Following my beginners’ guide to blogging, I thought it might be nice to expand further on what sort of content you can use on your blog. After all, a blog is just a website, and what you do with the words you publish on it really is down to you.
There are a number of different blog post ‘types’ and it’s best to use a number of them regularly, otherwise your blog might end up a bit of a one-trick pony. Here I go through seven different types of post that I have identified.
1. List posts
You must have seen these around: “10 ways to make your blog accessible to cats”, “5 ways to ensure you are bankrupted by the Digg effect”, “33 ways having a blog makes you less attractive to women”. That sort of thing.
List posts are very good for being noticed on social bookmarking sites like Digg and Reddit, for example.
List posts are a useful framework to hang ideas from, and if you are struggling for inspiration, they are a good way of driving yourself through bloggers’ block. Everyone knows this though, so if you use them too often, you end up looking a mite desperate.
A lot of people are bemoaning the large amount of reblogging that goes on these days, but I still think there is a place for it. Effectively, it’s just picking a news item that’s particuarly hot, linking to a popular post about it, sticking in a quote from said blog and then maybe adding a line or two of comment at the bottom.
You don’t need to be terribly creative to do this, and it serves a purpose to highlight stories you think are important to your readers. But, if it’s all you do, then you will probably come across as looking pretty pointless. You need to add a little more value now and again.
How-tos are great, because they can be genuinely useful for your readers. Pick a topic, maybe something you have done yourself recently, and write a run-through of how you did it, with plenty of links and screenshots. Everyone will love you for it, but they take quite a long time to do and require some real dedication – if they were all you did, you’d soon go mad.
4. Summary Posts
These are quite tricky to do well, but can be really good for catching new traffic and generally interesting for everyone. It’s where you take a current news topic, quote a few different sources about it and try and weave your own views inbetween. Again, it can take ages to find decent quotes and then come up with something original to say about it all.
5. Random brain dumps
You can get away with these only every once in a while, but they can be pretty entertaining. Say something has been nagging away at you for a little while, well, just start writing about it with no idea where you are ending up. It’s just possible that somewhere in your witterings will be a gem or two – but you are likely to be relying on your readers to point them out to you in the comments. These posts are great for starting big “what if…” type conversations and even sparking things to get done or built. However, if all you post is this sort of stream-of-consciousness stuff, the only thing likely to get done is your readers’ heads (in).
I used to do quite a bit of reviewing of new web 2.0 stuff that cropped up, and I really want to start doing it again. Take a new service, explain what it does, compare it to the competition and summarise your thoughts. Dead useful.
Sometimes it just isn’t necessary to produce huge screeds of text to make a post useful. It can just be a one liner, or a couple of sentences. Euan Semple is great at these – just chucking a thought out there and seeing how people react to it. It’s possible that microblogging platforms like Twitter are starting to be the best place for stuff like this, but I think it’s nice to have a more permanent record, with the structured responses in the comments that you get with a blog.
So there’s my seven. Anyone got any more?
Stories mate! Just good ol’ fashioned narratives. I know it’s a thing of mine but the power of telling a story that builds up the bigger business story is immense. I think that’s what the Microsoft/Naked Conversations thing is. What’s happening is people who are passionate about stuff are telling stories about that stuff – “I’m trying to make Windows Media do this so we can do that”, “I met this guy who…” That’s building up the bigger business story.
In the much more important real world, I’m always telling charities and public orgs that they are full of stories (not case studies, real stories) of people they’ve met, families they’ve helped, successes, failures. Just telling those stories makes connections and conversations adn therefore ‘content relationships’.
Hi Dave -
Nice summary. More on how I use asides…
To help my blogging, last August I did the Better Blog in 31 Days project with others and used my blog to document my progress (which is still continuing as a community for others wanting to build on their blog at Better Blog on Ning.
It really helped me to find ways to make my blog more readable and usable for the reader. During the project, and looking into my own info management and architecture of the blog, I decided that I would use the ‘asides’ idea.
I’m a big fab of my ‘asides’ (categorise them as ‘side notes’ and have them only appear on my front page down the right sidebar, but in archives appear as normal) as they serve as little snippets/links to things that I found interesting, and are good enough in their own right for me not to reblog them or create an article when not needed!
Originally on my blog, I had twitter feeds and others coming in direct on the page, but felt wasn’t right for my blog and what I was writing about to have my twitter streaming away underneath it all whilst I was finding my blogging voice.
That may change, my twitter stream may come back or may not!!!
That’s the nice part of using blog platforms, everything can change, new items can be added or tweaked easily.
That’s a nice list of seven. Here’s two more possibles.
I’m currently trying out the format of debate posts by debating “The end of the organisation” with two other bloggers. So these debate posts are spread about three blogs, with more opinions in the comments.
2) Open Threads
I’ve discovered there are some quite different interpretations of what an “Open Thread” is for. Apparently some people don’t normally encourage long comments so these can be an exception. In my case I thought I’d try and encourage new commenters.
@Paul spot on, completely forgot storytelling, which is probably the most important of the lot. Certainly the most honest.
@Laura I haven’t gone for the daily tweets round up, as I have the last few in my sidebar and I am really not sure how much value folk would get from seeing half a conversation! Asides are great, especially when presented separately to main content, or within the main river but identifiably different, like on http://ma.tt
@Andy thanks for those two, again, some great additions!
Great summary, thanks.
Dave – nice one
These types kinda relate to others you have mentioned, but have a particularly purposeful feel for me:
Agenda setting: sniffing an emerging story, trying to substantiate, and interest others. I had a go at that with the piece on BBC local news http://tinyurl.com/ysdvhy . However, as any journalist knows, what’s important is not whether it is new, but whether anyone follows up. Sort of forward provocative summary.
Building a narrative: as Paul rightly emphasises, telling a story, and doing it over time as a recurrent theme, set of events, ideas. I’ve tried to do that with the RSA Networks stories archived here, mixed with other related stuff. http://tinyurl.com/2zyxtl
Build relationships. Difficult this, because it may just turn into strokes for friends and clients. I see it as identifying people you want to continue to share ideas with, admire, maybe work with, so make an effort to do something that links your interests. I guess my piece on the Innovation Exchange falls into this category. http://tinyurl.com/2op332 and of course pieces about my friends at Ruralnetonline.
Excuse blog promotion, but I admire transparency of motive, so thought you might like to know mine
Now, are you going to do the different sorts of comments?
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David – I hadn’t really considered that there are different types of blog comment, but of course there are. Will think on it!
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thanks for the post.i would add:
3.contests and giveaways