Beginners Friendly Blog: Are You Excluding Newbies?

Steven14 responsesBlogging
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Take a look at your last 10 or 12 blog posts and chances are you’ll find they’re written for an intermediate or experienced audience. We tend to write at our own comfort level and as we grow in knowledge and expertise, our blog content reflects that growth. If you’ve been blogging for a while then you’re not a “beginner” anymore and you’re probably not writing content for “beginners.” But everybody has to start somewhere and if you’re not writing for beginners then you’re excluding an traffic group from your blog.

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excluding beginner from your blog

In the beginning you probably did write plenty of content for beginners, but by now, it’s settled into your archives where nobody sees it anymore. And now you’re using lots of industry-specific jargon, assuming that your readers understand what you’re talking about. You’re showing them detailed information assuming they already understand the basics.

It’s great that you’ve grown in knowledge and expertise and using industry jargon is good for your SEO. But, at one time, you wanted to learn the basics about your topic, right? There’s an entire traffic segment out there that wants to learn about your topic, from the ground up. By not addressing their needs you’re excluding them from your blog. Here’s how you can bring those newbies into the fold:

  • Visit your archives: Many bloggers don’t even realize they’ve progressed beyond that beginner stage because it’s a gradual process. But take a look at some of your earliest blog posts, the posts where you actually explained what the jargon means.
  • Create a beginners’ category: Put those earlier posts into a beginner’s category. Better yet, use an image in the sidebar to draw attention and create html links to specific articles.
  • Build internal links: Use a WordPress plug in to automatically create anchor text links. Now, when you use those industry-specific terms, they’ll automatically link back to a relevant post that explains those terms for beginners.
  • Write separate posts for beginners: You don’t want to ignore your more experienced readers, either, and you don’t want to bore them to death rehashing the basics. Instead, write your posts for your advanced readers and write side posts with detailed explanations for your beginners. Then link to those side posts at strategic points in your more advanced article.
  • Pay attention to comments: A lot of your beginner readers will ask questions in the comments, so pay attention. As soon as you see questions pop up either jump in and give them a link to the information they’re looking for or write a new post that answers the question for beginners.
  • Invite beginners to ask questions: Sometimes beginners are too intimidated to ask questions. Let them know you’re listening. Put a special email form in your sidebar inviting beginners to submit questions and answer them with a blog post, mentioning their name. This builds a little closer relationship between you and the questioner and it let’s you know where you need to start filling in the blanks.

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  1. Bentoons

    Great post – I think your perspective is one that many blogs could benefit from. I feel like some of those beginner articles are the ones that get the most attention because they are understood by a larger audience &, for this reason, attract new readers.

    1. When you think about it, beginners are the ones who struggle the most to find useful information. So I find it only natural to try to help them as well as I can.

  2. Very good point! It’s true; we don’t think about how far we’ve come, and we need to be careful we haven’t excluded any of our audience.

    1. We were all beginners at some point…

  3. Often times there is an initial plateau of learning that occurs within a given field. To the experts near everything is obvious, to the newbie, each fork in the road seems a near impenetrable barrier. The especially challenging part, is that its often very difficult to identify, in part as newbies knowledge base is so scattered. Ie a path which worked for person A likely won’t work for person B. I wonder if a diversity of roadmap blog posts might be a solution?

    I’ve seem this in teaching organic chemistry, flight instruction, and teaching folks to play bass guitar… even when I made my first website twenty years ago, there were barriers.

    1. This is what I’m trying to achieve with Dukeo. Keeping it as newbie-friendly as possible by regularly getting back to the basics.

      Thanks for your comment Ron

  4. Malhar

    Interesting point.

    Though as a non-native speaker, writer I have seen my language getting much better over the year I started blogging actively. Sometimes I look back at my posts a year back and feel awful.

    While I agree with your point and I still try to keep things simple, but somewhere the simpleness has evolved over time and you may not even realize the change.

    1. I can totally relate to that since I’m not a native English-speaker either. Your writing style might evolve over time, but it’s nice to remember that some beginners are popping up every single day.

  5. Raphael Love

    This article speaks volumes to a large quantity of blogs and even to a large number of recently created products where the knowledge level is assumed. But it happens when someone has been doing something for a while and has evolved. I do also like the way to address that where a beginner area is created to invite newer readers to climb on board the subscriber list. Good Stuff!

    1. Thanks for your nice words Raphael

  6. William Patton

    You know I often have the problem of not writing stuff beginners understand and it’s exactly like you say. We write at our comfort level and that’s usually at or just below our knowledge level.

    What I’ve done to try combat that is created a custom report in Google Analytics pulling out questions from the entrance keywords and then checking which questions are quite common and find the average bounce rate of those questions. If the rate is very high then look at the content and see if you answer it – if you do then brilliant but if not then write an answer in that post or in a new one. If the bounce rate is low then it could be that the user enjoys the page or it could be that the answer is hard to find on the page. Low bounce rate is not always a good thing in this situation.

    Using the report gives me great insights into my readers and what they are looking for and it gives me many ideas for further fresh content that supports older stuff on my sites.

    The report has been crazily useful for me, if anyone wants a link to it I’d be more than happy to share :D

    1. William, it’s very interesting to see how you approach this problem! I never though of going that deep into my Google Analytics to improve my existing content. I’m certainly going to give it more thoughts!

    2. William Patton

      It’s been a very useful tactic for me. For instance I write a bit of a short answer in the existing post and link it to a new post about the topic people are searching for then I do a little bit of a brush up on what is already in the post. Sends out good freshness signals and gives a little authority to a new post, often before the post is even indexed. Can’t stress enough how useful it’s been for me doing this, particularly when it comes to social shares.

      Also I should make a correction; I made a ‘questions’ advanced segment and not a custom report. Allows me to make use of it across most of the standard reports. Seeing new thing in existing reports is a bit of an eye opener for people who don’t get excited by their data lol

    3. That’s an excellent strategy William. Would you consider writing a guest post about it for Dukeo? ;)

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