Vary your blog posts with these three styles
The content marketing strategy that I teach my clients is designed to give them a variety of kinds of content that they can create. By incorporating blogs and articles, videos and podcasts, presentations, white papers and more into the plan, business owners can be more flexible in their content creation. Depending on how much time they have in a given week, and what topics are top of mind, the business owner or writer can tackle the kind of content that makes the most sense at that moment.
I apply the same principal to blog posts themselves. Sometimes you might have a lot of time, and a number of topics available, giving you plenty of blog material. Some weeks though, business might be crazy and you find yourself struggling to put two thoughts together. In order to maintain a consistent writing schedule that plays nice with our frantic schedule, I teach my clients the value and uses for three different kinds of blog posts: Standard, Cheater and Pillar.
Standard Blog Post
The Standard Blog Post is just as the name suggests, a normal blog post for your business. It's the style and length of blog post that you'll probably write 75% of the time, and it's what your readers will come to expect. I recently write about how businesses can adopt a 5 Paragraph Blog Template and if that's you, then your standard blog posts will be around 5 paragraphs each time.
What's standard for me may not be standard for you, but a template is something you should consider for your business. Personal bloggers can write whatever they want, whenever they want, but a business blog needs to be written with a purpose in mind. Articles need to provide value to their readers, and business blogs that aren't consistent in publication schedule and content will suffer. When you think about your content marketing schedule, how often you're committed to posting new blogs, have your "standard" blog post in mind so that you'll know what you're committing to on a weekly basis.
Whenever possible, have two or more standard blog posts finished or at least in progress. I do a lot of my writing over the weekend and try to create 2 - 4 articles for publishing later in the week. I also have a number of topics and posts that maybe just have a few thoughts written down in Evernote that I can come back to when I have more time.
Cheater Blog Post
Remember what I said about business getting crazy? I've been there. I know just how crazy it can get sometimes. But short of a full-blown emergency, sticking to your blog writing schedule should be as important to your business as your weekly payroll. Remember, your business is counting on your blogs as part of your inbound marketing strategy!
But what do you do when you literally just don't have the time to write for an hour or so? That's where the Cheater Blog Post comes in. It's labelled "Cheater" for good reason. When you use this technique, you should think to yourself that you are, in fact, cheating, but that's OK if you don't do it too often (that is not a philosophy that I am advocating that you apply anywhere else, just so we're clear!).
A Cheater post is when you embed a YouTube video and simply provide an introduction. Or find a great infograph that you can share and talk about. Curating other people's articles or simple top ten lists are other common examples. With each post, you still need to provide some added value and information, but the time you spend writing will be far less than your standard blog post. Typically, you'll also spend less time "thinking" about a topic. I posted an example earlier today: Can Your Smartphone Run Your Business? [infograph]
Pillar Blog Post
Finally, there's the Pillar Blog Post (often referred to as Epic Content). A Pillar post is one that you might write just one or two a year. A pillar post is designed specifically to demonstrate your expertise in a particular subject matter so far beyond what you might do in a Standard Blog Post, that a great pillar post will present you as a thought leader in your industry.
Good pillar posts contain verifiable statistics and references, and typically take months to write. Due to the length, it's not uncommon for pillar posts to evolve into eBooks that can then be broken up into multiple blog posts. Content reuse is a topic we talk about a lot with clients. A great pillar post can spawn SlideShare presentations, YouTube videos and more for months to follow.
Because of the nature of pillar posts to generate additional content, and the sheer weight of authority you're going to reveal, I recommend that business owners strive to write at least one pillar post a year.
If you're mixing up your blog posts to include mostly Standard Posts, with a few Cheater Posts thrown in, I think you'll find it easier to stick to your blog posting schedule. When your schedule is lighter and you have more time, have one or more Pillar posts in progress which will help your business tremendously.
Do you have any other tips or techniques that you use to help keep you on your blogging schedule?
Variety of hats image courtesy of Julia Manzerova, Flickr.
By Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner
Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner, Blogger and Author in St. Louis, and the Chief Marketing Officer at SiteSell. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early '90's, and is active on all of the major social networks. Mike teaches a holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blog content, social media and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales.
Mike is the author of, "The Unofficial Book On HootSuite: The #1 Tool for Social Media Management", "The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect LinkedIn Profile.", and "Blog Promotionology, The Art & Science of Blog Promotion."