Stuck for an idea on your next post?
Believe me, I've been there. There's nothing more frustrating than knowing what to write about, but not how.
You've got all this research piled up on your desk. And you really know your topic. You've got quotes and examples and case studies and all that stuff.
In fact, you're probably on the borderline of information overload.
Here are some blog post styles that always get me going, and get the creative juices flowing again. Try tinkering around with them the next time you're stuck. See if they'll help you too.
Post Type #1 (and ½, too) – The List
People like lists.
My mom is a list fanatic. I can't count the number of "cool" lists she's sent me over the years. You know the kind: 15 things to do with baking soda that will astound your friends!
Some of them were pretty lame. But the fact remains that everybody loves lists. They're quick and easy to read . . . and to write.
I use two types of lists, and that's where the ½ post type comes in.
The potato chip list
If you love one-liners, this type is for you. This is what Mom sends me. The list is usually very long, sometimes 100 or more tips. One or two sentences are all that's devoted to each one.
I hate them.
I hate them because they're like potato chips; once I start reading them I can't stop.
On the plus side, they're pretty easy to write and you don't need to include a lot of supporting documentation.
The 5-course meal list
These are my meat-and-potatoes type of list posts. These lists have a little more meat on the bone, provide a bit more nourishment.
(In case you're wondering, it's close to dinnertime and Momma's cookin' in the kitchen. Sorry!)
Each list item is fleshed out with remarkable content, exciting statistics or supportive facts. They give the reader something to sink their teeth into. The short, documented list doesn't look or feel like a bunch of trivia strung together.
It's a veritable cornucopia of knowledge and wisdom.
This type of list may be the most popular, hands down. This morning I was perusing the MarketingProfs website and almost every other post was a list post like this.
Here's something interesting.
Maybe you've noticed this too; most lists have an odd number of tips. A lot of sales copy and speeches are intentionally written that way. The most popular are lists of either 3 or 7.
Or 5 and ½.
Look up "the rule of odds" in Google. Interesting reading! It works in art and graphics as well as writing.
I like writing this type of list post. Come to think of it, this post is one of them. Imagine that . . .
But there's another type of post that I like to write even more often.
Post Type #2 – The How-to Article
I love how-to articles.
I come from a service technician background and unlike many of my peers, I study manuals. I find troubleshooting and repair procedure sections fascinating reading.
People are intrigued about how things work and how to do things, even the mundane. And how-to posts satisfy their inborn curiosity, their need to know.
If you can tell them why as well, then you've set the hook for sure.
It's also the type you use to expose your trade secrets.
We posted an article on my wife's site (Zipper Replacement? Don’t Get Stuck) that explained how to change a broken zipper on a jacket . . . in detail.
But, Steve, won't people fix their own instead of hiring Mary?
Yes. Yes, they will. But even more will take one look and call her anyway. It's just too complicated for them.
Not only does this show her expertise, by the way; it also justifies her prices. Chew on that one for a while. (Still hungry, as you can tell. Wonder if dinner's ready yet . . .)
If your topic lends itself to instruction, by all means be a teacher.
Don't feel like a schoolmarm today? Then try this next one.
Post Type #3 – the "Late-breaking News Flash"
Got a topic that's on the cutting edge? This may be the post type for you. You probably read a ton of them in January. Articles like, "Content Strategies You Must Use to Succeed in 2014."
These posts add a sense of urgency – get on board now before it's too late!
You must work hard to make them relevant, not just at posting, but down the road as well. The "2014" articles lose a little power now that we're into February. Understand that this type often times out, and quickly.
One word of caution before we move on.
You've probably heard the term "newsjacking." Be careful when using current events to promote your product or service. Done right, they're powerful.
Done wrong, they can be in very bad taste and lose subscribers in a heartbeat.
Post Type #4 – the Pretty as a Picture Post
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the infographic. This is a great post time and very shareable. However, there are a few caveats.
First, you need to be a fairly decent designer, or know someone who is. I can draw a mean stick-figure, but nothing really suitable for framing.
Secondly, the copy must also fit in well with the graphics. This means that you need to work closely with the graphics designer to make sure it's not too busy and yet still complete.
Post Type #5 – The Fun Post
Does this really belong in a business blog?
Yes, as long as it's well-written and not overdone. After all, who doesn't like a good chuckle now and then?
And there's plenty of research around that says humor can make learning fun. If you're teaching your prospects about your service or product, make them grin occasionally.
The post shouldn't be a side-splitting, knee slapping joke fest. But if you can make your reader smile in the middle of a hectic day, you win.
Don't forget story posts. They're fun to write and read. Not only that, your human side is revealed and your readers will appreciate you as a person.
They'll remember you, guaranteed!
Got Your Idea Yet?
Hopefully these 5 and ½ post styles got you thinking. And there are several more you can pick out. Remember the 5-W questions: who, what, when, where and why? Another type reads like an FAQ. Choose a style, grab your headline to match and get busy writing!
That ought to get your creative juices flowing, which reminds me . . . is that the dinner bell I hear?
Download these 8 free blog post templates for more ways to kickstart your content marketing.
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