John, Here’s Why You’re Wrong
I know I don’t normally post on weekends but I found myself typing out a rather long comment on JohnChow.com so I figured I’d better turn it into a post rather than writing the world’s longest comment. What I’m saying is just because this is the second Saturday in a row I’ve published a post, don’t get used to it 😉
John, you couldn’t have been more wrong in your recent post Off Topic Blog Post . You talk about what this blog started out to be. That’s fine, if that’s what you want then advertise and market it as such. However, you know as well as anyone that this blog became popular because you changed the focus to making money online. Look at the title tag of the home page, look at the linking schemes you’ve participated in, look at the milliondollarwiki page you created. They’ve all been based around making money online. If the ramblings are so important to you, why not write and promote an ebook about rambling? Why not link to the rambling section in the navigation of your blog where you currently have a “Make Money Online” link? Your blog is about making money and the off topic posts do detract from the value. If you think people care about the food posts or the car posts, or all the other stuff you ramble about, split the make money portion off into a different blog and see which one people go to. Your blog visitors are essentially your customers and the customers are always right. If the bulk of the people that find this site do so because they think it’s a make money online blog, that’s what you should give them. There was a post on chrisg.com a while back about your visitors determining what your blog is really about. I think that applies in this case and is where you’re missing it. Like it or not, whether this is what your blog started out as or not, you’re blog is about making money online.
You cite your RSS numbers as proof that people enjoy the off topic posts but I’d argue that you’re just reading into it what you want to hear. What would your RSS numbers be like if you ONLY posted on topic? How many more people would have remained subscribed? How many more would have subscribed in the first place? In fact, I think that would be a great test. Post only on topic posts for a month and see what kind of growth your blog enjoys. I’m willing to bet your RSS numbers would jump up even quicker than they are now. Also, I’d suggest taking a look at your click through rates and page views for posts about making money vs. the off topic stuff. I’m subscribed and I know I just skip the food or car posts but I’ll actually click through to the site and comment on posts about making money online. I’d be willing to bet I’m not alone on that. Not only Rather than just watching your RSS numbers and income climb and assume you must be doing it all right, I’d challenge you to dig a bit deeper, look at a few other statistics and base your opinions on facts rather than assumptions. I’m not at all saying any blog should be 100% on topic but as you pointed out, your not on topic even a majority of the time. One last indicator for you to consider, if you stopped posting about food and cars and other random ramblings, do you think it would generate comments or posts about the lack of those posts? I’ve read more than a few posts about the signal to noise ratio on your blog, shoot, I’ve even written one myself (John Chow dot Com has Jumped the Shark). I seriously doubt people would feel as passionately about your missing food pictures. If you’re really serious about providing the best possible experience for your visitors, I feel these things are something you should consider and I’d love to hear or read your response.