Earlier this week, we discussed the difficulty of finding your flow when you sit down to write. If you break your writing up into stages, you can help reduce the time it takes you to find your flow.
But the first part always remains the hardest, and can leave you staring at the blank screen for what feels like an eternity:
How do you know what kind of blog post to write in the first place?
Know Where You’re Going
One of the most interesting things any writer can do, no matter their experience, is to read about the routines of famous writers. Ernest Hemingway, in his book “A Moveable Feast,” described his daily writing sessions as a struggle to find clarity. He would write every day until he worked out what happened next. Then he would take a break and resume tomorrow. Even the greats need a plan.
Writing is hard enough on a good day, but when you start with a plan, it’s like having the wind at your back while riding a bike. It’s a good feeling. A good plan helps you start fast and minimize frustration.
That’s why we suggest you master four essential types of blog posts. These will help you evaluate your platform, put your expertise on the page, and spend less time staring at your empty screen in the process.
Get to Work Faster with 3 Essential Blog Formats
Here are three essential types of blog posts you can employ as you build your platform:
1. The “How-to” Post. A how-to post aims to teach the reader something by taking them through a step-by-step process. It’s usually structured with numbered, sequential steps. And, where appropriate, these steps might include a screenshot or photo to show the reader what to expect at each stage. It’s the perfect type of post to share your expertise.
If you’re writing a how-to post, the easiest way to begin is with a plan. Work out the necessary steps. You may find you need to break complicated procedures into several parts or merge simple ones. Get them into the best possible order. Once you’ve done that, your post will be straightforward to write—and straightforward for readers to follow.
A few “how-to” variations you can employ include:
- “How I _______ and How You Can Too”: Readers love to hear how you succeeded with something. This formula lets you explain your own steps and offer action points for them.
- “Why _______ Matters and How To Do It”: If you suspect your readers need to know the why before the how, spend the first third or half of your post explaining the why then move on to practical steps.
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2. The List Post. A list post offers readers a selection of ideas, tips, suggestions, or resources. The key difference between a list post and a how-to post is that readers don’t need to follow the list from start to end: they can dip in and use those points that seem most applicable to their own situation.
As with a how-to post, pre-planning is essential. Aim to come up with a couple more items than you need, and cut the weakest. Think about the order of your items, too: easiest to hardest works well, or you could alternate “do” and “don’t” tips, take an “A to Z” approach, or create a “roundup” of resources (favorite books or blog posts on a topic, etc.).
3. The Review Post. Review posts offer an informed opinion about a particular product or service. These are a great way to serve your readers, who might be debating whether or not to purchase a particular item. They also help establish your own knowledge and expertise in your field. It’s up to you what exactly you include in your reviews, but one simple structure you can use is this:
- Overview: what’s included, how much it costs, etc,
- The good: mention the two or three aspects that were most enjoyable or useful to you
- The bad: write about what didn’t work so well. This adds credibility, especially if you’re an affiliate for the product/service
- Verdict: should your readers buy the product/service?Variations abound, including comparing two products against each other, or combining a review post with a list post, such as “The 10 Best Books about ____ “.
Of course, these aren’t the only structures you can use. But they do give you a great basis to build on. And they help ensure that your reader gets real value from your writing.