Once you’ve mastered a few basic types of blog posts, it’s easy to get stuck producing the same type of content day after day and week after week.
It’s a great idea to occasionally throw in something a bit different.
Here are eight fantastic structures you can use to craft attention-grabbing blog posts (and to stand out from fellow bloggers in your field). Why not pick one to try this week?
Although this format might sound similar to a “how to” post, it won’t necessarily result in a step-by-step guide. Rather than giving instructions, you’re giving your personal experience – and readers will often be fascinated to read exactly how you accomplished something that they’re keen to try.
Tip: Make sure you put plenty of weight on the “how you can too” side of this post, even if you don’t include that wording in the title. Give your readers specific action points (or advice on what not to do!)
Whatever your businesses is, there’s a good chance that newcomers will have some basic questions that they want answered, or specialist terms that they want defined. By answering these, you can pick up on search engine traffic and give your readers the basics that they need in order to get more from your blog (and buy from your business).
Tip: This type of post needn’t be long – in fact, it will probably be more effective if you keep it quite concise and straightforward. If you feel that readers will benefit from extra information, consider writing follow-up posts and linking to them.
This type of post hardly needs any structure at all: it’s just an introduction, with the main body of the post in the comments. You post a topic for conversation or debate and encourage readers to leave their responses. As well as being great for building your community, this is a good way to find out more about your readers – helping you craft great posts (and offers) in the future.
Tip: Although this might sound like an easy option if you don’t have time to write, you will need to put aside time to read and reply to lots of comments…
This type of post can follow a conventional structure (a list post often works well) – but it has a crucial twist. Instead of giving “do this” advice, you’re writing a post that points out mistakes or tells people what not to do. It’s a tongue-in-cheek way to make readers think – and it can give you a great angle on a done-to-death topic.
Tip: If you’re giving “anti-advice”, like in the example from Dumb Little Man below, make the humour very clear – without tone of voice and body language clues, readers may be confused.
Readers like posts that they can use – and structuring your post as a checklist makes it very easy for them to take action on your great advice. A checklist should help them out with a specific task, and could cover anything from “essentials for starting university” to “optimising a web page”.
Tip: If you can manage it in your blog software, put little tick boxes alongside each item on the checklist – it’s a small thing, but it does help make it look like more than just another list post.
A case study is a little like a “how I…” post – but it normally focuses on a business rather than an individual, and it probably won’t be about your business. You might choose to write about a prominent company in your industry, or you could write about one of your clients (with a particular eye to how your company has helped them).
Tip: Go into detail where it’s needed, but try not to get bogged down in too much information at the expense of giving the reader actionable ideas. You may want to have a section at the end of your case study to show what they might be able to apply to their own life / business.
This is sometimes called a “one question interview” format: you round up a bunch of experts in your field, and ask them to respond to one question (or several quick questions). You then collate these responses into a single post, offering a great range of viewpoints on that particular issue. If you’re new to blogging, or if you’re very busy, you could use existing material (e.g. quotes) on a topic.
Tip: Make sure you allow plenty of time for busy experts to get back to you – and approach, ideally, twice as many people as you need; not all will respond.
This type of post can be very popular with readers: it acts like a mini online course to help them achieve something sizeable (going well beyond the scope of a typical “how-to” post). It can range from a single post with a timetable of actions to a month-long series.
Tip: You don’t have to use 30 days – 31, 7, 14, or 365 (!) are all other good options.
Which of these structures will you be trying out this week? (Or have you come up with a whole new idea for a great blog post structure?) Let us know in the comments!