As you progress in blogging, there may be different topics that you like to write about which has nothing to do with your current blog. Our interests and passions would evolve with time.
You may start out with writing a lifestyle blog and eventually you may move towards a more specific niche, for example how to make money blogging or personal finance.
When you want to focus on a new niche, you may have a hard time deciding on how should you do it. Should you:
- buy a new domain to host your new blog in it, or
- create a sub category or separate section within the same blog, example mydomain.com/blog, or
- create a subdomain for example blog.mydomain.com
I have tried all the 3 methods above. The method I find works best for me is to create a subdomain to host a separate ‘niche’ or topic that is unrelated to my current blog.
I would explain each options above based on personal experience.
STARTING IN A NEW DOMAIN
Advantages of starting a new niche in a new domain
This method is suitable if/ the advantages:
1. You have the intention of selling the site later. For example, you are developing a niche site, putting in content and building traffic with the intention to sell your site then the best option is to choose a new domain so that it is clean cut.
2. Allows you to start anew and possibly to remain anonymous. Or on the reverse, you have an established site using another domain and now you want to create a site just for your personal branding. I noticed a number of bloggers started a site with a domain name that showcase their products/ talents/niche. Eventually, they got popular and wanted to create a site just on personal branding. They may buy a domain name with their name (provided if it is still available).
3. Enables you to try and test your ideas. Perhaps you may already be a well-known blogger so any site that you start with your name would probably do well. And when you want to promote articles how to succeed in blogging, people may not buy into your idea because they may say, ‘yeah, you are already famous so of course you will succeed but it will not work for the rest of us.’
Bloggers who write blogs teaching on now to make money from niche sites often would buy a new domain (and sometimes separate the hosting as well), create content and continue to make money or possibly sell the site for profit.
4. The safety of not putting all your eggs in one basket.
Sometimes a site gets flagged and de-indexed. If you just have that one site, everything will go down, together with all your subdomains. Investing in a separate domain helps to reduce the risk.
However, if you have no plans of doing any black or grey hat stuff, you don’t really have to worry about being banned by Google or the search engines.
Disadvantages of starting a new domain for a niche:
1. You would be starting from scratch and it will take ages to get ranked.
Even though you have installed Google Console, share all the articles in social media.
A new site is now taking longer time to get ranked and to appear in search results. Last year, I bought a new domain and wanted to test out to create a separate blog. It just took too long to rank- I got fed up of waiting.
I moved back the articles by applying 301 redirects to my main blog after 4 months. Within few days, the same search words yield results in my main blog (a general blog) where I could not get the same words to show up in searches for my new site.
I know, I know, I am giving up too soon. New site nowadays take about 6 months. But along the way, I made the decision that I am not going to build sites to sell them. So there is no point for me to spend USD15 on the domain name each year. Note: My hosting company do not charge any additional cost for a subdomain.
2. You may end up getting a domain that has been blacklisted or banned by Google
In the past, link farms and spammy sites dominated the search engines till Google came down hard on this site and de-indexed them. You would never know if you have ended up buying a domain that once was a spam site which may have been de-indexed.
STARTING A NEW NICHE IN AN EXISTING SITE
In the early stages of blogging, I had a Life Blog whereby I basically blogged about blogging, career, travel, entrepreneurship, creativity, drama reviews, money and organization. This is because years ago, we blog not because of money…. in fact most blogs are not monetized until new genre of bloggers who made money full time popularized this concept.
This changed over the years and the focus is more on niche sites. Due to age, my general blog do continue to get organic traffic. When I moved my blog posts to my main blog, the blogs got traffic but was too little.
If you have a general blog, would definitely confuse Google as it would be hard for Google to figure out just what the blog is about. I never realized this until I integrated Search Console with Analytics and study the breakdown of articles visited by pages, as well as the revenue breakdown of each pages.
It was then I realized that the pages that are generating traffic were not the content that I had just moved in to the general blog but were from certain old articles that Google identified to be useful to visitors.
After I realized, I think over for 2 months before I decide to create new subdomains to cover certain niches. OK, I am not actually good at niches because I still cover a relatively large spectrum but at least it is not EVERYTHING under the sun in a single blog.
I started by creating a new subdomain on Organization, Cleaning and Storage- http://organize.yinteing.com/ on 8 December 2017. I moved out some articles on Organization in my general blog to the new blog (I placed 301 redirects on the old articles).
During the first 2 days, the traffic were from 301 redirects, meaning visitors arriving to the old blog and then landing directly to the new blog. By the 3rd day, I have gotten my first organic traffic.
Encouraged, in January 2018, I created another new blog, to group articles on Intranet and Communication, to share the insights and experience from my 10 years working experience. Later, I created this blog to house articles on blogging and Thesis wordpress theme, a theme that I use on all my sites.
Advantages of using subdomains:
1. Even though each domain are crawled separately, the subdomain would benefit from the other sites in the same domain. If not, how else to explain that my new site got its first organic domain within days without any promotion or link building on my side.
The traffic is also targeted traffic…. through search queries that come in on searches that I want the site to have.
2. More focused in writing
I would not believe it if not due to the fact I had experienced this personally. In my general site, there were many articles on blogging but there were outdated. Even though I had custom pages and sidebars for important topics, it still felt cluttered. When I migrated relevant and recent articles on the new sub domains and start a new, it felt uncluttered and clean. I could start anew.
Just like we would be more productive in a clean and tidy environment, I actually wrote more for each niche compared to when they were in my general blog. For example, I ran out of ideas to write related to Intranet even though I had 10 years of full time working experience. After about 7 articles, I don’t have anything much to write about.
But the ‘niche’ has its own ‘home’, inspiration and ideas came on their own. I started to recall my experience and was able to contribute to more articles.
Disadvantages of using subdomains:
1. Just like in a new domain, you need to start all over which includes installing the theme, plugins, settings, custom codes, separate Google Analytics/Google Console sites and to repeat all other implementations.
The good news is, it gets faster once you are used to it. I actually have a checklist on what to do each time I wish to start a new domain or subdomain so I just need to refer to it.
2. The more sites you have, the more articles you need to write.
If you have a general blog that covers everything under the sun, 5 articles per week would make the blog look ‘busy’ and active.
However having said that, is hard for a general blog to get subscribers. If you write about blogging this week and gardening the next, it will confuse your repeated visitors. In the end, a general blog cannot grow as fast as a more nichy blog so spending more time to write may be more worth it.
I know some bloggers may even outsource the content. Do becareful though when outsourcing the content- ensure it is not thin or recycled content to avoid being penalized by search engines. Because if one subdomain is identified as the search engine of being spammy, it would likely impact other subdomains as well.
Overall, I am very happy with diversifying my ‘niches’ via subdomains instead of having them in a general blog or buying a new domain.
I would write better quality articles and allow the site to grow. It would take time and the article you write today may only generate traffic years down the line. For example, I wrote an article in 2013 in my Health Blog about overcoming addiction to Korean dramas (they are highly addictive!). The article only brought in a lot of search traffic starting from 2017. In fact, I have begun writing articles about mind-body connection of unresolved emotions and illness as early as 2011. In the first two years, I did not get much traffic on these articles but it was only subsequent years that my Health Blog got indexed for more and more mind-body connection articles.
Most important thing is do not give up if you do not see results immediately. Today, I get a majority of my organic traffic not from recent articles but from articles I have written from 2009 to 2012.
Give your site time to grow and ‘marinate’ regardless of whether your final decision is to have a separate blog or subdomain.