Are You Excluding Beginners From Your Blog?
This is a guest post by TheWild1. He blogs about finance on TheWildInvestor.
Over the past holiday season, I spent hours discussing my sites and monetizing schemes with relatives and friends. I must have explained the whole system dozens of times. To the point where others where filling in things I left out. Anyway when I got time to show them the actual product, some found the topic interesting, while others acted like they were reading another language. I was usually met with the response: “I’m sure this would be great if I knew about stocks.” For the record, my main site is a finance blog.
Of course, I just shook my head and smiled; however, is that what I want to hear from anybody? Was I unknowingly cutting out my potential reader base? So I came up with a little pyramid that better illustrates this.
For simplicity, I just added 3 levels: beginner, intermediate, and expert. Obviously the higher you go up the pyramid,the smaller base of readers there are and vice versa. So by having a site geared to only expert level, I am apparently excluding all the potential readers in the two categories below. So how do you get around this problem?
There are very simple and perhaps even beneficial methods to make your blog accessible to all levels of readers. To clarify the methods, I will use my finance site as an example.
1. Create a “Back to the basics” series or column
You could write a series of posts or a weekly column covering the very basics of your niche. There you could explain some technical terms, lay down the core principles of a certain subject and so on.
Just remember to highlight in the title of each post that it will be covering basic stuff, so that your advanced readers can skip it at will.
2. Sprinkle in tutorials
Every so often it is a good idea to toss in some basic tutorials or guidelines to some specific task within your niche. For example, on my financial site I might have an explanation on different trading techniques or how to find patterns on stock charts.
Besides educating lower levels of your pyramid, you are also creating great SEO content and possibly linkbait articles. You might even be able to turn all those tutorials into an E-book some day. To make sure you are not excluding higher levels, you can always add some advanced techniques or, in my case, toss in some actual recommended stocks using the technique of the corresponding tutorial.
3. Blend and link to your basic articles
Now sprinkling in some tutorials here and there is all good, but I am pretty sure most publishers want to get into the more advanced parts of their niche. So how do you write more advanced articles, while keeping the entire level pyramid happy? Simply blend and link. You now have the basic articles, tutorials and facts in place, so use them as your own encyclopedia.
For example, I might be discussing a particular stock and different trading methods that would work for it. Now I can just plug in links to articles where I cover the specific topic more in-depth. Instead of linking to some third party site like Wikipedia or Investpedia, I can now just keep my readers within my own site. Besides filling up the entire pyramid, you now have an excuse to increase links within your site and everybody is happy.
4. Answer to questions with posts
As soon as your blog starts growing you will notice that people will ask you all sorts of questions. These questions might come either via email or via the comments on the blog itself.
Select the most interesting ones and answer them through a post or article. If that was the question of one reader, there is a high chance that other readers will share an interest in it.
Over the time you could even create a stable Questions & Answers column on the blog.
5. Highlight the content for beginners
Even if you took the time to write several introductory articles, some detailed tutorials and answered to several questions from your readers, a beginner visiting your site would still be lost if he could not find such content easily.
There are several ways to solve this problem. You could put all your basic posts and tutorials into a category called “Beginners” or “Finance Basics.” Alternatively you could also create a section on the sidebar linking to your basic material.
Just make sure that somehow a beginner visiting your site for the first time will be able to move around and find what he needs.
Many times it is easy for publishers to forget about those lower levels of the pyramid. To make sure you are always accessible to everybody, have some relative or friend who barely knows anything about your niche and see if they can follow your site (you will probably be surprised). If they seemed lost, then make sure that you put the proper methods in place. Why purposely exclude potential readers, when the methods to include them have so many upsides.
30 Responses to “Are You Excluding Beginners From Your Blog?”
Great reminder. Sometimes we forget it is the simple basic things that got us started on the road to being an “expert.”
I have a blogging-about-blogging blog. I realized some time back about this same thing: why are the newbies left out? Most bloggers just start out from the middle, leaving the poor newbies confused.
That’s the reason I wrote up an ebook for beginners, explaining to them all about what blogging really is and means and how it works and how you make money from them.
A very good post here, and should make a lot of people’s eyes open.
I need to improve that aspect here on DBT as well.
Quite agree, I think it’s a combination of what you’ve said but also writing in plain English. Trying not to throw in too many pieces of jargon to confuse people. I’ve taken this approach mainly because my blog is aimed at client’s as well as beginners. Imagery + good link structure + clear definitions – jargon = a happy reader 🙂
i aim my blog at beginners, but if your not careful when you progress your own level of expertise, you end up writing accordingly and then you leave out the beginners
Thanks for “getting it!” I just had one thought while I was reading your post. I kept hoping I would “hear” you say it. Like Richard said, jargon and unknown-to-most-people acronyms are BAD! There are some money managers who can bring their explanations and definitions “down” to the level of their audience. Those are the people that clients and co-workers want to listen to.
“You just install this widget and you’re done.”
“What? Where do I put it? How?”
Thanks for trying to help me but you failed.
This is the case with money, investing AND BLOGGING! Not so much blogging but the behind the scenes mechanics. Most of us may understand HTML, but most of us don’t understand Linux and talking to us about widgets without any foundation to lead off of…
It’s all wonderful but it will put you off if you don’t know where to even start and people talk to you like you understand what they’re talking about. I will regret this comment someday when I finally get WP down to a science, but it’s still going to be the people at the bottom of that pyramid that I want to hang with. They’re real, they’re listening and I want to keep it that way!
That’s a really long way for saying I like your post, I agree, I’m glad someone understands that picture and remember (try to remember) who you’re talking to. 🙂
Thank you for the great post! It really gives you something to think about.
Jim | SevenActions
Excellent post! I think one of the best examples of the ideas recommended here is Darren Rowe at ProBlogger. When I first got into blogging, I found a list of articles for beginners on his homepage. It was very easy to get started and find articles geared for me. Any blog trying to educate readers can benefit from your advice!
My blog posts left out the beginners. I know it’s not good
but my excuses is that I don’t have that much time 😛
and there’s some blogs for beginners already
also, I try to answer newbies’ questions in the comment instead of writing the posts for them
great post! thanx.
Mary Emma Allen
Great post and a great reminder about our audience appeal.
My blog is a beginners blog, because that’s precisely what I am. I barely know what I’m doing and am learning from you guys. I’ve got a blog about blogging, but it’s more about my journey in learning to blog. I’m starting a topic specific blog once I have things figured out.
Great post. I chose to target my blog to beginners and those who need the extra information and guidance. The reason being that most people are not totally confident when it comes to technology and especially the internet.
Great article. It is very important not to alienate any portion of your audience, especially not one as big as the beginners (they read to learn, so they would likely do the most reading… in theory). I would also suggest automatic links back to the various concepts that might need further explanation if they where a beginner. These would be simple posts that just explained and defined specific points that you make make repeatedly. I know it helped me out quite a bit when I was just getting started and I’ve started using this concept in my websites and blogs across the board. It seems to work just fine.
I’m very enjoy reading this content.
Thank you for good information 🙂
Very good tips, but it brought up a question in my mind – how can you apply these tips to a blog that’s opinion-based?
The content is opinion and commentary. How would you translate the pyramid concept to this type of blog?
Actually, I just ran into this and focus on writing something that can be somewhat complex with a very simple language. It’s even geared toward web app developers but I wanted anyone in that space to understand it (designers, business people etc)
Shamelle @ Enhance Life
This is one question that I deal with when writing posts about blogging. To what level, do I detail it out. For example I recently wrote about an experience I had with Feedcount. I had to mention feedburner and feedcount. I was wondering whether I have to describe what they were or skip it and assume that the reader will be already aware what it it.
Hi Daniel – thanks for the tips. I’ve had some requests for more beginner type posts, and I was wondering how I could blend them with my current blog offerings without losing readers. This post has been a great help.
At a minimum provide an introduction link or tutorial link of some sort like the following……… blah blah blah Feedcount (Feedcount, What is It?) blah blah blah
And be consistent in your methods of doing that on your blog (make the text in the parens a link). Many of these sites have tutorial videos now days like Dapper.net and AdaptiveBlue, so you can even embed them on a separate page of your own.
Ali from TheOfficeDiet
These are some great tips! I run a site “The Office Diet” with health/fitness advice, and although it’s aimed at “anyone” I suspect I have assumed some level of understanding of, eg. current health guidelines (such as eating 5 fruit & veg a day).
I may well try your idea of a “back to the basics” post or series.
It’s so easy to assume that readers have a similar background or level of knowledge to oneself — so thanks for some eye-opening suggestions!
I write my blog not only for the new guys but for intermediate also. I know not all of us understand the technical jargon, so i try put it into easy terms. We all start as beginners, no one is born a blogger. Nice post.
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