When I was a blogging coach, sometimes clients would ask me this question.
“I know that niche blogs work, but they feel too confining to me. Does it mean I can never deviate from my blog’s narrow focus?”
They had read some strict rule that they should always stay with the handful of topics that made up the focus of their blog. Nice, safe topics. Laser-focused topics, with no overlap.
After all, they were developing an audience that hopefully would convert to customers at some point. And those readers would be confused if a home and garden blogger suddenly started talking about the history of military planes.
Okay, that’s an exaggeration but you get the point.
It is true that to develop a loyal readership, you should stay with the stuff your readers are looking for and provide value, because we are all too busy to just read things for fun. Most of us want things that will make out businesses, our lives, better.
But it is also true that a skilled blogger is often exceptionally good at giving us a glimpse of some of the things that make her a whole person.
These are the ones I call Renaissance Bloggers.
What exactly is a Renaissance blogger?
If we revisit the term Renaissance man—we will excuse them for not including women, but hey, the term was coined in the early 1900s, when women were not recognized for much of anything—the definition is:
a person with many talents or areas of knowledge
So a Renaissance blogger is simply someone who has—and uses— knowledge and skills in more than one field or area of interest.
To be one, you don’t have to be a Leonardo da Vinci, who was a painter, humanist, scientist, architect, philosopher, and engineer. You just have to have an enthusiasm for learning and expertise and interests outside the content of your blog.
You have to not be afraid to show your whole self.
Renaissance bloggers are not afraid to occasionally stray from their blog’s focus.
If you don’t do it too often and you announce it up front, a post that gives a peek into your personal side—what makes you tick, what you have a passion for—can help your readers understand you better and see you in all your multi-faceted splendor.
I wrote a post a while back on my author blog that really had nothing to do with the writing and publishing business. But the topic was a deep passion of mine and one I have considerable expertise in: the United Nations’s Global Goals for fighting against injustice, eliminating extreme poverty, providing equal access to education for girls and boys, and protecting the environment for future generations.
The post, How Growing Your Child’s Sense of Justice Can Change the World,was a shout out to the Global Goals and a letter of sorts to parents, mainly on what they can do to teach this stuff to their kids.
I did two things here. I identified the topic and direction of the post, so I wouldn’t waste the time of the readers who weren’t interested. And I tied the topic to a significant base of my readers, those who are parents (thus inviting that subset of readers to stick around).
A bonus: I gave my readers a deeper understanding of who I am and what I believe.
Renaissance bloggers do not compartmentalize.
If there have been several different reincarnations of “you” so far, use them to reinforce the focus of your current blog. Using past experiences is a great way to bring to life concepts and ideas when they fit a current blog topic.
Storytelling is an especially helpful strategy for doing this. On this post, I tell a story from my teaching daysevery once in a while when it illuminates something I am trying to explain in the context of a current post.
Don’t be afraid to put the knowledge and skills you have gained from past jobs and careers to use.
Renaissance bloggers pull in their community’s expertise, too.
This is the exciting part. I have come to know a whole bunch of people better by inviting comments and stories from them on a wide variety of subjects.
And the commonalities that are there right below the surface that you might never have realized? That is one of the cool byproducts.
Stories connect us and when we share them, we build deeper relationships. So don’t be afraid to welcome them on your blog. It’s one of the best ways to widen perspectives and escape the trap of your blogging niche.
Because we are all learners and we are all teachers.
What about you?
Well, you just might be a Renaissance blogger.
An audio version of this post: