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How to Effectively Educate Your Blog Readers

In this post John from Ace Online Schools shares some tips for writing educational blog content.

When the titans of blogging write about building a successful blog, they always emphasize the importance of insanely useful content. One of the best ways to be useful is to educate your readers. If you can give your readers knowledge that helps them achieve their goals, people will hang on your every word and happily link to your content.

Teach What You Know

The first requirement of effective teaching is having a depth of knowledge to share. If you haven’t mastered a topic yourself, you have no chance of teaching it to others. It amazes me how many people try to do this, particularly in the make money online niche. If you want to start a blog to educate yourself that’s fine, but don’t expect to have much success until you know your topic inside and out.

Once you have a base of knowledge to impart, the second step is effective communication.

Mix General Concepts with Specific Examples

Darren recently posted about this idea. What he realized is that many readers like to be told what to do. Learning is about understanding important ideas; both as concepts and as they relate to reality. Understanding general concepts is important because it empowers readers to make decisions for themselves based on their unique circumstances. Examples are indispensable because they make an abstract idea concrete. There is no excuse not to weave specific examples into your posts because it requires only a simple reference link.

Use Illustrative Images and Diagrams

One of the most underutilized educational techniques in blogging is the use of diagrams. By this I don’t mean random images from Flickr that you to toss in at the last minute. I mean handcrafted diagrams that illustrate the key ideas from your article. A great example of this is the SEO Success Pyramid by Small Business SEM. Diagrams help educate your readers where words alone fall short. They’re also link magnets. There’s a bit of a learning curve if you aren’t good at creating images, but the results are worth the effort.

Learn to Write for the Web

You need to understand how people read on the web and learn to write for them effectively. Go to Jakob Nielsen’s web site and read this paper. It will do more to improve your blogging than any other article. If you look at the top blogs, you’ll find they follow Nielsen’s style guidelines remarkably well.

Don’t Be a Link Snob

Insecure blogs are scared of linking out. They’re afraid of losing traffic and giving link juice to sites that compete with them. This is absolute rubbish! If you share valuable information with readers, you’ll be rewarded with trust. Readers will value your site more and be more likely to return. Some of the most popular sites on the web are almost entirely short summaries and links to outside content. Clearly it hasn’t hurt their traffic. Help your readers educate themselves by pointing them in the right direction.

John blogs at Ace Online Schools about the world of online education. Visit our site for the latest educational news, online learning resources, and advances in educational technology. Bloggers might enjoy his article about How to Launch Your Writing Career Online.

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. Ryan McLean says:

    This is a great blog post that has some incredible points
    I will be applying them to my blog.
    I am stoked because my blog is finally going to go over the 1000 RSS mark

  2. Rachel says:

    Every one own a special knowledge or better understanding of of will known information.
    helping other with your knowledge and understanding is the whole point of what blogs for, and why people read blog posts.
    but even better when your reader comment and react to your writing, then with one blog post you can have information worth a full e-book

  3. Agent SEO says:

    Nice article. This is something I’ve been trying to work to understand. I have an SEO & WordPress blog where I provide information, but sometimes people ask questions that I simply do not know.

    This article helped reinforce the idea that it’s okay to link out to other blogs if you don’t know the answer.

    Thanks for the info!

  4. Akila says:

    This is an excellent one. And also you have written it according to the guidelines you have given, for example linking other sites, to educate your readers more.
    But sometimes writing a blog post doesn’t mean that you know everything about the topic you are talking on. Especially if you are talking based on a personal research/experience. Isn’t it?
    For example I wrote the article Beyond 3rd Generation (B3G) based on a independent research I did.
    As you have said, using diagrams is an area that all the bloggers should focus on.

  5. mike says:

    I always liked linking to sites in same area as mine if they are good. It hasn’t hurt traffic.

  6. LisaNewton says:

    How can you educate anyone without linking out? I don’t think anyone knows everything, so if your reader needs or wants more information, linking to experts is the best way.

    For example, my post today has 8 outgoing links, providing my reader with additional information, if they want it……………….:)

  7. Shane Hudson says:

    I would be the first to admit I do not use nearly enough pictures. But the other points should be fairly common sense, surely? It is a shame so many people do not follow these simple rules.

  8. This is true. It has some great points. Teach your readers something to help acheive their goals and they’ll be happy and most likely your blog will be successful.

    Great post!

  9. Tiggy says:

    Jakob Nielson’s article was very thorough, but useful!

  10. Darren:

    your philosophy on being a link snob is spot on…linking out to other sites is a great way to expand your post or content…

  11. Kayla says:

    Great tips, I read Nielson’s article a few months ago and it helped me out tremendously. I also learned the linking out rule quickly too…many bloggers don’t realize what a difference sharing other links makes.

  12. Yeah I do like your thoughts about link as well. Certainly this one will put weight on your post and your post can be look like as respected one.

  13. I have to disagree with this:

    Insecure blogs are scared of linking out. They’re afraid of losing traffic and giving link juice to sites that compete with them.

    There are many sites that don’t link out on a regular or frequent basis simply because it takes time and energy to do so. I don’t feel that this conveys insecurity or fear in any way.

    I’ve done linkouts in the past – crikey, I’ve lost hours to them. Those hours are ones that I could’ve spent writing more informative posts, teaching people, working, etc.

    Not linking out is not at all equal to insecurity. It’s very often a more effective use of time, energy and resources.

  14. SEO Tips says:

    Excellent article and it has given me inspiration for a new article to write or even a series thanks.

  15. Good post.

    Particularly like the mixing concepts with specific examples, something I am a big believer in.

    Something I know I need to do more of, is include diagrams, but its finding the time to make good ones.

  16. Monthiel says:

    I will be applying them to my blog. Thanks for the tip of Jackob Nielsen’s article.

  17. Well i think image and video are very very effective in educating readers, a must have for every blog post.

  18. Su Prieta says:

    The Nielson article was on point. I even experienced the difference in presentation going from the full academic version of the document to the summary for online readers. There is indeed a formula for writing effective content online. I’ll consider this in my blog-writing.

    www,aspiretograce.wordpress.com

  19. Jake says:

    Yes, it is important to ensure your readers are learning something new or gaining some sort of knowledge or else why would they return to your blog?

  20. Hey,

    Thanks for the comments everyone. Glad you found the article useful!

  21. Brad says:

    Great post! I particularly like the point about not being a “link snob”. I try to link out to other blogs as much as I can. Not only because it’s good karma, but because I realize there are a lot of other bloggers out there who have more knowledge than I do, or they add a unique perspective.

  22. ilaxi says:

    Gives an insight. Learn to write for the web and Don’t be a Link snob – great points.

    Btw,I just read Your post on Six ways to experiment with Adsense on Adsense Blog here http://tinyurl.com/d6zev2 – Thanks Darren for the great tips.

  23. Elliot W says:

    “Use Illustrative Images and Diagrams”, I don’t do this nearly enough, not only is it a great visual aid, but it also helps break up the endless lines of text in a post.

  24. Megan says:

    Nice. I specifically like the idea of mixing idea’s with concrete examples…Something I’m going to utilize more in my blog.

    http://www.snaganinternship.com

  25. ashok says:

    Another thing I’d add is that you want to provide opportunities for feedback, and encourage people to tell you whether something worked or not.

    It isn’t enough to have comments because only a few people will spontaneously go “hey, I tried out what you said, thought it worked well.” You have to be a bit more active: if they say they’re confused about something, ask them about it telling them that other people are probably having the same problem and staying quiet. You might even want to set benchmarks or mini-tests/quizzes: they sound obnoxious to some, but anyone who’s serious about learning is gonna try it.

  26. KiwiPulse says:

    I’m trying on every post that I publish to inform my audience about what i’m writing about. I can feel the importance to give them more hints. Adding pictures on my post is one of the thing that I can’t ignore. QUALITY is the key! :P

  27. Wayne Tully says:

    I think linking out to relevant stuff is ok too, especially if you want to pad out a post with related links that further your blog articles information.

    Educating my readers is something that interests me alot, I used to think I knew where I was headed, but have since found out that there is a path that will be far better for me with a focused effort on everlasting gobstopper content..or evergreen grass content.

    I thank you darren for all that you have done here on problogger combined with the brilliant guest posts that are most insightful and useful.

    Cheers…still reading!

  28. Linking to others blogs is a great way to inform your readers of other resources online. It helps you become the “Go to” person for your topic. Also, I really like it when links don’t automatically open a new window. If the reader wants to open a new window/tab, they can command-click or right-click. It should be their choice.

  29. I haven’t used diagrams yet… good idea.

    I alway like to read examples of the general idea. It helps get my won creative ideas going.

    Thanks for the post John.

    Sheila

  30. Tinh says:

    I think linking to the blog/sites that has same topics and ideas is always the best way to increase PR and Google likes that too.

  31. JOE GELB says:

    luckily people educate me. i really have nothing to give but my work. darren and john rule this planet for education online

  32. T Edwards says:

    Very informative post. That Jacob Nielson article is gold.

    T

  33. Doug Dinerstein says:

    After reading the above blog I took a few minutes to “scan” through the Nielsen paper and my immediate thought was…This is applies to me when I am doing my usual wiki search to settle an argument or looking for the scientific formula for qualudes, however when I return to a blog such as this one, my state of mind and approach is entirely different. I am prepared to take 10 and read any new info. That being said, I suppose one has to strike a balance between the new visitor and a repeat like myself, in my humble opinion anyway.
    I am not a blogger so ?

  34. Suneel says:

    This is so true. I had never been doubtful to write about any post that I found to be so rich in information that I wanted my readers to get to know about it.

    Thanks for pointing this out and educating the other readers.

    I believe that rather than creating the content from the scratch, it is much better if we just write a summary and then direct the readers to a post on other blog which has described the article painstakingly prceise would do much good than bad.

  35. Kevin Boon says:

    Hello John and Darren,

    Thanks for this post… it is timely and appropriate for me as put together the framework for the Meditation Project and Finding Work-Life Balance.

    One question I do have from your post, what method or software would you use to create diagrams? Will check out the links too.

    Thanks.
    Kevin

  36. Endurance says:

    As a blogger with an educational focus in mind, I believe it is important to refine one’s techniques and see what makes people respond in a positive way. Thanks for the tips.

  37. PraShawn says:

    About the link snob thing you are right!. It is not a matter of links. There are more important aspects of generating traffic. I think if you can teach something then it is great for the readers to practise. It is great information you offer thank you for sharing.

  38. Hmmm.. teach what you know, what a concept, lol, so true, many times you see bloggers and it is so obvious that they have no clue, especially in IM and MMO.

  39. Jeanine says:

    I really liked this post. I checked out the recommended paper, “Concise, SCANNABLE, and Objective: How to Write for the Web” and laughed when I realized I was doing exactly what he said most people do….they scan. I will have to go back and read it more carefully when I have more time. I like the idea of doing diagrams. Does anyone know of any programs or tools on the web that creates diagrams?

  40. Eddie Gear says:

    very true points. Nice post.

  41. BLOGBOOZE says:

    I completely agree with your every word in this post. Yes to be a good writer you must have deep knowledge in your niche.

    This is something many people lack and something many people think they have(including my self)…

  42. Mike says:

    Great points to take to heart. Our companies blog is about educating our customers and these ideas will help us do that.

  43. Tom says:

    This is a really good post. I have just started my first blog and was a little bit afraid of linking out and loosing traffic. This post has given me the comfidence to use links to help my readers wherever possible throughout my blog

    Thanks!

    Tom
    Retro Watch Blog

  44. Tumblemoose says:

    And if this is done in the best way possible, readers will be entertained enough that they may not even even realize they are being educated!

    Good stuff.

    George

  45. Great points to take to heart. Our companies blog is about educating our customers and these ideas will help us do that.

  46. FatCow says:

    Excellent article and it has given me inspiration for a new article to write or even a series thanks.