If you’re considering starting a blog, you’re probably wondering how you’ll ever be able to think of something interesting to write about each time you need to post. Athletes call this mental block “hitting a brick wall.” Writers call it writer’s block.
I have to admit when I first started this blog with Alexis, I thought I’d have writer’s block almost every week. I was sure I’d run out of topics or that I wouldn’t be creative enough to keep the reader’s attention.
When Alexis and I met in a Parisian café last September to plan Two Point Uh Oh!, I was thinking, “What am I getting into? I coach athletes to reach their goals, not bloggers! How will I ever engage readers?”
But then I remembered that I knew how to keep my own interest as an athlete. People ask me all the time how I can be such a dedicated triathlete. “Don’t you ever get bored?” they want to know. No, I don’t, because I have a strategy to stay engaged. I plan a variety of workouts, and I make sure never to do the same workout too many times in a row. I alternate between short sprints, longer workout at a steady pace, cross training, core workouts, and fun runs. The types of workouts I can do to stay interested and to keep myself from hitting the brick wall are endless.
The same strategy of alternation applies to blogs. To beat writer’s block, maintain momentum, and keep your readers engaged, you can alternate between different types of posts. Just like working out, if you mix it up, you’ll keep it more interesting for you and for your readers.
3 Categories of Posts
- The Standard Posts In this category, you’ll find the most basic types of blog posts. You can consider these types of posts as your go-to posts. They will make up the bulk of your blog. We’ll be covering standard posts today.
- The Unconventional Posts This category covers types of blog posts that you might use from time to time to spice things up for your readers. We’ll cover unconventional posts next week.
- Audio and Video Posts This category takes a look at how you can integrate technology to create a more immediate and personal connection with your audience. We’ll cover this in two weeks’ time.
7 Types of Standard Posts
Standard posts can be likened to what you might see in a newspaper or magazine. Taking the form of articles written from the author’s point of view, standard posts present information or ideas to the reader. While in many or even most cases, such broadcasting posts are the ideal choice, at other times they may seem somewhat limited. That’s where the unconventional posts we’ll discuss next week come in. But for now, here are 7 types of standard posts:
1. How-To or Tutorial Posts This type of post is by far the most common. Information imparted in a how-to format is the “bread and butter” of most blogs. Two Point Uh Oh! relies heavily on tutorial posts, and most businesses or blogs can probably add tutorial or how-to to their mix. This past summer, the fig tree in the back yard of my new home produced a bumper crop of figs. The only solution I could think of was to make fig jam, so I looked up a tutorial blog post on the subject and voilà… soon I had 90 jars of fig and lavender jam.
2. Definition Posts If you think your readers might have a question that begins with “what is” followed by a blank to be filled in, then you might want to consider a basic definition post. Defining your terms is a great way to ensure your readers will get the most out of your posts. We created a definition post with this post on Web 2.0.
3. Personal Story or Experience Posts People love to hear stories, especially of someone’s personal experience. A good, well-structured story with a clear point can make your post come alive for your reader. This can be especially true if you traveled the path that they are now on. For example, a yoga teacher who works with injured people might want to include some stories about her own healing journey with yoga. Other examples of great stories to share can include a from-failure-to-success story, your personal reflections and how you came to them, the lessons you’ve learned, or a story about an inspirational moment or person who changed your life. Key to this kind of post is to make sure the story is relevant to your reader. On this blog, we like to mix in a little storytelling with our tutorials, like I did in the introduction to this post.
4. Personal Opinion or Op-Ed Posts Just as many newspapers carry op-ed columns, your blog can include op-ed in its posts. Use opinion pieces to discuss something you feel strongly about, establish your expertise, and help you stand out from the crowd. Depending on your style and personality, your opinion might be presented in a way that’s balanced or bold. You may even opt to put forth an opinion that goes against the grain of your industry. The key to a personal opinion post is to make sure you know whereof you speak. If you disagree with the mainstream thinking on a particular topic, make sure to present your arguments in a logical and cohesive way. Be passionate–but don’t be all over the place. Personal opinion is not the same as a personal rant. A great example of a successful personal opinion approach is the blog Altucher Confidential by author and entrepreneur James Altucher.
5. Problem-and-Solution Posts This is another type of post that fits nicely into many small business blogs. Identify a problem your readers might have and then offer a solution. RealSimple does problem and solution articles and posts very well. Here’s a great example: How to Deal With Nuisance Neighbors
6. List Posts List posts have several advantages. First, they are a great way to get you over writer’s block. If you’re really stuck, sit down and brainstorm a top 10 tips (or top 3 or top 5) list having to do with your niche. Second, list posts organize information in a way that’s easy to skim and read. Finally, they provide catchy titles to attract readers: “The Top 3 Reasons To Visit Paris,” “The 5 Best Job Interview Tips,” “16 Ways You Can Make a Difference.” This post is an example of a list post. Here is another list post on one of my favorite topics: the best chocolate shops in Paris.
7. News, Predictions, and Trends Posts Does your business depend on your staying on top of the latest happenings and trends? Then consider including these in your post mix. Make sure to credit original sources and include your own point of view. A good example is this post on Digital Publishing Predictions.
That should keep you busy for a while. Next week, we’ll take a look at unconventional posts for those moments when you want to give your readers something new!