I came to blogging from a writing background, and one of the tips that has been drilled into my head as a writer since I was very young is “write what you know.” In other words, even if you’re writing fiction, use your real-life interests and experiences in your writing to create stories that are believable.
While blogging might be a very different form of writing, I think this advice still has merit – and the opposite approach can help you grow as a blogger too.
Blogging What You Know
As blogging continues to grow in popularity, many writers, marketers, and others start blogs in the hopes of making some easy money. There’s nothing easy about blogging, though, especially if you choose a niche simple based on how much money you think you can make. It’s a clumsy way of starting a blog because you’re missing a prime element: passion.
“Blogging what you know” goes beyond choosing a niche, though. It’s also something to keep in mind each time you write a post. Lots of other bloggers have talked about how storytelling is an effective form of blogging, and I agree. When you talk about your own life in relation to your niche, it’s easier to connect with readers and write posts that are unique, rather than what everyone else out there is already writing. It’s a way to talk about the same information in a new way.
Some great bloggers have talked about storytelling on your blog; here are some of my favorite posts:
- Storyselling 101 – Johnny B. Truant
- Business, Branding and the Art of Storytelling – Jonathan Fields
- The Power of Brand Storytelling – Job Thomas
Blogging What You Don’t Know
I definitely recommend “blogging what you know” – but at times, blogging what you don’t know can give your blog that extra little “something” it takes to be really great.
I’m not suggesting that you write blog posts about topics that you know nothing about as though you are an expert. When you’re full of BS, people can tell (usually), and it’s a good way to lose readers if you ever had them in the first place. I’m also not suggesting that you start a blog about a topic when you don’t already have knowledge about that topic. With few exceptions, people want the writer to be an authority of sorts. You don’t necessarily have to be an expert, but if you don’t know anything about training monkeys, don’t start a blog about training monkeys.
What I mean about blogging about what you don’t know is this: speak to people about your shortcomings and about your learning process. Even if you do consider yourself to be an expert in your niche, nobody knows everything. It makes your more real to readers, which makes your other advice stronger.
One of the best examples I can give you, which I’ve mentioned before, is Erica Douglass’ The Failure Manifesto, which is one of the most popular posts on her site. Erica is wildly successful at what she does and, in my opinion, one of the smartest business minds out there, but in The Failure Manifesto, she talks about how some days she doesn’t feel that way. She’s made mistakes and has problems just like the rest of us. I think that post is when I became a true fan of hers.
Of course, you should write about how you’re a failure every other post. You want your readers to have confidence in your abilities and advice! But don’t be afraid to show that you’re human. People want to be able to relate, not feel as though they can’t live up to your perfection.
When it comes to content creation, there’ really no one right or wrong approach. I’d love to hear your thoughts about blogging what you know – and what you don’t know.