You’ve just signed up at a blogging site or, if you’re entrepreneurial, you’ve set up a hosting account with a service provider and purchased a domain name for your blog.
You then clicked the insanely simple “One Click WordPress Install” button.
Either way, you’re now the proud owner of a blog. Congratulations!
One problem, though: you have no articles or other content, do you?
This can either:
- paralyze you into inaction as you try to figure out what the heck to do next, or
- inspire you to start turning out articles, news updates, reviews, or whatever it is you imagined would be the magnetic content that’s going to draw hordes of readers to your site.
If that sounds familiar, here’s my advice: Stop now.
Stop tweaking the colors of your sidebars.
Stop experimenting with all those cool free themes.
Stop frantically creating different header graphics.
You have something much more important to do first, before you tackle all those things.
You need some Foundation Posts.
What Are Foundation Posts and Why Do You Need Them?
What’s a Foundation Post? Good question. Sometimes these are called “evergreen content,” “cornerstone content,” or “pillar posts,” but the idea is the same.
These are articles that are so basic that newcomers to your site will need them now, or a couple of years from now.
Think of something you would want to bookmark so you can come back to it again and again—that’s likely to be good foundation content.
This may put some pressure on you as a new blogger. In order to create 5 to 10 foundation posts, you have to clearly know what your blog is about and who your readers are.
If you don’t know those things yet, you may not be able to come up with foundation posts right away. After all, they provide the “foundation” for what you’ll build there. If you don’t have a plan yet, it’s hard to put in the foundations.
“A cornerstone is something that is basic, essential, indispensable, and the chief foundation upon which something is constructed or developed. It’s what people need to know to make use of your website and do business with you.”—Brain Clark, Copyblogger
Characteristics of Foundation Posts
While it’s not always easy to say exactly which posts will become foundation content, there are some common characteristics to this type of post:
- Answer basic questions—Posts that explain basic concepts or processes are a must.
- Not time-dependent—The article will be just as useful 1, 2 or 5 years from now.
- Real value to readers—Teaches readers how to understand a basic concept, perform a basic operation, or points to long-term resources.
Keep in mind that the biggest group of people in any interest group is the beginners, newbies avid to find out what you know and eager to make some progress in your field.
Although you might want to dive right in and start offering your opinion on the latest scandal or take a side in an argument that’s about to go viral, your foundation content has nothing to do with that.
These posts address the most basic information needs of newcomers to your field of expertise.
And they will be some of the first posts that start to draw search engine traffic, especially if you do a good job answering basic questions.
Those questions are the key to creating a knowledge base of articles that will be visited again and again by people looking for answers.
In fact, your ability to satisfy this most basic part of creating an information resource that’s actually helpful to other people is what will determine a lot of your long-term viability as a target for search engine traffic.
And we’ve already determined that blog traffic is your first existential need as new blogger, haven’t we? Without it, sooner or later, your blog will die.
With it, you will thrive. So let’s look at the kind of articles you might write to create this foundation for your future blogging success.
“This style of article has long term appeal, stays current (it isn’t news or time dependent) and offers real value and insight. The more pillars you have on your blog the better.”—Yaro Starak, Entrepreneurs-Journey.com
The Varieties of the Foundation Post Experience
What creates a good foundation in your specific category, niche, or genre will vary. See how these general definitions of foundation posts apply to you.
- FAQ—In a sense, this is the essence of foundation posts. If you know the frequently asked questions in your field, your foundation articles are the ones that supply comprehensive, useful answers to those questions.
- Glossary of terms—A great example of a foundation post, you will link to this yourself often over time.
- Trade practices—If there are specific—and unexpected—common trade practices in your category, they make a great topic for a foundation post.
- Your trade biography—A great way to also build authority and trust with your audience to explain your history in the specific field about which you are blogging.
- Big picture overview—Taking the “10,000-foot” view of your industry can help newcomers understand key relationships.
- Directory of annual events—Although you may need to keep a post up to date, it’s the kind of article that many others will link to.
- Basic process explanations—One of the best types of foundation posts is a tutorial or how-to article about how to tackle a basic task in your field.
- Resource or vendor lists—Another foundation that will need occasional updating, but which is very useful for readers new to your field.
- Whitepaper or position statement—Explaining your basic orientation, or a position that’s at odds with others in your field can be powerful foundation content.
What to Do with Your Foundation Posts
Gather them together on a “start here” or “basics” landing page. But that’s a subject for another day.
For now, populating your new blog with foundation content is the best way to get started. These posts may well turn into some of your most-visited articles, and will continue to draw readers for years to come.
If you have questions about what foundation posts might be for your category, subject or niche, leave a question in the comments and we’ll collectively try to help out.
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