I’m currently writing a chapter on blogging for a book on online journalism [UPDATE: Now published]. It includes 12 typical blog post types to kickstart ideas. Here are the examples I came up with – I’d welcome any more:
UPDATE: Also available in Japanese.
Point 6 UPDATED January 20 2012 in response to this blog post (I’m now wondering: was that linkbait? ).
- Respond to something elsewhere on the web: the best way to start blogging: simply link to something elsewhere that you feel is interesting, or (better) that you disagree with. If you make a constructive response to what someone else has posted, for example, you can start a useful inter-blog dialogue. You might add links to evidence that challenges what the original post says, for example. In its most simple form, when you simply post useful links, this is called ‘link journalism’.
- Suggest an idea: for a story or for a way of doing things. Invite reaction and suggestions – and don’t expect people to come to you: approach people you might otherwise be shy of asking, and invite them to respond on the comments. Ideas can travel very far, so can be very effective in attracting readers.
- Interview someone: a straightforward and easy way to create a post. An email interview can work well, but if you can put an audio or video recording on the site that often adds value. If you are interviewing a busy person it helps if you limit your questions or, if you’re asking for their advice, specifically ask for their ’3 tips on…‘ or ’5 things I know about…’. You can even turn this into a series of interviews with the same theme.
- Blog an event: attend a relevant event – a conference, meeting, public talk, demonstration, or even just a conversation – and write about it. If you have access to the internet during the event you can even ‘liveblog’ it by starting a post as soon as you have something to report and adding updates or new posts as the event progresses. Ambitious bloggers can use liveblogging tool CoveritLive.
- Ask a question: this typically only works once you’ve established a readership and generated goodwill by contributing yourself on your blog and in comments on other blogs, or if it’s for a worthy cause. But it can be very effective in generating useful information. Taken further, you can use free online polling tools such as PollDaddy and SurveyMonkey to conduct a larger survey.
- Pick a fight: there are two ways you can pick a fight on your blog – one good, and one bad. The bad variant is called linkbaiting (although the term covers a broader range of practices), and is done by bloggers seeking traffic or attention, typically by loudly criticising a popular blogger in the hope that they’ll respond, sending links and readers in your direction. The result tends to be lots of noise, and not much insight. The good variant, by contrast, starts with two things: constructive criticism, and a desire to gain insights rather than attention. If you are to criticise another blogger, then, it is worth considering if it will be seen as ‘bait’ or a constructive and valuable debate. Done well, a genuine argument between two bloggers can generate insight and bring factions to compromise. You can also pick a fight with a company or brand, and mount a campaign to instigate change.
- Reflect on something: it might be something that happened to you this week, a decision or choice that you made, a lead for a story, or anything else. Why did it happen? What are the implications? What did you learn? Keep it open so others can contribute their experiences or insights.
- Do something visual: take photographs and/or video footage as you travel along a particular route. Explain them, ask questions, include relevant links. Or draw sketches and photograph them.
- Review something: try to make it useful – include links to further information, quote from (and link to) other reviewers.
- Make a list: Lists are enormously popular on the web, frequently topping websites’ ‘most shared’ lists. It may be anything from ’5 ways to tie a knot’ to ‘The 100 best albums by women’. A good tip for your first post is to make a list of the top 10 blogs in your subject area – a useful task for yourself while also making them aware of your existence.
- Write a how-to: in his book Click, Bill Tancer notes how one of the most popular types of search query is ‘How do I..?’ or ‘Why do..?’ Tutorials also frequently top websites ‘most-shared’ lists and can be enormously useful in generating goodwill in your sphere – not to mention attracting comments that then add to and improve your knowledge of the subject.
- Let someone else post: if you find someone with particular expertise or experience, invite them to write a ‘guest post’ on a particular subject. Even if they already have their own blog, they will probably appreciate the opportunity to reach a new audience, or to write in a different context, and again it will improve your own knowledge.
Are there any other typical blog post styles you can think of?