June 23, 2015

Three Proven Blog Formats (and How to Use Them Effectively)

Ask marketers what strikes fear into their hearts and many are likely to provide the same answer: a blank text field in a blogging platform. The all-white computer screen is a daunting prospect for the writer assigned to content creation because, since any blog can veer off in an infinite number of directions, pinning down a theme, style and format is a challenge.

When faced with a blank page, marketers fall back on a few tried-and-true blog types to help circumvent writer’s block. The potential drawback of having “go to” blog types like this, however, is that chances are good that many other content creators are using them as well. So, when marketers turn to these trusted types, they must be extra sure to craft content from a unique perspective or with an unconventional spin to avoid having it become just a drop in the sea of Web content. Let’s take a look at a few of the more effective blogging approaches and ways to make your content stand out within these formats:

1. The “How To” Blog: “How to” posts are meant to teach readers to complete specific tasks. Oftentimes, these blogs offer step-by-step instructions that the audience can follow to reach a desired objective. Instructional entries are effective because when readers reach the end of a post they have actionable information that may provide value immediately.

By the same token, bloggers must guard against providing information that is readily available many other places. For example, if you own a men’s apparel company, a post entitled “How to Tie a Tie” is unlikely to draw much interest; people can consult friends, family members and even YouTube for instructions on this topic. A more engaging topic might be “How to Get Your Dress Shoes Looking Brand New Without Paying for a Shine,” as it addresses a less common skill and one that can save the reader money.

2. The “Top Five” Blog: “Top five” (or any other number) blogs are a simple and effective way to communicate the most significant points on a particular topic to the audience. These blogs are especially helpful in situations where the writer knows all the individual points he or she wants to make in a post but can’t quite determine the best way to organize them; the top-five format has built-in organization. 

But top-five blogs are extremely common across the Internet, so without a compelling headline and engaging copy it is difficult to attract potential readers who have so many other options. So if you are a nutritionist with your own business, a blog about “The Top Five Reasons to Eat Green Vegetables” is unlikely to stir much of a response; most people are aware of the benefits of including greens in their diets. But a post entitled “Five Snacks That Provide as Much Energy as Coffee” would be far more likely to entice an audience.

3. The “vs.” Blog: A “vs.” blog is designed to compare and contrast two items or ideas. Running down a list of pros and cons for a business tactic or comparing two products’ features can be a clear, concise way to make your point.    

When you craft these kinds of blogs, however, you must first do some research to determine what topics have been covered at length already. So, if you operate an IT services firm, writing a basic “On-Premises vs. Cloud Computing” blog may prove an unwise strategy because thousands of similar posts live all over the Internet. But even a slight adjustment can make a big difference. For instance, a blog titled “On-Premises vs. Cloud Computing: Which Is Right for Your Small Business?” targets a more specific audience and offers a targeted message.

Of course, it is far easier to talk about crafting unique blogs than it is to actually do it. Successful content creation requires strategic thinking and research—all before the writing process even begins. If your marketing department lacks the bandwidth to devote the necessary time, enlisting the services of a content strategy vendor can help ensure your blog is full of content-rich, engaging and unique posts.

If you would like some additional information about how a content strategy vendor can help you reach your content goals, download this free white paper.  

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