A regular struggle for me as a blogger is something that can be called “The curse of knowledge”. Once I know something, it is difficult to imagine what it was like not knowing it. The knowledge becomes second nature to me and I assume that it is easy, simple and that everyone knows it.
This knowledge of thinking that I know and that everyone else knows it as well can get in the way of me being able to properly connect to the audience and establish a rapport. It can make it difficult for me to share my knowledge and teach others properly, as it is not always possible to put myself in the mindset and the situation of the people that I want to teach. It is easy to forget that other people don’t know what I know, that they may not necessary have the same experience and it can be difficult to connect to their state of mind and see things from their perspective.
You may be asking why is it important to see things from the perspective of your potential audience? This is not only important it is vital. It helps you think like they do, it helps you connect to them, resonate with them and create better content and stronger connection with them. These are all the key ingredients of a successful site.
Don’t make assumptions about your audience
Don’t assume they have the same level of knowledge and experience as you. Don’t think they are in the same head space. I used to go into different topics, create content and instructions without introducing the readers and explaining the basics first. Putting things in perspective and giving context to people is a key for them to understand it better and get more out of it.
In some cases I even decided not to cover certain topic as I thought it was a very obvious topic and something that was easy to do so why would anyone need to read an article or a tutorial about it in the first place. I have found that this is a very wrong way of thinking. There are always people out there who are beginners and who need to know the simple things that you are very well aware of.
Take a second look at the things that seem mundane to you. The things you know by heart and take for granted have big potential for your content. Most people that search online for keywords relevant to your content will most probably be beginners who are looking to get introduced to your topic and who are looking to learn more about it. That is why they are out there searching and discovering things. If they were experts they surely would not be looking for it, they’ll be doing it or doing something else.
Why your best content comes from the simplified places
Some of the easiest and most simplified posts I have published are also some of the most popular posts in my archives. I thought these articles and processes I have explained in them were so simple and so easy that there was no chance in the world that anyone would be interested in and would find it useful to be reading a guide about it. But it did indeed turn out that many people found them useful and the articles were tweeted, stumbled and bookmarked many times.
I have learned that it is very important to always explain everything from scratch and in detail. When writing posts you must be clear, you must break down the process and explain it in simple steps. It might be too simple, you might think that everyone knows it and no one wants to read about something that is so simplified, but it is not true. There are always beginners who are looking for instructions from someone who is very familiar with the material and the tools and who can help them get started better and give them tips and advice on how to use the tool better.
You will not believe but many people would love to read, watch, learn, spend time on and even pay to get access to, something that is so simple and so obvious to you. Something that you know so much about, that sits very natural to you and that is so obvious to you that you think nobody else is interested in it or everyone else already knows everything they need to know about it.
There was several times where I discarded ideas thinking they are too obvious to even mention them. Several times I was close to not publishing an article because I thought it was too mundane to be written about. Who would appreciate such a thing I was thinking. I was very wrong. Some of the most popular articles I have ever published have been things I almost never did publish. I was making too many assumptions and I was not able to think like a beginner. I was not able to relate to people I have in my mind as my audience.
Branch out from things that you know. Try as much as you can to think about your topic with a fresh beginner perspective – have a beginner’s mindset. Your goal is to be in the “not know mind” state. Be open to the new and don’t be constrained by what you know. If it helps you better connect to your target audience go offline and discuss your topic with the outsiders, with newbies in your field and discover what they find interesting. Think back on the days and the times when you were a newbie yourself. How did you feel then? What questions were you looking to answer back then? You have to connect to that beginner mindset. Write things down, the questions, the facts, anything that comes to your mind.
Then you have to incorporate these learnings and ideas when creating your future content. Create content that answers the questions you have had. Create content that explains how something works. Create content that walks a newbie in a step by step process through something that may be difficult when you do it for the first time. Build that real bond and connection with your visitors and you are set to drastically increase your traffic and your network of hard core followers.
Set all that knowledge aside
Experts and people that seem to know the most and have the most experience, can often also be the people that are least able to see new solutions, new ways of doing things, new opportunities and possibilities. All the knowledge and experience makes us play safe and hinders us from thinking like a beginner does and stops us from being able to identify ourselves with our audience, their situation and their needs. It is difficult to accept but sometimes it is for the best that you set all that knowledge you carry aside and start from a blank and fresh slate. To start to think like a beginner thinks. That is what I try to do most of the time when working on my blogging projects and when creating the different pieces of content.
How can you actually remove all that knowledge, all that baggage that you are carrying around and start fresh? You can start by focusing, by being in the moment and being open-minded. You should be using your eyes and ears to beware, to listen and pay attention to what is happening around you. This is the key to unlock the state of mind necessary to connect and resonate with an audience.
How can you know what to prioritize in terms of content to focus on? Ask questions, people will tell you what they want and this is what you need to know. Ask your followers questions, especially open-ended questions like “What is making your life difficult now?” or “How can I help you?”. Listen carefully to the answers, the insights and ideas that you need will be in there, write them all down, organize the notes and focus your efforts on satisfying those requests in the content you will be preparing in the future. Your audience will be grateful for this and your numbers will show it.
Are you having assumptions about your readers? Do you think everyone knows something just because you know it? Do you explain things very clearly, do you simplify your articles?