How to Create Killer Filler Content for Your Blog
This week I’m sharing a list of content filler types you can use for your blog. And they don’t take a lot of effort or time to create.
If you’re struggling to create thoughtful, original long-form content, these will help fill some of the gaps.
Here’s how to create killer filler content and add value to both your blog and your readers.
- Reader Discussions: Ask a question to generate a debate/community workshop
- Polls: Increase reader engagement and start a good discussion with a question
- Homework/Challenges: Specify a topic, and give readers an assignment
- Link Posts: Link to another blog/article (or include a list of links) to build relationships and find out what others are thinking
- Best Of/Archive Posts: Post useful posts new readers have never seen
- Guest Posts/Regular Contributors: Include posts written by others, or find a regular writer to do a semi-regular post
- Embeddable Content: Use photos, cartoons, or go to YouTube; search keywords related to your blog topic, and find a high-value video that helps your readers
- Interviews: Find interesting experts, and ask them questions to help your readers
- Answer Question: Address questions from readers and beginners (but make the answers short and sweet)
These posts are a little less labor intensive to create, but still serve a purpose for your readers.
The key is to experiment. Which get positive reactions? Evolve them into something you can add on a regular basis to your blog.
But remember, don’t publish ‘filler content’ just for the sake of posting.
Quote of the Week: “If you treat every situation as a life-and-death matter, you’ll die a lot of times.” – Dean Smith
Links and Resources for 9 Types of Killer Filler Content that are Easy to Create:
- Deadlines – Are They Good or Bad for Your Blogging?
- 6 Places to Find Writers to Hire for Your Blog
- How to Use Embedded Content on Your Blog
Examples of 9 Types of Killer Filler Content that are Easy to Create
- Are You a Binge Photographer or a Snack Photographer?
- Help this Locationally Challenged Photographer Improve Her Portraiture
- What Mode Do You Shoot in Most?
- Photographer in the Picture
- 18 [+7] Great Photography Links from Around the Web
- One Year Ago on Lifehacker
- How to Create Impossible Images
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Hello. It’s Darren from ProBlogger here. Welcome to episode 250. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job board, series of ebooks, and courses all designed to help you as a blogger to grow your blog, to build that audience, to create great content, and to build profit around your blog. You can learn more about what we do at problogger.com.
In today’s episode, I want to suggest to you a list of types of content that you can use on your blog and potentially in other mediums as well that don’t take a massive amount of time to create. This episode does build upon what I talked about in the last episode– episode 249–where I was talking about deadlines, schedules, and editorial calendars.
In that episode, we heard a question from a blogger who was finding it difficult to keep up with the schedule. That actually found having a deadline each week, having that schedule was limiting and they decided to slow down and only post when they had something to say, which I agreed with on some levels, but I did mention that there was a danger associated with that.
One of the dangers is that you can slow down so much that you don’t publish anything at all. I suggested last episode that there might be some ways of creating content that don’t take a lot of effort, that still serve your readers, and keep the publishing of content ticking over.
I jokingly call this kind of content, filler content. But it’s not really filler content because filler content does have this light and fluffy feeling to it. We want the content to be killer filler content. We want it to be relatively easy to create, but also adding value to your readers and to your blog.
Today, I want to suggest nine types of killer filler content for your blog. Before I do, this is episode 250, which feels a little momentous. It’s a bit of a milestone, so I do want to pause for a moment and given the fact that I really didn’t know if this podcast was going to have more than 31 episodes, it’s a bit of a milestone. I’m kind of proud to get to this point, but I also really am very aware that it only has happened because of you. I did want to stop and thank you today as a listener.
I just checked our stats. We’re approaching four million downloads. Probably, we will hit that in the next couple of months and that blows my mind. It’s been three years of creating content. The fact that almost four million people have tuned in at some point or another is fantastic.
I’m really aware that a number like that sounds a lot, but what really strikes me is that, that represents a lot of people like you taking time out of their day every week to spend a little bit of time with me.
I hear from a lot of you that you enjoy our weekly chats and that sometimes you hear things on this podcast that help you to grow your blog. That’s really exciting for me, so I just wanted to pause, take a moment today, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to hang out with you each week, and to contribute to your week and your blogging in some small way.
I love these times, even though I don’t get to hear your voices, but I look forward to the chats that we have and I look forward to hearing the stories that come out of this as well. So, thank you.
You can find today’s show notes, which will have a transcript of today’s show at problogger.com/podcast/250.
Today’s topic—let’s get to that now—is how to create these killer filler content for your blog. I do want to really emphasize today that you probably should never really be publishing filler content. You don’t want to just post for the sake of posting.
Every time you publishing something you have an opportunity to add value to your readers to build your brand in some way. I do want you to keep in the front of your mind that as I go through this list of types of filler content, that they can each be used in good ways, but also in bad ways. They can actually all be used in ways that can add value into the lives of your readers and build your brand, but they can also be used in bad ways.
If you just get into a routine of publishing filler content that doesn’t add value, really what you’re doing is destroying your brand, frustrating your readers, and not really helping you to build anything, so keep that in the front of your mind.
I should also say that I think this type of content that I’m going to share today, you could fill your whole blog up with this, but really, I want to share these ideas to go in between your other content–the deeper, more thoughtful, the original ideas that you have, I think the more of that kind of deeper, longer-form perhaps content, original thought that you can bring to your blog, the better. Really, what I’m describing today are things that can go around that and can add value to that in some ways as well.
Let me go through these nine different types of content and then I’ll wrap it up at the end. Number one is something that we’ve been doing on digital photography school and ProBlogger, really since the beginning of both of those sites on a semi-regular basis. We don’t do this every week, we don’t even do it every month. But every month or two, we would do these types of post and it is the reader discussion.
There’s a number of ways you could do this. One way is to issue your readers with a question that they can go away and discuss. The question on ProBlogger might be, “Tell us about the most successful way that you’ve driven traffic to your blog. It’s a nominated topic, it’s a nominated question, it opens a discussion, and that maybe all the content that you have. You may write just a paragraph asking the question and then throw it open to your audience.
Another way you can do it is set up a debate. You might say, “Here’s two approaches–which one do you agree with?” In digital photography school, we have from time-to-time done debates like, “Zoom lenses versus prime lenses? Prime lenses are lenses that don’t zoom. Which one do you prefer?” We just open that up as a discussion and we know that there are fans of zoom lenses, there are fans of prime lenses, there are fans of people who like to do both, a discussion will open up as a result of that. This is where you open up a debate or you give two alternatives.
Another thing that you can do is to ask people to share their stories. You might ask them to share examples of something that you’ve written about previously. You may have written a post, your longer, more thoughtful post earlier in the week. You might publish one on Monday and it might be on that topic of zoom versus prime lenses. You talk about the pros and cons and then on Wednesday you might do a follow-up post that opens up the discussion. You link from one to the others. This, we find, works quite well on digital photography school where we have a tutorial and then we have a discussion.
Whilst we could do those two things into one post and sometimes that works, what we find is that we get more comments if we do a separate post later in the week that links to the first, because people have had time to digest that tutorial that we have already published and then I can have a discussion about it later. It also give us a second chance to promote the original content that we published earlier in the week.
Discussion posts can be really good. The other bonus about having a discussion post is that you get inspired, you get questions, you get ideas from the discussion that you could then write about later. I quite often find our discussion posts stimulate an idea for me for a follow-up post, which again gives you an opportunity to link back to that discussion, creates more page views on your blog, and it highlights the fact that you got discussion on your blog. Discussions can be great for that. The only thing that you really want to pay attention to is making sure that discussion is relevant to your overall topic of your blog.
Number one, discussions. Number two is similar in some ways and that is where you could run a poll. It’s so easy to run a poll on your blog. There are plenty of tools around. There’s lots of WordPress plugins if you’re a WordPress user. There are other poll tools around that allow you to embed polls onto your blog. This again gives you the opportunity to ask your readers a question, and then you can see the results of that. They don’t even have to leave a comment to respond to that.
This is something that we used to do every week on digital photography school. We certainly slowed down on the amount of polls that we do these days, but one of the bonuses of doing polls is that they actually give you a result as well. You can do a follow-up post about the result of the poll. Typically what we do is ask a question of our readers of this or that type question or give them three or four alternatives, and then, a week or two later we would look at the results of that and we would write a post sharing the results. Drawing people’s attention back to that poll, we create a chart, show them the results, talk about why maybe the results happened and maybe give them some further reading as well.
This idea of taking the results of the poll or taking the discussion that’s already had and creating new content about that is how this content creates even more content for you and I love that. A reader discussion, for example. You could take some quotes from your readers and then put them into a new blog post later on, again adding some of your own thoughts which your readers will love because you’re featuring their ideas in your main content.
Number one was reader discussions. Number two was polls. Number three is something that we still do every week on digital photography school and we do it from time-to-time on ProBlogger, and that is to give your readers a little bit of homework or a challenge to do.
This is one of the most popular posts that we do on digital photography school every week. My editor will name a theme or a topic and then our readers go away and take a photo on that theme before coming back and sharing the image that they take in the comments of our blog.
This, we call it our weekly challenge, it’s a little assignment. Some of our readers, actually the whole week revolves around this challenge. We typically will write a tutorial on the topic of the challenge. We might write a tutorial on shooting with long shutter speeds and then we might have a discussion later in the week on that topic, then later in the week again we give our readers a challenge to take a photo with a long shutter speed.
The beauty of this—I’ve talked about this in the past—is that we’re giving our readers information in the tutorial, and then we are giving them an opportunity to discuss, to have some interaction with that topic, and then we give them an invitation to actually implement what they’re learning, get them out and applying the information that they’ve learned.
This information, the interaction, and getting them to do something with it not only gives us three pieces content in a week instead of one. It actually challenges our readers to do what we’re teaching them.
So, if you have a how-to blog, this is a great little model that you could very easily implement into your blog, that takes you posting from once a week to three times a week very, very easily. Homework challenge is the third type.
The fourth type is something that we used to do all the time on blogs back in the day. The link post was so popular. A few years back, this was what everyone did on their blogs, almost every post. I actually looked back on my very first blog recently. I looked up on the Wayback Machine and I was amazed that always every post I wrote out of the first few months was me linking to something else and then making comment about that. I would link to a blog post that I’d read and then I would add my thoughts. I would talk about what I agreed with, what I disagreed with, and tell my readers why they should read that link, that was almost every post I did.
It’s the kind of thing that we do today on social media, but why not go back to that and do that on your blog from time to time? It’s relatively easy to create that type of content. There’s a number of ways that a link post you might put it together. One, as I just described, you linking to another blog or an article and then adding a few of your own thoughts to it. I think it is important that you add something original to it, that you give your readers a little bit of context as to why you are linking to that post.
The other way that you can do is to create a series of links. It’s almost like a compilation of things to read for your readers. We used to do this even a year or two ago on ProBlogger once a week. Our editor at the time, Stacy, would put together I think about six or seven links from around the web that she’d found interesting that have been published over the last week. We might link to Social Media Examiner, to Moz, and other blogs like Copyblogger who had published new things over the last that we found interesting.
Stacy would pull together those links into a list and then she would write a short paragraph, a few sentences about each one. It took a little bit of work to do, but it wasn’t her having to come up with lots of ideas and it was a much easier piece of content to create each week.
The other way you could do it is instead of publishing a list of new content that you’d found over the last week, you could choose seven links that all relate to a particular topic. You might do a bit of a search around for a topic that you cover on your blog that gives seven other people’s opinions on the topic. You might have a short quote from each those and then link for further reading.
These types of content might sound a little bit lighter than some of the stuff that you do, but what I found is that our readers really love these types of content because it gets other people’s voices onto your blog, other ideas onto your blog. It can add in some really interesting ideas into your content as well.
They’re also really good at building relationships with other people on the web in your niche as well. When you are linking to other people, you’ll find from time to time that they will notice those links and they might even reach out to you as well. Sometimes, actually share that content.
We had a post on digital photography school a few years ago, which was 18 Great Photography Links From Around The Web. It was just 18 links that I’d found that week. That post went viral. It was just a list of links with a sentence or two about each one and it got hundreds of thousands of views that particular week. These types of posts can do quite well. They also keep you in touch with what other people are writing about, and thinking and learning in your niche, which can be good for you and can stimulate further ideas for you to create content.
You can see a theme here. Most of these things not only adds some new content onto your blog. They not only serve your readers in a new way, but they can actually inspire you if you’ve got a bit of writer’s block or if you are searching for things to write about, struggling to come up with new ideas, that can sometimes stimulate that.
A fifth type of killer filler content that you can create is similar to the link post in some ways, but this is where you create a link post of content in your own archives. This is going to be particularly useful for any of you who have been blogging for a year, or two, or three and you’ve probably got those archives that most of your readers do not know about because they’re new readers and they haven’t seen the old content in your archives, or maybe they’ve forgotten about it.
If you got evergreen content in your archives, it is useful every now and again to bring it to the attention of your readers. A post that you might do from time to time is a ‘best of’ post. “Here is the best post from our category on digital photography school.” It might be our portraits category or “Here’s five articles that you may not have read from our landscapes category.” Actually resurfacing that content, highlighting it again. Now you wouldn’t want to do this every single post, but once a month you might add this into your content schedule.
There’s a blog called Lifehacker that I used to read a lot. I assume it’s still around today. I don’t read it so much anymore. They used to do this post which, once a week, they would do a post, ‘One year ago on Lifehacker.’ It was basically them looking at what they published one year ago and then relinking to anything that was still relevant today. It became this weekly thing that people looked forward to. It enabled them to explore the recent history of the archives of that post. That’s the fifth type of killer filler content.
Number six is guest post or other regular contributors. I’m not going to talk in great deal about this because just a couple of episodes ago in episode 248, I talked about how to find new writers for your blog and we touched on this again.
Obviously, one way to create content for your blog that doesn’t take you a lot of work is to have someone else write it for you, either as guest or as a hired writer.
Now, I do need to emphasize that this does still take some work because you need to have some editorial control over that. You want to proofread it, you want to make sure that it is written with sound advice and it fits with the overall ethos of your blog, but I think it is one way to lighten the load because you don’t have to come up with the idea for that content. You don’t have to come up with the original thought for that. You just need to put on your editor hat to make sure it is of a high-enough quality. That’s the sixth way of creating some extra content on your blog.
Number seven is embeddable content. I hinted at this one last week’s episode because it’s something that I still do to this day. On digital photography school, we have one post every week that is us highlight and embedding a video that we found on YouTube that someone else has created on the topic of photography and a different aspect of photography.
Our editor does a bit of a search on YouTube to find the best video on a topic that she wants to cover, then she writes a paragraph or two introducing that topic, talking about it from her perspective, linking to anything we’ve written on that topic before, and then she embeds that YouTube video into the post. These posts do really well.
Sometimes actually, some of the best posts that we do in terms of traffic, which feels a bit awkward in some ways because we didn’t create the bulk of the content, but our readers love them. We don’t normally do video. They allow us to create content on topics that maybe a fringy topic that we don’t have expertise in.
They also build relationships with the video creators as well. The video creators get views out of these. They are able to monetize those views if they’re running ads on their site. They help to build their profile.
We get a lot of video creators actually pitching us and saying, “Hey, why don’t you feature our video?” They’re actually bringing value to our readers, they’re bringing value to the video creators, but also, they’re bringing value to our site as well because they’re adding a different voice and different expertise into the site.
It’s so easy to do. Head over to YouTube and just do a search for keywords relating to your topic. Make sure the videos are relevant, that they’re high quality, that they add something to your blog that they’re going to benefit your readers in some way, then embed that into a post. Add some of your own thoughts around it, of course, link to anything that is relevant to that so you might get the second page view in some way, and this can do very well on your blog. We do this every week. We do one post a week in our schedule using curated content.
Now of course, videos are just one type of thing that you can embed on to your site. Embeddable content comes in so many different forms. Back in episode 152, I did a whole episode on the topic of ‘finding embeddable content to use on your site.’ You can use SlideShares, other people’s slide presentations. You can embed those onto your site. You’d be amazed on SlideShare the topics that are covered.
You can do almost any social media update that you can find, yours or other people’s. You can embed someone’s tweets, their Facebook post, their Facebook videos, the live videos that they’ve done. Pinterest bookmarks, Instagram, you can take all of that content and use it on your blog within the terms and conditions of those social networks.
You can embed audio files. I think, the site Anchor still allows you to do that. You can go to sites like Andertoons and embed cartoons. Videos of other people’s livestreams from Facebook or Periscope. Photos from sites like 500px and Flickr–animated GIFs, infographics–there are sites around that allow you to embed content onto your blog.
There’s an amazing amount of great content on the web that people want you to share on your blog. You don’t get into trouble with copyright around this because they actually have enabled embedding of their content onto your site.
This maybe one thing you can do on your blog, you might want to do it every now and again. You may actually want to link this up with the link post that you do so you might want to share a couple of links each week, maybe YouTube video that you found, maybe a few tweets or other social media updates and that could become a curated piece of content that you feature on your blog.
Again, you’ll find that these sparks ideas for your own writing and content creation as well. It could also be a good follow-up piece of content if you’ve written an article early in the week, you might then find someone else’s perspective on YouTube on that particular topic as well.
Number eight type of killer filler content is interviews. This one does take a little bit more work than some of the other ideas that I’ve listed, but interviewing someone in your niche can be a great way of creating content without a ton of work. The hardest part is finding someone with expertise in your area who’s got the time to be interviewed and then constructing some questions that are going to be interesting enough to put to them and also your readers.
Again, this can be done in a variety of ways. You might choose to do an audio recording of an interview. You might want to do a Skype call where you record that audio or even the video as well, or you might want to send the questions via email as well and then take the written answers and put them into a blog post as well.
Again, it takes some work to do this. It takes a little while to get used to it, but it’s the type of content that your readers love. On this podcast, some of the most popular episodes I’ve ever done have been interviews. Again, they mean that I don’t have to come up with the ideas for the show. I just have to come up with the questions to ask, which is a skill in and of itself, but it uses a different part of my brain. I find it refreshing to switch into an interview every now and again.
The last type of killer filler content that I want to add into today’s show is I guess a flip side of an interview. It is you asking yourself a question or letting your readers ask you a question, then creating some content around that. Actually, answering a question that a reader might have or that someone who’s a beginner in your topic might have.
I’m aware that some of you may not have enough readers to be getting questions in yet, but you certainly would be able to answer some questions that your potential reader might have coming up with those questions for yourself.
Pat Flynn has built a whole podcast around this with his AskPat Podcast. If you’re not familiar with it, he—until recently, I think it was late last year, he posted five podcasts a week answering a reader question. His podcast were very short. They were four or five minutes, some of them, as much as maybe 10 minutes at the most. He kept his answers short and sweet. The expectation with his listeners was that they weren’t long episodes, and then he would take a question and answer it off the top of his head on the fly.
You could do that as a podcast. You could also do that as a live video, taking questions and answers. You could do it as a recorded video or you could it as a blog post as well. In fact, I did this a few years ago on ProBlogger. I think I was going away for a week and I was like, “Oh, what am I going to publish while I’m away?” What I did was wrote a post saying, “Hey, if you’ve got any question for me, I want to answer them.”
I took those questions and I limited myself to 10 minutes to answer the question. I wrote that in the introduction of the post, these are quickfire questions and answers, and I’m going to limit myself. These are short posts. My readers again weren’t expecting lots of deep analysis in the answers. Just was just me answering the question, limiting myself to 10 minutes. That went across really well.
Our readers really enjoyed them because they were short posts. They didn’t have to spend 15 minutes reading the content. I have to link to further reading in them as well, which drove people deeper into the site. Again, it’s a relatively easy thing to do. It does take some effort, but it’s less effort than writing a really long article every week.
Now, I’m aware that with these nine types of killer filler content, that I’m scratching the surface. Other ideas have are already being coming as I’ve been talking to you today. The key is to experiment, to test what types of posts get positive reactions from your readers, what types of posts are actually easy for you. You might actually find some of these quite difficult because your brain is wired a different way to mine.
The other thing I’ll say is that these types of posts, sometimes the first time you do it, they take a little bit of effort, but over time they become easier to do, and you might find it become very quick for you to do.
The other thing I wanted to add in is that it’s really the combination of these types of posts in combination with your longer, more thoughtful content that you do as well that really matters. I encourage you to think about the flow of your content. I’ve mentioned a few times here that you can use this type of content in conjunction with your other content on your blog.
Let me give you an example of what a week of content using this kind of flow might look like. On a Monday you might publish your main piece of content for the week. This might be a longer, more thoughtful article that you’ve written on a topic, it might be a how-to piece of content, something that might be three or four thousand words. It’s the main piece of content for the week. That’s Monday.
Tuesday, you might do an embeddable piece of content that is on the same topic. “Here’s a video of someone else exploring this same topic.” They’ve got some different perspectives. Maybe they’ve got the opposite perspective, maybe they got the same perspective, so you’ve got an embeddable piece of content. Tuesday is the embeddable.
Wednesday might be your reader discussion. This is where you open it up to your readers. “What do you think about this? Now, you’ve seen my opinion, you’ve have seen someone else’s. What do you think about this? Where do you stand with this topic?” You come up with a question that builds upon that in some way. That was Wednesday.
Thursday might be your challenge post. This is where you challenge your readers to get out there and to do something that you’ve taught them to do earlier in the week.
Friday might be an interview. Maybe it relates to the topic again of the week or maybe it’s something else completely.
Saturday might be a link roundup. Again, you could tie that into the theme of the week. All of these posts could be related or you could just mix it up and just do other links that you found.
Sunday might be a day off or you might choose to do a quick answer of a reader. Maybe it’s a question that’s come up during the week that you then do an answer of.
Now that’s seven pieces of content, with one longer, thoughtful piece of content and then all of the others are centered around that. It brings other perspectives into your site, it gets your readers engaged in your topic, it gets your readers taking action on the thing that you taught them that week.
Hopefully, somewhere in the midst of that is something that’s going to help you to create maybe a little bit more content while you give yourself space to write some of these longer form content as well.
I should really say that seven posts a week is possibly too much. I just gave you that example as how you could do it if you did want to do daily posting, but you may choose to do that same rhythm over a month or over a couple of weeks, still taking out content every three or four days along that kind of a structure.
I hope that somewhere in the midst of that is something of value to you. I’d love to hear if anything has sparked as a result of the ideas that I’ve shared today. Maybe there’s a new topic content you want to have a play around it.
Just because you do it once doesn’t mean you have to do it forever. Just throw it into the mix. See what happens for you and your energy, but also see what happens with your readers. You might just find something new that you could repeat into the future.
This week’s quote of the week comes from Dean Smith who said, “If you treat every situation as a life-and-death matter, you’ll die a lot of times.” I guess my thought on this quote today is we do give a lot of thought to these things and we stew over, should I publish daily? Or should I publish five times a week? Or should I publish this type of content? Or should I publish that type of content?
I do think it’s important to give consideration to this. It is important to your blog, but it’s not a life-or-death matter. Be a little bit playful with it, mix it up, try new things, and see what happens. The worst thing that can happen is the post might fall flat. It may not hit the mark and that can be just a hint that you don’t do that again and then you can move on to try something else. Hope that fits with you.
You can find today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/250 where I will include a little bit of further listening for you of some of the podcast episodes that I have mentioned today.
Thanks so much for listening, helping us to get to 250 episodes. It means a lot to me that you’ve been with us this long. If you have a moment I would love to get your reviews of this podcast on iTunes or wherever else you listen to this podcast. It means a lot to me to read those. I get an email every week letting me know when people have left a review.
Thanks so much to those of you who have, and if you’ve got a moment to leave a review and a rating, that helps me a lot. Thanks for listening. I’ll chat with you next week on the ProBlogger Podcast.
Before I go, I want to give a big shout out and say thank you to Craig Hewitt and the team at Podcast Motor who have been editing all of our podcasts for some time now. Podcast motor has a great range of services for podcasters at all levels, making help you to set up your podcast, but also a couple of excellent services to help you to edit your shows and get them up with great show notes. Check them out at podcastmotor.com.
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