Being #1 in your niche – One vs many blogs

How do you dominate a niche? Do you build 1 mega-resource website using categories / subdomains for your subniches, or you do you build a separate website for each niche?

Both approaches have their pros and cons.

A single big site benefits from economies of scale, is cost-effective, allows for a focused use of resources, requires less manpower to manage, can easily dominate search engine rankings in the long run, and can perhaps earn more revenue thanks to direct advertising deals.

On the other hand, if you have several small sites, it is easier to build a passionate user-base, it’s easier to be #1 in the sub-niche and there is no single point of failure where income, traffic or search engine rankings are concerned.

In comparison, both approaches offer strategic and financial advantages. Which one would you choose?

We had a discussion on this topic last week and we took one of two positions (I sided towards the ‘one big site’ method). However, what struck me this morning was that there was no reason for us to make an ‘either/or’ decision – we could just as easily combine the two approaches and build a crack network to dominate any niche.

The basic idea is to use a hub and satellites approach – the big, general-niche site being the hub and the specialised sub-niche sites being your satellites.

How does it work?

Nick wrote about this some time back, and I’m surprised to see how few blogs and blog networks have adopted this approach during that time. Here’s what he said:

  • Each sattellite blog posts exclusively within it’s very tight niche.
  • The Hub Blog reads all of the sattellite blogs, and rewrites the story to be a little more general, as opposed to simply copying it.
  • The uber blog credits the sattellite/specialist blog, providing readers with a way to connect from the content (which is arguably the best place for a link) to the specialist blog, and subscribe if that’s their passion.

The idea is to create many small, tightly focused blogs within a broader niche, that feed the uber blog – you sit an editor or 2 on each satellite, and have 2-4 people work on the uber blog – the uber blog would also cover more “industry news” type stories that may not relate to any particular model.

So enthusiast readers get specialized blogs, and general interest readers get the best of those stories (not all!) in the uber blog. Making the network much tighter, and more attractive a buy for advertisers.

The hub blog makes it easier to put a ‘face’ to the network, while the specialised blogs caters to specific groups of readers.

And before you think that it’s difficult to implement this using WordPress, I beg to differ. By simply using a decent RSS aggregator plugin (WP-O-Matic comes to mind, the new version is out, you know) you can automatically pull posts from all over your network into a single main blog where an editor or two can work on rewriting and posting the best articles. Need multiple themes? You can use something generic like the News theme or the ModernPaper theme and changing colours and headers for each satellite blog, you can save time and money on design and the launch process.

So, how many of you probloggers are using or plan to use the hub and satellites approach discussed above?

This article was originally written on 3 Sep 2007 for Performancing.com.

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