Are you thinking of starting a business blog in 2016? Excellent idea! (If not, go here and read this blog post I wrote earlier and maybe you’ll change your mind.) Maybe, you already run a business blog but it is not getting the kind of traction you hoped it will. You try to post consistently but frankly, you are running out of things to talk about. Plus, your posts are not getting much engagement and you are wondering if you are choosing right topics in the first place. Well, I am here to help.
Here are 8 types of blog content I believe every business should publish. If you only manage to write a post every other week, this list will have you covered for a quarter of the year. And you can totally rinse and repeat. Hey, no harm in keeping things simple, right? Let’s get started.
#1 Publish a straight how-to post
People want to learn and you have things to teach, so teach them. The how-to content remains one of the most popular forms on online content. People can’t get enough of it and yet many businesses fail to get it right.
Firstly, be super clear on who you are writing for. Imagine your ideal customer clearly and write for them. This will ensure that you are on point and your content is relevant. Identify a problem that you can help solve and then do it.
Know that while you are the expert, people who are coming to you for help are beginners. Break it down for them. If you cater to a more advanced topic, do your best to simplify. Never assume anything.
Give them step by step where possible. Take them on the simplest path from point A to point B and don’t overwhelm them with additional information unless absolutely necessary.
Use section headings to organize the information and use short paragraphs instead of dense ones. Avoid using big blocks of text that are hard to read on a screen.
Use bullet points to list things. Give a table of contents if you are writing an exceptionally long, in depth article, or consider breaking it up into a series.
Here are some examples of how-to posts done really well:
- How to Get 1,800 Email Signups from One Guest Post
- Facebook Flex Targeting: Now You Can Have Your Cake AND-OR Eat It Too, Digital Marketer
- How to Write a Heroically Effective Email Autoresponder Series, Copyblogger
#2 Do an epic list post
Have you ever seen those posts that tell you 100 ways to do something, or list of 100 books, tools or websites? You have? Good. What do you do after?
If you are like most people, you first do a quick scan of the post to see if it’s good or just a rehash of things you have heard a million times already. And as soon as you see some bits of information that are new to you or presented in a manner that you haven’t seen before, you do two things.
You bookmark it. Maybe add it to your Evernote. And you share it. You want to help others – and you want them to know how clever you are to find such a great post. 😉 This is the power of a well-crafted epic list post.
Sure, it takes time and effort to do it well but you get the return many times over. Now, a word of advice, when you create a post of epic proportion, make sure you choose a fairly evergreen topic.
The idea being, you want this post to continue to drive traffic to your website for a long time. Tools can go out of style, technology can change and seasonal trends become old fast. It makes more sense to stick with list of ideas (websites, books, quotes, for example) or any other resources that are timeless.
Here are two examples I really enjoyed reading:
- 100 Podcasts That Will Make You Smarter, Better, and Wiser
- 106 Excuses That Prevent You From Ever Becoming Great by Tommy Walker
#3 Bust some myths
What are some of the biggest and most common myths in your industry that drives you absolutely crazy? What is the biggest B.S piece of advice you see being dolled out repeatedly that make you want to shake that reader and tell them to stop listening?
Let’s face it, not every piece of advice works for everyone. Every situation is different and generalizations should be avoided, for sure. That being said, some widely-held beliefs are just plain wrong and you’d be doing your people a big disservice by choosing to stay silent. So say something.
I am an Online Course Strategist and in my industry the biggest myth that drives me bonkers has two extremes. On one hand, some gurus are advocating that you don’t need a list to start selling ecourses. They are usually the ones who are teaching people to create profitable courses and profit from having their prospects believe that and invest with them.
On the other hand, there are people who say that you can’t be ‘successful’ unless you are popular, have a big brand and an expensive website, an army of affiliates and of course, a big list. And I am shouting from the rooftops that yes, you do need an audience to sell your products, programs and packages, you do need an email list, but it doesn’t have to be HUGE. You don’t need 10,000 people to start (I recommend 1000, in case you were curious). Just because somebody did a 30K launch with 100 people doesn’t mean that everyone can.
So, what are you passionate about? What are some of the things you want to set straight? Let people know. Here’s an example from the Kissmetrics blog:
Or, this one by Pamela Wilson on Copyblogger:
#4 Take people behind the scenes
People love to know more about people they admire. And businesses are run by people. It doesn’t matter what kind of business you run. You can be selling physical products or information ones. You can be selling software, a service or both.
You don’t need to be personality driven brand to leverage this kind of blog post. You don’t need to be an extrovert or an exhibitionist. If you create anything of value, people are curious about what goes on behind the scenes. So show them.
Are you an artist? Invite people into your studio and show them how you come up with the idea and then take them through your process.
Are you a business coach that has a small team of people? Show people how you found the right people, how you work on projects and the tools you use to make sure everybody knows their job and deadlines are met every single time.
Maybe you are a lifestyle blogger. You also travel a lot but people don’t know that you have two small children. How do you do it? Do you home-school your kids? Do you go away without them? Give them a sneak peek.
Pulling back the curtains and allowing people to share intimate moments go a long way in creating know, like and trust. Just make sure that you stay on brand if you are using images, stay away from stock photos and publish with the intent to help your reader. Try it and you’ll be amazed at the results.
Check out this post by Denise Duffield-Thomas:
And this blog post/podcast from Amy Porterfield:
#5 Do a client/customer spotlight
So this post is similar to the behind-the-scenes one, the only difference being that you are presenting a case study of a happy client or customer. Instead of talking about yourself and your business directly, you talk about satisfied customers and this brings even more credibility to yourself.
And who doesn’t love a success story? People love to read about how other people, just like them, are achieving results and hitting their goals. It gives them hope that they, too, can do this. It lights a fire under their butts and gets them inspired like nothing else will.
Reach out to your clients and customers and seek video testimonials or interviews. Ask them to feature their case study on your blog. People love attention, not everybody, but most do.
Teachable did a case study on Bryan Harris of VideoFruit, who hosts a course with them. An interesting, in-depth read, check it out here:
#6 Dazzle with Visual content
You can breathe new life into content just by adding the right visual. Or, you can create a piece of content that is primarily visual in nature. Here are some of the ways you can do this:
Create an animated GIF. A fun way to get people to engage for your business. Even if your business is ‘serious’ or ‘corporate’, you can make things more interesting by choosing the right GIF. It doesn’t have to be a cartoon or popular culture, look for old TV inspired or political ones if those suit your brand better.
Infographic. If your content allows it, create an infographic to explain a concept with a diagram and really break it down for people. Particularly useful for presenting a bird-eye view of percentages and data illustrations. You don’t have to create it yourself although there are tools to help you do this. You can easily outsource this task.
Check out this ultra cool infographic published by Derek Halpern of Social Triggers:
And this really simple one on Copyblogger that drives a single point home:
Live stream. Do a live hang out with people using Periscope, Blab, Facebook Mentions or Google Hangouts and embed the replay as part of your blog content. Make sure you keep it relevant to the topic of your blog post and really interact with people to deepen relationships.
Slide Share presentation. Sometimes it just makes sense to explain a concept in a presentation format. After you are done, upload it to Slide Share and embed within a blog post to make the most of it.
Video. Make a video of yourself saying hi, or do a tutorial where you share your screen and walk people through a technical issue. Interview someone one or do a product demonstration, there are many different ways to utilize video in your content marketing so don’t dismiss it.
#7 Share a story
People love to root for a hero who had to put in the hours just like everybody else and ultimately come out on top. Share your own hero’s journey. You didn’t achieve your success overnight, didn’t you? Spill the beans; share the glory and not-so-good parts. People will appreciate you for it.
Share the lessons you learned along the way. Share your personal insights. You will be doing people a big favour. I love reading posts like that and I know I am not the only one, either.
Finally, don’t shy away from sharing your own results. Use them to build your credibility and inspire your readers.
#8 Utilize user-generated content
Invite people to write a guest post for you. Make it very easy for people to submit posts by clearly stating your guest post guidelines. Specify if you’d like people to pitch an idea first or a completed post. Give them the ideal length and even the topics you would like covered.
Interview an influencer in your field. Then publish the transcript as a blog post and embed the interview for people to listen to. Alternatively, interview them via email.
Collect responses to a question posed on Facebook. Or, look for any social media post that has gone viral and gotten great engagement. Take people’s responses and compile them as a blog post.
Survey your audience and publish its findings. People love to know how other people think.
So there you have it. I have given you a list of 8 of the most popular content types. Not only they are great for generating social proof and word of mouth, they work remarkably well in keeping the attention of your readers. They love your content so much that they stay happily subscribed. And this is how you ultimately convert them from subscribers into prospects into paying clients/customers.
What kind of content do you usually publish? What are you excited about? Share with us in the comments.