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?