I have a general question in regard to a blog I would like to start. Like most people, my interests are varied and I have always wanted a group blog that reflected that. Is there a way to do a group blog that has more than one topic, perhaps with six or seven focus areas, and not have one or two of the more controversial subjects consume the entire purpose of the blog? Or is it just a bad idea in general to try to have that many areas of interests crammed in there.
Case in point: I would love to start a group blog on atheism, but I’m also a graphic artist and entertainer. I follow technology, politics and animation. Is that too much? Is this one of those situations, where by trying to make it everything, it results in a big, messy nothing?
The biggest blog I ever owned was the third largest Disney Blog in its time. It did very well, and some have argued that its success came with its ability to focus.
Well, what do you consider success for your blog? Is it a repository for your thoughts? An experiment in writing? A news source for people? Do you want lots of views or do you care? The answers to these questions might help out a little.
If you want tons of views, good content and enough plugging on boards and social networks will eventually do that. Having lots of categories to spread your time across may be an issue.
You could, with the magic of wordpress, have several different blogs that cover niches, instead of one big one that covers everything. You won't update them all every day, but say Tuesday will be your technology update day and Wednesday is the day you update entertainment.
Another alternative is to have an overarching theme that all other things come from. Look at PZ's blog, Pharyngula. It's not necessarily all about atheism. There's political content, recently a lot of feminist content, pictures of cephalopods, actual scientific peer reviewings of biological papers.
I suppose I kind of have the same issue as you, so I've thought of it a lot. I decided to consolidate everything into one blog and use "series" as a way to organize and categorize my interests just so I don't have a ton of blogs to update. My blog, Miguel's Musings, isn't the most popular blog on the web (one or two views a day) but it serves my needs to experiment and right now it's a victim of my neglectful time schedule.
Hope all that made some sense.
I'm not going to pretend my blogs with little or no readership give me the satisfaction that my larger blog did; I take a more pragmatic view that I write to be read.
You have a personal blog with little readership. I have the very same issue with my PERSONAL blog. We all wish that people were interested in others, but that’s not how the public consumes. My success came with a blog that was focused on Disney. Had i mixed that subject with another that didn’t have some organic attachment to Disney, I suspect i would have lost a lot of readers.
In regard to bloggers like PZ Meyers, it’s a moot point. Certainly he is a fantastic blogger with a lot of valid opinions, but he can get away with multiple subjects, not because of his ability, but in that his jumping off point is his celebrity status.
I'm starting to consider that by consolidating blogs, what you end up with is the blogging equivalent of a hamburger, sushi, fruit and milk smoothy; delicious on their own, but combined, it’s unlikely to be ordered unless its a cafeteria at a mental institution.
My goal would be to consolidate the bloggers themselves. That way people can focus on the quality of their content.
I suppose my questions is that during a time when atheism is such a divisive subject, and a subject that often causes a small blog to be labeled as “that atheist blog”, do people think it’s even possible for a small blog to get away with the varied content that a larger newspaper would? And if it is possible, what is a consolidated marketing label that one could use to broaden it enough to allow for generally nerdy and artistic content without disrupting the organic focus often needed to keep a readership?
This is something I've been trying to figure out for my own blog. Here's a piece I wrote in response to PZ's advice to use your blog as your way of freely voicing your opinion. So far I've tried to keep mine to atheism, religion, philosophy, ethics, secularism, and science, and that's required resisting the urge to blog about non-secularism related politics and Linux. I'm starting to branch out just a little bit.
I've thought about it a bit and having the occasional Linux related post, as long as it isn't too technical or I use a page break shouldn't alienate my readers who use Windows or Mac OS X. What it will do is allow me to more freely express myself and my interests on my blog and show my readers more of what I think and care about and possibly bring in people who otherwise would never visit an atheist blog. Since I have already covered some technology in my weekly Tuesday Science News it shouldn't be too big of a jump for my readers.
The other take on it is to keep it focused so as to not alienate your readers.
As Luis has already mentioned, PZ Myers is a great example of someone who's varied interests are all present on his blog. Sure, some of his science articles are a little too technical for me and some of his political posts are too liberal for me but I don't have to agree with everything he says to like his blog and I also know how to move on to the next post.
While I do write largely, to express myself, I can't pretend that I don't like it when someone enjoys what I do, or that I often wish more people would stumble on to my ramblings and leave thinking I'm some kind of genius :)
My atheism is just one aspect of who I am, and I didn't want my blog to be just about that - but at the same time, I didn't want it to directly cover all the other large areas of interest in my life because it would, while snaring more people into my intellectual web, would make it feel more diffuse, and I would risk losing the ability to focus on one issue over another (not to mention that I'd have to update it more often to cover all areas of interest).
In the end I did the one thing that I'd recommend to anyone else ... I found the one thing that unites all of my interests; I do love a good, well-reasoned, passionate rant, and, in my time, I've had more than a few :) Most, I grant you, are about religion but, because I also love writing and playing music, building websites, writing stories and articles, designing software, making movies, and any other number of creative interests, I found that I was always able to muster sufficient ranty outrage and annoyance in these areas that I can vent about it in blog form.
So, I started my blog as a collection of "loud, rude words about religion (and other annoyances)", and I'm quite happy with it. The focus is largely on the annoyance of faith, but the umbrella notion of "ranting" allows me to take tangential detours on to other things that I get very passionate about (read: things that wind me up a lot) :)
If my rambling doesn't make any sense, I guess what I'm saying is that, for me, what works is to have a primary focus within a general theme that allows sufficient latitude for including your other interests without seeming like you're trying to crowbar them in clumsily :)