We recently ran a training course for folk new to blogging, which covered everything from the business case for blogging and content planning to creating writing that works and how to measure it. One of the areas that sparked real interest for our new budding bloggers, and proved invaluable to planning their writing for the coming months, was our trainer’s examples of the types of blog post that are open to them. We counted around 17 types of posts that writers might wish to consider in approaching their blogging, to be used variously and applicably, as befits the tastes of your audience and the tenor of your blog.
So, here are our 17 suggestions for the types of post you might consider to keep your blog interesting, vital and educative for your readers:
If you’re a regular reader of business blogs, you can’t have failed to have noticed the popularity of (or at least the commonality of) list-based posts – “Five ways to get more links”, “7 search engine secrets”, “8 things every blogger should know” etc.
In an increasingly “time-poor” age, readers often find content that is broken into short bits more palatable and, in addition, easier to read than long blocks of text. Lists are a perfect example of this. Plus, they arguably provide your reader a ready-made opportunity for highly-sharable content, as the titles of such lists lend themselves nicely to being “tweeted”.
So, consider ranking the “10 best…” or the “10 worst…” of a certain thing; think of “7 reasons you should…” (or shouldn’t!) do something relevant to your industry; or else find the “10 most expensive…” or the “10 weirdest examples of…” something else of interest to your reader. If you can, add an image or video example for each item.
2) How-To Posts
The real essence of informative, educative content, a “how-to” style post gives you the opportunity to evidence your usefulness to the people out there looking for what you do. The simpler you can make a seemingly complex task, the more your readers will thank you for it – see this Hubspot “how to” example.
The chances are pretty good that you know how to do something others don’t. So, write your post in the form of a stepped process (see numbered lists, previously), or write a more detailed tutorial about it. Again, consider adding video or images, to illustrate and clarify for your readers.
Similarly for lists, succinct useful information like “how-to” guides are one of the most commonly shared types of content, so successful blog posts such as these are known to spread like wildfire via social media platforms.
Use opportunities to write about the news – picking on a current news story and offering comment and analysis from your business’ perspective, or else using news to create a context to highlight an issue directly or indirectly affecting you and your audience.
If you are lucky, you may be in a position to write topical stories about breaking news, though this can often involve a lot of work and resources. To come up with exclusive news is even rarer, but this type of post is extremely valuable. The best way to gain such information is to establish connections with people working in your industry, attend relevant events, and keep your eyes and ears open.
When you do hear about something you can write about, act fast. There is very little benefit to publishing second or third. Get as many details and as much media—photos, videos, or audio—as you can, and then publish. Make sure you get your facts right first though – many a blogger has been caught out by not checking sources, or publishing hearsay.
Think about interviewing a well-known figure from your industry, or a colleague with particular experience or notable area of knowledge, and publish in the form of a simple Q&A style post (again easy format for the reader to digest). Another idea is to get two people with opposing views to discuss a particular issue or topic, and document the debate. (Best to make sure they won’t come to blows though!)
5) Case Studies
A case study is, of course, an excellent way of showcasing your product or service without seeming too much like a selling post. Arguably, more middle-of-the-funnel content, it can help you demonstrate specifically how your solution relates to your reader’s issues. If the case study features a well-known customer, it also helps to establish authority and trust, and create a little peer pressure.
6) Challenges to conventional wisdom / status quo
There is nothing like controversy to stimulate engagement and debate. A healthy and well thought out challenge to prevailing thought on a subject can make for a popular post. Playing devil’s advocate can rouse people to comment and initiate a discussion. Just make sure both the post and discussion remains positive.
In the same vein, a rant - if done with a little humour - can make a great occasional blog post. Some writers do it incredibly well think, Doug Kessler (amongst others), who’s advice is: “glory in therant! If it upsets you, it likely upsets other too. So let rip with both barrels, take the gloves off, really go for the jugular...” Do so with an element of “tongue in cheek”, for fear of offending unnecessarily; but, don’t rant all the time - you want your blog to be seen as constructive for your readers, not simply destructive.
You might choose to use your post to highlight the work/activities of a person, team, product or service. Generally, profiles of people work best as readers can relate to individuals more – and it gives you an opportunity to paint a picture of the people in your business, humanising your organisation. These posts can be done as an in-depth interview – or as a quick Q & A.
9) A day/week in the life of…
Similar to a profile, this type of post looks at a day or a week in the life of a person, team, product, service or organisation. The more realistic the better, as these types of posts can often feel fictional and thus, disengage the reader.
As we all know, the way people buy, the way we approach purchasing decisions, has changed – so that the weight afforded to reviews and recommendations, especially online, has grown in significance. Reviews of a product, service or industry event are sought out by the people looking for what you do, so certainly consider this type of post in order to benefit from that popularity.
11) Link posts
Have you thought of picking a post that you agree with, like or disagree with, and then writing your own which links to it with a comment or set of notes explaining why you felt that way and why it’s significant? Generally, it’s better not to disagree too harshly with the post you are linking too, or you may have a blog war on your hands, and you run the risk of being seen as being negative or simply a whinger (see similar caveats for the rant and the status quo challenges above).
12) Comparisons X vs. Y
Very simply, take two competing or two similar things, and compare them. What’s good/bad about them? What are their key differences? Under what circumstances would one be better than the other? This approach could be applied equally to products and services, as it can to more abstract ideas, such as strategies or ideologies.
Some of your own original B2B research – be it a survey, a study or other interesting industry data – presented attractively, alongside some intelligent analysis and comment, makes for another excellent category of post. Better still, consider visually representing your data in an infographic – to portray what might otherwise be quite complex information, through design, in a succinct, precise, attractive and easily comprehensible manner. Think of your infographic as currency for conveying meaning to your audience in one palatable bite.
14) Useful links
In support of your blog’s ambition to be of use and interest to your audience, look at producing the occasional list of links to good quality resources on a particular topic: a very helpful post for readers.
A challenging post to write, but an article satirising a situation or specific issue can make for an entertaining post (keep within libel laws!) This obviously works best if your post is actually funny – not everyone can pull that off.
16) Projects, Memes and competitions
A post could be used to launch a project that asks readers to contribute to a particular initiative, event or activity, and can generate a lot of online interest. This could take the form of a competition or running poll. Writing about a current popular meme that works within your context is another possible post. Just don’t shoehorn a meme into your message though, as you could risk looking a bit naff!
17) Review of the year/Predictions for next year
At an appropriate time, a review of the year is a good solid topic for a post – highlighting the trends within your industry, commenting on successes and missed opportunities, and summarising key moments in the industry calendar. Alternatively, or in addition, a good companion piece might be to ask industry pundits to make predictions for next year.
So, that’s 17 post types we’ve thought of to engage and delight your readers – my thanks to my colleague Keith Errington for sharing his wisdom in this regard. And just think, if you chose to try out just one of those post styles each week, that could be your own content output sorted for about the next four months!
Image by ©athrine