Content marketing is based on your ability to create relevant content and promote it to attract your public and motivate them to become your future clients. The most relevant and valuable content for your target audience will fulfill the characteristics of EPIC (defined by Jeff Bullas on his book EPIC Content Marketing):
- It earns a lot of shares.
- It offers actionable information.
- It is exhaustive.
- It has a long shelf life.
- It delivers sustainable results for the long term.
- It differentiates the brand as a thought leader in the niche.
- It develops trust and credibility for your business.
Producing this sort of content in a consistent way is difficult. It’s not a matter of waking up inspired one morning and having the idea that’s going to triumph. Even people with the most experience apply methodologies, dividing the process of generating ideas and creating content into a series of organized steps.
Usually, the first step is deciding what to write about; that is, searching the topics you’ll be talking about in your blog. This is a complex step, but there’s plenty of “tips and tricks” out there that help you generate ideas. The most obvious way to get new ideas is to identify the keywords that attract your target audience and use them in your posts. Another funny approach is to start by selecting a random number (5, 12, 100) and adding a noun after it: “5 habits that…”, “12 tricks to…”, “100 resources for…”. This gives you a topic to cover and, somehow, the length of the post you’ll have to write ?. Another option is to conduct an exhaustive search on what’s currently acquiring the most popularity (trending topics) using tools like Google Trends and use those as your next posts.
Regardless of the approach you use for generating ideas, the problem for converting them into real content is finding the time to work on them. At Nelio, we know that what helps us the most to be efficient in writing content for our blog is creating an initial plan of our posts with Nelio Content in advance (in our case we try to do it about 2 months beforehand). This gives us an idea of the topics that we’ll cover and the deadlines we have to work on them.
In this plan, we try to provide a variety of post types, so that different topics are covered and a certain diversity is ensured (just as when writing the monthly menu I look for a diversified diet… well, more precisely, this is what my husband does ?).
So, what types of posts do we consider in our planning?
Tutorials are one of the most popular post types to attract an audience. And if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. The majority of Internet searches are made by people who want to know how to do or be successful in something.
This type of posts are the ones that will help you position yourself as an expert in some areas. And independently of the topic, it’s clear that the tutorials’ key for success is to provide your reader with the sufficient level of detail that allows him to achieve what you promise on the article’s title.
For instance, our tutorials in Spanish that achieved the most visits in 2016 are: Insertar Vídeo en WordPress con HTLM5 or Cómo cambiar el tamaño de fuente en nuestras entradas.
#2 Problems and Solutions
This type of post may appear similar to the previous one, and the objective is the same, but the difference here is that it’s always about solving a problem that you might have previously encountered. While in many occasions, a tutorial simply explains how to improve things, without necessarily having come across any problem beforehand. Besides, in this type of post we want to focus on problems that are very common and which you have probably encountered more than once.
For example, on our blog we have published Top 5 Problems All Bloggers Face and How to Overcome Them with Nelio Content.
9 Pshychology reasons why we love lists. Clearly this point had to start with the title of a list ?. We have all written a list at some point not to forget something, and it seems we like them, as you can read in the article I have attached.
Posts of lists can be like this post you are reading (yes, it’s a list) or like the 10 Tricks to Write the Perfect Title.
They’re very useful posts and very easy to read. And the most important thing about this post type is that they provide you with a double reading: on one hand, a quicker vision of the relevant points (the list) and, on the other, a more relaxed account where you provide something more valuable to the reader. Just as Toni commented on the post of titles I previously mentioned, people like to know how long you’re going to keep entertained.
#4: List of Resources or Links
Similar to the previous point, but the difference is that the author has actually made an exhaustive search to get the resources or links that can help the reader. As a writer myself, I recognize they’re rather tiresome to write and, if you want to do them properly, they take up a lot of time.
Apart from the utility this type of posts can provide to your readers, one of the advantages is that you can (try to) contact or tweet all the sources mentioned in your post so that they help you promote it.
Examples of this post type are: 65+ Free Images Sources to Beautify Your Posts or 20+ WordPress Plugins with 1+ Million Active Installs.
#5: Check-lists or Verification Lists
I’ve put the posts in the style of check-lists in a separate category to the previous ones because they are usually a mixture between a tutorial and a list. They tend to include a list of steps or tasks to do in order to achieve a goal.
Frequently, in this type of posts we can even download a detailed check-list or a more extended version with things to remember. Doing this can be a very appropriate way to use the fact that the reader gives you their email address and signs up for your newsletter (this way you’ll gain leads).
An example of this type of posts could be the A/B Testing Checklist: from Good to Great Tests.
#6: Series of Posts
When thinking of ideas to write about, sometimes some of them are too long to write in one single post. If this is the case, separate it in parts and create a series of posts. The reader will be thankful, and if your posts are good enough, they will be waiting for the “next chapter” to be published. Of course, series of posts have the advantage of being linked to each other in a totally organic way, and this helps the SEO.
The last two series of posts we published on our blog were the three posts of How to Merge Multiple Blogs into One—Nelio’s New Website and the 10 posts of our Nelio Content Marketing Plan.
Interviews are interesting for several reasons. Firstly, because as a writer it forces you to talk to leaders of your sector, satisfied clients, or other relevant people. You will always learn something new from them, and they will provide a totally different perspective to your blog than the rest of your posts.
On the other hand, the interviewee can also share the interview with his/her audience, which will have an impact on the traffic of your website.
On the blog of Nelio, each month we publish one interview with a WProfessional. Did you miss the one from this month? Here you have it:
#8: Current News
This type of posts is usually shorter than the rest, since it tends to be about some news you want to highlight. For this post type, you have to be quick at publishing them, so you obviously cannot plan them 2 months in advance.
This is precisely one of the great advantages of using Nelio Content, since it allows you to add and move all the posts by simply selecting-dragging-dropping. And all the promotion messages on your social networks associated to the posts will be automatically moved with them.
#9: Polemical or Controversial Posts
This type of posts discuss a theme that your audience is passionate about and are ideal to interact with them. For instance, David’s post When WordPress’ Freedom Kills Your Business generated a very interesting discussion on the Facebook group Advanced WordPress.
Polemical or controversial posts are characterized by having a provocative title (I would even add, a title that you don’t expect to read) and they’re the most fun to write.
However, if you have created a truly polemical title, be ready to receive all sorts of comments and criticisms (both positive and negative) and learn to answer them with elegance. If your skin is too soft, I don’t recommend you to walk into a field of eggplants.
There’s nothing like a good story. The posts that explain stories tend to be the most pleasant and attractive to read. Stories get you hooked. And they also allow you to keep adding details or reflections that you may want to highlight about the story.
This is the format we decided on for our post Is It a Success or a Failure to Merge Our Blogs?
Is This It?
Of course not, there are plenty of other types of posts that are also very attractive: computer graphics, videos, case studies, podcasts, comparisons of tools, expert opinions, competitions, etc., that we have also written or will eventually write.
But here comes the million dollar question…
Are They All Just as Attractive?
Knowing what post has been the most popular in a determined period of time on any blog can be just as simple as going into Google Analytics and seeing which one had the most visits during that period. But I found it interesting to do the following analysis: what type of posts of our blog have been the most read in the last 3 months? I selected three months because this has been the period that more or less coincides with the merge of our blogs.
In order to do so, on the section of Behaviour » Content of the site of Google Analytics, I added a filter to select only the URLs from posts of the blog. I exported a spreadsheet of the 100 posts that received the most visits, which supposedly constitute to a bit more than 85% of total posts visited in these three months.
Then, on the spreadsheet I added a column named Category, where I indicated the type of post to which each of the 100 posts belonged to. It wasn’t always easy to decide whether it was a check-list or a solution to a problem, but… well, we ended up with a pretty good approximation.
Since it is clear that we haven’t published the same number of posts on each category, I calculated the average visits per post received for each of them. This allowed us to better compare the types of posts.
The end result of the comparison of popularity of the different post types is graphically shown below.
The previous graph shows that during the last three months, the most popular type of post, with a scale of 1 to 10, was the List of Resources, followed by Tutorials and Solutions. In other words, our website particularly attracts an audience who is looking for resources and solutions to everyday problems.
Next, we also find posts that have created some controversy. And finally, we have the check-lists, interviews, and series.
This short analysis has several limitations, given the premises from which we started off:
- we’re only considering a period of 3 months,
- we don’t publish the same percentage of posts for each category,
- a post can belong to more than one category at the same time.
I also want to point out that we have only considered as metric the number of visits, but we have ignored other interesting assessments such as the reading time, abandonment ratio, etc.
But in general, the analysis has helped us to corroborate the idea that people look for information on the internet mainly because they need resources and solutions to problems that they encounter in their day to day. Also, every once in a while, they’re curious and can find it enriching to read about some polemical topics.
It has also helped us reach the conclusion that, apart from the lists of resources, the rest of post types don’t stand out in such a differentiated way from the others. Thus, it seems to make sense to plan the posts thinking of finding the equilibrium among all of them.
Finally, if you haven’t done it yet, I encourage you to also analyze your blog and see what type of content has the most popularity. And if you’ve already done so, what does your experience tell you?
Featured image by Clark Street Mercantile.