Content writing is all about knowing what the readers want and giving them the information they need in a unique and fun-to-read package. The problem is, even when you’ve decided on the niche and know which topics you’ll need to cover, it’s easy to go too broad or too specific and lose your audience half-way through an article.
You need to offer different types of content for people of different skill levels and knowledge about your niche. How familiar someone is with the topic at hand will determine the depth of your content, the type of information you need to offer, the format and length, the language and style, and a whole lot more.
We will now break up the general audience into four broad categories depending on their level of expertise and knowledge, and then look at what kind of content will offer maximum engagement for each group.
Defining the Four Basic Experience Levels
While it’s true that experience is a sliding scale with no clear cut-off point, we can define four broad categories of readers based on this factor:
- Newbie – someone who’s just stumbled upon the broader topic, or someone who’s been reading general articles on it for up to a few weeks.
- Intermediate – someone who’s spent 2-3 months to a year intensely researching a topic and perhaps dabbling in it a bit.
- Advanced Player – a person who’s done their research and been at it for a couple of years.
- Expert – the die-hard enthusiast who has either been researching the topic and was involved in the activity for years, or someone who’s worked in the field for a while and has a professional interest in the topic.
A person from each of these categories will be looking for different things and will be able to handle different levels of complexity and technical jargon. Here are the broad strokes of what people need at various stages of competency in a topic.
The Newbie wants:
- An overview of the broad topic and subtopics
- Definitions of the important concepts and terms
- Clarification about the core processes
- Quick and dirty tips
- Suggestions and recommendations
- General guides and quick “How To” articles
The Intermediate wants:
- A more detailed look at the most important subtopics
- Clarification about the more advanced processes
- Further research material suggestions
- A list of experts to follow
- Detailed guides
- Comparisons of methods or products
The Advanced Player wants:
- Answers to highly specific questions
- Advanced tips and tricks
- Further reading on microniche topics
- Real-life examples from successful experts
The Expert wants:
- Troubleshooting advice
- Individualized tips and planning
- Reviews and comparisons of products and services
- A reliable company with a high-quality service
- Answers that incorporate knowledge of other related niches
A Practical Example of the Different Type of Needs Within the Same Niche
Let’s use the fitness industry as an example here, as it’s one of the most lucrative niches to blog about these days.
A Newbie would be your average person with 20 extra pounds and a New Year’s resolution to start working out. They have a general idea of what they want – lose fat, develop firm and defined muscles, run up a flight of stairs without gasping for air.
They go through a few articles on sites with “healthy”, “live”, “fit” or “green” in their URL, and look for basic advice on exercise selection and dieting, perhaps a good beginner program.
Their Intermediate buddy who’s been working out for a few months and gotten some results will be looking for healthy food recipes, intermediate programming tips, some “tips and tricks” for a specific exercise, and so on.
The Advanced Player who’s been working out for two-three years now, on and off, needs more detailed nutrition advice, workout programs based on what works best for them and any limitations they might have, gym gear advice, supplement reviews, and so on.
The Expert has been in the fitness lifestyle for years, maybe even a decade or two, and has specialized in a certain area. They might look for nutrition advice for a crossfitter looking to add some strength before a competition, or maybe a good powerlifting program to get in peak strength for a powerlifting meet in three months.
The Expert may also be looking for the best gear for the money, hot to train around issues like biceps tendonitis or rotator cuff injury, and so on. They might even be considering opening their own gym, in which case the content would shift from pure fitness into the small business niche.
Should You Focus On One Experience Level or Cast a Wider Net?
In most cases, a brand’s audience will consist of several if not all of these experience levels. Even a company offering a highly specialized service to experienced professionals will have to face newbie-style questions.
These can come from those who are new to a specific software platform or have scaled their business and are unaccustomed to operating with so many employees.
New techniques, technologies or strategies take getting used to, so you’ll always have plenty of intermediates swimming around with the experts. In fact, there can be a sub-division within the “expert” category itself.
Someone who’s been bartending for five years and someone who has been running their own bartending school for a couple of years are on quite different levels. Even though they might have the same level of “mixing skill”, their needs, experiences, and questions will be dramatically different.
This is why it’s best to offer some content for each experience level.
5 Practical Tips to Organize Your Content Better
If you want to properly categorize your content and address the needs of each segment of your main audience, you need to be meticulous and patient. Here are a few simple points you need to address before you can start putting out a variety of excellent content:
1. Define the needs of each category – ask your audience for feedback, scour the online forums and blogs, look at the common questions on Quora, just find what people in each category are looking for.
2. Brainstorm at least 5 topic ideas for each category – sit down, see what the competition is doing, look at the most popular blog posts for each major topic, and try to offer something similar, but with a unique twist and more practical.
3. Create a content calendar for the next 2 months – don’t rush blindly into it and post whatever feels easy to write that week. Make sure mix things up and offer something for a different category each week.
4. Get other experts to weigh in on your blog – as long as someone has real value to offer through their content you can let them post on your blog and link to their site in the author bio. You can even spark conversations on social media.
5. Look at the metrics and adjust accordingly – reader feedback is a good starting point for brainstorming topic ideas, but numbers don’t lie and the metrics will tell you what kind of content works best for you and gets your audience excited. Focus on that type of content in the future, and go over tips 3 and 4 again.
Creating compelling content is an art and a science, particularly since you have to consider search engine algorithms on top of what your audience wants. However, it pays to consider all the different audience categories based on experience and skill.
It will allow you to engage the right people with the right content, allow you to mix things up and keep the topics fresh, and give you a chance to experiment and do some networking. It’s all about good research and meticulous planning, so get on it and stay patient.