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What Are You Taking For Granted That Might Be Useful to Others?

I recently was chatting with a new blogger and they made the comment that after 3 weeks of blogging that they’d run out of things to write about. They had written 10 posts so far but felt that they’d nothing else to share of value on the topic.

What surprised me about their comments was that the blogger was actually a seasoned pro in their niche. They were new to blogging about their topic but they’d been working in their industry for 25 years and were seen as an expert in their field…. yet they didn’t feel like they had anything to say about the topic!

I dug a little deeper and it turned out that the reason for their issue was not that they didn’t have much to write about – but that they were taking for granted the level of knowledge that they actually had. Much of what they’d learned over the years was now so basic to them that they didn’t realise how valuable it was for someone at a lower level of expertise.

To use an old cliche – they were the type of person who has forgotten what most of us will ever know about their topic.

He said to me at one point – ‘I just want every post I write to be something that cuts new ground – something that says something great that no one has ever thought before.’

I’ve felt this way myself over the years (and still do). For me it often came about in those nervous moments before I’d go on stage to present about blogging. Doubts would creep in….”what do I know?”…. “my presentation is too basic”….. “what if people are too advanced for this?”….

The reality is though that 99% of people in the audiences I spoke to had a such basic understanding of my topic that what I often thought was basic was often a stretch for them.

Often in the Q&A times at the end of such presentations I’d realise to myself just how much I actually did know about my topic and how often in the search for my next profound post that unlocked the secrets to the universe that I was actually over looking a treasure trove of more basic but just as helpful topics.

I’m not suggesting that every post you write needs to rehash the basics of your topic – however I guess this is simple a challenge for those of us who sometimes struggle to feel we’ve got anything helpful and worthwhile to say to realize that we might be over thinking things and could probably serve our readers better by examining what we do know and sharing that.

Sidenote: I was having a discussion that touched on this today at Third Tribe when Valeria Maltoni commented – ‘I also take what I know for granted a lot.

I responded to her with:

I think most of us have stuff in our head that we think is too basic to share with others however it’s real GOLD when we do share it because it’s often things that others are thinking about asking but are too scared – or its something that they need to know but don’t really know that they need it.

How does one get to those Basic but Golden things?

A few ides for posts come to mind:

  • Describe an experience that you’ve had
  • Share a problem that you overcame and how you did it
  • Give an example of where you learned an important lesson
  • Tell the story of how you taught someone something
  • Remember what it was like to be a beginner in your topic and outline the things you wish you’d known
  • Share the answers to some questions that you or someone else once had
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. Gennyca says:

    I blog about where I live; Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras. Having lived here for close to three years, I try to not take my way of life for granted. Your suggestion to, “Remember what it was like to be a beginner in your topic…” really hit home for me.

    I carry a note pad wherever I go, so when something that is ‘typical’ for life on an Island, happens. I jot it down and use it in a posting…knowing that is what people want to read about. It sure isn’t ‘typical’ to them.

  2. I have had my blog for over 2 years now. I am not an expert on blogging. That is why I subscribe to your blog. You give me so much useful information on blogging and writing on topic for a blog.

    I am an expert on my life which includes being an incest survivor. In many of my posts on incest, I am already doing a lot of what you suggest in your list above. For the sake of helping other incest survivors, I have, in the past two years, revisited many of my experiences in dealing with my incest issues to give other survivors hope that they can get through the experience and find some level of peace in their lives also.

    I am an expert in what practices have worked for me. I don’t claim that they will always work for others. We each have our own paths to travel. Your path may be similar to mine or so different that you can’t even relate. I don’t pretend to understand everything about being an incest survivor but I do know what has worked for me. I pass that along in the hope that it might work for others too.

    Your blogging advice helps me to pass on to others what I have learned. Thank you so much.

  3. Wayne John says:

    It’s like you’re reaching in my head and finding what I need to hear. Get out of there! There’s only room for one entity.

    Seriously, it’s like you’re reading my mind and posting exactly what I need to hear these days. I battle with this exact issues every single day. I’m going to use those last bullets and see what happens.

    Thanks Darren, it amazes me how you come up with this stuff.

  4. Darren:
    I can always count on you to have something great to share on a day when I really need it! I can’t tell you how often I have found myself in this very position. And, even when a trusted friend and mentor insisted that I had a wealth of experience to share, I wasn’t convinced.

    Somehow hearing this today has really driven the point home.

    Thanks for all of your hard work, insightful posts and generosity in sharing your knowledge with your readers.

    My best,
    Traci

  5. I would have to comment this is an wonderful piece of work. I say this needs mentioning elsewhere.

  6. FloorElf says:

    Outstanding post Darren! It was so great my dog just burst into flames! (Readers of my blog will know what that means – both of them.)

    I run into that problem all the time (not knowing what I’m taking for granted) and it always amazes me that the most basic things I post on my site get the most hits. Things like choosing the correct grout are things I don’t even think about.

    Everyone has some sort of knowledge others want. Figuring out what it is makes a blog jump from ‘informational’ to an ‘authority’ on a given subject.

    Writing about the simplest things actually give you more authority on your subject I believe.

  7. GraingerKid says:

    Hi all,

    Another great post.

    I have only just got into this crazy blogging world and although my blog doesn’t officially start for another 2 days (the 1st March) I have already started to doubt myself getting past the first month!

    But this reminded be of a conversation I ha early today with a friend of mine about the topic that I/will be blogging about and it was a really basic (or so I thought) topic which made me stop him mid conversation and go write down what his questions to me where and hey presto there is another post idea for later development.

    So another good thing is just to talk to someone who is not in your general audience and take mental notes of what their asking.

    Cheers Darren and everyone else who commented as your carving my path to Problogging success :)

  8. It may be more a matter of self-doubt that we feel what we know; everyone else will know than anything else–we assume that if “lowly-us” will know it, then so will the rest of the world will, but we’re all on different levels, and what we consider a sixth-sense might be (like you say) gold to others.

  9. Michelle says:

    An interesting read Darren … I have heaps of content available for my blog … because of the nature of people; they continue to do stupid things that cause injury and I therefore have content.
    However, in my job as a paramedic I have recently been exposed to a school of new students and its amazing then to discover how much you really do know … and I think that’s a good analogy for this post. Consider what someone starting out in your area of expertise knows and you’ll realise how much you’ve learned and therefore have to impart to others.

  10. I was on a webinar recently and at the end they took questions from listeners. Many of the questions asked were about things I thought most people already knew. When we have known something for awhile we think that everyone else also knows what we know. You don’t have to be a expert or guru to know something that can be of help to others. We tend to forget that it wasn’t that long ago that we didn’t know about it also.

  11. I was once experienced that I think to myself that I don’t have nothing to post in my blog anymore.

    So what I did was, I share my previous problems that I overcome and also share to them what did I do to solve those problems.

    Most bloggers also experienced what you already experience, especially when they are in their early days of blogging.

    Thanks for the post I learn more things.

  12. Sue LaLumia says:

    I find that “novices” are my most loyal readers and most frequent commenters (and even send me emails). So many readers are looking for information and are craving honest and good advice.

    My niche is junk/antique collectors and dealers, and there are hundreds of blogs about that, yet most are merely showcasing what they have for sale or how beautiful their homes are. I decided to write more about what it’s like to do what I do. I created a series entitled “So you think you want a booth in an antique mall” and another series on “How to shop estate sales”. I’ve also written posts on why you should be blogging and how easy it is. Those all generate HUGE traffic.

    There are loads of readers living vicariously through you, wondering what it would be like. Tap into that and you have instantly valuable content!

  13. Betty says:

    Things that I had taken forgranted was just everyday situations. As long as we live we will have problems. So I have started just looking around at everyday situations and problems that occur in my life and in others. Someone will always need a solution to one of the problems.

  14. Hi Darren,

    Just as well I signed up with problogger….. I am a new blogger[Though I first brushed with bloging in 2007] and so far I have done only 2 posts on my new blog(Launched Feb 2010). But Thanks for this wonderful encouragement … I am going to double up. I have just realised I have got so much knowledge in my field.

    Please keep up the work.

  15. ashok says:

    Some good reminders here about the sorts of posts I need to write more of. I always have something to say (not always the best thing). The issue is getting something to say that at least once will go viral.

  16. Hi Darren,
    Again a great post.
    Zach, your first commenter, made me think about some of the things that I have done and taken for granted like:
    – Lived in Cairo for roughly 5 years, part of which was on a houseboat on The Nile
    – Played Rugby League for my country (Scotland) as student
    – Have watched my brother sell out the Royal Albert Hall
    – Have seen my mum and dad lose their business and their house
    – Have been interviewed by the BBC and CNN

    All of our experiences are rich beyond what we, initially, give ourselves credit for and we have many stories to tell.

    Adrian

  17. Hmm. This post is reassuring, Darren. I can relate with that person that in pursuit of perfection, we wind up writing nothing.

    I also have this problem.

    Anyways, perhaps if we bloggers write even those things that we take for granted, we’ll be able to write at least 100 killer content that our readers will love.

  18. A very valid post. My Blog is about Thesis Theme tutorials and when I was researching on the topics to write (by means of polls etc.), I was surprised to find many topics that readers are looking for – which are BASIC (and often overlooked) to any Thesis Theme Developer/Tutorial Writer.

    So I would better put it this way – Plan for your Blog Post Topic from your Reader’s Shoes… (what say??)

  19. Gulshan says:

    hi
    I have been like an entertainer in school, college and at work too. I always used to have so many jokes and other fun stuff to share with my friends and colleagues so I thought why not compile them because everyone used to say, “You can write a book with this much stuff” so my blog “Dainik Batoula” (Chatty-man’s daily gossip) was born
    http://dainikbatoula.blogspot.com
    I have written 35 odd posts within a month but then I feel that I have run out of the material that I thought I had in abundance. However, after reading your blog, I feel that it is not over yet and that I have tons and tons of material that I took for granted and that it can cheer the world up for quite some time to come.
    Thank you problogger.

  20. Aglolink says:

    This is what I like from Problogger, always giving a different post from other blogs!

  21. For your next post, perhaps you can address the issue of commenting addiction, and tell me how to get my life back :)

  22. Great synopsis of commenting and how to very well written and all that link love you just poured out, great post, if this was a forum you would have a sticky on this.

  23. Jamie Bouyer says:

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  24. Betty says:

    I agree that people have knowledge that they assume others should know. In reality none of us know the same people, nor were raised by the same parents. So we all have experiences that we can share that can help others.