How to Change Your Blog’s Content Focus

blog-change

For those that have been following and reading this blog for some time you’ve most likely noticed a few changes here and there, some of which you might have liked and others that you may not have agreed with completely.

If you’ve been paying attention you will have noticed a few of the following things:

  • Changing my “tagline” (or the thing under my blog title) from “Blogging for Fun & Profit” to “Startups, Blogging, and Human Capital”.
  • Focusing a bit more on startups, entrepreneurship, and the daily challenges of running a small business instead of exclusively on blogging and online publishing.
  • A bit more about the startups that I’m involved in and some of the other projects that I’ve got going on.
  • A little bit more content surrounding me, as a person, and my personal struggles.
  • Lower engagement in the comments. The reason for this has less to do with a strategy and more about how busy I’ve been recently with some of my more pressing needs. But this feels ok and it fits a bit, somewhat.

For sure there have been a few of you who have noticed and have given me some private acknowledgements, both positive and some that I would consider very negative, but it is what it is.

You see, for good or ill it happens – your blog will change and evolve as you evolve. This makes sense since you’re in constant motion and are evolving and growing as a person and if you’re blog is at all personal then you’ll find that your blog will change with you.

This is neither a good or bad thing – but it’s important to recognize and plan a bit if possible. Strategically planning the change in your content and your blog’s focus will help minimize the impact on your readers and help retain the majority of them as you pivot.

You won’t please everyone, you can be sure of that. For example, here’s an email I got from a reader who noticed the content focus change and didn’t like it:

blog-change-comment

Sorry…!

This wasn’t the first negative email and certainly wasn’t the last but his opinion and perspective is his own and I respect it. Sure, he could have gone about it with a nicer tone but I was able to thank him for his perspective. I may have responded a bit in turn as well:

blog-comment-response

My candid response.

We went on to have a few more conversations and he was apologetic and we ended on good terms. I don’t always respond to things like this but I was in the right mood and this particular comment got some attention.

The point is that you won’t please everyone and so if you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings then you better not consider it! But if you’re writing is vastly more important than a few hurt feelings then proceed!

Here are a few things to consider as you contemplate the changing your blog content:

  1. It’s your blog. Remember that. you command your content and you do not owe any favors to your community. Sure, some of them have been around for a long time and are loyal fans but they didn’t become loyal fans because you were like everyone else and they certainly haven’t stuck around because you were servicing them every morning with the content that they were expecting. I feel like the loyal fans I have are invested in me, as a person first, and blogger a much distant second.
  2. Start experimenting lightly. I started lightly expanding my categories and testing out content to see how the reaction would be. No one appeared to notice right off the bat and it wasn’t a major disruption from the typical flow of things. Adding a new category is an easy way to do this and writing once a week on a new topic is a small but fleeting interruption. This is for you and your audience as you might just need to talk about something different for a time instead of changing the entire direction of the blog!
  3. Get ready for candid feedback. Like the one shown above you need to just brace yourself for some kickback. This is natural and a part of the evolutionary process of changing. It comes at a price, sometimes you pay most of it and sometimes your readers feel like they are paying for your random experiments. It just comes with the territory.
  4. Have fun and provide value. Continue to have fun in all that you do and continue to provide value to your readers, even if it’s   bit different. Your audience is there because they believe in what you have to say and believe that you have and will continue to provide value to them. Give it to them!

Changing your content’s focus can be a very enriching activity and could be the start of a significant internal rebranding effort on your part (or could just be a small one). This is an exciting time for you and may even renew your passion for blogging to an entirely different level.

Love to know your thoughts!

  • http://gravatar.com/denniscarmody denniscarmody

    Thank you for posting this. It confirms what we all already knew about the direction of your blog.

    Continue to grow, but don’t forget your roots. This blog grew as a guide to blogging, especially for those of us who are blogging outside of our “normal” jobs. (See: http://john.do/what-is-a-tentblogger/) I’ve long-since moved on to others when looking for quality blogging advice, and I feel bad that I now regard about 4/5ths of your posts as spam in my Reader. I’m unsubscribing now. I’ll return from time to time to see if you have anything interesting to say but it won’t be part of my daily routine anymore.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      4 out of 5 posts are “spam”? wow. pretty bummed you see it that way!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Do you mean the reader calls them spam? Or that you do?

      • http://john.do John Saddington

        i believe he’s saying that my posts are considered “spam” and not worth reading. it is what it is…!

        • http://projectwhitespace.com Bethany Jo Lee

          They aren’t spam John.

    • http://gravatar.com/g2-8cd51a327d1f6adaafe2d7a6bdc42f15 g2-8cd51a327d1f6adaafe2d7a6bdc42f15

      I have to say that I more or less agree. I stumbled across this blog while looking for tips to grow a blog and increase traffic, and the trend towards navel-gazing (yeah, the jeans thing was a huge “???? Who really cares?”) is disappointing.

      I understand it’s your blog and all that, but if (by way of analogy) a person goes to restaurant X because they have a reputation for great seafood, he’s going to be disappointed when the maitre’ d tells him, “Oh, by the way – we’re in the process of changing our menu, and soon we’ll be a Texas steakhouse,” what’s the customer’s response going to be?

      “Great, but that’s not really what I’m looking for – sayonora…”

    • http://dustn.tv Dustin W. Stout

      Are you even a blogger? After following a rabbit trail of links I couldn’t find anything you’ve written recently… unless June 18th is recent.

      Weird that you would be so upset when you don’t seem remotely interested in blogging to begin with. #justsaying

  • http://bluecollarliving.com James Dibben

    I have ended up doing this more times than I would like to admit.

    My site started on a business coaching platform. Once I decided to quit business coaching I moved to more spiritual and personal stuff.

    I saw a dramatic dip in traffic but it is starting to come back up now. I didn’t get a lot of push back but I did not have the traffic a site like this has.

    Good advice!

  • http://bit51.com Chris Wiegman

    Thanks for the confirmation John. While I must admit that the new content is not what lead me to your blog in the first place I can definitely relate to the evolution of your vision and hope that the next generation of your readers will do the same. I also congratulate you as it definitely shows how you have grown beyond your roots and managed to evolve your work in ways that sink so many others.

  • http://projectwhitespace.com Bethany Lee

    Hi John, I came to your blog first because I found your tips and expertise on blogging to be very helpful. It wasn’t that long ago I found the blog (maybe 6 months??), so I quickly realized you weren’t doing much of that anymore. At first I was like, gee, where’s the blogging tips? But as I kept reading, I realized you have a lot more to offer than just blogging tips. This community will benefit from the broader scope of what you are now writing if they will open up.
    You are an entrepreneur. As a blogger who wants to make money via my blog (whether directly or indirectly), I can relate to your expertise in this area, and find it valuable.
    This is the natural progression of your blog, and I think it’s great.
    Also, this post comes as PERFECT timing for me since I just launched my blog with my new theme (Standard theme, yeah!!). Along with that launch was a message of things they would start to find. In other words, I’m going to be making a gradual change as well, and it started by refining my categories.
    Take a moment to check it out–I’m loving standard!!
    http://projectwhitespace.com

  • http://gravatar.com/paulsalesman Paul Barstow

    Thanks For the great post John, it was you that inspired me to finally get off my arse and start blogging with your evergreen post way back when. I must say I found your posts on blogging very useful however I personally like the new direction of your blog, its great to see some humanity in a blog and its also great to understand yourself well enough to face up to this tough decision.

    I feel like you know you more and this can only be a good thing.

    Come and have a look at my blog, the one you inspired, I would love to see you here. It can be found at http://advretisinginconstruction.com

    Paul

  • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

    I loved this post so much. Because you’re right, we evolve and change. This year I let go of my writing mentoring focus because I was burning out. Around that time, I sensed God say, “It’s time to get out of the nest into the next.” That had been my focus for several years, but now I’m moving forward as an author and speaker. I know that the folks I helped coach and mentor were sad, but I also know that there are others out there who do a great job at it.

  • http://jamogck.wordpress.com Jordan Mogck

    What’s crazy is, you’ve simply leveraged a tool (a blog) to lead the way for many of us into what could be considered “the next frontier” of profitability and leadership. I’ve noticed that as you’ve posted on newer topics pertaining to entrepreneurship,etc, my own horizons have been stretched and I’m finding myself following.

    Thank you for starting at square one and leading forward from there.

  • http://ericspeir.com/ Eric

    I like John’s candidness. The thing that I appreciate the most is the fact he’s still growing as a person and as a leader. If you weren’t growing, then I wouldn’t want to be a part of your tribe. Keep moving!

  • http://intentionaltoday.com Ngina Otiende

    “You will be missed, even if i never saw a single comment from you”. Classic :)

    We can’t always take everyone in our life’s journey. Life and focus change. We would be un-smart to hold back because we fear a losing some fans. Cos we didn’t get into it in the first place for fans (hopefully) but because of passion.

  • http://www.aboutguineapigs.org Radu

    The key to success is to make your readers to like your writing style. You should be able to model your text to your visitors and your visitors to like your text. But this comes with experience and practice.

  • http://www.pastormarkhaines.wordpress.com Mark Haines

    Thanks, John. I’m changing my blog content this year and appreciate your advice.

  • http://writeworship.com Austin Moore

    I have no problem with Tent Blogger being whatever makes you happy, John. You should feel free to be yourself. Not every post is equally relevant to me, but who cares? Just be John. I’m gonna be me.

  • http://www.lincolnparks.com Lincoln Parks

    You were really nice with your answer on this John. I might have not been so nice, but then again I might have done the same thing you have. I understand growth and evolving and though I rarely comment on your blog I absolutely love your growth and where you are going and evolving as a person. I absolutely follow your blog and keep growing and writing. Not everyone grows in their life, and its sad that they don’t.

  • David Knapp

    I think candid feedback is probably okay because at least you know that people were listening to you in the first place.

    Even if you keep changing the content of this site I’ll keep tuning in to see what you have to say.

  • @ThatGuyKC

    Love your candid approach.

    I’d noticed the shifting of Tentblogger and honestly was disappointed because of all the great content you’ve published on blogging best practices and WP ninja skills.

    However, your new “genre” is still value-added and content that fits in with some other blogs I follow. I’m a faithful reader, just consuming differently now.

    I am curious why you didn’t have an announcement post about the shift sooner? That might have played into some readers’ negative reaction because they felt tricked as the content shifted quietly. Just a thought.

    Keep up the good work.

  • http://jcisonline.com JC

    I definitely appreciate your candor. I know I’ve wanted to change directions on my blog numerous times. After reading so much about focusing on your blog, I thought it was best to narrow down my content strategically.

    Now I feel a bit boxed in. Would love to hear more about your strategy in tweaking the focus of your blog!!

  • http://derekgriz.com derek griz

    John, I applaud your move. What is a blog if it’s not personal, authentic, and growing? Honestly, I think we’ll see more of this trend. Blogs must be personal again. Topic blogs and reposters can feel so hollow over time. In my opinion, the best bloggers out there are the ones who are able to artfully interweave personal narrative with relevant content. And I think you do that. And because of that, I’ve come to appreciate John not just tentblogger. So forget the naysayers, and write on! I’m still reading.

  • http://svalb.org Tomb

    You should make that list that you were talking about in that email! Would love to see what sites could possible be better than this site? Maybe worth making the list in a new post?

  • William Lee

    I honestly agree with your correspondent, if not his tone. This site was my principal source of information in building my own WordPress blog, and I’ll always be grateful for that (thanks, truly!). And all that content’s still here, even if I ignore most of the new content in my Reader.

    But I think what many people may be reacting to is a perceived shift in blogging philosophy, which you haven’t been so candid in talking about. “It’s your blog”, bolded, looks defensive, and contradicts everything I learned about mining one specific niche from you (advice I still think holds), and well as persistently building readership interested in that niche.

    You’re still an appealing writer, and seemingly an appealing person, but this is the place I used to come for a “behind the scenes” look at how blogging/SEO/monetization works, which gave the blog a reputation for honesty. Now I occasionally get the feeling I’m being manipulated, or not being shown what’s behind the curtain. Take those jeans: surely an exercise in SEO (if I learned anything from you), and maybe I would have enjoyed the experiment if I’d been let in on it.

    But “It’s your blog.” Yes it is, but that attitude, if we’re thinking of blogs as businesses and not as “journals”, seems like a recipe for bad decisions. Again, I genuinely wish the best for you, and I understand that a man might want to shift where he focuses his energy, but a reader who takes the time to give his opinion on your work shouldn’t be entirely dismissed, whether he’s left comments before or not (see how I did that? This is my first comment here!)

    And “I feel like the loyal fans I have are invested in me, as a person first, and blogger a much distant second.” Yes, and if I ever had the chance to meet you, I’d happily buy you a drink, but until that happens, you’re a blogger – words on a screen.

  • http://davidplusworld.com David

    Wow, my e-mail generated a full post?
    I’m impressed and have to keep my ego in check now. :-)
    (Yes, i’m still somewhat around, I didn’t totally quit you, I still follow you on G+ and Twitter)

    And yes, my tone could have been better (I’m always grumpy in the morning), as John mentioned, I apologized later.

    Cheers.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      hey, you came back. ;)

  • http://fantasybaseballcrackerjacks.com Clave

    I don’t know why people complain about you not writing about just blogging anymore, you just posted a great How To on shifting the focus on a blog. :)

    Expanding the horizons is good, plus all your old blogging advice – outside of some posts where the technology has changed – is still discoverable and relevant.