As I said previously, blog posts do not all follow a singular formula. However, the vast majority are based upon a handful of post types.
It is likely that you will utilize all of these post types at one time or another, so it is recommended that you familiarize yourself with all of them.
List posts are everywhere and with good reason — people love them. There is something instinctively attractive about the quantifiable nature of a list. Take these two different approaches to headlining a post as an example:
- 50 Top Resources for Freelance Writers
- Top Resources for Freelance Writers
Admit it: the first headline is more intriguing. It seemingly promises more than the alternative (and is more specific in its promise). As human beings, we are drawn to order and specificity — a list post typically promises both.
In my own personal experience, the most popular posts I’ve written have been list posts. Consider for example The LWB 100. Approximately one in three visitors to my site has seen either the 1st, 2nd or third edition of that list. On a blog with hundreds of published posts, that is a clear indicator of how effective list posts can be.
The best piece of advice I can give you when it comes to producing list posts is that the more unique, practical and useful the information contained within the post is, the more likely it is to be successful. List posts are a dime a dozen — elevate yours above the norm by focusing on delivering a huge dose of value.
Furthermore, to an extent, bigger lists seem to gain more traction. All other factors being equal, a 100–strong list will probably outperform a list one–fifth the size. It may sound fickle, but I have observed the phenomenon time and time again.
The concept here is simple: if you know what your audience wants to learn, teach them. If you hit upon the right subject matter (i.e. something that resonates with your target audience), a how–to post can be extremely popular.
There is no real secret behind creating a successful how–to post — as with list posts, just focus on providing highly practical and useful content.
How–tos are often practically broken into numbered steps, so you could argue that they are a type of list post. Each step should be consistent in formatting and style (i.e. don’t include a load of helpful screenshots for one step, then just instructional text for the next).
Reviews are extremely popular in the blogosphere because they often offer an opportunity to make a commission by promoting a product or service.
However, any review you produce should offer a relatively balanced opinion. You should introduce the subject of the review, discuss how it can benefit your target audience, and also describe its shortcomings. You will find that your readers will consider your post far more valuable if you provide a balanced review.
Perhaps the most important part of a review is to sum it up succinctly, with a brief summary of the pros and cons. Give the reader a clear conclusion as to whether or not the product or service is worthwhile for their needs.
For the most part good bloggers don’t deal in dry news stories — it is your job to put a spin on current events that resonates with your target audience. Whilst you should focus on the actual news item, you should always keep in mind why it is relevant to your readership and seek to explain how.
Furthermore, you can actually use current events to accentuate other types of posts. Here’s a hypothetical example:
- 5 Things the Olympics Can Teach You About Better Exercise Habits
Posts such as this can ride on the coattails of popular current topics and receive a higher readership than you might typically expect. On the flipside, such articles often have a limited lifespan.
I love a good opinion piece. They can be polarizing and divisive. They can stir up a great deal of debate via your comments section and on social media. They can go viral.
As long as you have put a coherent argument forward then all of these effects should be highly beneficial to the exposure of your blog. If nothing else, a successful opinion piece can put you on the map.
If you want an opinion piece to be well–received (and by that, I mean that people should care about it), the most important thing is for it to be from the heart. The content of the post needs to represent your genuine opinion — you shouldn’t just put controversial viewpoints out there because you think it will gain attention. I’ve seen some bloggers do that in the past, and it may gain them short–term exposure, but I never see them again afterwards.
So if you have an opinion and it happens to be unique, engaging and/or controversial, don’t be afraid to voice it. On the contrary — opinion pieces are an incredibly valuable weapon in your arsenal. When it comes to producing truly unique content, they are perhaps the easiest place to start.
This is another area in which you can produce truly unique content with relative ease, and is something that I have majored on over at Leaving Work Behind.
If you can provide case studies of characters or events that relate to your subject audience, you will find that your audience laps them up — especially if you are successful. Consider the way in which Subway promoted Jared Fogle as an example of how you could lose a dramatic amount of weight by eating their subs. He was a walking, talking case study. Can you be the same for your niche, or can you find someone or something that serves as a great case study?
- Review the twenty posts you picked in the section on developing steller post ideas and categorize them by post type.
- Consider the high level makeup of your blog’s content based upon the results of step one — what post types will your blog major on and how will they benefit your audience?
- List the post types that you intend for your blog to focus on in order of value to your readers.