Balance
When you’re blogging professionally and looking for ways to grow your readership, inevitably the balance question pops up. It goes something like this: “How much should I blog about myself versus more general topics in my niche?” This is important to consider because not everyone who comes across your blog will be interested in your niche. For instance, I’m a graphic designer but if all I posted about was my latest design projects and spouted out design jargon, my following would be a lot smaller because honestly, not everyone gives a hoot about design. And, I would get incredibly bored just posting about one topic day in and day out. I know that not all of my readers care about my profession but some may be interested in personal style, business and career advice, life in Portland and cool links I’ve gathered for the week.
While it’s important to have a defined niche that your content revolves around, if you wind your blog too tightly around a singular subject, it can become very dry and insular. Always use your niche as a guide — think of it as a bull’s eye in the middle of a dart board. But then, throw some darts a little further outside of the center. How can you add more depth to your content? What else do you have to offer?
The general consensus I’ve heard time and again is that people first visit a blog because of the niche but stick around for the blogger. We click in because a post intrigues us. But, why do we keep returning? For the personality! And as bloggers, we’re not all one-dimensional. While a lot of us have careers we love, families we love and so on, there’s still more to life. We all have places we love to visit. Favorite restaurants. Idols who inspired us to become who we are. Books and movies that move us. Other bloggers we admire. Living spaces we’re constantly revamping. As bloggers, by sharing what we are passionate about, we become more relatable and way less one-dimensional.
Columns I Started and Why
Many of the columns you currently see on my blog week after week have been running for four years strong! Most started because I noticed a gap in my content or was inspired by what I saw other bloggers doing. If you get an idea from another blogger’s column, just remember to give it a unique name and add your own spin!
• I started The Typofiles because as a designer in college back in 2007, typography and editorial design were of particular interest to me and I saw an opportunity to share new things I’d come across with other aspiring creatives. To this day, I mostly scan and photograph the work myself so it has my own spin.
• Link Love began in 2007 because I wanted a space to compile all the rad links I’d come across on the internet that week — it was a chance to share the love and link back to fellow bloggers I admired (I actually became friends with quite a few of them through this column!)
• I started The Week In Pictures in 2008 because I’d been carrying a camera in my purse every day for years and always ended up with piles of awesome, unused photos. Having a place to curate my latest shots every week and share new discoveries meant that I could convey more of my personality on my blog.
• What I Wore launched in 2007 because I’ve always felt that our sartorial choices are just another form of art. And getting dressed should be elevated to just that — it’s a valid creative outlet.
• I started my Advice column in 2008 because other aspiring creatives were writing me, looking for insights into schooling and design and it was a way for me to give back. I was always very open about not being able to afford art school and instead enrolling in community college for my design education. It turned out to be the best educational decision I’ve made and I wanted to let people know that sometimes it’s okay to take the path less traveled when it comes to education and careers.
• The Latest & Greatest launched in 2012 because I was constantly inspired by something new, whether it was a specific color or fashion trend and thought it would be cool to share that wavelength through simple visual curations.
I wanted to share this list to encourage you to think about drawing from your own interests for your columns. Don’t over think it — not every column needs to be groundbreaking. Some columns will develop naturally as you continue blogging while others may be created to fill a specific need. Listen to your readers — they’re not afraid to let you know what they want to see more of! But also, listen to your gut. Some columns may not be the most popular but maybe they’re a personal outlet that keep you inspired to keep on blogging. The key is to strike that balance!
If you’re looking for even more column inspiration, here are some of my favorite series I follow and love:
1. Gala Darling’s weekly gratitude list, Things I Love Thursday. 2. The super crafty Make It column by Design Love Fest. 3. Need Read Greed on Jane Reaction. 4. Friday Link Pack by Swiss Miss. 5. Be Free, Lance by Breanna Rose. 6. Door Sixteen’s Yeah, I Could Live There. 7. Launched! by Pugly Pixel. 8. Since You Asked by Cary Tennis.
And, if you’re thirsty for even more blogging-specific content, Gala just started a fantastic multi-part series!
It’s your turn!
What are some of your favorite columns?
Were some of your most popular columns a happy accident or did you develop them to fill a hole in your content?
View more of the Blog Log series here.