Evergreen Content: Why Articles for Experts are Killing Your Blog

80 Comments, Leave One

evergreen

As a blogger it is tempting to aim your articles at people who are at the same experience level as you. It’s natural – you want to share what you are learning as you yourself grow and mature.

But it can be a big, big mistake.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if you aim your articles at readers who are at your level you will slowly, article by article, begin to kill your blog.

What we need to do is start pitching in a different direction. And that is where evergreen content comes in.

Let’s take a look at what evergreen content is and why it is so important to master it.

What is evergreen content?

The usual definition of evergreen content goes something like this:

“Content that is always relevant and never goes out of date.”

Green is a color that denotes something new and fresh and ever indicates that it will stay that way for all of time.

But in this idiot blogger’s opinion the definition does not go far enough in that it does not give you a full picture of the content that you should be trying to write or produce.

My own personal definition goes more like this:

“Content that is aimed at narrow beginner topics and never goes out of date.”

What I’m trying to do here is introduce a style of writing where you are pitching to beginners who are searching for the answers to very specific questions. In my experience with writing for various niches this is the only way to really grow your blog’s traffic at the same time as capturing a relevant and interested mailing list.

You need to target beginners to grow.

It’s not just about content that is always relevant and it’s not just about aiming at beginners. It goes deeper than that.

Perhaps we need a new term for it like BeginnerGreen content?

Why aim at beginners?

If you’re already writing evergreen content you might be wondering why I’m placing so much emphasis on the beginner part of the equation.

Well, the reason is simple. Almost all of the people who read your blog are just starting out.

And we can take that one step further: almost all of the people reading your blog are just starting out in the particular topic that you’re writing about.

For example, when I decided I was going to write about this topic I did a quick search for what had already been written about evergreen content. I opened two articles on the first page of Google and after about 10 seconds on each realized that neither of them were written for beginners! To me this represents a little bit of a misunderstanding.

Why?

Well, let’s take a boxing topic as an example.

Say you write a blog all about boxing training and you decide to write a post called How to Recover from a Boxing Wrist Injury. Now, think about the people who will encounter this article – it will be almost totally made up of boxers who have injuries. And it is safe to assume that even though they might know a lot about boxing, they are beginners when it comes to boxing wrist injuries. That is why they are searching for answers!

Think about the make-up of that post and it will probably include information on seeing a doctor, the R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) method, bandage types, warning signs, swelling, etc. Even a lot of really experienced boxers will be totally ignorant on most of this stuff.

And the same applies to any niche or topic.

A BeginnerGreen content strategy?

So what does all this mean for your blog’s content?

Well, it is actually a pretty cool way to start thinking about beginner SEO and how to really drive traffic to your blog for the long term. And I am all about the long term strategy when it comes to blogging.

So here’s how to do it.

1. Narrow down your topics, big time

One of the biggest mistakes I see bloggers make is that they make their posts too wide-scoped. This either means there is no originality to the article or that it is such a big topic that the article always feels unfinished.

What you need to do is get good at narrowing down your topics in a very specialized way.

Let’s take a look at boxing again and assume you want to write about “how to throw a punch”. Well, within that post there are like 100 other posts you could have written about like:

  • How to easily increase your punching speed
  • How to master punching technique in 10 weeks
  • The guide to forming a fist when punching
  • How to throw a left jab as fast as Ali
  • How to guard your face when throwing the first punch

And on and on it goes…

You see, a topic like throwing a punch can actually be broken down in to so many sub-topics. These sub topics are, in my experience, where the really cool stuff happens.

(Note: Michael Gray talks writes really well here about this style of developing content. While he doesn’t really talk about the beginner aspect in his post, the idea of breaking down content into smaller topics was similar to what I’d already written so I thought I better link to him. Plus he’s awesome!)

2. Use beginner speak and leave assumptions at the door

Once you have decided what you are going to write about it is really important to make sure you are writing at a beginner level. That means you want to leave out as much jargon as possible and write the post as if it is the first and last thing the visitor will ever read on the topic.

You all know that saying about the word assume – you make an ass out of u and me.

So narrow down your topics and then imagine that you are talking to someone who is totally new to the whole thing.

But wait, does that mean I have to explain the same terms over and over again in all my posts? Nope. Read on.

3. Link those posts together

What you can begin to do over time is interlink your posts so that every time you bring up an important term or concept you can refer back to your own post about it.

This is actually a really good SEO strategy where you build links to certain posts in order to elevate the posts that they link to.

But it also works really well as a method for readers to find what they want. For example, in my post on why Blue Host is good for WordPress I also link to my step by step guide on how to install WordPress on Blue Host. That way people have everything that they need in one spot.

So focusing on beginner stuff could be a little bit boring if you are always explaining the same topics. To overcome it you just need a bit of a linking strategy.

Are there any exceptions?

Of course! There are some blogs out there that are aimed perfectly at expert content. If they wrote about early beginner topics they would lose their distinctiveness.

But, a part of me thinks that even within that “expert” arena they still need to be writing about “beginner-expert” topics. Have I lost you yet?

The other exception to the rule is that sometimes you might want to throw in a blog post or two for your long-time readers who have been growing and progressing along with you. They only make up a very small percentage of your readership but you sure as heck need to look after them.

What do you think?

What do you think about the idea of your blog dying unless you write for beginners? Do you think there are any blogs out there where the majority of traffic comes from experts or people with experience and not beginners? Leave a comment.

SO, WHAT'S NEXT?

Hi, I'm Ramsay. If you enjoyed this post you might like to check out:

Finally, hit the button below to get a free report and email updates so you're never out of touch.

LEARN MORE

80 Comments... Leave yours.

  • Corey Freeman

    This is how I run my tutorials blog. I try to fill out the beginner sections and even the more advanced tutorials start at the very beginning and go through each step as coherently as possible. It really is weird that bloggers don’t address beginners more. It’s the “simple and easy” posts that draw in the real SEO power.

    I support the strategy, but I think I prefer the term “beginner content” to beginnergreen. It’s a bit redundant. πŸ˜›


    1. Ramsay

      Yeah good point. Maybe it should have been BegEver Content? Ha ha.

      Damn tautology.


      1. Ayo

        What do you mean by saying a fellow is tautologist!


        1. Ramsay

          No, I meant that what I said about “beginner green” was perhaps a tautology.


    2. Trent Dyrsmid

      I have podcasts done where I interview people from different niche. I ask them to explain further because I care about my audience who are usually beginners. Then I try to sum it up so that they can really understand what we’ve been talking about.


      1. Ramsay

        Sounds perfect.


  • Brian Lang

    So true – it makes sense because most people out there are beginners and everyone else is too busy running their business to read blog posts. Sometimes, the hard part is focusing on beginner topics and basics, especially when you’ve been in business awhile and want to talk about other stuff.


    1. Ramsay

      Yeah I totally agree. I think that’s why it is important to occasionally add them in.


  • Marya | Writing Happiness

    Hi Ramsey,

    You are spot on – no arguments from my side.

    On a different note, I found your headline to be slightly confusing. Writing for experts? Is it writing articles for other experts, as in on their blogs? Maybe words like ‘targetting experts vs beginners’ or something similar to show that you are talking about your ‘expert audience’ in your headline might have made it clearer. Just my opinion. πŸ™‚


    1. Ramsay

      That’s a really good point. Hadn’t thought of that.


  • Nando

    Very interesting posting concept.

    It definitely merits looking into but like Brian Lang I think it will take a little creative thinking to figure out how to target beginner posts on a blog that’s been around for awhile.

    Thanks for the post. Good Stuff.

    Btw, like your optin popup. cool.

    Nando


    1. Ramsay

      Thanks Nando. I’ve got a video coming up soon about it as I wanted to put the whole “pop up issue” to bed.


  • Melanie Wilson

    You’ve put into words exactly what I do in my writing, to my detriment. In conversation, however, I am always talking to beginners. Thanks for the great reminder.


    1. Ramsay

      Hope it helps Melanie.


  • Thomas @ Mobile App Tycoon

    Definitely agree with you – the trick here is to be able to talk to beginners without sounding like you’re talking “down” to them. If you can effectively do that, you’re set πŸ™‚

    Thomas


    1. Ramsay

      Yeah that’s a really good point. I find that bloggers who have a “I’m with you” kind of tone do really well.


  • Billy Murphy

    This is one of the hardest, but most important things in blogging in my opinion(from my limited experience). – writing content that’s advanced/in depth enough to be good, yet, explained in a way that’s simple enough for beginners to totally understand.

    It’s made writing a lot harder, but like you talk about- it’s the stuff that’s still going to be relevant down the road, instead of outdated.


    1. Ramsay

      Just a quick browse of your site shows us that you’re smashing it Billy! Nice work!


  • Andrea Swiedler

    Very interesting topic. One of the things I try to do is talk about a question some client has asked me, to make a post out of it. I need to do it more. I like the idea of linking back to other posts to go deeper into the subject. I write off the top of my head rather than with a calculated plan. Probably not the best idea!

    Great food for thought, thank you! (Love your stuff)


    1. Ramsay

      Thanks Andrea!

      That’s a great idea BTW. Darren Rowse used to do that a lot. I should remember it.


  • Jamie Alexander

    I think it’s great advice. I still use a lot of beginner content on the blog. I actually just posted an article about meditation that absolutely stripped it to the very basics so people would attempt it and not be put off.

    Over time I think I’ll mix stuff in, but that’s for pointing it out because I’ll definitely keep it in mind now since you mentioned it.

    Another thing I’m going to do is create those buckets that group all the beginners stuff together so new people can easily find them.


    1. Ramsay

      That last point is a really good idea. Like an index of topics.


      1. liz@lifedreaming

        Like the idea of the buckets Jamie for new readers – a kind of ‘Welcome and here’s a few cool things to start with’.

        Just one question – what’s a bucket and is it a plug in?

        Thanks
        Liz


  • Norman

    Awesome timing, Tyrant! Gearing up for a product 2.0 launch and trying to decide what to write about.

    This post is the answer.

    Thank you!

    N.


    1. Ramsay

      Let us know how it goes!


  • Chris

    This is a really fresh approach to thinking about content, and I like the anecdote about beginners only searching on the 1st page of Google — it’s so true.

    As someone who has read blogs in my niche for a number of years, I rely completely on my Google Reader to discover content. I even use the search function within it if I ever need something specific.

    Searching on Google.com for “best social media management tools” is not something I’d ever do, however for something that I’m a beginner at, like “best road bikes under $1,000”, I turn straight to Google Search.


    1. Ramsay

      Interesting about Google Reader. Thanks for sharing that Chris.


      1. Chris

        It’s a neat little technique if you have a large number of specialised blogs in your Google Reader. Often performing a simple search like “ebook” will generate great results!


  • Vidya Sury

    πŸ™‚ I must confess I’ve often found it hard to find the nuts and bolts of something and have become frustrated at seeing the high-funda thing. A simple example is a recipe for something, where they talk of various activities and ingredients – and one has to go Googling to find out what they mean.

    Love this post. In fact, I also remember reading somewhere (was it here?) that it is always a good idea to offer just the ONE tip, instead of several in one post.

    Thanks πŸ™‚ love that I always learn something from your post, BT, which is why I save all your posts in a folder to read again.

    Love, Vidya


    1. Ramsay

      Thanks Vidya. Means a lot.


  • Valeriy

    It’s a really great post.

    Thank you very much, Ramsay, for sharing your thoughts and ideas. They are kind of universal and can be used in any niche.

    I will try to implement as many of them as possible because all of them are to the point.

    Valeriy, Russia


    1. Ramsay

      That’s what I like to hear!


  • liz@lifedreaming

    Hi Ramsay
    Amazing how your articles always link to something I’m trying to do on my site.

    You made a number of very deceptively simple and effective points:

    1. Break it down – I’d go a step further and say ‘break it down and be really clear about the problem you are solving for your readers’. I want to be able to look at any post I write and be able to tell anyone what problems/issue I am helping my readers explore and understand.

    2. Build it back – linking relevant posts to each other is both efficient and effective. We all have a backlist of great posts that we wrote a while ago that people don’t read [I know I hardly ever go through peoples archives]. I’m currently going through every post I wrote and rethinking/rearranging them into a series of meta posts that will cover a range of my readers issues.

    3. Pitch it – I think that even ‘experts’ need reminding about the building blocks of a topic. It refreshes their perspectives as well as helping beginners. I’m going through the 8 modules of the Life Dreaming Expedition and will be writing short and sharp posts that clarify the specific reader problem/issue for each module. That way I create a deeper link between the quality free and priced material AND I have a clear list of posts I can write over the next few months without having to wrack my brain over posting topics.

    Excellent timing Ramsay and thanks again.

    Liz


    1. Ramsay

      Love to see you here Liz!

      Sounds like you’re killing it.


      1. liz@lifedreaming

        Thanks Ramsay
        We’re in the reconstruction stage of the life dreaming site and for anyone thinking of redoing their site I’d like to recommend what my brother Marc [and the LD site designer] did.

        He designed a really lovely page that told people we’d be away for a while AND he gave a link to me via email and a direct link to our FB Life Dreaming Page.

        That way you can still be connected to your readers.


        1. Ramsay

          When is this re-construction going to be finished?


          1. liz@lifedreaming

            Good question Ramsay. That’s up to Marc and his mad schedule.

            We’ve got the modules all designed and I’ve done the vidshoot for the introductions to each one and created the mp3’s. They just need to be integrated.

            I’d hope for sometime before the end of October for a soft pilot launch.


  • Linda

    Good morning, Mr Sheridan.

    You so give me encouragement that I might be going in the right direction. I have no choice but to write for beginners – I am one,everything I know is from the perspective of a beginner!

    Now, just have to find a way to make it sound as though I’m not…

    Have a lovely day.
    L


    1. Ramsay

      Hi Linda.

      Who is Mr. Sheridan?


      1. Linda

        Oh…. oops!

        Bear with me, sir – as I said I’m a beginner!

        My point still stands, though. Your comments have encouraged.

        πŸ™‚


        1. Ramsay

          No worries. Hope the article helps.


  • Johanna

    I’ve read this before BT and love your evergreen content (and being prompted via Twitter to re-read posts).

    Have a Q. I’ve become confused. Ater 2 years of writing about Travel on Zigazag I find that the guest posts I write on other blogs about fashion/lifestyle/starting a blog and issues facing ‘expats’ and ’empty nesters’ get tons of responses, whereas (although traffic is rising) it feels like I have to pluck hens teeth to get comments on my travel posts at Zigazag. Have written a post on Zigazag asking “what do women want in a blog” and hope to get some replies. I know you’re really busy, so no worries if you can’t respond, but If you were me, would you scrap the travel side and start another blog, or re-define what I write about on Zigazag?


    1. Ramsay

      Hi Johanna.

      Just cos your a long time reader:

      I had a quick look and it seems to me the focus of the site is a bit lost. There is a lot to look at and think about. I’d start giving people less navigation options and just focusing on your goals. Make sure it is distinctive.


      1. Johanna

        Thank you in bunches πŸ™‚


  • Ryan de Kom

    Hey Ramsay,

    Thank you for this great blogpost. At this moment I am at the beginning stages to start a blog. I am an Interior designers who does homemakeovers. I find it difficult to know what to write about, because i am more a doer. But I love how hou talk about comunicating at beginnerlever. I imagine an high-shool student and write for them. I have to questions:

    1 How and where do i find content for my blog?

    2 How can I write a blog in 30 minutes?

    Cheers,

    Ryan


    1. Ramsay

      Ryan I would just start answer questions that your clients ask you or seem to always have problems with.

      For example, do people always ask you about a particular lamp or rug? Do they always worry about choosing a paint color? That sort of thing.


      1. Ryan de Kom

        Hey Ramsay,

        Thank you for your quick response. Any wise words concerning the other question:

        2. How can I write a blog in 30 minutes?

        Cheers,

        Ryan


        1. Ramsay

          Hi Ryan.

          Are you talking about long, in depth posts? If so then the answer is – you can’t.

          It usually takes me between 4 and 6 hours.


          1. Ryan de Kom

            Hey Ramsay,

            I am talking about the 300 words kinda blog.


  • Ryan de Kom

    Oh and the other thing I am looking for is a system.
    For example. let’s say i have a topic : How to choose the right color for your livingroom? Do you have a system how to quickly work this out? Maybe a set of standard questions or something?

    Thanks for helping me out here…

    Ryan


    1. Ramsay

      Hi again.

      Do you mean how do you as the writer work out what to write about?


      1. Ryan de Kom

        Yes that’s what I mean. Is there a simple step by step plan that i can follow.


        1. Ramsay

          I have something like that coming out soon.


          1. Ryan de Kom

            That sound’s gr8! Can’t wait πŸ™‚


  • Rachelle

    Funny thing about being an expert is that the things that beginners want to read about are not necessarily what you’d figure out on your own.

    I try to do evergreen content but it’s hit and miss as to what gets the traffic. Maybe more focus on titles?


    1. Ramsay

      That’s a good point about finding the right things to write about. Maybe that’s why social networking is a good idea – to get more ideas?

      Titles are super important – they need a psychological element (like scarcity) as well as the keyword you’re targeting.


  • Denny

    Thanks for the reminder to keep a VERY narrow focus. I often feel like my posts are never totally polished, but now I see that maybe my topic was too broad.

    Time to start narrowing the focus and not straying off topic.

    Great post, as always!


    1. Ramsay

      Hope it helps!


  • Mitch Mitchell

    That’s an interesting concept, but I’m not sure it’s workable. I mean, I’ve been writing my blog for more than 4 years and have more than 1,300 articles. If I only tried to write beginner stuff that entire time I’d go nuts; I think anyone would. I look at this post of yours and I’m thinking “this isn’t beginner content”, but a post for “experts” if you will. As a matter of fact, out of your last 10 posts at best it’s 50-50.

    Maybe I’m seeing it as too literal, because I do understand that every once in awhile we all tend to write a post that we think “heck, everyone knows this already” and it turns out everyone doesn’t know it, and thus it gets found by lots of people looking for that information, but I’m thinking that’s about as far as I’d like to go.


    1. Ramsay

      That’s a really good point Mitch. I need to think about that one more.

      I think maybe I was trying to say that each article should be aimed at beginners within the scope of whatever topic you are writing about.

      For example, if you’re writing about some quantum physics topic like String Theory it’ll be difficult to aim it at total newbies but you can aim it at first year students as opposed to professors.

      Anyway, let me think about it more because I think you’ve raised a good point.


  • Andi the Minion

    Great post Ramsay, yeah I agree, sorry to not be controversial and disagree but I try to write for the complete newbie who has no idea how things work. Not sure if I actually pull it off but that is what I try to do.

    As for the long term readers who have grown, one would hope that they are on the email list which I use more as Glen’s email blogging method and send out members only blog posts so for me a lot of the more ‘expert’ style posts could be sent via email to them.

    Yes of course still add one or two to the site but I think the more complex posts I write will end up in the email blog posts. Mitch Mitchell does bring up a good point though, writing below your understanding regularly would send you nuts and often you will slip in to the arena of writing what you know at the level you know it.

    At least we have the comments area, we can explain to people we have confused if they have a questions. πŸ™‚
    Cheers
    Andi


    1. Ramsay

      I like when you’re not controversial! Ha ha.


  • SI

    Hi Ramsey, yes some excellent points here, too many people use blogs to show off their level of inteligence and knowledge and use their sites like ‘I am the expert so listen up’ instead of ‘let me help you to succeed..’which is the way I want to go. As you can imagine, I leave and do not re visit ego driven blogs.

    regards
    SI


    1. Ramsay

      Yeah I think that is a really good point. I should remember it more!


  • Michael Yardney

    Thanks for the great blog Ramsay.
    There’s no doubt that evergreen content will always have a wide audience, but I would respectfully suggest that that’s what’s in most blogs and to differentiate yourself it would be better to be seen as the expert.
    That’s why I have various categories in my blog – some for beginners and some for more experienced property investors.

    In my field there are too many people rehashing basic concepts


    1. Ramsay

      Yeah I know what yo mean Michael. My only concern is that with expert-targeted content you don’t grow as fast. There is always a place for it though.


  • Antonio Felipe MartΓ­n Reyes

    Thanks Ramsay for this post and for the information.

    I think the idea is related to the concept of ‘long tail’ of users. It’s better to point some very specific users than a big group with diverse interests.
    But I suposse that it’s enough to write your post thinking about this very concrete readers.
    Am I right?

    Cheers from Spain.


    1. Ramsay

      You got it! Nothing wrong with targeting the big phrases though.


  • Kelvon Yeezy

    Hi Ramsay! How is the weather like in Australia?

    I used to write articles for experts and not giving much emphasis on evergreen content to beginners.
    I used to read articles written by Glen, Brian Clark, Leo Babauta and you as well, that made me think about writing the same stuff that resonates with everyone.
    But now, in my point of view many bloggers (me) should always provide a section for beginners. Viper chill is a good example of it.

    Tips soon to be applied.
    Thanks,

    Kelvon Yeezy


    1. Ramsay

      It’s really cold here. Thanks for asking.
      Sounds like a good idea to me.


  • Sudha

    simple is always the best as it is aptly said. it will significantly benefit me while writing articles. thanks for a great post.


    1. Ramsay

      No probs.


  • Lewis LaLanne

    Hey Ramsay,

    I love this concept and the boxing references REALLY caught my attention.

    Since I’m not that big of an Ali fan, If I were writing the bullet for the jab part, I would say,

    “Why A Beginner Should Spar Using Nothing But A Shotgun Jab: Learn how legendary pro fighters like Larry Holmes and Johnny Tapia could win fights using nothing but a shotgun jab (vastly different than the little love pat most of your competitors will use) to blast their opponent into staying cautious”

    I love boxing and hate to see that it has declined as it has. But that’s a whole different conversation.

    As for the topic today, I’m with you and I think your blogging content should revolve around a product curriculum.

    The market for beginners in any niche is MASSIVE compared to the expert end because most people are good starters but they’re not good finishers.

    But how compelling would it be for the beginner to come to your site and see that you have a curriculum set up to walk them through the levels of difficulty towards eventually becoming a master.

    This is precisely what Martial arts who dole out belts are a master of. Many beginners feel okay beginning because they know they’re not going to be thrown to the lions but instead, are going to be babied until they’re ready.

    The winning them to have in terms of content and product is that the name of the game is progress, not perfection. If people can see you’ve cultivated an environment that nurtures this, they’ll feel taken care of just like they did when they went to school.


    1. Ramsay

      Love your ideas. The title is a little long though. πŸ˜‰

      Thanks for the great comment.


  • Nick Kellingley @ Cambodia SEO

    I’m confused. Honestly. I understand the beginner’s level perspective, particularly if you’re marketing services generically. But how would this work in specialist niches? Surely “model train enthusiasts” are going to want in-depth pieces on esoterica and rarely understood parts of their hobby? Rather than a guide to the latest Hornby trains? Or do I have this back to front?


  • mary

    I love this approach b’c I’M A BEGINNER! Duh! I copied it(is that legal?) and saved it to read again. My interested is held for less than the average 20 minutes by most articles. I look for Short & Sweet & Full of Meat!


  • Ron - SEO Copywriting Blog

    I guess, you focused too much on tutorial blogs. If you are a programmer and you are writing about how you solved a typical problem in C++, would you really bother to write down the technical jargon?

    Well, I don’t think so.

    Because your reader will probably be a computer programmer like you. What say?

    Same with a financial blog.

    But when it comes to tutorial blogs, you probably have to shift the style a bit.


start a blog popup