A Focused Blog Is A Happy Blog

How focused is your blog? Would a regular reader be able to reasonable guess what your next post might be about without seeing the post title? Are you giving your readers something to expect and anticipate to bring them back tomorrow and next week?

As much as I’d like to tell you otherwise, I don’t think I can give satisfactory answers to any of the questions above. I’ve felt for a long time this blog has lacked the kind of focus I’d like to see it have. Hopefully that will change in the not too distant future.

I’m sure most, if not all, of you have noticed the polls I added to the sidebar when I redesigned the site. You know the ones just to your right and down a little. I added them for the simple reason of wanting to get to know you better.

Some of you I know personally, some of you I’ve gotten to know through comments, but the majority of you I can only really guess about. Hopefully the polls make for a nice way for you to share a little something about yourself without being too taxing.

For everyone who has responded to any of the polls that have run, thank you. I do appreciate it and they’re already helping me learn more about how to make this blog better. I would like to call your attention to the currently running poll.

The goal of this poll is rather direct. I’d like to know what you’re interested in seeing me write about here. If you’ve been with me for awhile you know I write about a variety of topics that all fall under the large umbrella of online business, but with the idea of adding more focus I want make the umbrella a little smaller. I have my own ideas, which I’ll share in a moment, but I also wanted your input.

My Three Goals For The Year

I’ve think I’ve mentioned a few times over the last few months that I’ve had 3 main goals for the year 2008. They changed a little since I first mentioned goals at the start of the year.

The first was to redesign the old site and move it from the yellowhousehosting domain to the vanseodesign domain in order to build a better brand. I hope it’s obvious that this first goal was met. If you’re unsure just look up at the address bar in your browser to confirm.

Goal 2 is to enter the WordPress theme market. I’ve hinted at it here and there that I’m currently working on a theme framework and ideally it’ll be ready by the end of the month. More likely it’ll be late October or heading into the holiday season, but I like to be optimistic. I’ll keep everyone updated and fill you in with more details as we get closer to launch.

The third goal at the point of this post is to focus or refocus this blog.

Why A Focused Blog Is A Better Blog

Just about every time I’ve suggested someone choose a focused topic for their blog the response is along the lines of not wanting to limit the topics written about. I think there’s a misconception about what it means to focus a blog.

How about an example using sports.

Sports would be a wide focus for a blog. Think about all the different sports out there. It’s unlikely one person is an expert on all of them. Football, the American kind, would be more narrow, but still somewhat wide in focus when you consider there’s more than one professional league, college and high school football, flag football, etc. A blog about the National Football League further narrows the focus, and a blog specifically about the New York Giants would be even more narrowly focused.

Can you tell I’m looking forward to (and now watching) the first game of the regular season? Go Giants!

A common objection to a New York Giants focused blog might be that you’d want to write about all the other teams too. You still can. A blog about the Giants isn’t limited to only posts about the Giants, but the majority of posts should be written with the context of the Giants in mind.

If you wrote about the Dallas Cowboys you’d want to write about them in relation to an upcoming game against the Giants or how A Cowboys win or loss affects the Giants chances of making the playoffs. The point is you’re not limited in what you write about, but rather should be writing in the context of the focus of your blog.

my father's grassland, my marsh /
photo credit: [puamelia]

Where I Want To Focus This Blog

That brings me back to this blog and where the focus is and where it should be going.

Again, I think most posts here have always fallen under the umbrella of online business. I write about marketing and SEO, social media, and blogging, but I think overall it’s been too wide of a focus.

When first starting this blog my aim was to write more design and development posts. Posts like:

While I wear many hats as a business owner I primarily consider myself a web designer/developer. Somehow I got away from that early on and have hesitated to move back towards it.

In part the reason is that it’s not always easy to change habits. I’ve developed a rhythm for writing and switching to writing more about code and design would require a change in that rhythm.

The other part is not knowing how you’d respond. If you’re here because you like a certain kind of post and I write less of those posts you might leave and I’d rather see you stay.

The poll currently running has been showing the most votes for design and development topics since the beginning. There hasn’t been a huge response and there’s not a large disparity between the top and the bottom, but it’s making me think many of you wouldn’t mind seeing more design and development posts.

I’m taking a cue from those of you who have voted that it’s ok for me to start tweaking things around here. If you haven’t voted in the poll, but want to help shape the direction of this blog, please vote and/or comment below. It’s really the only way I know what you’re thinking.

Now please know even with a refocus I’m still planning on writing about most of the topics I usually write about. But how often I write about certain topics may change and the perspective of those posts may change a little as well.

Any changes I make will probably take some time for me to work through and you won’t see a major break with the status quo. More likely it’ll be a gradually change as I find a new rhythm without trying to drastically alter what’s been going on here the last few years.

Again thank you to everyone who’s voted in the poll and to all those who haven’t yet, please do vote to let me know a little about what you’re thinking. And to everyone, don’t be shy. Share your thoughts in the comments below. Now’s your chance to let me know where you want to see me go with TheVanBlog.

Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.


  1. Looks like your readers want to know a bit of everything ~!

    Not a bad thing though Steven, if you were to PURELY done one of those niches you’d probably run out of ideas for content. It’s good to be focused, but you can’t be so focused that you have nothing to write on.

    • It is kind of mixed isn’t it? Maybe I have no choice, but to write on a variety of topics.

      I would like to write more design/development posts and those seem to be getting a few more votes, but from top to bottom there really isn’t all that much difference.

      I’m going to leave this poll up for awhile longer and keep collecting votes to see if any tends emerges.

      I don’t want to be hyper-focused. I expect to always write on a variety of topics, but what I would like is for people to have an expectation of what they might find here before arriving.

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