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by Tom Howlett on 7th September 2012
Blogging is huge nowadays; think of a topic, no matter how niche or random, and there’s a good chance that you will be able to find a related Blog. So why do people Blog? You can find a great variety in the types of Blog around and the types of blogger behind them. There are individuals that write about their life or hobbies as well as businesses blogging about their industry. They are either blogging for pleasure, to further their public profile or just to make a little money.
For each and every Blog, there is a different reason behind it. Bloggers continue to produce content because they get something from it (satisfaction, brand benefit or maybe a financial reward). There is however a trend in the different types of Blog post you tend to see – regardless of the subject. Is there a strategy behind this? Are there benefits to creating these types of post? This is what I will be taking a look at throughout this post.
The purpose of Blogging
Firstly I want to briefly touch on the purpose of Blogging from the reader’s point of view; what makes someone want to read a Blog? Generally someone will subscribe or regularly visit a Blog if they publish posts of interest, posts that are entertaining or educational. This often depends on an individual’s own interests.
Aside from regular visitors, Blogs also receive traffic from individuals who have found a particular post, possibly through organic search, social shares or a referral. They will often browse that post and maybe a few others on the site and leave.
The Blogger will want to satisfy both these visitors and likely want to convert each into a regular visitor or subscriber. In order to do this, the Blogger may choose to offer the visitor something familiar; something they probably expect to see when viewing a Blog for the first time and they may carry this thinking across when creating their posts.
A Blog may concentrate on a specific topic, but creating a variety in the type of post will keep people interested. This creates trends right across the blogosphere, with individuals creating content that is either stylistically similar or focus on a similar subject matter.
So what are these common types of posts? I have included a list below, although there may be a few missing.
Found on many different types of Blogs, but most often related to those associated with hobbies or interests; these offer a guide on a certain topic and are designed to provide readers with useful advice. This could be a destination guide on a travel website, or a beginners guide to SEO for example.
This type of post is often found on sites that are dedicated to teaching – one example would be a graphic design Blog that creates regular Photoshop tutorials. They can often spring up on other Blogs and usually offer the reader answers to common problems, or ways in which something can be achieved.
The Opinion Post
Another common post type is the opinion post, which is usually created around a commonly discussed topic or recent happenings within the industry, however this is centred on the author’s opinion.
The interview is quite common and involves the author interviewing a well-known figure or someone of interest within the industry or community. This has evolved from the interviews that you typically find in print media and magazines.
Reviews aim to take something the audience of the Blog are familiar with or have heard of and provide a balanced opinion it, drawing their own conclusions.
The Infographic post has been growing in popularity recently. The Blog either creates an Infographic themselves or republishes and comments on an existing graphic. They make for interesting browsing and capture the attention of the reader by presenting data in a visual format.
A video post is not too dissimilar to other posts mentioned above but in video form. Blogs tend to also create a post surrounding the video and is another way of reaching an audience.
The Case Study
Case studies make interesting reading and are equally applicable to many different industries. This can include case studies of success and occasionally failure.
The News Related Post
This is a post that talks about recent news and happenings within the industry or around the world. Quite often a Blog can take a popular news story and create a post with their own opinion on the matter or add further insight.
The roundup is simply a collection of interesting or popular posts from the Blog or happenings within the industry.
Lists are quite common; this can encompass a number of things related to that Blog. For example they can include a list of other Blogs to follow in the industry, things to do in a particular city or events that are taking place within a period of time. A list can be created from many different elements and they are fairly quick to put together which may explain why they are popular.
A showcase can include a variety of different elements, most commonly these are associated with design, fashion or art Blogs; this allows the owner to highlight their own work or that of others that they admire. These tend to be visual; however, there may be occasions where other elements are showcased, including comedy or poetry where the content is largely text-based.
The Promotional Post
The promotional post is quite often a type of post you will find on a business Blog. Along with publishing other useful posts and gaining a following, they will also allow you to promote a new product, service or maybe a new venture. These typically cannot be forced and are often written following a newsworthy happening within the company or to the individual.
The Controversial Post
The controversial post is another example that is becoming more and more popular and is often used as a strategy to create ‘link bait’. These can incorporate a number of posts mentioned above and aims to take a controversial slant on a topic.
The Guest Post
Guest posting has been all the rage recently – this is where someone will write a post for another Blog in return for some self-promotion or a link. Whether or not this proves to be a quality link building tactic long into the future, there is no question that it helps improve an individual’s presence within the industry and can be a great way of finding your audience. This also provides the resulting Blog with some content that they didn’t have to put in the time to create.
The Common Types of Post
Having reviewed some of the most popular types of post, it’s clear to see that there are a number of key elements that apply across the board. We find that most of these fall within the following categories:
You could argue that all posts strive to create backlinks for the website and therefore can be labelled as link bait. I am referring here to those posts that were created purely to attract links – this can include posts that are purposely controversial or ones that contain Infographics for example.
Controversial posts do get the conversation going; people love to assert their opinion on the world – especially on the internet. As a result, these can be quite successful in creating links and helping the Blog gain a presence within the industry.
Sometimes these are created deliberately to cause a stir within the industry, sometimes they are just pure opinion. There are a few Bloggers out there who have a large following because they take a controversial stance on most topics; this is often part of what makes their Blog successful.
Many posts exist to be helpful, whether they are guides, tutorials or maybe they offer useful elements. The reason these types of posts are popular is because they often answer questions people have within on that specific topic and they offer an opportunity to learn. When someone searches online, they are usually looking for specific information – quite often a Blog can provide the answer to these questions.
Other post types can also come under the wider title of ‘interesting’, but what I am referring to here is posts that are likely to be interesting to someone browsing the Blog, not usually something there is a specific requirement for. Case studies, roundups and lists generally fall into this category – they capture your attention and you can’t help but to read a bit more.
Promotional posts are exactly that, posts related to the Blog, the individual or any side projects they may be working on.
The Pros and Cons of Each Strategy
It isn’t a coincidence that many Blogs today follow the conventions listed above; if you created a Blog tomorrow and followed a strategy to include a variety post types, you should be creating posts that people find helpful, interesting and will help provide answers for questions. You will likely achieve a regular increase in Blog followers, social shares etc. But there is also a downside in using these methods as discussed below:
Being Over Promotional
Including self-promotional Blog posts is fine and can be a good way of promoting new products or services to an already established fan base. If promotional posts make up the majority of your content, you are unlikely to see any traction in your strategy. This is where many business Blogs go wrong, they don’t see the value in including a variety of post types and as a result gain few followers and little in the way of social media interaction.
Lack of Personality
A lack of personality can come across if you try to include as many as the above post types as possible without having an overall theme; you need to think about what you are trying to offer people as a whole. Offering the reader a range of posts each week or month (almost like a schedule) can sometimes help improve the familiarity or the Blog and develop your readership. For example, if you owned a web design Blog and published beginner’s tutorials every Friday, your readership may increase with people who are eagerly awaiting the next instalment.
Your Blog can also suffer with a lack of personality if you include too many guest posts. People tend to associate better with regular contributors and authors if previously familiar with their posts. This is especially true if the author behind the posts is known particularly to have a certain level of knowledge on a topic. It might be that your Blog is anonymous, however it is much better if there is a real person behind the posts for authenticity of information.
One Blog post strategy mentioned was to create posts that are controversial. There is however a fine line with this and being overtly offensive. It is quite easy, especially in a close knit industry to ruin the reputation of a Blog from one simple error.
Link Bait too far
If you are always writing specifically to get links, this can sometimes come across as too obvious and there can always be a backlash to this. If you remember when Pinterest first came out, there were a huge number of posts related to the site and the benefits of using it. To go against the grain and write a post about how ‘rubbish’ you think the platform is for the sake of being different is likely to appear too obvious (this is only an example).
Focus on Creating Value
The most important element for creating and running a Blog, whether you are an individual or a business should to focus on creating value for your audience, regardless of the industry. There is nothing wrong with using a list like the one above to create ideas for your Blog, if there is a useful and interesting post behind it.