Writing for Different Crowds: Why I Chose to Combine All of My Blogs Into One

06 August 2009 · 7 comments

Via e-mail, Cory asks:

You consolidated a good number of sites into your personal site, Foldedspace. Why did you choose that route? Was it just easier to maintain one site than many, or did you find a lot of overlap in what you wrote? I’m just starting to blog again, but I have a good four different subjects I’d like to write about, and I’m trying to decide whether to separate them into distinct sites or keep them together, as you have.

This is a great question.

When I originally set up my blog empire, I thought it would be fun to have  several niche blogs. In a way, it was. Around various parts of the Internet, I had:

  • Animal Intelligence, a blog about animal intelligence
  • Bibliophilic, my blog about books
  • Comic Strip Library, a comic-strip blog that I never actually started
  • Four Color Comics, a blog about comics
  • Get Fit Slowly, the health and fitness blog I co-authored with my friend, Mac
  • Get Green Slowly, my blog about environmentalism (which never got beyond domain registration)
  • Get Rich Slowly, my main money blog
  • Money Hacks, my other money blog
  • Oak Grove Crossing, the group blog I was going to start with friends to write about our neighborhood.
  • Spiral Bound, my stillborn blog about paper and notebooks (yes, really)
  • Success Daily, a stillborn blog about success topics
  • Tech Lust, a gadget blog that never got going
  • Vintage Pop, my blog about U.S. popular culture from before 1950.

I’m not the only one who has this blog addiction. My friend Jim Wang (from Bargaineering) is perhaps the worst of the lot. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he has dozens of blogs. I keep finding new ones.

But with every blog, there’s a certain “overhead” of attention required, and I found that as my personal finance blog grew and grew, I had less time to devote to each of my many niche sites. They fell dormant. They stagnated.

Perhaps worse, this site (in its foldedspace.org form), which had once boasted a small but close community, also fell into disuse. At one time, I wrote at Foldedspace nearly every day, and we had many lively conversations here on a variety of topics. As I fragmented my writing into many little niches, that went away.

Eventually I realized that I was doing myself a disservice. I wanted to write about this other stuff, about animal intelligence and comic books and fitness, but having separate blogs for each topic was just too much of a barrier, both for me and for potential readers. A couple of months ago, I came to the conclusion that it was time to reclaim the diaspora, to bring the children back to their ancestral homeland. I wanted to resurrect Foldedspace and to use it to feature all of my non-financial writing.

My big worry about re-merging everything was: Would anyone read this Frankenstein monster of a site? It occurred to me that it didn’t matter. I don’t write these other blogs for an audience, really. I write them for me. If there is no audience for a Foldedspace that explores a hodge-podge of subjects, that’s fine. I’m at least writing for myself and for a few close friends.

So I made the move. I cut back to two blogs: Get Rich Slowly and Foldedspace.

From the standpoint of maximizing audience and maximizing revenue, this probably makes little sense. But Foldedspace doesn’t need to yield either of these things for me to be happy. (In fact, I’ve removed all ads from the jdroth.com version of Foldedspace.) It just needs to be a spot where I can write about cats and comic books, and about blogs and bicycles.

This is a very long answer, and I don’t think it really addresses Cory’s question. For me, it made sense to combine everything into one blog. For Cory, it may not. All I know is that since I made this move a few weeks ago, I feel invigorated. I’m excited about writing again. It feels great to have Foldedspace operational once more.

1 Cory Kaufman August 6, 2009 at 08:21

Ha… I suppose it’s fitting that I ask a question about blogging and I get a whole blog post as an answer!

After reading what you said, I think I’m leaning towards the two-blog model as well. One that is tech-based, and caters to a specific crowd, and one that is a collection of my personal interests. The nice thing about a personal site is that you have the luxury of writing about a variety of topics on an irregular basis, even if you’re writing a blog post a day. That is a very appealing concept to me, as I (like you) have a million different things I want to write about.

Thanks for the post!

2 Michael Rawdon August 6, 2009 at 10:30

I realized long ago that I’m not a prolific enough writer to maintain multiple blogs, and that I write my own blog primarily for me, and hope that some other folks enjoy it too. It’s been a little disappointing that blogging has devolved into a collection of niche markets, but perhaps inevitable, as the Internet has enabled niche markets like nothing else in history.

3 kel August 6, 2009 at 11:54

i think foldedspace, by its name, was destined to be as it is now, and i like it. i wouldn’t admit that sometimes i don’t read posts that don’t interest me (like comics, wait, did i just…? oh well), but i always look at them and stay for as long as i’m interested. i’ve stayed for the writing and for the variety of the topics.

4 Drew August 7, 2009 at 21:26

Ah ha! I get it. One blog to rule them all, and in the darkness bind them!

5 Eden Jaeger August 9, 2009 at 15:47

I’ve created and (mostly) abandoned many blogs myself. At least I’m in good company! I think you made a wise move.

6 Tyler Karaszewski August 10, 2009 at 17:48

Over-specialization in topics like this makes the content under any particular topic pretty thin. You list 13 blogs up there. If you wrote one article per day, and spread the articles among each of them, you’d barely have two per month on any given subject. You’re not going to make it big in the blogging world with two articles per month on your topic of choice, especially if they’re not two articles into which you poured two weeks of effort each.

So, if you’re conceding that none of these are going to be “successful” blogs (in the sense that they draw tens of thousands of readers every day, with other bloggers linking to almost all of your articles), you might as well just do whatever you want. If you decide to consolidate, it makes it easier to manage everything, and makes it easy for your audience (small as it may be for an eclectic list of interests like your own) to see what you’ve been up to without checking 13 sites.

Once you concede that it’s a personal rather than professional site, it makes sense to just write personally, about all your interests. We don’t segregate conversations with friends based on topic: “Today I read a great book, but I’m not going to mention it to James, because he wouldn’t have subscribed to the book blog.” That’s unnecessary. People come here to see what you’re thinking, it’s the point of the site.

7 Mike August 16, 2009 at 21:20

I love seeing Foldedspace back and in top form!

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