7 Formats for Winning Blog Posts

by Joel Friedlander on April 28, 2011 · 13 comments

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Blogging seems to be becoming one of the basic activities of the social web. Whatever kind of blog you run, if you’re an author or want to be, the chances are you already have a platform of some kind, although it might be a bit dusty.

Here’s a powerful set of article formats I learned when I first started blogging. Almost everything I’ve written since then has been influenced by the basic framework I learned back then.

It can be incorporated in these:

7 Formats for Winning Blog Posts

  1. The List Post Time and time again, the posts that catch people’s eye, the ones that create great headlines, are classic lists posts. Like this one! A list post seems to imply pre-digested content, stripped to the bone. For a good example, check out 26 Ways to Win At Self-Publishing and see how readers liked this so much they took it much farther than the original article.
  2. The How-to Article This is a very powerful type of article because we’re all looking for a solution that someone else has already gone to the trouble to figure out. Cutting through the confusion with clear, accurate instructions can be a magnet for readers. That’s exactly what happened when I published How to Create, Register and List Your New Publishing Company. Even though this was published in 2009, it was still getting comments last week.
  3. The Definition Article Every niche or profession or hobby or interest has a specialized language, and part of feeling like you’re “in” is knowing what people are talking about. Definition articles are like infrastructure for your blog, perennially of interest to search engines and surfers alike. I tackled a long definition article in my series Understanding Book Printing Estimates for Self-Publishers which was largely about understanding the language of printers.
  4. The Technical Blueprint This is a post that details how to use a piece of software, or to accomplish some other technical problem. Although these don’t come up often, Book Page Layout for a Long Narrative probably qualifies as much as any of the posts about e-books.
  5. The Series Part of the power of blogging is the ability to publish serial literature, no matter what niche you’re in. This goes even more for planned article series, which exploit everyone’s interest to see “what happens next” and keeps people coming back for more. I’ve done numerous series on the blog, but the one with probably the most traffic was the four-part series on What Does Self-Publishing Cost? This extensive treatment of categories of costs for different types of self-publishers continues to bring readers to the blog, months after I published it.
  6. The Opinion Piece Strong opinion has always been one sure way to attract a following. Every position that repels one part of the population will certainly find fierce advocates elsewhere. So voicing an opinion can make you stand out. One way to do this is to disagree publicly with a much larger figure. That was part of the strategy—and a bit of the fun—of my Amazon Kindle vs. Apple iPad: Could Chris Brogan Be Wrong? which was really an article about book distribution. But Chris, nice guy that he is, came over and joined a lively discussion that broke out in the comments.
  7. The Resource Post This type of post requires a bit more work than a normal blog post, but it really pays off down the line. You find a spot that no one has explained or covered, or where you have a unique approach to it. Put together a resource that readers can download or use somehow. When I first did this type of post I created a downloadable PDF: How to Make PDFs for Lightning Source Print-on-Demand—A Free Report. Once created, this resource can be used over and over again for new readers.

Being a blogger means constantly experimenting with formats, headlines, and generally finding better ways to give your readers what it is they come to your blog for.

Knowing how to present your content in a variety of formats seems natural to me now, but when I was learning it and first trying out the different kinds of posts, it often felt artificial. But you know what? They are classics because they appeal to something in us that’s pretty powerful and universal.

So try them out.

A Little Background and an Affiliate Offer

If you’d like to know where I studied blogging, check out Yaro Starak’s awesome blogging course, Blog Mastermind. He has a free 30-page report called the Blog Profits Blueprint that lays out his thinking on blogging. After studying that report for several weeks I joined his program, and everything I’ve accomplished on this blog has been with that teaching at its root.

I went into the program because I simply felt I didn’t have time to work it all out for myself. I wanted a solid system that would guide me to the place I wanted to go.

Why am I telling you all this today? Recently TheBookDesigner has been receiving more traffic than it ever has, and many days recently there have been well over 1,000 people on the blog.

Now in the blogging world, maybe that’s no big deal. But just between you and me, that seems like a pretty big deal. It’s immensely gratifying that people can find and make use of the 500+ articles in the archives.

If you’re interested in blogging seriously, or you want to read Yaro’s report for yourself, use this link to go get your copy now. It’s completely free, and it will really open your eyes to what’s behind the scenes of a successful blog:

Get Yaro Starak’s Blog Profits Blueprint here.

I’d love to hear your results, too!

Photo by katerha

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    { 11 comments… read them below or add one }

    JPaintsil April 28, 2011 at 6:38 am

    Hi Joel,
    Genius. Keep it coming.

    Reply

    Judy Croome April 29, 2011 at 12:04 am

    It took me a while to find out what works on my blog. You’ve given me some new ideas here as well. What always surprises me is that the posts i think will be popular aren’t, and vice versa. I nearly never posted on blog post on a childhood memory because I thought it was to personal, but it tapped into something and became one of my best post (garnering me quite a few new followers too!) That’s what’s exciting about blogging.
    Judy, South Africa

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander May 2, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Glad it’s of help, Judy. And I agree, it’s the things you don’t expect to happen that make blogging exciting. Thanks for reading.

    Reply

    Elizabeth - Letters from a Small State May 3, 2011 at 7:52 am

    I hate to admit it, but even though I hardly EVER write “7 Ways” or “9 Tips” kind of posts, they are ALWAYS the ones I read! Also, the posts that got the most traffic at my blog were the most controversial opinion pieces and the “advice” pieces that were “niche” pieces for a specific audience.

    Interestingly, the pieces I think people SHOULD read (that are wonderfully written with compellingly odd titles and “different” content) don’t seem to get the attention that I’d like. Maybe they will after I generate a larger readership, one that knows me as a writer?

    My favorite blogger is Ree Drummond, Pioneer Woman, who does an amazing job with images and details. Check her out. She gets like 150 comments per post!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander May 3, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Elizabeth, Oh, I soooo know exactly what you mean. You just never know, do you? Although I have learned to lay off the “cute/odd/tricky” headlines because, no matter how amused I am, they don’t seem to work well. Maybe it’s because so many people are “scanning” and will go past a tricky title. I also admire Ree Drummond and also Heather Armstrong of Dooce. Thanks for your comment today.

    Reply

    Anthony StClair May 4, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Thank you for such a handy breakdown of formats. This will come in handy as I’m looking at posts for my own blog, not to mention other assignments and prospects.

    Another thing that can come in handy is to know when to bust out something different. If your site tends towards one or some of these formats, a great way to freshen up your site can be to pick a very different format, or a different take from what you’d usually say, and do up that post.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander May 4, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    Thanks Anthony, you have a very attractive blog, good luck with it.

    Reply

    Miranda November 27, 2012 at 3:01 am

    This is all really helpful and inspires me to do some work on my blog! I would be very interested in the downloadable guide you mentioned, but the link is not working. Are you able to help? Thanks!

    Reply

    Francois Houle January 28, 2013 at 10:17 am

    Hi Joel: Love the info. I sometimes feel overwhelmed but I am pressing on since I plan to self-publish my fiction by the end of the year and really want to start my blog. I believe I have some idea of what I’ll blog and just want to create at least a dozen posts that I’ll be able to publish at regular intervals and hopefully build some momentum.
    Anyway, the link above to Yaro’s Blog Mastermind doesn’t work (I get a 404 error). I know I can just go to his site but thought I’d mention the broken link.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander January 28, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Thanks, Francois. I’m not sure that Yaro is still offering this program, but I’ve corrected the link.

    Reply

    Christopher Ryan November 30, 2013 at 4:28 am

    I always find your blogs educational. This is probably my third time through this series. It acts like a refresher course, both reminding me of things I can do on my blog and giving my confidence that those things are doable. Thank, Joel.

    Reply

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