Do you want to have a blog that keeps your readers engaged and intrigued? One excellent way is to “mix it up” with the kind of blog posts you present. Just as a newspaper or magazine has lots of different kinds of articles and information, so should your blog. Here are some ideas to get you going.
Story – narrative – journey – exploration – Blog posts don’t have to be all “informational” or “how-to” or “theoretical.” In fact, your readers will likely appreciate it if you bring stories into the mix. Analogies and anecdotes liven up any bit of theoretical/ informational writing, and help readers understand better. Your story can illustrate a point you are making, it can bring your readers into your life as you explore a “journey” you are on in relation to your blog’s niche, it can be from your life or the lives of others, or even fictional.
Take a look at some popular magazines from newsstands or your public library. See how the writers of the articles almost always start off with a story to draw in the reader. Although blogs tend to be shorter and more to the point than magazine articles, there is room for story, whether on a regular basis, or from time to time. There has been a strong movement in our western culture recently to move back to more narrative, to more emphasis on “story,” and less “dry” reasoning-based writing. People are looking for story and the sense of community that comes with it.
Journal – diary – personal – Some blogs of course are totally “my diary” style. In fact, most early blogs were of that format – so much so that there came to be a back-lash against it, and bloggers were often warned to stay clear of anything too personal or emotional. But more and more, the pendulum is swinging back toward a balance, and most blog readers enjoy a glimpse (from time to time, anyway) of your personal life and feelings. Just keep your niche and audience in mind so you don’t end up going overboard! (How’s that for a mixing of metaphors… oops!).
Entertainment – Even if your blog is a serious, informational source, it is a good idea to provide a bit of enjoyment and entertainment, or provoke some kind of emotional response from time to time. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” the old saying goes, and the same thing goes for blogs. Think back to your school days. What classes did you learn the most in, and look forward to attending? More than likely those that combined information/knowledge with something entertaining and enjoyable, be that humour, hands-on experimentation, a variety of presentation methods, story-telling, or whatever. If your blog is basically educational/informational, this is a good point to keep in mind. Yes, yes, I know – something I need to keep in mind myself! I have to admit I find it easier to do face-to-face in the classroom or in tutoring situations, than here on the internet. Something I definitely need to work on! Ideas are appreciated! (Yes, I’m ducking 🙂 )
Sales – If your blog’s purpose includes selling a product (perhaps your novel, for example), think of the different kinds of blog posts you can use to achieve that goal. Think about how you market your product in the real world, and then try and translate that onto your blog. How do you let people know about an upcoming new product? Advertise? Promote? Launch? Market? Close the deal? You very likely use a wide variety of methods to make those sales. And you should do the same on your blog. How can you creatively translate your real-world methods to your blog? Take a look around at other blogs that are selling products or services. What can you imitate? How can you do it in unique, creative ways? If your blog purpose is sales, use your individual posts to present your product in many different ways.
Seasonal – Many bloggers will do special “seasonal” posts that bring holidays, seasons, cultural and other events into the blog. They stay on-track with their blog’s niche, but take advantage of interest in popular events to present their topic from a different perspective or slant which has appeal for their audience.
Time-sensitive topical – If there is a widespread topic of current interest or controversy, or a fad or fashion which you think your audience would be interested in, it is fine to do a post now and then which provides your viewpoint or encourages conversation about it within your blog community. If you can in some way connect it to your blog’s niche topic (be creative!) all the better. But even if you can’t, it will give your blog a fresh and often entertaining or else emotionally thoughtful perspective that will interest your readers, and stimulate discussion.
Controversial – Some bloggers will do a controversial post just to get some conversation going. Others will be personally upset about a particular issue, and rant about it on their blog, without thinking through the ramifications of their rant. Other bloggers totally avoid anything they think might be controversial. Suffice it to say that a little bit of controversy can spice up your blog, can get people seriously thinking about their beliefs and their presuppositions, and can wake people up to an issue they don’t know about or are avoiding/in denial about. Those can all be good things.
BUT you also need to be able to defend your own position, to be willing to change your position if others point out problems with it, and be able to moderate the discussion so that it doesn’t end as a big flame-up that can make enemies among your community and have a negative effect on how people perceive your blog – and you. Just be prepared.
Opposites of very popular ideas or topics – Sometimes you can take an “opposite position” or present an “opposite approach” to something that people are talking about or have generally accepted. In the blogs-about-blogging world, for example, there are endless articles about how it is very important to keep your blog short and to the point. But every now and then a blogger will present a great post about how long posts are better. And then will put that into practice. People come and look out of curiosity – and suddenly that “long-winded” blog is extremely popular. What “opposites” could you come up with? (And, hopefully, put into action).
Problem solving – This might seem really obvious, as a lot of blogs have the purpose of solving problems for their readers, of providing solutions for their readers’ needs. But if your blog has a different purpose, perhaps entertainment or whatever, why not keep track of your readers’ comments – and then from time to time produce a post or two or three that provides solutions to problems you’ve noticed they are facing.
Challenger of assumptions, perspectives, paradigms – All of us see the world through pre-suppositions and assumptions that we have gathered along the way, perhaps from our parents or our teachers, or from life experiences we’ve had. Those basic assumptions come to form a framework for the way we perceive and understand and believe about all kinds of other things.
For example, there is a widespread assumption that the purpose of public schooling is to prepare young people to be able to go to university, get a good-paying job, and become good democratic citizens. The thing is, is that really the purpose of schools? How often does it work out? If the schools are “failing” in this purpose, is it because of bad teachers, or bad parents, or bad students, or not enough funding? Or could it be that the underlying assumptions, of most people, about the purposes of public education, are wrong? (Yes, I could start a rant about this particular topic – but it probably would fit better on my tutoring blog!).
The thing is, in almost every niche area imaginable, there are assumptions, perspectives, and paradigms that really do need to be seriously examined – and quite possibly challenged and changed. If you are really willing to delve into a sometimes heated conversation with your community, here is a type of post that might bring lots of action (and serious thought) to your blog.
Theory-forming – Over time, as you explore the many aspects of your blog niche topic, you may well find yourself putting together “the facts” into new ways of connecting or perceiving. In fact, you might start to form a totally new theory related to your niche topic. If you do, why not organize your thoughts, put them together in theory form, and present them to your audience? Some will resist, some will laugh it off, but if your theory has some real thoughtfulness behind it, there are those who will join you in exploring it. And you just might change the world – or at least your niche in it!
Alternative viewpoints and approaches – As I write this post, all over the world there are “Occupy” protests going on, where the “99 percent” are presenting their viewpoints to each other and hopefully to the “1 percent” who have been more or less running the world’s economy (and everything else, thereby) according to their perceptions of economic systems (ie., how to maintain and embellish their own power and wealth).
The interesting thing about these protests is that all kinds of alternative viewpoints and approaches are being suggested, on a wide variety of topics. And there is a feeling among the “little guys” that if enough of them get together, talk about their ideas, and show a united front to the “elites,” that it is possible that things could change. How it all works out remains to be seen, but few (other than those who are well served by the status quo) would deny that presentation and discussion of alternative viewpoints and approaches helps to create a healthy society. And a healthy blog, I dare say. Can your blog join that kind of conversation? Even while staying (more or less) within your niche area? I’ll bet it can!
Be sure to go back to read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 – and add your own ideas for kinds of blog posts – or comments on the ones I’ve suggested – in the comment section at the end of each part of this mini-series.
(This 4 part mini-series is part of the larger series: Planning your blog content)
Question of the day: What other kinds of blog posts can you suggest? We have 46 here but we’re calling it 50. Can you help us bring it up to 50? Add your suggestions in the comments section below.
Tip of the day: Start today! Try something new. Be creative. Don’t put it off.
Put it into action: Choose a blog post type you haven’t tried before. Create and post it within the next 3 days. Yes, you can!