This guest post is by Karol K of Online Business Design blog.
Blogging is not only about putting together 400-2,000 words of text and publishing them on your WordPress site. As a blogger, you can choose from a much bigger variety of possible blog post types (and content in general).
Let me be honest and admit that I’ve wanted to compile this sort of list for a long time. Coming up with new ideas for posts every couple of days might lead you to a hard stop on a brick wall very quickly… I believe writer’s block is the more politically correct name for such a situation.
One of the most effective ways of fighting writer’s block is having a big resource file, containing lots of ideas and frameworks for new posts. Besides, writing standard, old-school blog posts can get boring very quickly. That’s why every blogger needs some variety in terms of content if they want to be doing this for a longer period of time.
This list is divided into a couple of sections depending on the purpose and characteristics of each content type. Feel free to treat it as a resource file ≠ñ you don’t have to go through the whole list at once.
Article style posts (aka standard blog posts)
1. How-to/tutorial posts
This is one of the most popular post types and one that arguably brings the most value to the reader. The most important thing to focus on while writing it, is to give some specific information on how to do/perform/attain/reach whatever is promised in the title of the post. Videos and images work very well as additional resources for how-to posts.
2. News posts
Typically used by bigger blogs, leaders in a given field that have their finger on the pulse at all times. They are usually short (less than 500 words) and share an important piece of news in a given market. There are a couple of downsides if you want to make them an important part of your publishing schedule: you have to be fast (there’s nothing worse than yesterday’s news), news has a short expiration date (it’s hard to turn a news post into a piece of evergreen content), and finally, you have to be publishing them at least once a day.
3. Definition posts
A.k.a. Wikipedia-style post. What you basically do is choose a term that has a significant importance in your field and define it using simple language, so the term is easy to understand for someone who’s new to the topic.
4. Standard list posts
List post is one of the most popular post types in use today (you’re reading one right now). The basic idea is that you take a topic or a problem and you try to come up with a number of separate solutions to it. List posts are so popular because they are extremely easy to follow. Each point is usually not related to the other ones, which means that even a distracted mind can get a lot of value from the whole post. List posts are also great for bookmarking or sharing with friends—precisely because of their reader-friendly construction.
5. Resource/link list posts
Very similar to standard list posts. The difference is that now you’re not coming up with the content on your own, but searching for valuable information elsewhere and, in the end, sharing links to what you have found. This type of list post is very popular lately and many successful bloggers are using it as one of the most important elements of their publishing schedule. This kind of posts tend to get a lot of backlinks due to the fact that people who have been featured often like to let their readers know about that fact, so they go ahead and mention it on their blogs.
6. Profile posts
A profile is a post focusing on a specific person, usually someone famous or important in a given field. Profiles usually cover things like: why the person in question became famous, what’s so special about them, what they have accomplished, and what’s their history and background. There are no specific rules of creating a good profile post. You have to choose your target, find as much interesting information about them as you can, and combine it into an article.
7. Case studies
Case studies present a way of solving a problem based on a real-life example. They are usually constructed in a step-by-step manner presenting each step in a detailed way, and explaining why this specific solution has been chosen. Case studies usually end with a roundup of everything that has been done and present the final results.
8. Problems-and-solutions posts
This is similar post type to case studies, only here, the solution doesn’t have to be one that has already been applied. It can be a description of a theoretical solution to a problem, or an idea worth considering for other people struggling with the same problem. For example, let’s look at amateur bodybuilding as a topic. One of the most common problems in that field is gaining lean (fat-free) body mass. A bodybuilder-blogger might create a post targeting this specific problem by giving a number of possible solutions, like introducing a special diet, different workout regime, different hours of sleep, and so on.
9. Comparison posts
Every field has some specific characteristics or problems that can be solved by many different means. Comparison posts take two or more possible solutions and compare them to one another. Various aspects of these solutions need to be taken into account if the whole post is to be valuable. It’s also good to point out a winner at the end. Some of the things you can compare against each other are: software, books, courses, companies, etc.—even people.
There’s nothing like a good story. Stories are ones of the most reader-friendly types of blog posts. We ñ humans ñ are used to hearing stories ever since we were children. The power of stories lies in their ability of disguising certain messages while describing seemingly unrelated situations. You can create a story about someone who wanted to do something but failed because they didn’t know the most important elements of X, where “X” is the thing you want to share with your readers… Just an example.
11. Controversial posts
The truth is people like to read controversial articles even if they don’t agree with the author. That being said, not every author has enough balls to write such a thing. Interestingly enough, creating a controversial post is not that difficult. The easiest way of doing it is to pick a topic, write down your thoughts about that topic, and then sharpen them up to the point of absurd. You can use some sarcasm while doing so. Here’s an example. Instead of saying “some Internet marketing tips published online have very few possible applications in real life,” say “every Internet marketer knows nothing about real-life business”—strong, to the point, and easy to disagree with.
12. Inspiring posts
Usually an inspiring story about someone (hopefully, an underdog) achieving something. The main message here is “if he can do it, so can I.” The only problem is that it’s not that easy to find something interesting enough to be turned into an inspiring post.
13. Research posts
A step-by-step guide on how you are (or someone else is) researching a specific topic. For example, you can share how you’re doing your keyword research, or how you’re searching for a virtual assistant to hire, or how you’re doing market research to come up with a list of potential partners and competitors.
14. “What others are saying” posts
This is a combination of a research post and a link list post. The main idea is to find a topic and find other people sharing their opinion on that topic. Sometimes it’s better to not pretend that you are the most knowledgeable person in a given field, but share the opinions of other experts instead. It’s the thing Napoleon Hill was famous for.
15. “What if” posts
A hypothetical post about something—”What would happen if X?” kind of thing. To start, choose an interesting topic, find an element that’s certain to exist in that field, and try to write a post about what might have happened if that element never existed. For example: “What if WordPress was never invented?”
16. Parody posts
A satirical view on a given topic. The easiest way of coming up with such a thing is to choose another publication about something, note down some of the ideas presented in it, and extend them to the point of absurd. For example, many building-a-successful-blog gurus tell you about the importance of commenting on other blogs. In response, you could write a post on “why you need to comment on 1,374 different blogs a day if you want to be successful.”
Unconventional blog posts
17. FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) posts
I’m sure you know very well what this is about. The only problem with coming up with these kind of posts is the “frequently” part. If you want to create a FAQ style post you need to have an audience to get the questions from. Creating a fake FAQ containing only some imaginary “frequently” asked questions is the biggest sin of them all.
18. SAQ (Should Ask Questions) posts
A similar type to the previous one, but this time you, as the expert, provide a list of questions and answers your audience should be asking you. The trick here is that frequently asked questions are not always the ones that are the most important (that’s because people don’t know what they don’t know), so in a SAQ post you can present your expertise and deliver much value to your readers.
There are tens of blogs that focus solely on reviews of various products and services, mostly in the tech/gadget niche. I’m not telling you to start posting only reviews from now on, but submitting one every now and then surely can’t hurt you. In addition, you can include your affiliate links and make some money along the way.
I’m sure there’s a lot of potential people you can interview: experts, celebrities, ordinary people who have managed to do something significant, people sharing their success stories, companies, other bloggers. Just look around your niche and I’m sure you’ll find someone interesting.
The interview itself can be done in a couple of different ways. You can meet with someone in person (the traditional way). You can mail them your questions and they will mail you back the answers. You can call them via Skype or phone. You can do a twitter interview (tweeting back and forth questions and answers). Basically, there are no limits. Sometimes being creative pays a lot, so try to come up with your own ways of doing interviews.
Whenever you have a big library of resources, your own posts, notes, etc. you can combine them and turn into an ebook, and then announce its launch in a standard blog post. One of the best examples of using your existing blog posts to create an ebook is the work of Darren Rowse in 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. Once you have your ebook ready, the best way of delivering it is, of course, as a PDF download. In fact, creating ebooks can be fun—something I found out for myself when putting together my own ebook.
22. Special reports
It’s like an ebook, only smaller, usually focusing on just one aspect of a given field, and in most cases delivered free of charge. Other than that, you can approach it the same as creating a standard ebook, and once you have it ready, announce this fact in a blog post.
23. Cheat sheets
As Wikipedia defines it, “a cheat sheet is a concise set of notes used for quick reference,” and that’s exactly what it is. I’m sure that you can find many rules, tricks, methods of doing/using something that relates to your field or niche. You just have to put it all together in a neat PDF file and share it with your readers. Just to give you some examples of nice cheat sheets: Cheat Sheets & Quick Reference Cards for Developers.
A checklist is a set of specific steps that need to be taken in order to complete a task. Next to the headline of each step there should be an empty box where the person using the checklist can put a tick once the step has been completed. This forces you to use the PDF format once again. Once you have the checklist ready, write a post describing what it’s for and how to use it.
Infographics are very popular in today’s Internet. They are cool to look at, present information in an easy-to-digest manner, provide a lot of value, and have a high share-with-a-friend factor. The only downside is that they are very time consuming to create. And in most cases you have to delegate this work to someone (or work together with someone) if you want the final result to be exceptional. Nevertheless, they are worth to consider if you have the time and the resources. Here are some examples of great infographics: Infographics for Web Designers: Information You Ought to Know, 12 Amazing SEO Infographics.
In my opinion this is one of the biggest things you can do for your blog once you have a moderate readership. By “moderate” I don’t necessarily mean the numbers, but people’s engagement with your posts.
The basic idea is this. You announce a project that you will be participating in (or are an author of) and invite your readers to take part in it, and share their results. A great example is what Pat and Tyrone have done with the Niche Site Duel project.
27. Open questions to your readers
This is usually a very short post. Just a single question to your readers about whatever topic. But, of course, it has to be something related to your niche, and it has to be something that actually interests you, something you want to know … maybe as part of research for your upcoming post. Publishing this kind of post can help you tighten the relationship with your readers and encourage some of the quiet ones to speak up. The only downside is that you have to have a moderate readership in order to make this work.
28. Starting a debate
Similar to publishing an open question, only this time you are saying what’s your opinion at the beginning of the post, and let your readers pick a side, so they can share their own arguments in favor or against. One more time … you have to have an audience for this to work. Once you consider the debate finished you can shut down the comments and write a follow-up post pointing out some of the most important parts of the debate.
29. Presenting an existing debate
Let me just give you an example. A while ago, Corbett Barr published a post presenting a debate between Pat Flynn and Everett Bogue on whether or not you should allow comments on your blog. The debate has been prepared earlier by interviewing both sides giving them the same questions, and then letting them take a look at each other’s answers so they could react to them. This is a great idea and I have to implement it myself in the near future. I encourage you to do the same.
30. Surveys and polls
Yet another way of connecting with your audience. This time again you are the one asking questions. A simple poll consists of one question with a number of possible answers. For example: “Which member of the A-team do you like the most? 1. Hannibal, 2. Face, 3. Murdock, 4. B.A.” There’s a number of different WordPress plugins that can provide you with a possibility of creating a poll.
A survey is usually something a bit bigger. For instance, a questionnaire containing a number of poll-styled questions as well as essay questions, and simple fill-in-the-blanks. You can search the WordPress plugin directory to find an appropriate plugin for this too. Surveys surely provide much valuable information about your audience, which makes them worth considering once you have an engaged readership.
31. Crash courses/gathering posts
This is a kind of post consisting of links to other post within the same topic, and maybe some additional comment or content. For instance, this guitar blog sharing information on how to learn guitar chords. Each chord gets its own post, and at the end of the series there’s one big gathering post featuring the links to all the other posts and some additional tips and resources. In the end, the whole post looks like a kind of crash course on learning guitar chords.
32. Twitter posts
In order to create such a post what you need is a topic, preferably a trending/popular one, and some time. Just go to twitter search and find some interesting tweets about the topic. You may search by keywords or by hashtags. Once you have a set of 20+ tweets you can combine them into one “what people are saying” post. This may sound like an easy way out, but in reality these posts can be very informative and, in many cases, very funny.
33. Income/traffic/expense reports (monthly)
Very popular lately. Some of the best examples can be seen at Think Traffic and Smart Passive Income. What you do is simply take a look at your Google Analytics account as well as your bank account and report any changes comparing to the previous month. Of course, you have to be comfortable with sharing this kind of information. The other problem is that telling people that your traffic is at 346 per month and you income at $12 per month might not be the best social proof possible.
Contests are a great way of connecting with your audience or even getting an audience in the first place. The most important element of a contest is the prize. It has to be something worth competing for, which mean it involves spending some money or finding a sponsor. The theme of the contest can be anything. For example: “whoever sings the highest note wins an iPod”—you get the point. Entries can be submitted via email or, preferably, via a comment below the post. It’s up to you.
Something similar to a contest. The only difference is that the winner is not chosen by someone, but gets drawn randomly. Other than that, same rules apply.
Another idea that’s similar to a contest. The main idea of a race is to give your audience a specific task to do, and the first person to complete it wins. It might be something like: “first person to publish 20 comments this month on my blog wins an iPod.” The main benefit of such a thing is that apart from the winner submitting 20 comments you may get the runner up submitting 18, two people submitting 17, and so on. So in the end, running a race might bring you many more comments than 20. Just an example. The rules of running a contest apply here too.
How is it any different from a poll or a survey? Well, a quiz is not a tool for you to find out something about your audience, but a tool for your audience to find out something about themselves, usually in a funny and entertaining way. A great example is a quiz that can be found at theoatmeal.com, titled How long could you survive chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor?. It turned out to be a big link bait for theoatmeal and resulted in #1 ranking in Google for the phrase “bunk bed”, whether it was intended or not. Plus, at the end of the quiz you receive a cool badge which you can include on your blog or share on Facebook. I’m sure you too can came up with something quiz-worthy in your niche.
38. Software, tools, scripts, plugins, themes, services
You can use a blog post to announce your new software, tool, plugin, service, etc. Share some information about the thing—what it can do, who it is for, how and when to get it, and so on. This might be a good way of notifying your readers of what’s going on in your business, what you’re up to, and what’s in it for them. You can get some ideas for new services or products by doing a brainstorm and researching what your audience might be interested in. Of course, to make it happen you have to know your audience first.
Every day more bloggers start to publish comics as a constant element of their publishing schedule. Take a look at Web Designer Depot. If you are, or can get, someone who can create the actual comics, it might be a good way for you to expand your audience and give them something that’s very easy to digest. It can be a nice link bait as well. Two examples of comics-only blogs: xkcd and Wulffmorgenthaler.
No further explanation needed. Obviously, it’s not a good fit for every niche, but who knows? Maybe it’s perfect for yours.
41. Icons and other graphical freebies
This is something that works well in the design niche, which is not very surprising. Designers are always on the hunt for some fresh, preferably free, icons/buttons or other graphical tools. Try to adjust this strategy to your niche. For example, if you have a photography blog you might share some free stock photos on Creative Commons license. If you’re in the business development niche you could get some Microsoft Word templates designed for you and then share them with your audience. It’s not just about icons.
If you’ve ever given a presentation on whatever topic I’m sure you still have the slides somewhere on your computer. You can upload them to Slide Share and then embed them in your blog post. Inside the post you can describe what the presentation is about, mention when and where you gave it, and encourage your readers to re-embed it on their own blogs.
Audio blog posts
43. Mp3 files (as a podcast)
First things first: what is a podcast? Quoting Wikipedia: “a podcast is a series of digital media files (either audio or video) that are released episodically and often downloaded through web syndication.” Translating it into plain English, a podcast can be a series of mp3s launched in a sequence. Probably the best idea is to register your podcast in iTunes and get some recognition there.
When it comes to the content itself, a podcast can contain whatever you want. You can give tutorials on various topics, tell jokes, even read poetry. Feel free to browse the iTunes directory to get some ideas.
These are similar to text interviews, only this time you conduct them over the phone or Skype and record everything along the way. Then you share them as an mp3 on your blog or turn them into a podcast if you’re planning to release more than one interview.
Again, some people you can interview include: experts, celebrities, ordinary people who have managed to do something significant, people sharing their success stories, companies, and other bloggers in your niche.
Something similar to an interview, but this time you’re getting a number of people (three or four) on the line or Skype, and give them a topic to talk about. Of course, you record everything so you can share it with your audience later on. This kind of talk is more focused on a specific topic rather than on the people participating in the talk. This is a good idea if you have the possibility to convince a couple of influential people in your niche to take part in it.
In order to pull this one off you need an engaged audience, or good marketing. The main idea is that first you announce you’ll be conducting a teleseminar on topic X and give people a link where they can sign up for it. Then when the time comes you give the seminar to a live audience. Of course, you can also record it and share as an mp3 later on.
The most popular way of running a teleseminar is to focus on a how-to topic. It should be something you can explain to your audience—something that’s really important to them, yet it’s not so easy to master alone.
Video blog posts
47. Talking head video
All video post types on this list have one thing in common: once you have the video made you can embed it in a normal blog post, or share it with your audience as a video podcast.
Now, the talking head video. It’s the simplest video to make. What you basically do is sit in front of a camera and talk about something. One of the most famous examples is Gary Vaynerchuk and the posts on his personal blog. Of course, the topic needs to be interesting if you want to have any kind of impact, and you have to be comfortable with the camera—something many people find challenging at first.
Screencasting is another name for recording what’s happening on your screen. It can be done with software called Jing, for example. It’s a very easy-to-digest way of giving a tutorial on some technical things, like setting up WordPress or doing something in Photoshop. Sometimes it’s much easier to do a screencast than explain such things via text content. Usually the same amount of information can be delivered in a five-minute screencast as in 3,000 words of text. And the problem of you being uncomfortable with being in front of a camera doesn’t apply here, so it’s actually easier to make.
49. Presentation video
This is basically a kind of screencast. But it’s made by first creating a PowerPoint presentation (of course, you can use other software too), then firing it up and recording everything while you talk the viewers through the presentation. It’s very easy to make and the results can be great due to some of the PowerPoint’s fancy features.
Nothing new here, except this time you’re not writing or recording audio, but shooting a video instead. Video interviews always look more professional because they have that TV-like feel to them.
51. How-to video
Shooting a how-to video is a good idea if you’re in a niche where it’s easier to actually show something than it is to describe it with words. The guitar niche is a great example. It’s much easier to show people how to play a specific chord than it is to describe this to them. The main problem here is that you have to be comfortable with being in front of a camera. If you’re nervous, people will notice.
Similar to teleseminars, webinars use video as the main medium. Other than that, the same rules apply.
The final advice I want to give you in this post is to recycle your content. Now, what do I mean by that? Whenever it’s possible and makes actual sense, try to take a piece of your content and repurpose it by turning it into a different medium.
For example, you can get your videos and mp3s transcribed and then share them as a regular blog post. You can also go the other way around: create an article first, then turn it into a script, and in the end shoot a video and upload it to your YouTube channel. Another idea is to take your email newsletter series, read every edition out loud and share the whole thing as an audio podcast on iTunes. I’m sure you get the idea by now. As you can see, the possibilities are endless.
What’s on your list? Do you have any interesting blog post type ideas you want to share? What’s your favorite type? Speak up in the comments: your input is more than welcome!
Karol K. (@carlosinho) is a 20-something year old web 2.0 entrepreneur from Poland and a grad student at the Silesian University of Technology. He hates to do traditional business but loves to train capoeira. Tune in to get his advice on blogging and starting an online business.