The singular purpose of any blog is to attract an audience and eventually a readership, but to do this content is needed. Lots of content. A blog is simply a way to share content, so are social networks, and so are search engines. The sharing of content is the glue that makes them all work.
However, the problem we all come up against sooner or later is – How do we stand out in the vast sea of content flowing through the internet? How do we make ours more interesting, easy to share, and unique. Three things any successful blog needs in the long run.
To put it into perspective here are some figures:
2 million – Blog posts are written every day.
500 million – Number of tweets sent every day.
2.7 billion – Number of likes on Facebook every day.
3.5 billion – Number of webpages run by WordPress viewed each month.
5 billion – How many times per day the +1 button on Google+ is used.
1.2 trillion – Number of searches on Google in 2012.
The sheer scale of content creation, sharing, searching, and consumption is staggering. Standing out in all of this noise is only becoming more difficult. So what is the answer?
Part of the answer is to vary the style of content we put out. Mix things up a little bit. Create content in more digestible formats that allow for easy consumption and cater to the differing needs of any audience. Below we will go through the most popular styles of content, with both producers & consumers. But before we do just remember this list is not definitive. So many more styles exist and you can be endlessly creative in coming up with new and novel ones.
So Without Further Delay: 10 Popular Styles Of Content To Use On Your Blog
1. List Posts
People love lists. Lists are easy to digest and easy to follow. They’re also very shareable. You can make a list for just about anything in any niche.
Some types of lists include:
Check-Lists – Covering processes or the basics of a topic.
Laundry Lists – Lists of things to do to accomplish a particular objective.
Resource Lists – Lists of links and third party resources of particular use.
Lists of Lists – Lists of other peoples lists covering broader topics.
News Lists – RSS powered lists of dynamically updating content. (See: Creating an RSS driven news aggregate)
Example of a good list post: Top 100 Resources For WordPress
One of the easiest ways for people to process information is through images and visualization. Info-Graphics (information graphics) are images that communicate information in a visual format and are therefore easy to digest and very shareable. They are particularly popular on sites like Twitter and Pinterest as well as in the Blogosphere where a good info-graphic can proliferate through the use of embedded code.
Some types of info graphics include:
How-To Guides – Visual guides to a step-by-step process.
Researched Statistics – Breaking down stats and numbers.
Time-Lines – Cataloguing sequences of events or a history of something.
Did You Know – Breaking down facts and figures on a particular topic.
Flow Charts – Designed to express complex interactions or decisions.
Example: WordPress Stats
Guides for info-graphics:
Tools for creating info graphics:
Places to submit your info graphics:
- Infographics Archive
- Infographics Journal
Tutorials or how-to guides gives you a chance to demonstrate your expertise in a particular subject area by showing others how to do something they cannot yet do with a step-by-step guide.
Some types of tutorials include:
Demonstration – Showing your readers how to do something by going through the process with them.
Guides – Large downloadable guides for more involved processes.
Series – Building something bigger through a series of email or blog post tuts.
4. Definitive Guides
Definitive guides are another way to demonstrate your expertise on your topic of choice. They tend to be much longer than your average blog post. The key to creating a great definitive guide is to make sure you overload it with information, so much so that your readers should not need to do any further research on the subject matter. The point of a definitive guide is to provide your reader with everything they need to know in one place. Get this right and it can become the kind of epic pillar content you can refer people back to for years to come.
Types of definitive guides:
Epic Blog Posts – Covering a whole topic in details.
Overviews – Covering all the basics of a topic.
Downloadable Guides – A book dedicated to topic of choice.
Example: WordPress SEO
5. Live Blogging
Perfect for covering live events and ongoing situations, live posts allow you to keep your readers engaged and updated for extended periods of time. They can also generate a lot of discussion and conversations since they often make people feel engaged in an event or situation in ways a simple summary of the event could never do.
Types of live blogging include:
Event coverage – Covering events in real time.
Unfolding Situations – Covering of dynamic and rapidly changing situations.
Reactions – Covering reactions from around the web and social media to a particular event.
Launches – Covering the launch process of a new product or service to build momentum.
Example: Eurozone Crisis Coverage
Tools for live blogging:
- WP Live Stream Plugin
- Live Blog Plugin
- Live Blogging Plugin
- Live Stream Live Blogging Tools
6. Round Ups
Everyone likes a round-up. In a sense round-ups are summaries that save readers the time & effort needed to keep up with events and news or research the latest on the topic of interest. In effect you curate or sum up everything your readers would be interested in anyway.
Some types of round-ups include:
News Round-Ups – Summarising the daily/weekly/monthly news for your readers.
From Around The Web – Bringing together the best stuff posted on your topic from around the web.
Summing Up Events – Re-capping a recent event in an orderly fashion.
Example: March Blogger News
7. Q & A’s
Questions and answers sessions can somewhat resemble live blogging if done in real time, but they can also be done more generally as a kind of interactive FAQ where the readers get to decide the answers they need. If you can generate enough interaction a good Q&A can even begin to resemble a definitive guide where future readers can get answers to anything they need to know about the topic in question from a single place.
Some Types of Q&A’s include:
Q&A For Interviews – Interview industry participant and let the audience decide the questions.
Q&A FAQ – Answering frequently asked questions in the style of a Q&A session.
Live Q&A – For building engagement or covering live unfolding events.
Informal Q&A – Taking on questions from around the web, the answers to which may be of interest to your readers.
Example: WordPress Q&A
- Q&A Plugin
- Degree 3 Q&A Plugin
- WP Answers Q&A Theme
- Pubble Q&A Platform
8. Opinion Pieces
Opinion pieces are distinct from other types of content because they’re less about stating fact and figure or sharing knowledge, and more about making connections and promoting understandings from novel angles. Opinions tend to stir up conversation because opinions tend to invoke others to share their own ( often opposing) opinions. Which in turn create debate and intense engagement.
Often opinion pieces are deliberately positioned to be controversial or take a side in a divided debate because this attracts attention and provokes conversation. Staking out a position that is in opposition to others, and backing it up with hard evidence helps position you as a leader in your area of expertise.
Some types of opinion pieces include:
Taking Sides – Staking out a position in a debate often in opposition to other highly visible individuals to attract attention.
Big Picture – Providing a view from 30 thousand feet of a subject matter or industry.
Future Forecasting – Highlighting underlying trends and using your knowledge to speculate where those trends may lead in the future.
Predictions – Making prediction about outcomes of events based on your personal analysis.
Digging Deep – Taking an issues of importance and drilling down to the nuts & bolts, then offering your opinion on solutions.
Devils Advocate – Taking a position contrary to what you agree with for the sake stirring discussion and debate.
Re-Framing – Taking a new novel angle on a subject or otherwise re-framing it to change common perceptions.
9. White Papers
White papers are more formal guides that seek to help readers understand a topic in great detail by providing an authoritative and comprehensive overview and analysis of the topic at hand. White papers are an excellent tool for establishing your expertise and authority on your topic.
Some types of white papers include:
Research – The presentation of research finding and the detailing of implications and conclusions.
Trends – Presenting evidence and analysis of trends and their implications.
New Paradigm – Presenting a new way of doing or thinking about a subject matter.
Example: Marketing white papers Hubspot
Online Interviews are a kind of combination of opinion pieces and a Q&A session. But instead of your opinion being aired, it’s the opinion of a well know person, industry leader, or competitor. Your job is to find someone interesting or influential to interview and then ask the right questions. You can even let your readers come or with the questions for you so your readers are well catered too. You can conduct your interviews through written, audio, or video means. Whatever suits you and your readers best.
The best part about interviews – if you land an interview with someone influential with a large following you can gain a great deal of exposure from it since the interviewee will likely share the interview with their own followers. If the person you’re interviewing commands authority and credibility in an industry, then some of it will inevitably rub off on you in the eyes of your audience.
Some types of interviews include:
Industry leaders: – Gleam insights from an industry leader that will benefit both yours and his/her readers and followers.
New Players – Interview new industry players releasing new innovative products or services. This puts you on the inside track of the latest goings on, and gives them some much needed exposure.
Topical Expert – If you have gaps in your knowledge of your subject matter, then bring in an expert who can fill it. Ask the questions both you and your readers need answering, and in return your interviewee gets to publicly bolster his authority and credibility.
Bonus: User-Generated Content
The last and potentially most powerful type of content is user generated content. This is where the community you build are responsible for the majority of content creation and dissemination. User generated content is what search engines, social networks, and forums rely on to stay alive. But user generated content isn’t confined to those types of sites. You can leverage user generated content by turning your readers into a community of like minded individuals by providing a platform for people to gather and share information with each other.
However, be warned, building the platform for a community is the easy part. Building the community that will use is the difficult part and takes a lot of time and energy. In the beginning you will have to take a lead role in developing the community until it becomes self-sustaining. Self sustaining communities require constant activity and interactions between different member of the community which is something you will have to foster. Powerful when it work out, but always difficult to get going.
Some types of user generated content:
Submissions – Allow users to submit content to your blog or website.
Comments – Encourage discussion and interaction between readers on your blog.
Forum – Create a membership based forum for like minded individuals. Works well if you already have a large group of readers or subscribers.
Collaboration – Think wikipedia. Find ways of allowing users to add or amend content.
- 35 tips for managing multi-author blogs
- 8 tips for building a community on your blog
- 7 strategies for growing a community on your blog
- bbPress Forum
- Simple Press Forum
Mingle Forum Plugin
Remember – You are under no obligation to use or stick to just the above kinds of content. Be creative and think of ways you could adapt the ideas above for your own purposes. Think up novel types of content that will make you stand out from the crowd. Look for content ideas from other popular blogs and refine or enhance them. A single good idea can change everything.