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Blog This! Sometimes Going Back to Basics Leads to the Best Posts

Today, I’m preparing some slides for a keynote I’m doing tomorrow. I included this diagram – something that Chris Garrett came up with years ago as a way to show new bloggers what they should blog about.

blog-this.png

The idea – obviously – is to find the connecting point between what YOU know (lessons you’ve learned, problems you’ve overcome, experiences that you’ve had etc) and what your readers (or potential readers) want (or need) to know.

The intersecting point is GOLD!

The problem with this diagram is when I show it to people they sometimes respond saying, ‘I don’t know anything‘!

I understand this feeling. However, I would encourage anyone thinking that to think again. In many cases, you simply overlook what you know because you think it is too basic to share!

As I was preparing for my keynote, I was reminded of a post that I wrote on dPS back in 2007 that illustrates this pretty well.

The post was How to Hold a Digital Camera.

This post came about when I was looking through submitted reader photos to select some to critique in our forum. Many of  the photos I was looking at were blurry and I realised that a common mistake was ‘camera shake’ (or the camera moving while the shot was being taken).

One of the most common and obvious reasons for camera shake is that the photographer is not holding their camera still.

There was an obvious need among some of our readers to learn how to hold their camera to keep it still while shooting.

I knew the theory of how to do this after being taught it in a school photography class but I remember thinking it was simply too basic to write a blog post about.

But I wrote the post anyway.

I hesitated for several days before publishing it, second guessing myself the whole time. I envisaged being laughed down.

The post was a hit. It got a lot of traffic early on, quite a few comments (in which many suggestions were made of other techniques) and it has been shared many hundreds of times around the web on social media.

Today, as I prepared for my keynote, I decided to check my Google Analytics to see how many times the post has been viewed since 2007.

The answer surprised me…

The post has had over 560,000 unique views!

Over half a million people have viewed that post over the last 6 years and still gets an average of 150 visitors per day to it (mainly search traffic).

Sometimes even the most basic advice – things you take for granted – is the advice your readers really need to hear.

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. pragati says:

    Thanks for a great post, Darren! We often overlook basic topics because some things seem really elementary to us. I think – isn’t this too simple, or do they really want to know that? But maybe there is a cross section of people that always wants to know something basic.

    Your post has encouraged me to write more about basic subjects that i otherwise may have discarded.

    Thanks!

    • Kalen says:

      That’s a very good point Pragati. Also, things that seem elementary to you may not be elementary to your readers. You may just be really good at what you’ve done for a long time and have a hard time remembering that other people aren’t experts in the same niche you are.

      • pragati says:

        Hey Kalen! That makes so much sense. Most times I am after finding out more. I guess taking stock of what I do know might serve me well sometimes. So more basic posts are on!

        thanks..

  2. Darren, The greatest mistake any blogger would make is to think that everybody already knows everything. It would be safer to always assume there are some people who might not know anything about what you write (though there might as well be those who already know a lot); so those who don’t have the basic knowledge yet have to be accommodated in a way.

    If you are able to write in such a way that both professionals and amateurs are able to understand you, then everyone would be carried along without feeling like a stranger on your blog. The best place to get a clue as to how to serve your readers is through the comments and questions they leave on your site.

    Some of those questions might sound funny; but everyone has some areas where help is needed. So never neglect those seemingly irrelevant questions and comments.

  3. Wow, “how to hold a camera” post gets that much camera. This post really give us some good ideas that we can post about that we at first thought would not be useful to anyone. I guess the takeaway on this post is not to make too many assumptions about post ideas.

    Thank you,!

    • I think those basic posts can really lead to a great following. For instance an offering on “how to hold a camera” can lead to a more in-depth article as well, that as this reader becomes more a professional camera user they will read and get more in-depth on what Darren is offering in his articles.

  4. Luke says:

    Back to basics! I lnow I often have to stop myself from overwhelming new clients and remember to give people small digestsble amounts of information or “homework”. Otherwise it’s information overload. Finding the center of that graph will be key!

  5. David Boozer says:

    Thanks Darren! I cannot tell you how hard it can be to keep people focused on the basics here. Thank you for this post and I will be sharing it with my people so they can see that I am right…thanks!

  6. yogesh says:

    True that! What is basic for us can be unknown to our readers. We just need to remind this fact to ourselves to provide the information that helps the readers.

    Thank you Darren for reminding me the basics again. :)

  7. Denzil says:

    Thats true. Sometimes the things we want to post seem dilly (your hesitation to publish the post) but in the long run theres a hoard of people that love reading. But not because they have no knowledge of something, they could be looking for another perspective. Congrats on over half a million views on that post!!!! Im going to search for it now.

  8. Vivek says:

    Its fear which always hold you back..and as being a blogger we shouldn’t have this. Since everyone have right to speak and share thoughts.

    I mean;; your post is an example. You were hesitating to publish you article and when you did it ; it became hit.

  9. Info Saja says:

    I always wait for any important information that I think my own benefit. So I felt there was something important and should be read when every article I found here.Therefore your article is extraordinary information.

  10. Bucee says:

    Sometimes I have a little to no idea what to blog about on that day and what I usually do I check out Q&A sites and forums. This way I know what people want to know and I can serve their needs.

  11. Claudia says:

    This post reminds me of compliments you’re not expecting because what you do seems so easy. Have you ever had anyone say “You’re so good at X!” and stare at them replying “Um… yes?” While thinking, well, anyone could do what I do. What’s so special about it?
    I fully understand the fear of stating the ‘obvious’ if you think your audience, since they’re interested in the same topic as you, must already know what you know. But if people had already known how to avoid ‘camera shake’, you wouldn’t have noticed photos with a problem that needed fixing.
    Great post.

  12. Rahul Jain says:

    This Venn Diagram says a lot about the leads. It’s important to research and then target the audience. If you’re thinking something else and the audience is looking for something else, you’re probably wasting a lot of time. I read a lot on which countries prefer which products and that is the best research I ever did and accordingly target the audience.

  13. Ferb says:

    People often run before they walk, overlooked the basic things and mistake they made, realised they should have learned the basic thing but it’s never too late to do something. I can see that when taking picture, clear and meaningful pictures are important. And just share anything you know.

  14. Peter Alfred says:

    A nice and great post, thanx for sharing this post with us. Your post has encouraged me. Thanx again Darren.. :) i also see great info here about Bin Boxes

  15. Reneé Klein says:

    Hi Darren,

    I think that what makes a great blog post is that it provide value and share the writer’s emotion. There are some people out there who believe that every post has to be technical and “how to” in nature. I love to learn new things but some of the best posts I have read relate a message through a story or are a funny rant on something that I could identify with.

  16. This just happened to me, Darren! I thought writing about why you should wash new clothes was the most mundane and, well, obvious thing. I drafted the post a few times, but came up with something “better” instead. But finally, I posted it and BANG, it was my most popular post ever. I got a whole month’s traffic in one day.
    It’s great to see the science behind why this happened – I thought it was completely random and that I would never get the hang of this blogging business. So thanks!

  17. Mitz Pantic says:

    I have a post on my computer tips website about how to “cut and paste text” on a Windows computer. I also have one about how to use a computer mouse. Actually I have hundreds of them…

    But I have had my share of abusive feedback for these basic tutorials. The best way to sum up what they would say is “Are you stupid? Who does not know how to do this? What a stupid tutorial.” This happened mainly on Youtube when I posted a video pointing back to the posts on my site.

    Anyway who is laughing now and who is the idot here? Not me. My computer site gets well over 10,000 uniques a day and these basic articles are a big part of that!

    When I read this you reminded me of those basic articles. I have travelled to my own little world of what I know and forgot those amazing basics. :)

  18. The Van Diagram is alone enough to explain your view and you have done a good job to explain this topic.thanks for this informational post.

  19. Chris says:

    Interesting stuff. For even more examples the dedicated “how-to” blogs out there on the web can go through some stupendously straight forward life skills. :)

  20. Can I ask a question? Why ProBlogger has stopped using adsense?

    About Post it is excellent as usual and great for newbies like me.

  21. Carl says:

    Many times, people concentrate too much on SEO and marketing efforts and forget that they just need simple business model and a bit of common sense. Blogging is no different, post information that will be interesting.

  22. Ben Troy says:

    Well said article,

    Without knowing readers interest, we cannot success over online. your three steps are must useful and everyone should follow inorder to create a good relationship with the readers.

  23. Matt Brennan says:

    Most business owners have some advanced industry knowledge. The trick is to remember that what may seem as basic as tying your shoe, may be brand new knowledge to your readers. Nice idea, noticing the blurry photos to detect the camera shake issue. Great post!

  24. An interesting point, and something I’ve been a little worried about as well with writing articles, being ridiculed for the post topic.