In our last article we discussed how to put together a blog post, from researching right through to editing, proofreading and publishing. The first stage dealt with choosing a structure. In this post we give you ten blog formulas that will help you compose your piece, vary your content and will also ensure you can generate ideas at short notice.
A round up article is a time-bound selection of items to do with a given topic. For example, if your blog focuses on sport, you can do a summary of all the latest sporting highlights in the news. In this case, you could divide your piece into sections such as “Premier League”, “Champions League”, “UEFA Cup” etc. Roundups relate to fresh industry insights, so focus on things that are happening now.
Listicles usually have a number in the title, such as “Top 10 Movies to Look Out for in 2018” or “15 Little Known Ways to Save Electricity.”
True to its name, the listicle is a mix between a list and an article. It is a very straightforward structure, and is popular with many readers due to the fact that it breaks down an otherwise wordy piece into bite size chunks. This post is an example of a listicle.
Q & A Pieces
Think of a series of problems or questions you often get asked in your line of business. As well as adding them to the generic “FAQ” page on your site, why not gather up a selection of questions that relate to a theme and make them into a post? Or when targeting potential customers, anticipate some of the questions they might ask about your industry. The fact that you have an answer to their queries before they have to ask shows you have got their interests at heart, so they will feel more confident about doing business with you.
People are interested in people. Success stories inspire and motivate. We love to hear lessons from those who have “made it”. You may not be fortunate enough to have crossed paths with any A-listers recently, but if you think closer to home in your “community” then you will be able to find someone whose story will pique the interest of your customers. This could be an influencer in your field, or a person who has achieved something remarkable that your customers would love to emulate.
Once you have found the protagonist for your piece, ask them a series of questions and write down their answers. No time for transcribing? Send them the questions by email, or better still, why not create a video?
How To Articles/Tutorials
The possibilities are endless for tutorials. Show people creative ways to use your product. If you are a personal trainer, offer articles describing workouts with illustrations or a short video. If you sell makeup, give readers examples of the best ways to apply the latest colour range. As a product retailer, you should ensure people can use your wares easily and effectively. As a service provider, entice people with a small taster of what you can do for them. Use this blog formula to build trust and make leads want to know more.
Tips & Tricks
Tips articles are a combination of a tutorial and a listicle. They don’t require as many creative assets as a “how-to” piece and don’t go as in depth; however they are still a very useful introduction to your company. As tips posts can be more generic with their content than a tutorial, you can appeal to a wider audience.
Break your article down into 5-10 pieces of advice on your chosen theme and ensure the copy is light and entertaining. Like the “how-to” guide, tips articles show your knowledge and therefore build consumer confidence.
Perfect for retail during a calendar event like Mother’s Day or Christmas, a gift guide allows you to promote your products in a way that is informative and often sought-after. You can create a series of blog posts focusing on different family members, each one with a selection of ideal gifts in your range.
As there is so much emotion attached to present-buying and a fear of getting it wrong, website visitors and social media users are often happy to have a helping hand, so make sure you don’t neglect this formula if you have gifts to sell.
This is not a very common format and will not be relevant for many businesses, but can often provide humour or a sense of irony. Often the aim here is not to sell; it is mainly for entertainment purposes or highlighting an important point.
Write a letter to a fictional character that could make good use of your product (think of a better security system for Paddington Bear, perhaps). If you are a life coach, then write to your younger self with lessons you have learnt along the way. Or if you feel daring and there is someone in the news you disagree with strongly, write a piece that challenges them.
Just as with an interview, people are curious and will generally be interested to know what goes on in other people’s work lives. Perhaps you could ask someone on your team to try out a product you sell at home and relay their experience on your blog, or find someone in the company to write about a typical day in their role. You could even create content documenting your product’s journey from manufacture to the shelf. Food and drinks merchants or restaurateurs can use this technique to talk about the provenance of their ingredients.
Review an event that you have attended, for example a conference in your industry. Write about what you found useful or not so useful, what lessons you picked up, and what you think could be improved.
If you were hosting the event yourself, then write about that. Document the pitfalls you encountered and the lessons you learnt from running the event. Take the opportunity to interview guests and create some video footage.
Formulas help you save time working out a structure so you can concentrate on producing quality content.
This is not an exhaustive list of formats, but is intended to give you food for thought. By trying them out, you will begin to find your own preferences. If you write down at least one idea for each formula, and aim to publish one a week, you will soon have the basis for a two-month content plan.