What topic will you choose for your personal blog?

drawing of person pondering diverse topics for his or her niche

What’s my subject? What do I want to blog about?

A personal blog can be about any subject in the universe and beyond. After all, the  “blog” is just an extraordinary, easy way for anyone at all to write and publish whatever they like to the entire world just by typing and hitting a couple of keys. Unfiltered. Uncensored. Then the blogger can communicate directly with readers, again by typing and hitting a key. No editor, no rules (except general internet protocol), no teacher, no constraints. We forget just how revolutionary, liberating, and terrifying this is.

But it’s hard to write well without constraints. If I said, “Write a blog about any subject in the whole universe. You have 30 minutes. Go!” what would you write? You’d probably spend 29 minutes deciding what to write about.

That’s one reason why, even for the most personal of blogs, it’s good to start with a topic or a theme. It will probably change as time goes by, and that’s OK.

You may have noticed some broad topics that occur frequently in personal blogs. You could even call them categories.

Fashion, fitness, food, health, lifestyle, makeup, grand/parenting and travel are hot topics for personal bloggers of any age. Blogs about reading and writing, lifestyle, art, and inspiration abound. Blogs about a certain age or stage of life are numerous — you’re reading one right now as I approach 80, but you’ll find many blogs about being in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond. (Blogs about business success and associated topics are out of bounds for this article, but I suspect they dominate the blogosphere.)

If you search for blogs about sustainable economy, anthropology, neuroscience, astrophysics, feminist linguistics or pure mathematics (for example) you will stumble across an interesting mix of the personal and professional.

Now that looks straightforward enough. Pick a topic. But maybe you want to blog for the sake of blogging, or to express yourself with no constraints, and so you blog about your “musings”, “ramblings”, “thoughts”, or daily doings. That’s OK, some of my favourite blogs are precisely (or rather, imprecisely) like that.

Handcuffs, short leash or long leash?

Handcuffs. With a very specific topic (tight constraints!), people will read because they need information about that topic. Moreover, they will search for your topic and find you. For example, if your topic is parenting, your blog may never turn up in search results — but as a writer, you’ll feel free to explore and expand on other topics such as being a grandparent, or the “parent” of a book, or your own experiences as a child. If your topic is parenting in Dubai, your target audience will read you eagerly,  but the audience will be limited and your blog will have a natural end when you move or your children grow up.

Short leash.  Some bloggers choose a theme rather than a topic (although the demarcation can be blurry). This gives you more wriggle room: the blog can traverse many situations and change with time, but it all holds together with a common theme. If, for example, you chose a theme such as forgiveness, that can be relevant to topics as different as an overcooked egg and a government policy.

Long leash. With a vague topic (such as “musings”), followers will accrue because they know you or identify with you, or because your style is compelling. This looks like an easy choice (no constraints!) but I personally think it’s a difficult one.

So what’s the message?

Just think a little bit about these things before you name and launch your blog.

  1. Search in WordPress Reader for blogs on a topic that interest you. Notice the enormous variety of types and titles and headlines. Notice which titles really tell you what the blog is about, which ones you like or dislike, and above all, which titles you click on.
  2. If you should lose interest in your original topic, or if it becomes irrelevant to you, would you want to keep the blog going with a somewhat different topic? If so, think about how you could you do that.
  3. If you make a “wrong” decision, what’s the worst that could happen? (It’s no big deal. Remember, it’s easy to stop blogging. It’s easy to start a new blog. It’s OK to swerve from your original plan. You don’t need to answer to anybody for your decisions. And you’re doing this because you want to.)

Then choose a topic and a blog title and go for it.


28 thoughts on “What topic will you choose for your personal blog?

  1. Excellent advice! Regardless of topic or theme, good, clear writing will keep people coming back to a blog.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Wow, I hadn’t realised that this post was scheduled until my phone went Ping! and I read your kind comment. Never was a terrible drawing drawn as quickly as this one. Thanks for the warning!

  2. Miraz Jordan says:

    I specially enjpoyed ‘decluttering lunch’!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I’m preaching to myself.

    2. Rachel McAlpine says:

      But what I need more is transcranial economics.

  3. huguetta says:

    For me it’s as you mentioned “to express yourself with no constraints, and so you blog about your “musings”, “ramblings”, “thoughts”, or daily doings”
    I mean if it’s a “personal blog” then it should be personal, how I see things, how i feel, maybe things I do, places I’ve been, hobbies I enjoy and I can share them with people that might simply enjoy or learn new things (because I believe each person is unique and we can always learn something)… or maybe these people have the same perspective or thoughts…They feel or they think the same way I do, so you feel connected to some people through your words….not like Facebook and Instagram where people add you because they liked your profile picture and they constantly like posts without even reading…
    Thank you for your advice and for the valuable information 🙂

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      You know where you stand. That’s good.

  4. Gallivanta says:

    My blog was a way to help me stand during very shaky (literally) times. It has probably served its purpose and should be retired but I still enjoy communicating with other bloggers.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Sounds good to me. I think that may be the life cycle of many a blog. (Not always literally!) I celebrate their healing power.

    2. Rachel McAlpine says:

      And by the way, it’s easy to see why your lovely blog must have been a comfort and encouragement to many during the shaky years.

      1. Gallivanta says:

        Oh, thank you. What a lovely thing to say.

  5. Clive says:

    I started my blog over six years ago for a specific reason but have veered around a lot for subject matter. Nothing wrong with that – it reflects a natural human mind with several interests in play, like a lot of blogs I read. It’s my space, I enjoy writing, and it’s even better when people enjoy it and comment. I had no idea what to expect when I started and I suspect I’m stil learning how to do it 😊

    1. Clive says:

      And ‘still’ learning how to spell!

  6. Rachel McAlpine says:

    That’s one appeal of blogging, I find. I began with a theme (the intrinsic value of writing) and that theme has expanded or gone sideways ever since. I enjoy your blog–carry on!

  7. Jonno says:

    Great advice. Our blog is about travel and specifically our nomadic lives so I guess it’s sort of niche (the only blog about us). Like you I enjoy all different types of blog especially the rambling musings type, you often can’t be sure what you are going to get and its a nice surprise.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Your blog is one of a kind, true! I have just enjoyed meeting Molly.

      1. Jonno says:

        Thanks Rachel.

  8. JT Twissel says:

    I prefer to stay on the light side which is rather hard these days!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Which is also an excellent reason for doing so.

  9. cedar51 says:

    mine has gone through stages, I have no idea why I started it – although wordpress was about my 3rd try with online servers. I’m now trying out blog-spot recommended by a geek friend – just for art stuff. But I’m beginning to think that is just adding pressure. Oh, my grammar hasn’t improved at all…let along correct punctuation and the even with spellcheck, still not crash hot…

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      My unsolicited advice: Above all do not allow a new blog to add pressure and especially don’t use yet another platform! You could put your art on your WordPress blog: just assign those posts to their own category and they will be easy to find.

  10. Dan Antion says:

    Great post and advice. This is why I went with “Random thoughts…”

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I had only the most tenuous hold on what I was doing.

  11. Elizabeth says:

    I am searching in vain for that sustainable brain surgery blog!! I just write what is on my mind. Since my mind goes all over the place so do my topics. I write for the sheer pleasure of communicating with others.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Don’t change a thing.

    2. Rachel McAlpine says:

      If you find it, let me know:)

      1. Elizabeth says:


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