Step Away From The Bowl Of Categories

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You can ruin a great recipe with too much of a good thing.

Too much salt, too much sugar, too many eggs or too much flour can ruin everything else already in the bowl.

The same can be said for too many categories on your blog.

When you first start blogging it is easy to add categories for your posts. But before you know it they can multiply like too much batter in a cupcake pan. Yikes!

If you’ve ever baked cupcakes you know there is a happy medium. Too little in the cup and you get a tiny, cute little cupcake without much substance. You have to eat a whole lot of those babies to be satisfied. Too much in the cup and the thing puffs up and overflows and takes over everything else around it.

When you get it just right you have nice, uniform cupcakes that are easy to frost and everyone can enjoy. The same can be said for categories. You need to have the right amount

So, how do you know when enough is enough?

A good rule of thumb is five to eight main categories. No blogger, including you, should be writing about more than eight main topics on a blog. You can’t write about that many subjects and be good at all of them.

Family, faith, food, fun, furniture, football, false teeth, and falafel makers. I joke but look at that list. The longer it got the more outrageous it became.

The same thing happens to you. You start out with 3 or 4 really solid topics then branch off into what really should be subtopics, or left to the experts, and before you know it you’ve got batter up to your eyeballs and it’s out of control.

It’s time to step away from the bowl of categories.

To be worth keeping, they need to pass the test of three – expertise, mission, and categories.

Your area of expertise should be encompassed in your mission and your mission should be the defining factor for your categories.

What do you write about, and why?
Who do you serve with your blog?
What topics do you specifically speak to that your readers can count on you to give them solid information about?
What five to eight headings can you place those under?

Remember, your goal is to create a delicious blog that people want to come back to over and over again.

In a recipe too much of an ingredient can be a disaster. It's time to step away from the bowl of categories and find just the right amount for your success. Learn to choose your blog categories wisely to create something delicious for your readers. ★ Learn HOW To Blog ★

Let me give you an example.

Let’s say I wrote 100 posts about blogging and then threw in a post about enchiladas and set up a category for recipes. It would be very strange for my regular readers. They know me and my blog for the great info I share about blogging not cooking.

But, perhaps you are looking for a recipe for  enchiladas. When you find my post and love my recipe that’s great for you and for me but I know you’re not coming back because the rest of my blog is about blogging. The association with recipes doesn’t jive.

A post about enchiladas to may pass one or two of the test of three criteria because I may really be an expert at making enchiladas and I now have a recipe category but it fails to meet the mission test. I don’t blog to give my readers recipes. I blog to equip them to become successful bloggers. See how that works?

Knowing your mission is imperative. If you haven’t determined that yet, let me suggest getting started with this great Pinterest board dedicated just to mission statements. This is going to take more than ten minutes so add it to your long term list and get started.

Let me also speak to niche here. Many of you are saying, “Yeah, but I’m not a niche blogger. I don’t want to be limited to just a few topics.” To that I say, fine. But you still can’t be all things to all people. At some point you are going to have to look in the mirror, accept your limitations, and hone in on what you are genuinely good at.

Be really good at what you are really good at. Then, when readers think of those things they will think of you.

There are too many choices out there these days of people who DO have niches for readers to think of you for something you’ve only written about once or even a handful of times. If they do come to your site it might be just for that one thing because all the other stuff you’ve got going isn’t what they are looking for. That’s not delicious.

Ultimately, your categories need to be refined. They need to pass the test of three and they need to be specific to your blog and your mission and your area of expertise.

It might be painful at first, but the result will truly be a welcome treat for your readers.

Do you have any questions? Please ask them in the comments. I’ll be happy to help.


photo credit: chotda via photopin cc

Comments (20)

  1. Reply Mary Hill

    Hi, I wish I had seen this post a year ago. My categories are all over the place on blogger. Sounds like it will be a process to clean up. Anyway, I will have some moving news in a few weeks that might change everything. I just need to find some final design help. 🙂

    1. Reply Debi Stangeland

      Sounds exciting Mary. Working on your categories can be a “blast” project. Just set aside some time, say 30 minutes or so and “blast” through without any distractions. When time is up, move on, the do it again at another time. Soon enough you’ll be all organized! Here’s to organization – woot woot!

  2. Reply Katharine Barrett

    Ok, time to clean up the kitchen and start a new batch of cupcakes…. oh and you rock!!

    1. Reply Debi Stangeland

      Thank you very much. Yes, sometimes it’s good to do a little maintenance. I’m so glad you are back in the game. We need your voice!

  3. Reply Rebekah Nyakairu

    Great advice! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Reply Debi Stangeland

      Thank you for stopping by Rebekah.

  4. Reply Beth Anne

    OMG this is sooo true!! I probably have over 20 categories on my blog and I really need to merge a bunch and clean them up. One of the reasons I have a lot is I merged two blogs together last year.

    Another thing I did was I created a category for link-ups/each link-up I did and really that probably isn’t necessary. What do you think?

    1. Reply Debi Stangeland

      You can do this Beth Anne. It might take longer than for most people, but you don’t have to rush through it. Just take your time and really get your categories dialed in. Then stick with them and you will have much happier readers and your purpose will be much more evident.

      I don’t think you need a category for each link-up. Why not add a tag instead? Those are more for you anyway and you can keep track with those while your readers just see your nice organized categories.

      You go girl!!

  5. Reply Teresa

    Ouch, I need to really look at this one. When I first started my blog I didn’t really think about categories and I’m afraid I treated them more like tags, and even now, find myself adding new one’s sometimes to fit a post. Also, I think almost all of my post are in Uncategorized as well as their main category. In fact, almost all of my post have more than one category. I’m guessing both of these might be a no as well?

    1. Reply Debi Stangeland

      Hi Teresa:
      Yes, you need to create some categories for your blog. Uncategorized is not one of them. 😉 I believe in you. Find 5-8 main topics and use them for all your posts. It will make a big difference for your readers. #YouCanDoThis

  6. Reply frozencokefridays

    What are your thoughts on Sub-Categories? I have Family as one of mine, but I’d like to break it down into Marriage, Parenting, Faith, etc.

    1. Reply Debi Stangeland

      Great question frozencoke. I would definitely use them IF you have a significant number of posts to put under each one AND you plan on posting in those categories regularly. I plan on adding some sub categories for social media.

      I don’t recommend them if you only have a couple of posts about one of those topics. Do you have that many different topics on your blog to warrant sub-cats for these? Or could they be main-cats?

      Sounds like you are getting organized. I love it. You go girl!

      1. Reply frozencokefridays

        Yes, I am definitely not a niche writer!
        One more question on this subject… would a post go under the sub-category AND the main category as well then?
        I find your blog incredibly motivating. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise, even for us hobby bloggers!

        1. Reply Debi Stangeland

          Thank you so much. You know, I always put things under a main category and a sub when I do it. I think it keeps things more organized because later if you can’t remember where you put it because you were SO organized, you’ll know the general category and it puts it in that larger grouping for people who do searches, so yes, both. Rock on!

  7. Reply Nifty Betty

    I definitely agree with steering clear of too many categories. I’m still working on figuring out my main focus. With the few months I’ve been blogging I think it’s all coming together. Thank you for your insight Debi. Now, I’m off to working on my mission statement!

    1. Reply Debi @

      You go girl! It feels good when you get an inkling of your purpose doesn’t it? I have a board for mission statements if you need it

  8. Reply Rebecca

    I’m so glad I found you. It was through Pinterest. I immediately narrowed my categories down to six and am going to rethink them. My main focus of this blog is about depression and anxiety, and faith issues. But because DIY projects are a big part of my life I added that which is why the title is Faithsighanddiy. My question is, even tho’ that’s my domain name should I name my blog something else. I’m confused about this. I love you advice and am going on a binge of reading all you’ve written. Thanks so much.

    1. Reply Debi @

      Welcome Rebecca. Thanks for stopping by.

      My rule of thumb is to buy domains in your own name and then name your actual blog whatever you want. As in – and then name your blog faithsighanddiy. Your name is definitely a mouthful, but it makes total sense once you realize what you blog about. You’ve also done a good job of explaining it in your title. Great job.

      There is no set rule here but as you share your site you want to make it as easy as possible for people to remember and get back to. Keep that in mind as you move forward.

      Have fun exploring the blog. I’m glad you are here.

  9. Reply Deanna Wiseburn

    I’m getting ready to start blogging again. Last time I did ok but most all posts were based on scripture and there was very little room for sharing in other areas. Then God wanted me to share more of my personal story and I couldn’t figure out how to transition. In planning a new blog I have an idea for 3-4 categories that also cover a lot of ground still centered on Faith. But I’m not sure how to categorize or allow room for my personal story. Can you help me figure this out?

    1. Reply Debi @

      Sure Deanna,

      Use the ideas you currently have for categories then do a series on your personal story. Give it its own category or file it under faith or something like that and then give it a subcategory. If you are widening your focus subcategories might be just what you need. But, remember to keep them under control. Use broad terms, even for your subcategories. You go girl!

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