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social media how toNeed more blog post ideas?

Have you ever stared at your screen, unable to figure out what to write?

Are you wondering what type of content will best engage your audience?

In this article, I’ll share 12 types of blog posts that can help you kick blogger’s block to the curb and keep your readers coming back for more.

Why Create a Variety of Blogging Topics?

You have writer’s block, so why am I giving you a list of types of posts instead of topics? I’m not giving you a list. Well, I sort of am, but really I’m giving you the tools that will lead you to topics.

tool belt

Use a selection of tools to create valuable content for your audience. Image source: iStockphoto

Choosing from a proven set of blog post types can actually free your creativity and allow you to deliver valuable, engaging content to your ideal reader or customer.

When Batman needs to take out a threat to Gotham, he relies on a set number of bat-tools on his utility belt. When he chooses one, he uses it in a creative way to subdue some member of the rogues gallery. (OK, I’m a geek. So sue me.)

Likewise, you can improve your writing and deliver high-quality posts in less time by leveraging some popular post archetypes and customizing them with your own content and perspective.

Take a look at the list below and add these arrows to your blogging quiver.

#1: How-to’s and Tutorials

The how-to is the most powerful of all the blogging archetypes.

Think about it. Why do we go to the web? Sure, it could be because we want to find out the latest sports scores, catch up with old friends or visit IMDb to find out who that familiar actor was on last night’s Law & Order SVU.

But often it’s to learn how to accomplish something—change our oil, get debt under control, connect webmaster tools to Google Analytics, etc.

Your prospects and customers are the same. They have a problem, and you can help them solve it by creating a step-by-step post that walks them through a solution.

example of a how to blog post

How-to posts are the not-so-secret sauce of successful business blogs.

A lot of bloggers and business owners are afraid of the how-to post. They think, “If I show them how to do my job, why would they hire me?”

If a 500-word post or a 2-minute video can expose your entire business model, you might be in the wrong business.

How-to’s and tutorials establish your credibility and expertise. Even if a reader chooses to do it on her own, at least she knows about your business now. She may consider you for other opportunities down the road.

#2: Lists

List posts streamline information into a numbered list that’s easy for your readers to read, share and put into action. They speak to our desire to find the best information in the shortest amount of time.

example of a list blog post

List posts are attractive to readers because they offer the promise of the best results in less time.

Some bloggers hate list posts because they feel it’s been done to death, but there’s no denying it’s effective.

All you need to do is visit any newsstand and check out the cover stories of popular magazines: 10 Exercises for Tighter Abs, 101 Ways to Save for College or The 5 Best Family SUVs.

#3: Resources or Link Lists

Very similar to, if not overlapping with, the list post is the resource post. The difference is that resource posts curate other people’s content (albeit usually in a list format).

Resource and list posts are perfect if you’re just learning about a category. You’re probably gathering resources for yourself, so why not share them with your readers?

Don’t have the time to research? Resource posts are an easy type of post you can hand off to your intern or virtual assistant to do the research for you!

example of a resource blog post

Always consider adding your own blog or resource to any “best-of” list.

Alternatively, you could ask experts in your field for a tip, then curate those answers into a new blog post, like 29 Social Media Tools Recommended by the Pros or 13 Podcasting Tips From the Experts.

Many times when you share a list of tips from experts, they’ll promote your post for you.

#4: Cheat Sheets, Checklists and To-do’s

Often what your audience seeks from you is direction. If they have a question, they want someone to answer it—or at least get them on the right track.

While not too different from a how-to, these posts tend to focus on how to do something more efficiently and ensure nothing is forgotten.

example of a checklist blog post

Don’t forget to pack the kids!

As a bonus for your readers, you could add a printable PDF. It’s up to you whether you want to brand that PDF with your company information or put it behind an email registration.

#5: Reviews

There are two kinds of review posts: A straight review of a product or a compare-and-contrast of multiple related products.

Many blogs have made a business out of straight reviews of products and services. You can find review posts of books, software, local restaurants and everything in between.

example of a review blog post

Comparison posts can generate interest from people who will ultimately need your services.

I should tell you, though, that reviewing products regularly may get you free, unsolicited samples from people looking to get coverage in your blog, so be prepared for free gifts! (If you ever needed a reason to review bacon on your blog, I just gave it to you.)

As consumers, we rarely if ever have the time to fully test every product in a category ourselves, so we do research on the web. Offer a head-to-head comparison of products to drive a lot of traffic to your site.

In Social Media Examiner’s LinkedIn Networking Club, members are often asking each other if anyone has experience or advice on one piece of marketing software or another. It’s handy to be able to point someone to a direct comparison of a few tools.

#6: Controversial Posts

If you want interaction, take a controversial stance on a subject your audience is passionate about.

example of a controversial blog post

I really rumpled some feathers with this post. Kicker was that the post was at my responsive website!

One of the first posts I ever wrote for the Marketing Agents blog was the case against responsive web design, the popular approach to mobile-friendly design. To this day, it’s one of the most shared and commented-on posts I’ve ever written.

But I have to warn you, if you do write a controversial post, be prepared for some angry comments from the other side. If you don’t have thick skin or an excellent therapist, this post type may not be for you.

#7: Infographics

I can’t count the number of times an infographic has bailed me out of writer’s block. They’re easy to find and interesting to read.

You can find an infographic by searching on a certain topic, like “dog infographic” or “restaurant infographic.”

search results for restaurant infographic

Everyone loves a good infographic, and they’re so easy to find.

When you find one you like or you think will appeal to your readers, there’s usually some code that you use to easily embed it into your post. Then it’s just a matter of adding a paragraph or two to provide context for your readers.

People love sharing infographics and easy-to-digest statistics, so it’s a good bet they’ll share your post with their audience.

#8: Podcast Show Notes

The business case for podcasts has been made many times before and rightfully so. They’re a great way to build a passionate audience for your product or service.

example of podcast show notes blog post

Podcast show notes give your podcasts a wider reach.

As a bonus, behind every great podcast are the show notes, which you can publish as a blog post. You can use a full transcript of the show or just highlight the main themes.

Publishing podcast show notes not only gives additional information to your listeners, it introduces your podcast to your readers. It’s also the type of post you can easily outsource to a transcription service, virtual assistant or co-worker.

#9: Videos

If you’re creating videos and posting them to YouTube, that’s great! You’re taking advantage of the second-largest search engine, gaining access to over a billion people who watch YouTube videos every month and building rapport with the people who watch your video.

But why stop there? You can reap even bigger rewards by embedding your videos in an article on your own blog.

example of video blog post

I’ve got a face for radio, and a voice for newspapers.

Surround your video with related contextual copy, or just include a transcript of the video to create a valuable blog post. Either way, you’ll be getting more views for your video and increasing the time visitors spend on your blog.

#10: Interviews

Interviews are a great way take the pressure off of you to create content. Talk to industry leaders, satisfied customers or a random guy at the coffee shop to get a fresh perspective you can share with your audience.

example of blog interview post

Make sure you include notes or a transcript for audio and video interviews to improve your search engine visibility.

When you put your post together, you can provide the interview as text, audio or video, depending on which option best fits your (and your audience’s) needs.

And hey, your interviewee may choose to share the post with his or her audience once it goes live.

#11: Guest Posts

Getting outside experts to contribute to your blog gives you fresh content without having to write it all yourself. Sites like Social Media Examiner, Convince & Convert and Copyblogger have successfully used guest blogging to build massive audiences.

However, you can’t put your guest blogging program on autopilot. You’ll still need to set up editorial guidelines, vet the quality of the work and make sure each post is original.

example of guest blogging guidelines

Set high standards for your guest bloggers.

As you accept guest posts, keep in mind that often the guest blogger’s goal is to drive traffic from your site to theirs. But by regularly providing amazing, valuable content, your readers will keep coming back to your site for more.

#12: Blog Series

Sometimes an idea is just too big for a single post.

One way to maximize the impact of a “big idea” is to break it into parts. A series helps build anticipation for the next post and improves your SEO if you link from one post to the next in a natural, organic way.

example of blog series post

An example of 30 days of blogging goodness.

Is That Everything?

No, of course not. There are other types of posts. Case studies. Stats. Reports. Weekly or daily roundups. Breaking news. Personal stories. The list goes on, and each type probably has several subcategories.

The takeaway here is this: By understanding the main blog post archetypes, you can quickly move past blogger’s block and start creating valuable content for your audience.

So next time you have a juicy piece of valuable content you want to share with your audience, but you’re not sure how to begin, pull up this list of ideas and find the one that best fits your content and editorial goals.

It’ll be like having your own Bat utility belt, but for blogging.

What do you think? What’s your favorite type of blog post to write? Which type is most popular with your audience? Let us know in the comments below.

Image from iStockPhoto.
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