Why You Should Get Back to Basics
With Your Blog

Back to Basics

Think back to your first week as a new driver. You drive so automatically these days you can’t really remember how nervous you were, how proud you felt, and how hard you tried not to crash the car.

It’s become an automatic behavior. The more we repeat actions, the better we become until we don’t even think about them.

They just happen.

When you get in your car and hit the road today, you perform a number of actions without realizing it. They’re the same actions you painstakingly performed as a new driver, determined to do a good job.

Now they’re not worth thinking about.

Blogging is Boring

The same problem happens in the world of blogging. New bloggers are excited and explore their world with great interest. They cover the basics, write about their thoughts, and then…

Then they get bored. They realize the basics aren’t very interesting. Useful, yes. Fun?

Not really. It’s time for something a little more exciting that takes content to the next level. After all, great content is what it’s all about, right?

So bloggers raise their own bar of standards. The posts have to be better. More thoughtful. More personal. And from there, it’s game on.

Bloggers start chasing down the next great idea. Everything they write has to be the most creative concept, the most thought-provoking post, the very best cornerstone content.

They want to write the most brilliant post that the world has ever seen.

The problem is that bloggers focus so much on taking content to the next level that they forget the next level is sometimes just a step back.

Getting Back to Basics

Basic information is still very crucial in the blogosphere.

Millions of new users are surfing the Internet right now. Each day, people who have spent less than 5 hours of their life on the Internet are traveling around in absolute awe, filling up their minds with this brand new world.

These new readers, new consumers, new users are ready and primed to receive what you have to give. They’re wide open and taking in information at incredible rates. They’re listening to what you have to say, and they’re soaking up everything they read.

If they find concepts that they aren’t yet ready to understand, they’ll click away. If they haven’t learned the basics, they’ll be confused by complexities. If they read about great ideas but don’t even have a foundation to start from, they’ll get frustrated.

Talk over their heads, and you’ll lose them.

Don’t be afraid to give people the basics. They want it, so get back to it. Have the confidence to revisit basic information with just as much confidence as you deliver higher-level concepts.

People need it; be there for them.

Even better? Delve into the basics with the same passion and creativity that you’re writing with right now – you’ll make sure those newcomers come back for more.

About the Author: James Chartrand is the main man at Men with Pens. Subscribe today for more great information.

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Reader Comments (46)

  1. says

    Great post! And a great reminder for me, as my traffic slowly climbs and I feel the need to be more brilliant each day because more people are reading.

    Standards are great, and mine are pretty high. Flogging myself with them is not so great. Not to mention nonproductive. Writing actually takes longer when I’m under a self-inflicted gun to be brilliant.

  2. says

    Great post and very true. I am always looking for extemely basic information about photoshop and website design because I am interested in learning more about it but most of the blogs I come across don’t give you the real basic stuff. It makes me think about my own blog and how newcomers to my blog won’t get what I’m writing about all the time and that every now and again it is useful to include a basic writing post that explains the things we normally take for granted.

  3. says

    Great advice.

    “the most brilliant post that the world has ever seen. ” is what I have been trying to write every time I post on any of my 3 blogs and maybe I’m trying to hard.

    I suspect its common amongst bloggers or at least the ones with big heads (which is most of us I’d say since its a bit of a narcissistic activity anyway!!)

    I have been keeping things basic with my new free pc support blog and its working well – http://www.pcsolutionsireland.com

  4. says

    I’m curious though: How do I know when to go back to the basics? At any one time, I don’t know if my reader is a beginner, or a seasoned blogger. Perhaps each article has to contain information for BOTH of them? Or just alternate the posts?

  5. says


    I think most of us who spend a great deal of time online forget how much most people DON’T know about the internet.

    I had a client a few weeks ago ask me how to attach a file I’d requested he send via email. Another asked, “What is a pdf?”

    I’m not kidding!

    And, we won’t even get into “advanced” online concepts like article marketing, ebooks and social media marketing.

    So yeah, the basics work — really, really well.

    As usual, you’re dead on.

  6. says

    Excellent advice sir, it’s important to keep up both kinds of content. With new people coming to visit every day as well as your regular readers, you need to have something for everybody. Those regular readers may appreciate a little reminder from time to time in case they have forgotten those basics.
    This applies to speeches and just about every other form of communication too. Just because you’ve covered that ground 2 years ago doesn’t mean it’s no longer useful.

  7. says

    Repetition is the mother of skill.

    Everytime you revisit the fundamentals I believe you embed the knowledge deeper into your subconscious mind which makes it possible for silk to flow from your fingers when you write.

    This is what makes teachers who also write for money so powerful. The teacher always gets more from the lesson than the student.

    And this is why the pro’s can knock homers out of the park without checklists, doubting themselves or writer’s block.

    What about your own education?

    Have you gotten to cool to review the basics?

    I’m always excited to hear someone put a new spin on a topic I’ve yet to hear when listening to marketing or copywriting audio. Rarely do I get them.

    Isn’t it nice when someone shed’s their unique life story and experience onto a subject you know well? When they give you a different, maybe clearer way of seeing and feeling something.

    When it comes to copywriting knowledge it seems like some of the new self proclaimed guru’s are feeding back the same examples and stories the veterans have said in their programs.

    I’m tempted to bail on programs where I can finish the author’s sentences (the headline is the ad for the ____) but I come full circle to my belief that repetition is the mother of skill. I’m strengthening this neural highway in my mind and that’s something you can do too.

    However, if you’re looking for programs on copywriting that stray from the beginner, recycled formulas look for…

    Dan Kennedy’s salesletter workshop – Not the copy clinic. This was the one where he was coaching only 9 people who had paid over $10,000 to be in the room with him. I learned some stealth stuff in this program.

    And google Shaune Clarke and Copywriting and you’ll see his site right up top there. This man’s copy coaching calls are marathons and he conducts them in a unique fashion that I’ve yet to come across.

    He only allowed two 5 person groups to be a part of it. And Jason Moffatt and Ryan Healy were a part of these two groups.

    What was really cool was the way this approach allowed everyone to freely interact, question and comment on stuff during the calls.

    Before the call he gives them exercises to do and this is where you learn a ton because he asks every person penetrating questions about why they did what they did.

    And then helps applauds them or tells them how to improve.

    These calls are so good, I’m bold enough to say your library is incomplete without ’em.

    Wishing you speedy and spectacular success,
    Note Taking Nerd #2

  8. says

    We often forget this, but many people don’t know where to start and end up confused. Information overload craze…

    Google was smart, and everything they do looks basic. It works well for them.


  9. says

    Thanks for a good post, James! This is such useful advice. It’s true, I’ve forgotten about taking up the basics over and over. After all, we can present them differently each time.

  10. http://resourcesandmoney.blogspot.com says

    A famous spongebob qoute: “Love is handing someone a gun and letting it point to your head, believing that he won’t pull the trigger.”.

    You need to go back to basics and believe it will be your way to success.

  11. says

    I second Franck’s point. It’s not just bloggers that forget to appeal to neophytes, but web designers too.

    I spent quite some time looking for a way to e-publish my writing. Often I was frustrated with lack of clear instructions on e-publishing web sites. I wound up choosing the one that had the simplest interface.

  12. says

    My goal blogging is to write genuinely compelling content, that is super clear, not to mention fun.

    I like this quote, “If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor.” – Albert Einstein

  13. says

    I think you’re pretty right on this one. Not to mention that stepping back and having a look at things from a distance may help you reconsider things. Maybe, you have different thoughts since you last covered that subject, maybe the environment (or the technology) have changed.
    People are so easily lost in the details.

    thanks for the post

  14. says

    Great post and oh so true. I get caught up all too easily in trying to turn every post into a masterpiece. You are right, sometimes we just have to slow down and take it easy.

  15. says

    I have learned so much about my writing style over the last year thanks to blogging. Ironically one of my favourite professors graduated from Oxford University. He said the most valuable lesson he learned was to keep it simple.

  16. says

    @ Nathan

    I’ll respond to you directly, but my thoughts go to everyone.

    This post came from that exact inspiration – that everything I write has to be a masterpiece.

    It should be, yes, certainly, but that doesn’t mean forgetting some people have never stepped into an art gallery. First experiences matter a great deal to many people, and remembering that is key to making sure they become lovers of the masterpieces they will (of course) eventually read.

  17. says

    Sometimes the new bloggers are looking for many basic information but because of its simplicity, noone writes about it… I have written some basic but powerful post on my blog, especially focused in this kind of newbies.

  18. says

    This is what makes teachers who also write for money so powerful. The teacher always gets more from the lesson than the student.

    Note Taking Nerd, you are a wise person. :)

  19. says

    “The problem is that bloggers focus so much on taking content to the next level that they forget the next level is sometimes just a step back.”

    It certainly can be. Although, it’s also beneficial (and fun) to try to elevate yourself.

    Perspective and balance apply here.

  20. says

    Hi Jesse!
    I wonder about elevation. Maybe it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. After all, elevation implies that we lift off and lose contact with the earth and with our humanity. I favor staying grounded.

    I think it’s the feet on the ground that enable us to write simply and elegantly about basic information.

  21. says

    I couldn’t agree more, James. Bringing passion to the basics is a true skill.

    And even people who are well along the “advanced” side of the spectrum can still benefit from basic information when it’s well presented. The sports cliche is true–it really is, always, about the fundamentals.

  22. says

    This is really good advice that helps your blog stay focused and on topic. It’s okay to stretch yourself once in a while, or explore a different angle, but your blog becomes popular in it’s niche due the basic content you provide.


  23. says

    Never in my life have I been good with the basics.. It’s really just how I am… lol, so going to the basics just isn’t going to work for me.. but what you’re saying still has some value to me..

    Seems to me that there’s a lot of fairly high level stuff that you can talk about, that won’t scare the new-b away, if you can kind of break that stuff down into simple parts, and take them step by step through it.. even if they don’t have a real good context for understanding it.. or appreciating.. the.. idk, high level-ish ness of it?

    Case in point.. I consume blogs and podcasts, and what not, on a wide variety of subjects.. subjects where the target audience is really the professionals of that area.. So what constitutes as basic is.. basic to someone who perhaps finished there under grad work in that area.. and is perhaps a little bit into there career now.. which is to say.. I am not that audience!

    But I don’t think there’s a single blog or podcast I’ve turned away from in frustration.. Well I take that back, there were some college courses from UC Berkeley.. that I kinda did that with but.. that’s about the exception…

    But if we are talking simple versus complex in social media.. well this is something I have been thinking about.. going to tweet ups and meeting people who have been on twitter for about a week.. and they’ll ask me a question about what I use twitter for.. or something.. and I suddenly realize that I’m not totally sure how to talk to them.. or.. how do I answer a question like that? Is that even the right question?

    Or I’ll meet someone who thinks social media is scary.. overwhelming..

    lol, I usually just end up suggesting that they read Chris Brogan, or.. something..

    But I’m also realizing that I have unique ideas and perspectives on the subject.. and find myself trying to find ways to formulate those for someone who’s really new to this stuff.

  24. says

    Linda makes a point about never assuming anything about your reader which is one that we can all take to heart. We often forget (until a post like this reminds us nicely) that many people are still new to the Internet, new to our concept, and just want to learn the basics. Often because we network with those who know more then we do we try and rise to that level instead of remembering what it was like to find a simple step-by-step post on a task that we now take for granted (such as the perfect example of driving a car in this post).

    The basics are great and adding video or audio to them can spice them up and make them more fun.

  25. says

    Too true! Last week I saw this in person. There are lots of people that don’t have a clue. So our job is to make finding the information on our blogs as easy as possible. Once the people find the information we don’t want to scare them off.

  26. says

    Great advice! I am one of those bloggers who tend to really slow down now and then when blogging, simply because I am trying to write on topics that would push Information Architecture or usability, and I guess that looking at my stats I am starting to gain more interest in my “off the hook, 5 minutes of writing” posts. Now I have to go and write more 😉

  27. says

    James, very interesting article.

    I think one problem is that many bloggers haven’t developed for themselves an educational model that describes all the different areas that their readers need to attend to in order to get results.

    Having a model like this means that it’s easier to understand what the fundamentals are and make sure these are addressed regularly.

  28. says

    I only get rare glimpses of who I was when I was new to the internet, new to blogging, new to some specific software I use. It is those times I can write the best about those subjects. And when I do, I regain a respect for things I thought were common knowledge. Yes, it gets boring once you realize that blogging is eventually a rinse and repeat type job just like anything else. But for me it was a choice. But I still have to remind myself a lot.

  29. says

    “world of blogging is boring”

    This was remind me when i started to learn internet marketing in early 2000, i got nothing to write about in my blog. Suddenly i got no mood to continue…

  30. says

    Whatever skill or profession one chooses, it all starts with the basics. In writing especially, that’s all users want sometimes. something simple they can relate to.

  31. says

    I’m fairly new to blogging and I have found myself getting into the trap of trying to write ‘amazing’ posts.
    What I find that works is to write posts about things that seem ‘obvious’ to me.
    For some people, it might actually be ‘new’ information.

  32. says

    Nice post… The reminder is relevant to blogging as well as many other areas of life. I think my best posts at Used Car Genius come when I think about what the audience feels like reading instead of what I feel like writing.

  33. says

    Great Points! We need to remember that people are human beings, born to live in relationship with others. We aren’t customers, commodities, or categories – we are individual human beings who want to relate as such and be treated as such.

    Great insight, powerful platforms, and tag-lines look great on paper, but they don’t touch people at their core.

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