How to Write Unfamiliar Topics (and Why You Should)
Most bloggers try to stick to familiar territory for obvious reasons. If you’ve had experience in a given industry or education to back your writing, it’s easier to come up with new topics and you can write them fluidly without needing to stop and research new information every few sentences. However, there’s an advantage in extending your reach to topics you’re not familiar with—as long as you have the right approach.
Writing Unfamiliar Topics
When you write about topics you don’t understand or haven’t written about before, you need to make sure you come across as authoritative and get your facts straight; otherwise, you could damage your reputation.
- Trust the experts. It’s a bad idea to rewire your house yourself if you don’t have electrical experience; instead, it’s better to hire a professional. The same principle applies here. Rather than guessing about a subject or relying on a surface-level source, dig deep and get the expert perspectives. Identify a handful of key influencers in the industry and follow their blogs; you’ll not only get better ideas for your topics and headlines, you’ll also have a primary source of reliable information.
- Cite anything you aren’t sure about. If there’s any fact you aren’t sure you’re representing accurately, find a source that states it objectively and cite it. The citation lends credibility to your work, and allows any dubious readers a quick chance to fact-check you. Plus, linking to more authoritative offsite sources can be a boon for your domain authority and SEO.
- Immerse yourself first. If you’re used to writing familiar topics, you might start with a headline and simply start writing, without outlining or thinking far ahead. With unfamiliar topics, you can’t take that approach as effectively; if you do, you’ll need to stop and re-research information every few sentences. Instead, immerse yourself in your source material. Learn as much as you can about the topic before you start writing, then create an outline and flesh it out as you learn more.
- Start basic and expand from there. Don’t try to tackle the most in-depth subject matter of a given industry as your first post. Instead, start with an “introduction” or a “basics” post that introduces both you and your readers to the topic. This will give you a high-level view of the subject matter so your vocabulary and understanding are more advanced by the time you get to more expert material.
There are actually multiple distinct advantages to writing topics you’re unfamiliar with:
- It keeps your content fresh. Anyone who’s managed a blog for more than a few months knows the pain of trying to consistently come up with fresh content ideas. Breaking away from the typical processes you use for idea generation gives you a chance to introduce completely novel material to your blog. It may win back readers who have gotten tired of stale content on your blog, and encourage more loyalty from those who have remained.
- It forces you to learn new things. Next, writing about new topics forces you to learn new things. It may take more time at first, but you’ll walk away with a broader perspective on how the world works. You’ll be more intellectually stimulated and rewarded by your work, which will help prevent and/or mitigate the risk of burnout, and you may be able to apply that knowledge to real-life areas (depending on what you’re writing about).
- It gives you more diverse experience. Writing blogs on a new topic gives you something to add to your portfolio. In the future, if you try to apply as a guest author to a niche publication that covers these types of topics, you’ll have an example of your work that you can use to get featured. If you’re trying to optimize your blog for search engines, building links is even more important.
- It helps you write faster in the future. Finally, spending time wading through new research material and writing for a new audience with a new direction gives you more diverse experience that you can apply to all of your writing. You’ll be able to think, read, and write faster, and you’ll have an easier time picking up unfamiliar subjects in the future.
Ultimately, the “unfamiliar” topics you write about will only represent a fraction of your total blog. Even so, they could have a major impact on your inbound traffic, perceived authority, and user engagement.
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