Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

The Two Types of Blogs & Which One Is Right for You

Here’s another question I’ve been getting a lot recently: What type of blog do you think I should have?

My answer: It’s up to you. You have a couple of choices, but you can only choose one.

Blog Types

Photo credit: Flick (Creative Commons)

The Two Blog Types

There are two major routes you can take with a blog:

  1. Personal: You can make it about you.
  2. Thematic: You can make it about a subject.

Which one you choose really depends on what you want to do with your blog.

Starting a personal blog

The first presumes that there is a reason why people would want to follow you (eventually). It takes longer to develop a following (unless you’re a celebrity) but is more flexible.

These blogs tend to have longer lifespans, as opposed to thematic ones.

For example, I saw that Michael Hyatt recently recommended to someone on Twitter to start a personal blog if you don’t want to eventually sell your blog content.

If your blog is a place for you to share your ideas — and these ideas change over time — then keep it a personal blog. Just make sure your readers understand that this is your intent. And be sure that you brand it under your name and with your personality.

Starting a thematic blog

The second type assumes that you’re choosing a topic that other people are interested in. It’s easier to grow but doesn’t allow you to get very personal.

Because of the nature of the content, a thematic blog can keep your audience at a distance. If you end up having a more vulnerable, “human” moment, it may come off as inappropriate for the blog. Your audience may struggle to relate (not always, but sometimes).

If you try to promote yourself or your work on this type of blog, it may come off as disingenuous or disconnected.

The good news, though, is that people tend to congregate more quickly around ideas than people. This type of blog may immediately attract a certain niche. Just be sure that you choose your topic wisely, and brand your blog appropriately.

Once you pick it, you’re likely stuck with it for the long haul.

What type of blog is this?

I’ve decided to do a kind of hybrid. I’m making my blog about a theme that I’m passionate about (i.e. writing), but I’ve personally branded it with my name so that it reflects my personal journey, as well.

The limitations, of course, are the following:

  • It’s limited to a particular craft. If I ever stop being a writer, the URL becomes obsolete. (I’m pretty sure that this will never happen, so it’s a safe bet.)
  • I can’t scale it. If other people want to regularly write for my blog, it doesn’t work. It’s my name that it’s branded under. I always have to be the dominant voice. (Of course, guest posts are acceptable.)
  • I can’t sell it (unless you know some other writers named “Goins” out there). Of course, I wouldn’t to, though.

Eventually, I’ll branch out from the concentration on writing and expand into some broader topics (e.g. creativity). The “writer” part will always be a part of it, though, as this is how I approach most ideas.

Whatever I write, my writing voice will always remain consistent.

Which type should you choose?

It all depends. I have really been amazed by how much attention a blog focused primarily on a single topic can get you, so there’s a lot to be said about finding a niche that you care about and writing for it.

If you’re going short-term, do a thematic one. It will win you a community quickly, and in less time that you’d expect, you can sell it or give it away to the community.

If you’re going more long-term, do a personal one. Focus on you, your life and your ideas; you’ll be able to change the content as you change — without your audience getting too confused.

And no matter what type of blog you choose, make sure that you create compelling content and avoid the bad blog design status quo. There’s a lot of crap out there; be different.

What type of blog is yours? Are there other types you’ve noticed?

*Photo credit: trazomfreak (Creative Commons)

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

Ever Wonder If Your Blog Post Is Good Enough?

We built a free tool so you don’t have to worry about that ever again.

1. Pick your goal of the post
2. Answer 5 basic questions
3. It tells you if it’s good enough and how to make it better

Click here to use the tool.

  • Anonymous

    Oh dang. Now I’ve got to rethink all this. Just kidding! I think I can still tailor my passion and pursuits to a certain readership, while also sharing bits and pieces of my life. I’m gonna keep it personal anyway because that’s my voice. I don’t think I could write any other way.

    • Anonymous

      You know who else does this really well? mrs messycanvas.com. gah she’s good

    • yup. a hybrid can be tough to balance, but good. if i had to pick one, i’d go with personal, unless it’s going to scale and make money or grow beyond your voice.

  • Good thoughts Jeff.  It took me a long time to figure out that I wanted to do more of thematic blog (even though I am still working on figuring out how that works) when I was actually doing a personal blog.  I sat down with a good friend and had a chat similar to this blog post, and realized I was putting my energy into the wrong place.  Thanks for the post.

  • I think mine is a hybrid as well. It’s my name and my ideas but the content isn’t random and I don’t write about everything I’m interested in. I’ve thought about making it more thematic because my name is insane 🙂 but I haven’t decided.

    • i would agree, david. you’re doing a nice job of focusing and your readership is loyal to you for that.

  • I write a hybrid — it’s personal inasmuchas it uses my personal experiences to relate the Christian thematic content I put forward.

    I do like the distinction, though. It helps to analyze the blog if you’re thinking about audience and why and for whom you write.  I may very well start a 2nd blog one day, but for now, I’m happy being somewhat creative with the one I have.

    • thanks, kristin. how do you balance focus with spontaneity?

  • My blog must be a hybrid…leaning a bit more to the thematic side.  I started off with a strictly thematic blog on writing, but I found that adding personal stories made me seem more human (I blog a lot on my lack of motivation) instead of just a robot churning out posts on query letters and such.  I’m now blogging on the process towards publication, which coming from a first-timer, will be full of mistakes and obstacles – something that hopefully most people can fully identify with.

    • i’m finding this, too. it’s all about experimentation.

  • I think the ‘hybrid’ term is very fitting for my own blog. I write about what I do and believe in and love… worship and life and how they intersect. The community is the goal and providing a place of conversation, not just a one sided point of view.

    • Interesting. Do you find yourself limited with a personal blog about one theme? I often struggle with this.

    • Interesting. Do you find yourself limited with a personal blog about one theme? I often struggle with this.

      • It may be limiting to some but I think of it more as focus. I have a family blog where I can really be personal about family things but I also leave room on my current one too. Besides, it’s my blog, I can write what I want?! 🙂

  • Thank goodness you gave me the out, because I think my blog is also a hybrid.  I was stressed out at first as I read this post… i was starting to get worried.

    I talk on leadership and pioneering, but I also talk about my family’s journey as we pioneer and lead.  I am still working on how to mesh it well…So are you sure we can only choose one?  ;^)

  • Thank goodness you gave me the out, because I think my blog is also a hybrid.  I was stressed out at first as I read this post… i was starting to get worried.

    I talk on leadership and pioneering, but I also talk about my family’s journey as we pioneer and lead.  I am still working on how to mesh it well…So are you sure we can only choose one?  ;^)

  • Lex

    Maybe this is a side-note, but I couldn’t help but smile that on a blog post about the two kinds of blogs, we all vote Hybrid. 🙂

    • I found this interesting, as well. To be honest, Lex, I’m learning right along with everyone else. I don’t have all the answers — I’m just trying to ask the questions. That said, I believe some “hybrids” are unfocused blogs and some personal blogs need to make the switch to thematic blogs.

    • I found this interesting, as well. To be honest, Lex, I’m learning right along with everyone else. I don’t have all the answers — I’m just trying to ask the questions. That said, I believe some “hybrids” are unfocused blogs and some personal blogs need to make the switch to thematic blogs.

  • MichaelDPerkins

    Mine would fall into personal blog category.   But I’m hesitant to call it that because it really has become more of a community than a blog. I do write about a lot of different things, but they all are kinda related.  I realize that makes little to no sense, but to me it does. 🙂 

    • yeah, i’d say yours is a personal blog. you have a great community, michael.

  • As someone who is both an artist and a designer, I learned a few years back to separate the two online. I’ve got a site for my design work (and a blog there) as well as a site and blog for my fine art. Then there’s another site about creativity that is slowly getting back on its feet after a very long hiatus. I guess what I’m getting at is it doesn’t hurt to have different blogs for different topics, although it can be time consuming that way.

  • if it possible, both. it is me but it is also about sharing.

    I am working on a thematic blog currently though that I want to release very soon

    • I’d love to see you do more of what you do so well in person, on your blog — that is, connect people to each other and to ideas.

    • I’d love to see you do more of what you do so well in person, on your blog — that is, connect people to each other and to ideas.

  • Keith Jennings

    Nice capture, Jeff!  I started with two blogs.  One was a thematic blog focused on healthcare marketing.  The second was a personal blog focused on creative writing.

    I’m a big believer in managing portfolios to see what works, rather than putting all my eggs on a single path.

    My personal blog continues to grow, while I abandoned the thematic one a year ago because it hit a cul-de-sac.  Today, I’m transitioning my personal blog to a thematic one focused on helping Creatives at all levels face the real work (without losing the joy or selling their souls).

    • I’m loving the direction of your blog, Keith. Keep up the great work!

  • Yes! Hybridization is where it is at! Thanks for making me feel like I’m not alone on this one, Jeff.

    Peace,

    Peter

  • Hmm… not sure which type mine is. Started very personal, but I think it’s morphed over time. Guess I have to go with hybrid.

  • Hmm… not sure which type mine is. Started very personal, but I think it’s morphed over time. Guess I have to go with hybrid.

    • I’d vote personal.

    • I’d vote personal.

      • I trust your judgment–personal it is. Makes sense. I suppose the only
        recurring theme is the Wednesday series on Art/Life. Even then,
        suppose those are “my thoughts.”

        Hopefully, there is a scarlet thread of redemption running through it all.

        • Themes are great. I like that you’ve chosen a personal voice to express your thoughts.

          • Feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of giants–wouldn’t be where i
            am without the example of folks like you. Learned a lot since I’ve
            been doing this regularly.

  • Note: There is a difference between your blog type and your blog theme. You can have a personal blog (like mine) and blog about writing (like mine). This doesn’t excuse you from focusing.

  • Note: There is a difference between your blog type and your blog theme. You can have a personal blog (like mine) and blog about writing (like mine). This doesn’t excuse you from focusing.

  • Mine is definitely a personal blog, but I have certain themes, which have shifted over time. It fits my personality — I don’t like to be locked into something too rigid and a personal blog allows me to ebb and flow with my writing the same way my life does. I like your simple explanation of this — very helpful.

  • Thank you for posting this. Is it possible to one of  both types and have the time to manage both?

  • Anonymous

    I suppose mine leans in the personal realm, though it’s not a memoir or anything like that. One layer is as an archive for past articles that appeared in print magazines only; another layer is the occasional photography post; still another layer is the rare rumination on something literary; but mostly it’s filled with me pontificating through something I’ve read.

    So, yes, in a certain sense, it’s all about me.

    • And, yes, it does seem to take much longer to develop a “following.”

      • Thanks for the confirmation. That’s what I’ve found, at least.

  • Jessica Mokrzycki

    I have attempted to do a kind of hybrid blog as well. Mine is a christian blog but it highlights many of my intepretations and experiences along my journey towards understanding God more. Great article! 🙂

  • My blog ended up being a sort of hybrid like yours. It started off being a personal blog. Then I came up with a theme and focus. I gave it a name and bought a new domain but everything was already really established under the domain with my name. I also still mix personal posts with my theme. It’s about me but it’s bigger than me. But I’m probably not doing it as optimally as I could.

    I’d prefer to switch it over to the new domain but I’m not exactly sure about how to go about doing that without losing all the links to my pages from other sites.

    • Yeah, it’s hard. I’d recommend not making the domain switch.

  • Thanks for the clarity, Jeff. I’ve sometimes wondered if my blog on “real life and real faith” is too broad, especially since I range from the deeply personal stories to the amusingly inappropriate ones. I wonder if people think, “What’s the deal here?”

    But I guess that the answer is that I have a personal blog. I always thought that meant a blog with family updates that only your mom reads, but this post helps me realize that what I do is both personal and enjoyable to a real audience. No offense, Mom. 😉

    • I don’t think that’s too broad, Tam. But the only people who can answer that question are your readers.

  • Definitely a personal blog on my part, with a possibility of branching off to be a little more focused, but that would require separating completely so as not to confuse anybody.

    This advice came from John S., who said to start seeing what categories I post about more often than others, and then branch off from there. Pretty good advice so far.

  • My blog is decidedly personal. I write a fair bit about interfaith marriage & relationships, but it’s still personal in that I try not to give advice so much as simply share my story. Ultimately, those tend to be the blogs that I gravitate toward as well.

  • This is very useful, Jeff. I have to admit that as I’ve read about focusing my blog I worried that my whatever-happens-in-my-life approach might be too broad. Are you amending that now? Or is it still useful to maintain a focus on a few things relating to your life?

    P.S. I can see from your comments to others that you still believe in focus. I like that.

  • My blog is definitely thematic, as I started the blog with a specific purpose/message in mind (reconciling viewpoints).  But, I’d like to see it become more of a hybrid, as there is a lot going on in the personal world and in other areas of interest (high school sports, worship/music, etc.) that I think people would enjoy reading.  I might end up with a dichotomous readership, but I’m a dichotomous sort of guy in terms of my interests.

    • I’m also very much a novice as a blogger….  Have a long way to go in learning how to navigate the blogging world and use the various systems.

  • My blog is definitely thematic, as I started the blog with a specific purpose/message in mind (reconciling viewpoints).  But, I’d like to see it become more of a hybrid, as there is a lot going on in the personal world and in other areas of interest (high school sports, worship/music, etc.) that I think people would enjoy reading.  I might end up with a dichotomous readership, but I’m a dichotomous sort of guy in terms of my interests.

  • My blog started out as a theme (and still is), but I find it helpful to throw in personal stuff from time to time-so you could say Pop Parables is a hybrid, too.   People seem to connect the most to the posts that have broad appeal, like about a movie or a tv show.  Yet, there are still things I feel are relevant that are extremely personal.  Considering doing a feature where I talk about things from my real life that aren’t pop culture relevant. 

    When I was getting my blog off the ground, I read that to broaden your audience you should narrow your focus.  I think that’s so true for me as a reader of blogs.  If your blog is in any way “random” I don’t want to come back because I don’t know what I’m coming back for!  Although, sometimes if the personality/voice is strong enough, I just come back for that, no matter what the content. 

    • I think your blog has a great focus, theme, and voice, Keri. You’ve been very intentional with trying to do something unique, and I think you’ve done exactly that.

      • Thanks a lot for the encouraging words, Jeff.  What’s funny is that I didn’t start out to be unique-just to do something that I was passionate about in hopes of finding others who were passionate about it, too.  What do ya know?  It worked!  🙂  And, the more I blog, the more I do want to be a unique corner of the blogosphere and stick to my “mission”. 

  • My blog started out as a theme (and still is), but I find it helpful to throw in personal stuff from time to time-so you could say Pop Parables is a hybrid, too.   People seem to connect the most to the posts that have broad appeal, like about a movie or a tv show.  Yet, there are still things I feel are relevant that are extremely personal.  Considering doing a feature where I talk about things from my real life that aren’t pop culture relevant. 

    When I was getting my blog off the ground, I read that to broaden your audience you should narrow your focus.  I think that’s so true for me as a reader of blogs.  If your blog is in any way “random” I don’t want to come back because I don’t know what I’m coming back for!  Although, sometimes if the personality/voice is strong enough, I just come back for that, no matter what the content. 

  • Anonymous

    One of my blogs (amblessedbeyondmeasure.com) is personal, but I have a thematic blog (4whatitworth.wordpress.com) that is for reviews.  But I can see that there are some hybrids out there mixing themes with a little personal information as well. 

    • Very cool. I think you’re right to separate them.

  • Anonymous

    One of my blogs (amblessedbeyondmeasure.com) is personal, but I have a thematic blog (4whatitworth.wordpress.com) that is for reviews.  But I can see that there are some hybrids out there mixing themes with a little personal information as well. 

  • Anonymous

    Great post Jeff.
    This has always been a bit of a struggle for me. My domain is my name, johnrwallace, but my blog is theme and content driven. I give little tidbits on spiritual growth and leadership and things like that. I am also a worship leader and musician so I talk about worship as well.  I was never sure whether to have my name as the domain or change it. I’m glad you mentioned a hybrid, I can I fall more in that category. 

    Thanks for your perspective. 

    • Hi John – really this was about branding more than content. The good news about your domain is that you can change the content’s theme as you go (within reason). The bad news is that it can really move away from your voice… ever.

  • Pingback: Blogging With Purpose | This Is Me Thinking()

  • Reading through your comments, I’m a bit hesitant to post . . . I don’t do math, but from what I see the majority of responders have thematic blogs.  Personal Bloggers: Represent!

    My blog started off as a way to keep a small circle abreast of the finer details of an out-of-the-box journey I found myself on a few years ago.  It has since come to encompass many passers-by, simply because where the path has led is so out of the ordinary, and my readers find that interesting.  

    But I LOVE reading thematic blogs!  I find that I am able to glean advice from many different areas of content that I can translate into my daily life . . . even though my context is different from that of the author’s original intended audience.

    Thanks for keeping your posts pertinent for so many of us!

    • You’re welcome, Deb. Thanks for reading. I would say that even if you have a personal blog, it needs to have a theme and a voice.

  • Mark

    Jeff, your blog is awesome and I’m recommending it to lots of people! Thanks and keep up the good work that is and will be a blessing to many!

  • Vane D. Lopez

    Hi Jeff, really enjoyed reading your blog. I wish I could have read it before I even started blogging or purcased my domain at https://www.vanedlopez.com I just can’t seem to find my nich and I tend to write about all different topics. I don’t know if my blog is a personal/thematic because its kind of both and a combination of other things as well…lol. 

    I would really appreciate if you can take a look at my blog and give me any ideas as to how to categorize my blog since it has different topics. Is there still hope for my blog or should I just start a new one that is focused on a niche/topic. I’m really confused about what to do. I just started blogging months ago and I just can’t stick to one topic. 

    I am an aspiring songwriter, poet, singer,writer..etc.. and I also have my music page on https://www.reverbnation.com/vanedlopez but there are other aspects of my life and different opinions I have about current events that I like to share as well. I’m also a stay at home mom and college student who wants to be able to monetize my blog and although I have seen some earnings and it seems like there is potential, I think what is really stopping my blog from taking off is that I don’t stick to one niche. 

    I do have some popular articles such as this one https://www.vanedlopez.com/2011/04/if-you-havent-read-my-previous-post.html in which I talk about my personal venture using the sacred heart diet for my weight loss jumpstart but I can’t stick to one thing since my life revolves around everything.

    -Vane D. Lopez

  • Cat York

    Omigosh. So helpful. For two months now, I tried to turn my personal blog into a thematic blog and it felt wrong wrong wrong. What you said just made perfect sense. I will stick to my personal blog where I show my artwork and post on things that inspire me. Ahhhh. Feel better now. I’m so glad you’re digging through your archives!