The Pros and Cons of Having Multiple Blogs
This post is based on Episode 188 of the ProBlogger podcast
As you probably know, I have two main blogs – ProBlogger and Digital Photography School. And I’m very happy to be in a position where I can devote all my time to either and still earn a full-time income.
While two established blogs are definitely an asset, these benefits come at a cost.
This week, I want to talk about both the benefits and the cost of multiple blogs so you can decide if it’s worth doing.
But first I have to talk about how these two blogs came about and the other blogs that were discarded on the way to this point.
My first blog
In 2002, I founded The Living Room, where I blogged about my experience of participating in a new church (also known as “The Living Room”). And in this blog, I talked about the history of the church and other aspects of my life – life in Australia, politics, television, films, sports, blogging, photography, marriages and so on.
Back then it was okay to cover multiple topics on the same blog, which is why I did it. And at the time, my readers didn’t seem to mind either. But as blogging matured and people focused on certain niches, things got a little tense in The Living Room.
Many of my readers wanted to learn about certain things (church, photography, blogging, etc.) and weren’t really interested in anything else. I felt compelled to meet all needs, which meant that I often had thoughts in the direction Well, I wrote about blogging yesterday, so I can’t write about it tomorrow. I have to write about another topic to serve my other readers.
I felt restricted and no longer had the freedom to write the way I wanted to. So I looked at the categories I wrote about in The Living Room and started new blogs based on some of these categories.
The rest of my blogs
My first niche blog was a camera review blog that I started in late 2003. It was also the first blog that I made money from by running some Adsense ads and referring people to Amazon with affiliate links.
It worked really well. So good indeed that I tried to repeat my success by launching a camera phone review blog. (This was back when phones with cameras were just coming out.) I even started a blog where I checked and thought about printers Well, they have something to do with photography. I even started a blog about the 2004 Athens Olympics.
And then I created ProBlogger and started talking about how I made money with my blogs (and how others could make money with their blogs).
At that point I had four or five blogs. The camera review blog made good money, and the camera phone blog went well. But ProBlogger started completely, mainly because it was the only blog at that time dedicated to making money with blogging. And when I announced that I would make a six-figure income from blogging, it became big news and many other related blogs.
It was the turning point for ProBlogger. A few months later, it had a sizeable audience and made some money. And I experimented with different ways to monetize what I was talking about in a new blog post.
But the number of blogs I was involved in grew rapidly when I started a blog network with some friends in New Zealand called The Breaking News Blogs. By 2005 there were around 30 blogs.
A reality check
But of these around 30 blogs, only three were doing well. ProBlogger went exceptionally well, the blog with the camera reviews went well and the blog with the camera phone went well. (My blog about the Olympic Games did very well during the event, but it quickly faded away.)
But while the review blogs went reasonably well, I didn’t enjoy writing for them. And if I wanted to keep blogging, I really had to find a way to enjoy it. At that point, I started earning decent income with ProBlogger, so I decided to kill some of the other blogs so I could focus more on it.
The first thing I killed was the Breaking News Blog. This saved a lot of time, with which I further expanded ProBlogger. And in 2006 I finished the camera review and camera phone blogs.
That was a big risk because at that time these two blogs were my main source of income (around $ 100,000 a year). But they killed me. I’m neither a techie nor a review guy, so they destroyed the soul. I wasn’t particularly happy with the quality of the posts either.
So I went from checking cameras to blogging to taking better photos – something that excited me a lot more. And I knew that I had better build an audience with a “how to” blog than with a review blog.
But as I said, I had ProBlogger to fall back on when I founded the Digital Photography School. It would have been much more difficult to establish both at the same time. Even if your goal is to have multiple blogs, you may want to focus on them one by one. (That being said, you should definitely get the domain names and social media accounts as soon as possible.)
The slow road to success
The first year or two of the Digital Photography School was tough. I naively thought it would grow as fast as ProBlogger, but I was wrong. The people who read my original photo blog were not interested in the new blog. And hardly any of my ProBlogger readers were interested in what was understandable. I had to work really hard to write content, expand the archive, and increase traffic by writing shared content, networking, writing guest posts, and collaborating with other bloggers.
And then I did pretty much everything – writing, advertising, comment moderation, partnerships, and monetization. I gave almost a couple of times because it didn’t grow as fast as I wanted it to. Still it is was growing. And I realized that if I could increase it by 10% a month (or even every two or three months) it would eventually have a significant amount of traffic that could help me generate significant income.
And that’s exactly what happened. The Digital Photography School is now about eight to nine times the size of ProBlogger. And although I still put a lot of time and effort into ProBlogger because it’s a personal brand (I’ll talk about soon), my main business focus is at the Digital Photography School.
The pros and cons
Now let’s talk about the pros and cons of multiple blogs.
The first advantage is the freedom to write on more than one topic. We generally write about things we are passionate about. And you probably have more than one passion in your life. If you have multiple blogs, you can write about each of your passions without clouding the water or feeling like you have to write on a particular topic to keep your balance.
The second advantage of having more than one blog, at least from a business perspective, is that you can diversify your income. It’s always a good idea to have multiple sources of income in case one suddenly runs dry. And like any other company, there is no guarantee that your blog will last forever.
Of the approximately 30 blogs I’ve had over the years, only two have worked in any way. As you now know, ProBlogger and Digital Photography School have emerged from other blogs that I started earlier. Another benefit of having multiple blogs is that you can try out different ideas and see which ones have potential and which are unlikely to ever work.
Although multiple blogs can be beneficial, there are some drawbacks.
The first is that you need to spread your focus and attention across multiple blogs. When I wrote content for my over 30 blogs, the quality of that content wasn’t particularly good. In fact, most of it was pretty boring. Most of the time, I only worked up messages from camera and printer manufacturers and tried to get as much traffic and as many AdSense clicks as possible. It was not interesting, not meaningful, and was not really useful for anyone.
Another disadvantage of multiple blogs is the risk of burnout. When I had these 30 blogs, I worked 12 to 16 hours a day and wrote content for them. (I tried to write new content for them every day, which was not realistic.) Reducing the number to just two made me more concerned with my work-life balance, my health, and my passion for what I was doing , really helped.
And of course, creating good content is difficult when you feel burned out. So you not only write less content, but also less valuable content that does more harm than good.
How to choose
Ultimately, whether you should have multiple blogs or not depends on your goals and what you want to achieve.
If you want to build a business empire and become a billionaire, it may be the right way to focus all your efforts on one blog and grow this business.
I sometimes wonder if I could just focus on ProBlogger or Digital Photography School and make it an even bigger business. And there is a good chance that I could.
The thing is, I don’t want to be a billionaire. I also don’t want to have a business with hundreds of employees. I just wanted to create something small that is important not only for me, but also for my readers. And I like to think I did that – twice.
If you do If you choose several blogs, I strongly recommend that you start them individually and not all at the same time. You can focus on each one while building the systems, processes, and possibly even teams that you need to get it going relatively independently.
(Yes, as your blog grows, you probably need a team of people to help you. This is the only way you can scale it to any size. My first authors were guest authors, but I soon built a team of paid writers who contributed to Help creating content. Nowadays I have people who take care of different aspects of both companies, including email and customer support, design and technology and even management work.)
One of the best things I’ve ever done was to make the Digital Photography School a non-personally branded website. While I occasionally write a sales post, 99% of the content is written by a team of authors and edited by someone else. That said, I don’t have to do much personally to keep the website up and running.
ProBlogger is a different story. My face is on the front page and you can see and hear me in videos and on the podcast. It’s branded much more personally, so I have to do a lot more to keep it going. I enjoy it so it’s not a problem. However, it would be much more difficult if the Digital Photography School were branded personally.
Branding should be considered if you want to set up multiple blogs. If you personally brand them all, you will have to do a lot of the work yourself. This means you can’t scale it like a blog that isn’t branded personally.
If you have a blog that is not branded personally, you also have a much better chance of selling it (if you ever decide to).
If you want to run multiple blogs, you need to set schedules and routines so that you know what to do at a given time. I am not the best organized person and I am not good at dealing with diaries and the like. So I really had to work on that.
And I’m only talking about writing blog posts. You also need to schedule times to write newsletters, hold team meetings (if available), record podcast episodes (again if available), have Facebook live sessions, etc. This not only helps you keep them going, it helps Your readers also predict when new content will come.
Over to you
I hope what I talked about today helped you decide if you have multiple blogs and how you can get them all up and running.
Do you currently have more than one blog? Are you planning more blogs in the long term? What will you focus on? Let us know in the comments.
Credit: Jason Blackeye