Whether you blog for the sake of it or because it's part of your SEO and internet marketing strategy, staying relevant requires a lot of excellent writing. Even if you don’t routinely suffer from writers' block, there are likely to be occasions when coming up with a fresh; new blog post feels almost impossible.
One way to keep coming up with compelling, engaging blog content on a regular basis is to appreciate the various formats your blog content might take. You can use this list of the different types of blog post to turn one idea into many; you can refer to this to turn a single topic idea into many different content types.
There are many blog formats to take advantage of, and each one has its uses, its strength, and popularity with readers. To keep things fresh, try a format that's unfamiliar to you for your next post.
Here are some of the most popular types of blog posts that you should consider making the most of, no matter how, why or what you blog.
A 'how-to' article is a powerful and very popular type of blog post. It instructs your readers how to do something that they are researching.
The great thing about the ‘how-to’ article is that it engages readers and gives them specific advice while demonstrating that you are an expert in your field.
Since they answer questions, they're great for generating traffic by attracting visitors from search engines.
A collective fear surrounding step-by-step guides is that readers who educate themselves won't then need the information provider's product or service. It's unlikely, however, that an entire product range or service can be rendered useless by a single blog post. Rather, a 'how-to' educates and satisfies the reader and allows them to make an informed, confident decision to buy.
Try incorporating a useful visual component such as an instructional video, screenshots, diagrams or flowcharts to increase your post's value to your readers and encourage shares on social media.
Simple but effective, 'what is...' articles are designed to inform people about a subject.
Like the 'how-to' article, the 'what is...' article is an excellent place for new bloggers (or new blogs) to start. Make sure that your readers know what your field, product or service is and establish yourself as an authority on the subject.
If you’re an expert, you'll probably have no problem coming up with 'what is...' articles, but keep in mind a good 'what is' article is more than just a definition. In most cases people are not impressed if you are serving up content like a dictionary.
Rather, provide professional insights into the subject and take the opportunity to use your unique knowledge and expertise to elaborate. Provide real-life examples, use personal metaphors and use your experience to choose the best metaphors to illustrate the topic.
Open the door to your world for the reader. Do this well and the online community will appreciate you for sharing your knowledge.
Lists (or Listicles)
- People love a list.
- People hate lists.
- People love to hate lists.
Whatever side of the list post fence you're on, the fact is that there are some very solid reasons you might want to include some lists on your blog from time to time.
Numbered lists are not only the purview of Buzzfeed. Advertisers and content marketers have used lists for years, and they're still going strong. Why? They deliver messages quickly and efficiently.
Studies have shown that lists play into the natural human inclination to categorize things. Furthermore, people like to divide information into chunks to absorb it. Tasks, goals and things to remember are often more manageable and understandable when broken down into parts.
A list, therefore, is a very convenient delivery system for information. Note that lists with numbers ending in 0, such as 10, 20 or 30, are more readily 'chunked' than those ending in odd numbers.
They are also highly shareable on social networks, which means that this kind of content can potentially drive a lot of traffic to your site.
This format is accessible in an online environment where there is a lot of competing for the time and attention of readers, readers who tend to scan websites rather than read them word for word.
Lists are also popular with content creators because they can be quick to produce.
Some say that there are too many such posts on the internet, but this is mainly due to poor quality content. When the list is relevant to a site's readership and contains useful information, it is a powerful tool that can result in high volumes of traffic. Don’t be shy about throwing in a list from time to time if you're providing interesting, quality info.
Sometimes the best blog post is one that tells readers where else to find information. The link list is a resource post in which you are sharing other people's content. Just put together a list of great links to information that your readers will find relevant.
Be aware, but don't worry, that this is directing traffic off your site. You will be recognized as the source of this incredibly useful curated information, even if you did not originate the information itself. Another benefit of linking to other websites is the opportunity to build mutually beneficial relationships with your sources.
After collecting information and resources for your business use, you can then share them with your audience, so you win twice. Add a third win when the people whose resources you share then link back to you and share your article.
A curated post is a themed collection of useful resources, collated by you, and delivered all in one place.
Like list posts, curated content sometimes gets a bad press due to poor quality content. They are sometimes seen as lazy posts, but that needn't be the case. Any post can be good quality or poor quality, but there is no wrong format for content itself.
Curating information can be as simple as coming up with a list of quality links on a topic, but it could also take the form of great quotes gathered from other sites (and attributing them, naturally) or sought after products that would interest your readers. Curated content saves your readers time and energy, by providing an excellent collection of resources that's only available thanks to your efforts on your users' behalf.
Being an authority on your subject doesn't mean having to come up with pages of original writing every time you post. Organizing existing, high-quality, valuable content shows that you know what's out there and that you know a good thing when you see it.
Curating also gives you the opportunity to do well in the search engine rankings by linking to external, high-quality content creators. Remember that if you only ever link to your pages, you run the risk of appearing salesy and not authorative.
Be creative with your choices of content to curate and how you present that information to your readers.
Let's look at the word 'newsjacking' for a minute.
Newsjacking is what it looks like. It's taking possession of a popular news story and riding it. The term, popularized by David Meerman Scott, refers to the act of leveraging a news story to promote your brand. The idea is that the popularity of the story will bring people searching for it or, unique angles on it, back to your site.
The best time to newsjacking a story is just after the story has broken while journalists are still realizing that it is newsworthy and begin scrabbling around for resources and information. If you're one of the first to write about a breaking story, you might become a cited source for journalists, gaining you a whole load more traffic by being useful and alert.
Don't stress about providing a monster post containing your most excellent prose, nor the exact details of your campaign (if you have your content calendar, you'll have a good enough understanding of your content goals already). Get it out fast. This is the opportunist blog post. If you're an individual or small business, make the most of your flexibility by getting your post online within minutes of a story breaking but also keep in mind it should be insightful not a regurgitation of the story.
A great newsjack - one that is timely, relevant and provides a unique angle - can earn you a lot of links from other sites.
Even if you're late to the game, and we're talking hours, days or even weeks, you can still hop on a news story to give your perspective. This is less effective than being there at the beginning, but your post will be interesting to people, including journalists if the news story has long-term effects or repercussions, and if your perspective is thoughtful and fresh.
Note that just like anything else; a newsjack can be done badly. Imagine a Spaghetti-O hoop waving an American flag in remembrance of Pearl Harbour Day or Gap telling people impacted by Hurricane Sandy to stay safe, while saying that they will be enjoying lots of shopping today. These campaigns took place. Crassly aligning your brand with something that has caused mass suffering and death is not the way to promote your business.
Your newsjacks, despite the suggested irreverence of the term, will be relevant and mutually-beneficial.
To stay on top of popular stories in your industry or field, load your RSS with industry publications. Check out the RSS readers at Feedly and Digg. Also, think about setting up keyword alerts from services like Google Alerts or BuzzSumo.
Reviewing products and services related to your business is a great way to share information and demonstrate your knowledge and authority.
Reviews provide a way for consumers or clients to share information about a product or service. They also allow for businesses to respond to bad experiences and make things right.
The review post can either be a straight review for a single product or service, or it can be a comparison of multiple products and services. The latter can be a particularly useful aid for decision-making. Additionally, each product or service mentioned can drive traffic to your site from related searches.
Consider reviewing films or books that feature your profession in some way.
Whatever your review, have a perspective and offer advice.
How much attention does the story about how people hate 'Love Actually' get every Christmas?
Even if you’re not gaining the love of your readers, a controversial headline is eye-catching and you can get a lot of attention by expressing an unpopular or polarizing opinion.
Such a post demonstrates that you are a real person with his or her own opinions, not someone who is telling people what they want to hear. A controversial post can be very effective for stimulating interaction on your site and shares of your content.
Survey or Poll
As well as being a good way to get people interacting with you and your site, a survey or poll suggests to the reader that you care about what they think, because you're directly asking them for their opinions. The ability to open two-way communication is one of the great benefits of being a business online and the resulting feedback can help you learn more about your audience and refine your ongoing content marketing strategy.
Ask your readers for their opinion on a movie, book, or news item, or on the content of your website.
FAQ or Q&A
An FAQ blog post is an effective way to answer one or more questions about a particular topic. The typical format is that of a question followed by an answer and this can occur multiple times within a single post.
Due to the preconceived format, it's a good introduction to blogging for the beginner. You may also end up with a permanent resource that's useful for you, your business and potential customers. Sales and management teams will be able to reference the FAQ content during their interactions with customers, making it easier for them to perform their jobs. They will also be able to grow the FAQ by referring common questions to you for your expert input.
If there’s a question that you receive often via email or in post comments, it's a sign that your answer will interest many readers. Consider sharing your knowledge in a blog post to reach a wide audience and satisfy a common need.
In addition to checking out the questions in your blog's comments, consider questions asked in webinars, in-person events and, if you have one, questions received by your sales department.
What questions are your competitors and leaders in your field being asked? Can you provide the best answers online?
The interview blog post, which often takes the form of a Q&A with an individual or group of individuals, introduces the perspective of a third party to your website. Try to find someone with a unique angle.
Interviewing gives you the chance to network with industry professionals and may result in opportunities down the line. If you're interviewing someone with a significant audience, then you will also benefit from extra traffic when they share the content throughout their own network.
You don’t have to interview someone famous in order to get great material. Consider interviewing another blogger whose work you admire or find a local expert who can give advice on a relevant subject. You might also interview satisfied customers.
Don’t just write one blog post – write a whole series on one topic!
Creating a blog series can be a great idea if you have a topic or subject that can be broken down into smaller parts. As with a TV series, a blog series builds anticipation for the next installment and encourages visitors to come back for more. Their combined length, their organization and their focus provide bloggers with major SEO opportunities: use your target keywords and keyphrases, and link the posts naturally to create a coherent whole.
A business' readership is not only made up of consumers, but other professionals in your industry. Both these groups may find your thoughts and blog posts relevant and useful.
What ideas are being explored within your profession?
Demonstrate that you’re a thought leader by exploring new ideas and expanding the scope of your knowledge.
Take your time with a thought leadership post. Emphasize 'thought'. It might be something that you've been thinking about for a while or something you've noticed that nobody else is talking about yet. These posts are often speculative and can be controversial, so they are good for starting a debate and encouraging discussion.
Write direct responses to the ideas of other thought leaders in your field. Don’t be afraid to engage with them as networking can be good for business, credibility and expanding your own role as a recognizable thought leader.
● garyvaynerchuk.com - Gary has built businesses using thought leadership.
● http://www.quicksprout.com/blog/ - Notice how Neil Patel brings his personality to his Quick Sprout brand.
Guest posting is inviting an outside expert to contribute a post to your site or posting on someone else's website in order to get traffic back to yours.
Although a guest poster's goal is to get traffic from your site, inviting or allowing guest posts can be a good way to get some quality content from established bloggers with big names and audiences. Not least of all, you don't have to write the material yourself.
You will need to check the post and make sure it fits in with your site's theme, goals and style. If you're planning to use this as a consistent strategy, it might be a good idea to establish guidelines that people can follow before coming to you with their ideas or articles.
Done well, guest posting is a win-win situation for both parties. In either direction, it's good for building your professional network. Posting on outside websites can be an effective way of establishing your brand, your authority, achieving back links from reputable sites and driving traffic back to your pages.
Blogging platforms are versatile, so mix up the media you use when blogging. Keep things varied and fresh.
Every now and then, you might post a single infographic. Add some explanatory text so that you get the SEO benefits of the topic - Google can’t read infographics.
Try incorporating videos and podcasts. These are very popular mediums for sharing messages online and offer you not only a different way to express your opinion or perspective, but a way to reach a different type of customer.
With consideration, a slideshow of still photos can demonstrate a point very effectively.
Think about your topic and the best way to convey that information to your audience. Factor in your own technical skills and any time constraints, which will affect your approach to blog types.
There are many other types of blog post, including cheat sheets and checklists, podcast show notes, weekly roundups, slideshares and designing infographics. Keep an eye on other blogs to see what catches your attention, what is attracting readers and how you can use those blog types on your own site.
The most important thing is to think of your posts from your ideal reader's perspective and to provide quality information or entertainment presented in the most appropriate and effective format.
Don't ever force a blog post. If you’re not inspired, it will show in the writing. Rather than brute force a terrible blog post, seek inspiration. Sometimes it only takes a meander through the web to see what others are writing about. If this doesn't return results, you can fall back on something simple like a 'what is...' article.
To generate ideas and keep your blogging on track, have a list of potential posts and post types at the ready. This way, you’ll always know what to blog about.
Considering different post types is a great way to trigger an idea for a topic, and using the different types keeps your site focused but varied, dynamic and relevant to your visitors.