Keeping a regular blog is one of the most effective tools to building an online platform focused on serving others. Everyone has different gifts, and not all of us are good at (or interested in) writing, but a blog is a tremendous way to serve others online.
A lot of the coaching I do through LifeWay Social and other platforms is rooted in started and maintaining a regular blog. This can be difficult for even the best writers because they simply do not know where to start or what even constitutes a “blog.”
1. Practical List
The blog post you are currently reading is an example of this. Colloquially called a “listicle,” list-formatted blog posts are the most popular kind of blog post on the internet right now in most spaces. Why are lists so popular? I can’t say for sure without doing some surveying of readers, but I think it’s safe to say that it’s because numbered lists make it easy to skim blog posts quickly and move on to something else.
People love practical content because it gives them a way to act and improve. Abstract content tends not be as well read because it isn’t as applicable to one’s life (most of the time).
A lot of people poo-poo lists because BuzzFeed trivialized them with posts like “40 Signs You’re Actually a Disney Princess,” but lists don’t have to be trivial.
Practical lists perform well for a reason. If you are trying to improve readership on your blog, publish a lot of these. They are also pretty easy to write, which is convenient.
2. Timely Cultural Commentary
As a blog manager, there are two primary sources of traffic with which you should be concerned: social media and search engines. Evergreen content, or content that is always relevant, tends to receive more traffic from search engines and less traffic from social media. Timely content, or content that is somehow connected to current events, tends to receive more traffic from social media and less traffic from search engines.
This is because social media channels tend to drive traffic to a post hours and days after it has been posted and search engine traffic tends to build over long periods of time, at which point “timely” content is no longer timely.
Timely cultural commentary that is related to your content is a great service to your audience. One of the best examples that comes to mind is when my friend Josh Straub wrote “How to Speak to Your Kids About Mass Shootings” in October of last year. He is a marriage and family counselor, and the topic was timely following the 1 October mass shooting in Las Vegas.
Be careful not to “ambulance chase” and rely completely on the timely topics of the day. But if there is a timely topic that concerns your audience, writing on it can be a great service to them.
3. How-to Guide
This genre is pretty similar to the “practical list,” and may even be considered a subset of it in some contexts. If you are gifted in a particular area, turn into a teacher and give someone a how-to guide on how to do what it is that you’re good at.
Know how to disciple adolescents? Write “How to Lead High Schoolers to Care About the Bible.”
Study the Old Testament? Write “How to Read the Old Testament With Jesus in Mind.”
You get the idea.
4. Detailed Explainer
The first two examples of this kind of blog post that come to mind are two that I have written. The first is the Jake and Logan Paul post I wrote a few weeks ago. The second is a 8000+ word biography of Justin Bieber I wrote on my personal blog a few years ago.
This kind of post is typically going to be what is called a “longform” post. A detailed explainer likely cannot be done in just a few hundred words, but will likely take thousands of words to do well.
This genre is much more popular in academic contexts, but is used well in other areas, too, just perhaps not as frequently.
5. Interesting Interview
The qualifier “interesting” is very important here.
In my experience, interviews perform poorly on blogs. Unless the person you’ve interviewed for your blog is very important or compelling for your audience, interviews are just boring to read. They tend to be better to hear or watch, and even then they can be boring.
Stay away from interviews unless you have really landed a strong interviewee for your audience and/or you have a compelling interview that is different from the rest.
There you have five different types of blog posts that you can start writing today. Any of these five are great and you would be wise to try a few different ones to see if there is a kind that fits best for you and your audience.
Chris Martin is the Co-Creator and Chief Content Officer at LifeWay Social as well as a Content Strategist at LifeWay. He and his wife Susie live outside Nashville, TN.