July 1, 2006
Liz published this at 12:22 pm
Folks Who Are Learning and Folks Who Know
Most bloggers find their audience is a lot like you are — an audience of folks who learning and folks who know a whole lot. That can throw a new writer. It can seem a problem of huge proportions. It’s not hard to think that what you have is two different audiences in one. How do you know how much to say and how much to leave out? It’s easy to get twisted trying to write for an audience of people who are both beginning and experienced.
Get twisted, heck! Somebody save me NOW!. From where I sit, some days the beginners need to learn so much, and the experts already seem to know all of it. How do I possibly talk to both of them at once, without risking insulting or boring either one of them?
That writer’s problem can seem impossible to solve, but it’s not. In fact, it’s not even a problem at all.
Beginners & Experts Have the Same Expectations
The good news is that begginers and experts have the same expectations. They’re looking for information and entertainment. They want the experience to be enlightening, beneficial, and satisfying. They want to feel good about spending time reading what I wrote.
Knowing their expecations levels the playing field and changes how I approach what I write. These 6+3 strategies offer ways to focus your writing so that beginners and experts enjoy an experience that meets their expectations.
1. Turn off the spotlight. Thinking too much about what your audience knows puts the spotlight on you. It can feel as if readers are waiting for a wrong move. They’re not. You are. When you find yourself thinking that way, remember that readers want you to succeed, not to fail. It’s in their best interest for you to write well.
2. Acknowledge your entire audience from the start. If it’s obvious that a piece is for one or the other, tell your readers who the piece for and explain why the others might want to read too, or say why they might want to move on. Maybe you’re writing for beginners, and experts might want a review. Maybe you’re offering new information as well as a how-to. Perhaps the post is high level, and the beginners really should read the next post. That’s okay too, as long as you let everyone know.
3. Use a voice that says all readers are experts, because they are. Folks who are learners about the topic, often come with knowledge they can transfer from other areas. Assume that all readers are a quick study and that you are only passing on information they have not encountered before. Taking that tone makes it easier to speak to everyone as not knowing without worrying about whether you might be talking down.
4. Focus on offering information that’s accurate and perspective that adds unique value. Every beginner and expert likes to review the facts to make sure that they know what they know. Facts alone, though, aren’t very exciting. Both groups enjoy interpretation, analysis, and thinking you might add that give the facts depth and perspective and get them thinking too.
5. Give readers a tool. Make their lives easier. Give them something that they can put to use immediately. It’s not hard to do that for readers. Just show them how what you’re saying applies to their situation.
6. Pass on a sense of urgency, and call your readers to action. Draw everyone into the timeliness of of your topic. If you write about the 10 most important reasons to blog, offer the 10 most important reasons to blog BEFORE YOUR BLOG IS OUTDATED. A cause or a way to improve that is urgent is compelling to readers at any level.
PLUS ONE: Keep in mind that some expert readers want to help beginners too. Leave room in your post for them to do that. Invite them to add their ideas in the comments. That adds value, and you’ll have more confidence writing the basics, because you’ve made the experts part of your writing team.
PLUS TWO: Don’t be convinced that experts know all of the basics, Think of how fast things change and how many self-taught people there are. Odds are you’ll be teaching experts details that they didn’t pick up as they were learning.
PLUS THREE: Know that most beginners aren’t beginners for long. Some may have the light go on by the end of your first sentence. Also know that it’s hard to find bloggers who’ve been blogging longer than 4 years.
It never works to put real people into boxes with labels like beginner or expert. Most of us don’t think of ourselves as either one. Talk to us as readers and we’ll thank you for it by coming back. We’ll think of as a sign of your business and brand that you care about us as people individually. That’s powerful.
I bet you could add a + 4,5 and 6 or more ways to right for your audience of beginners and experts.
–ME “Liz” Strauss
If you think Liz can help with a problem you’re having with your business, check out the Work with Liz!! page in the sidebar.
9 + 1 Things Every Reader Wants from a Writer
Turning Reluctant Readers into Loyal Fans
6 Steps to a Branded Business Blog in Record Time
See the Writing Power for Everyone series on the SUCCESSFUL SERIES PAGE.