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The Balancing Act of Where to Pitch Your Content

Balancing-ActYesterday I posted about how it’s often the simple posts aimed at the basics that get most attention on a blog.

The challenge with this is that for those blogging on established blogs with longer term and more advanced readers suddenly posting a lot of posts at a beginner level can actually mean you run the risk of alienating your regular readers.

However if you don’t post entry level posts you run the risk of alienating newer readers who are just at an early stage of learning about your niche.

A real juggling act can be needed as a result. So what to do?

Here’s a little advice for longer term bloggers on how to get the balance right.

  • Interlink to the basics – if your blog has a lot of content that is pitched at a beginner level in your archives – make it a regular practice to link to it in your current and more advanced posts (as it is relevant to do so). In this way newer readers will be driven deeper into your blog to be educated on the basics which will help them understand your more advanced work. This will also help you with search engine ranking for those basic posts that you’ve written.
  • Beginners areas – assemble an area on your blog that is dedicated to the beginner or novice in your topic. In a sense this is what I did with my blogging for beginners series which I highlight in my menu here at ProBlogger. Alternatively you could start up a ‘beginners’ category for your blog which you direct first time readers to.
  • Periodic beginner posts – while you might be a little fearful of turning off your more advanced readers by doing it too much, periodic posts that cover the basics of your topic is something you will want to consider doing. If every post was targeted at the novice you might get in trouble – but to integrate an occasional one (while keeping up your more advanced content also) probably will be OK with your loyal readers.
  • Involve longer term readers – loyal readers giving you grief about too many basic posts? Why not invite them to participate in teaching the beginners. One way to show them the need for what you’re doing is to give them a job and help them feel that they’re doing something useful in helping those with less knowledge than themselves.
  • Advanced areas - beginners areas work well – but you might also like to consider special areas for your longer term and more loyal readers to find content and interact with one another. Perhaps you could start a forum for them or start a category of posts directly for them to subscribe to with an RSS feed.

BalancingKeep Your Ear to the Ground – One of the keys to getting the balance right of where to pitch your content is to be very in tune with your readership.

Listen to the comments that they leave, the questions that they’re asking, the comments that they write on their own blogs about you and even go out of your way with newer and longer term readers to see how satisfied they are by shooting them an email.

On Pleasing Everyone - The other tip that comes to mind is to make peace with the fact that you’ll never please everyone. The reality is that as your blog grows older you’ll win fans who find that what you’re writing is just where they are at but also come across readers who will critique you for being too advanced or too entry level.

While you can use some of the above strategies to attempt to cate for both groups – you can’t spend your whole life pandering to the needs of 100% of your audience. Don’t use this as an excuse not to keep improving what you do – but don’t fall into the trap of trying to keep every single reader happy – it’s a no win situation.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. JoshLowry says:

    I think you said it well. You can’t please everyone, heck some people still think the Beatles were a bad band. There are always going to be people that are negative about something.

    You do a great job appealing to a large base, your traffic(results) show it.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Scott says:

    One strategy that I have been trying that seems to work is to outsource links to other blogs for the “harder” topics or for topics that are relevant to my visitor base, but not directly relevant to the main theme of my blog.

    I am keeping my main theme (self-help skills and inspiration for people with mental illness) very tightly focussed. At first I planned to write a lot of “technical” articles, like “how to clean your kitchen” type stuff, but I am finding that my most popular articles are the ones that are focussed more on purely mental health issues, such as finding a therapist or managing a panic attack.

    Since there are thousands of self-help authors out there who are much better than I am at self-help writing, I have started to outsource the “cleaning your kitchen” stuff to places like Lifehacks or Videojug. I clearly identify them as an external link. (trust is a major factor for my site) and I always write a short article that puts a mental health spin on the external article. There is a lot of demand from my visitors for these types of articles, so by linking to other blogs I can meet this demand, while at the same time I free myself up to write my “core” articles. (which are the main reason people are coming to my blog in the first place)

    Since I started doing this (listen to me, I sound like a veteran and this is only my 4th week) I noticed that the ratio of my repeat visitors grew from 5% to around 37% in about a week.

    Here’s the strange thing. The vast majority of my traffic comes from Stumbleupon, so to me a 37% retention rate is unusually high, especially considering that the average “Stumble” lasts about 1 second. So something is making my site sticky to these visitors.

    Not to blow my own horn (too much), I think that the main reason why almost 40% of my visitors keep coming back to my blog is that my blog’s message and mission comes across very quickly. Also, my core articles are all tightly focussed on my mission, so when visitors start to read, they can understand what I’m about within a minute or two. The “other” articles, I.E., the “cleaning your kitchen” articles, are still in demand, but they are not causing visitors to return to my site.

  3. bashmvp says:

    Another good advice. Must remember it. Make links to related post.
    Is it a messy job?

  4. AskaX says:

    you are right Darren, when I first time look at problogger. I click the Beginners areas at the top and began interesting with your blog content.

    Thanks for the tips, I will make the Beginners area for my blog soon. :D

  5. Broc says:

    why didnt my comment show up?

  6. Mike says:

    One of the problems I see for a publisher creating content for “beginners” is that eventually those people aren’t beginners any more and you run the risk of losing them as readers. So most sites are more on the “advanced” side of their topic with a “beginner” area. Darren’s advice on getting your long-term readers involved in creating beginner content is great, since it keeps long-term readers engaged as well as providing a wealth of content to add to your site. So now I just need to get all of those long-term readers!

  7. Philip Liu says:

    Although I haven’t tried it, one could also implement a RSS feed with just beginner category posts.

  8. Kimber says:

    Darren, once again, you’re a mind reader.

    No Limits Ladies was just having this discussion. Our investing women are all over the map, some advanced, some beginners. We want to skew to the advanced but not ignore our beginners.

  9. Bihar says:

    Great set of advice abput blogging. Blogging is a slow process. Ever heard of snail and hare story.

  10. jhay says:

    It’s always been a balancing act, with the parameters changing as your readership changes as well. One must always be on the pulse of if or else things will go wrong. Then again it’s not always that hard to accomplish it.

  11. Stuart says:

    I totally agree about a balancing act.

    I use these tips ona daily basis and currently I am on day 18 of a test that I am running starting from 0 to $4,500 per month

  12. Ashish Mohta says:

    wow darren, you truly read bloggers mind…lol at least u read mine.I had people asking me to write on some hight tech which will trun geeky…lol i was scared ….that will turn off my regular readers….now you got me some points I will give it a try

  13. Grokodile says:

    Great tips. I’ve got a multi-year blog sitting around… and I am running into the issue of repeating basic useful advice for first time visitors while worrying about annoying long time readers.

    Thanks!

  14. Jesper says:

    Excellent tips Darren. I think it is easy to forget how confusing it can be when you are a novice (well, maybe not for me, I’m still a novice) and to focus only on the advanced stuff while 95% of Internet users are anything but tech-heads. Many are just looking for basic guidelines, tips and tutorials on how to set up a blog and so on.

    This is something I will do for my site. Hopefully with a unique twist.

  15. I posted on a similar topic a few days back on my blog. Started a nice conversation.

    As always, Darren, you post is right on. I’d love to keep exploring this topic – even testing to see what works best. One question I have is do you, or does anyone here, feel there’s any difference between what newbie business bloggers and newbie pro-bloggers need?

    Mike, I agree with what you’re saying. Do you think it matters who your targeted readers are? For instance, in my case, I help small businesses and service professionals use the web to grow their business. So my audience is both long-time bloggers and nonbloggers – with everyone in between. So I’ll always have readers in transition from nonblogger to new-to-blogging to experienced. My difficulty right now is how to serve them all under the guise of serving my target market.

    Lot of question, I know. I’d really love to mastermind on this topic.

  16. Mike says:

    Dewud Miracle – First let me say that it ALWAYS matters who your targeted readers are. You have to consider your audience in everything you do – BUT, I think you can have a multi-audience approach. Your primary audience is ” ..fill in the blank”, your secondary audience is “…”. This approach allows you to have some flexibility without trying to be “all things to all peopl”. IMO you should try to raise the bar but still be approachable – use full tech names instead of acronyms, link to wikipedia or other sources for basic definitions of key tech terms and have a common voice for all your content.

    Hope that helps.

  17. Mike, thanks for your thoughts. I think I asked my question poorly – sorry. I coach my clients to focus on their audience, so I get that part. I think where I’m stumbling is more to do with educating new/non bloggers on how to use a blog. Not as a blogger, but as a reader. It seems that many non bloggers are just intimidated by blogs. But when they consider them to just be a website with oft updated and conversational content, things change. It’s almost as though they need a little hand-holding. And once they get it, they’re free.

    So for me this is more of an issue about how to meet those users most effectively rather than one how to write content. Sorry for the poor question on my part.

    Anyone else have ideas on this?

  18. Sam Edwards says:

    Hi Darren,

    Thanks for some of the ideas like beginners areas, advanced areas. These would be useful in segregating the bloggers & as you mentioned the beginners could use useful tips initially while the pros could participate & contribute more. Also something that I have not been focusing much is listening to the comments, posts, scraps people leave. Would concentrate more on these.

    Thanks again.

  19. Franco says:

    Great advise. So many people really put too much value
    and waste too much energy trying to please people who can’t be pleased…

    You need to know that to some people, being negative and full of skepticism is a passion.

    You can’t write or work to please “negativos,” you’ll drive yourself nuts. There are always plenty of people who are positive and kind hearted and sincerely looking to be “good guys/gals,” why waste time the others?

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