Hey #BloggingBreakthrough friend! Are you ready for chapter three? I really hope you are. I had a lot of different “C” words to choose from today, but I thought this one made the most sense to start off with. A lot of people talk about this topic and ask me questions about it, so here we are.
Categories can be game-changers for your blog. They’re truly one of the most useful and important things you can do for your blog, yourself and your audience.
When I first started blogging, I blogged about anything. My life, music, fashion, beauty – anything and everything I loved. I was all over the place.
But at the beginning, I loved having all that freedom with my content. Then when I started to take my blog more seriously and venture into different content ideas, I realised something needed to change.
Plus, studying magazine journalism at the time made me realise something:
I’d have a lot more success if I created a structure for my blog.
Structure. And where does that structure come from?
If you want something to help you create your categories, sign up to the #BloggingBreakthrough community for your freebie that will arrive on Monday!
You know when you open up a magazine and see the different sections in the contents? Or go on a website and see different topics in the tab at the top? They’re your categories. They are the main sections of your blog, that should appeal to your target audience and work well for you.
You need to enjoy talking about them. They should be things you have knowledge about and things you enjoy.
This example from The Nectar Collective is perfect.
The main focus of The Nectar Collective is to help bloggers and entrepreneurs. So her categories on blog tips, social media, entrepreneur tips and self-development are ideal for her target audience.
But why do you need categories, I hear you ask?
They are the easiest and most simple way to create awesome blog post ideas.
Your categories form the foundation of your content plan. They help to give your blog structure and focus, but even better than that – they’re a great starting point for loads of really great content ideas.
Categories help to give you focus. They act as jumping off points.
Now, some people might say you need to “niche down”. I don’t think this applies to categories. Sure, you can go specific. But it’s up to you how specific you actually go. And that all depends on what you actually blog about.
Let’s take three examples.
Blogger A is a lifestyle blogger who writes about anything she wants – life, interiors, food, fashion. Anything and everything she enjoys in her life and wants to write about. These topics are OK to be broad, because you’re choosing to create content around a lot of different areas.
Blogger B is vegan food blogger who writes for vegans. So the categories for her blog will be a lot more specific, with things like Vegan Breakfast Recipes, Vegan Healthy Snack Ideas and so on.
Blogger C is exactly the same as Blogger B, apart from the fact that she runs a blog about social media. Her categories would include Social Media Content, Social Media Scheduling, Social Media Platforms and so on.
Notice how the three bloggers are all different, but have categories specific to what their blog is about? This helps them with what they need to write about. It helps them create kick-ass content ideas that appeal directly to their audience.
If a vegan came across Blogger B’s blog, they’d say, “oh my goodness, this blog is speaking directly to me!”
That’s what your categories can do for you.
Now, the categories you have are completely up to you. But I’m going to give you two pieces of advice:
- Choose categories that relate directly to what your blog is all about and your values
- Don’t have any more than five or six
If you’re jumping from beauty to blogging tips to interiors, your readers are going to become confused. Too many different categories will make your blog seem unfocused.
But you can have two different categories that fall under the same topic.
Let’s take A Branch of Holly. I know exactly what my brand values are, who I want to help and what I want to help them with. This means I can be very particular when it comes to choosing my categories.
I have four main categories and one sub-category. My main categories are Career, Motivation (which can come under the same topic), and Blogging and Social Media (which also combine well together.) Really, those four categories can equal one category for each pair.
I also have another sub-category which is my #BloggingBreakthrough series. If you run a regular series on your blog or you host a Twitter chat weekly, this can definitely act as one of your categories.
The image below shows all my categories and sub-categories in one big list.
As long as you’re intentional with the categories you choose and pick ones that mean the most to you and your brand, you’ll create the perfect recipe on your blog. It’ll just flow.
You can also combine your categories together. So let’s say you were writing down all the things you wanted to blog about and some of the topics included:
Fitness, health, mental health, eating well, exercise advice.
Could you think of one main word that would encompass all of these different topics together?
What about self-development?
So you could do it that way. It’s like if you were interested in writing about journaling, photography, design, DIY and interiors. These could all come under creativity.
That way you’ve got your main categories and your sub-categories too.
I know how confusing it can be when choosing your categories. But it all comes down to what you want to do and who you want to target. Don’t worry about “niching down”. If you want to act as a magazine-style blog, like Stylist or Elle, you can do that. You can find a way for all of your topics to link together.
Let’s say you wanted to start a cooking blog but you love travelling and interiors. Why not do recipes from around the world and share interior inspiration from around the world?
Your readers don’t just have a single interest. You can still target them with various topics as long as your content is useful and relatable.
One of the best things to do is think about who you’re targeting and what they would want to know. For me, I target who I was two to three years ago. Back then I wanted help with my blog, social media and my career direction – but I also wanted motivation on how to get to where I wanted to be. That’s how my categories came to life.
And if you don’t know who your audience is, then ask! Do a reader survey. I’m currently doing my first one and I can’t wait to see the results! (you can fill it in here!)
Categories might seem challenging at first, but they’ll have big rewards.
And definitely check out my Periscope where I’ll be digging even deeper into how to use your categories to come up with amazing content ideas.
You got this.
Do you think it's important to have categories? How do they help you with your blog and content creation? Let me know in the comments
Don't forget to join the community for a special freebie on Monday all about finding and creating your categories!