My 23 Best Types of Blog Posts That Grab Attention

Young shocked womanMost bloggers write about whatever’s on their minds that day. If you’ve tried that, you’ve probably noticed it isn’t very effective in growing your blog audience.

To build your blog into a serious business (or just a great writing sample for getting freelance gigs), you’ll need to change your approach.

It’s also essential to know the popular post types if you’re blogging for paying clients and want the project to be successful, so that they keep paying you to blog for them. More and more clients want to at least partly base pay on traffic, so better results will grow your writing income. And of course, more readers on your blog gives you more chance to get hired or to sell readers your products.

Below are a compendium of my most successful types of blog posts that grab attention and get you more readers, shares, and comments. This list combines the most popular post types I’ve used on this blog, and the types that I’ve used to drive a total of 2 million pageviews on my Forbes blog, posting only 3-4 times per month, over the past 2 years. I’ve also thrown in a few great formats I haven’t used yet as well (but hope to soon!).

    1. Feature your readers. Ask your readers to share their wisdom, and you have an instantly popular post. Everyone loves to be considered an expert. Readers love taking over the post and being the expert, or getting to share what they do and post their link in a link party.
    2. Give something away. Contest posts are guaranteed to get a ton of comments. One downside I’ve found, though — they don’t tend to get a lot of shares. Readers don’t want to worsen their odds of winning! But these generate a lot of excitement among your subscribers.
    3. Long lists. Exhaustive list posts are great for skimming and brainstorming ideas, and readers really appreciate the effort.
    4. One-point lists. Other readers feel overwhelmed, and love posts where you make it clear in the headline you have only one important point or insight to share.
    5. Use fresh data. Dig up some new research to back up what you’re saying, and you give your story instant credibility. Data is behind most of my most popular Forbes posts.
    6. How I did it, step by step. Tell readers exactly how to do something they urgently need to get done, complete with detailed examples of how to do every aspect of it. Readers crave details. Take them by the hand.
    7. Answer their questions. Do your readers have pressing questions? Set up a post where you answer them on an ongoing basis.
    8. Make them money. Can you point out a good business opportunity for your readers? Posts that help them decide how to spend money wisely are a proven winner.
    9. Mention public companies. Here’s a Twitter tip: Hardcore investors track the companies they have stock in through $-stock-sticker Twitter hashtags, not # ones. So if I have a story with, say, Starbucks and Chipotle in it, I can get a lot of visitors by tweeting that post out with $SBUX $CMG. Don’t forget to also send it out with @Starbucks and @Chipotle — sometimes the companies will retweet it, too, or post it to their Facebook page, and they often have enormous followings.
    10. Mention celebrities. If there’s a celebrity tie-in to what you want to talk about, use it. These pop-culture references give your post instant accessibility. And you never know, that celebrity might just share it, too. They don’t even have to be a major celebrity, either — has-beens and cult faves are great, too.
    11. Interview interesting people. Speaking to ordinary humans who’re doing something unusual gives you exclusive content and a personal story to tell that might inform or uplift your audience.
    12. High-value thought-leader roundup. Let’s face it: Celebrity-blogger advice roundups have been done to death at this point. To succeed with yours, think of a truly vital, contrary, or unusual question. And don’t ask the same 12 experts that seem to pop up everywhere — bring us some fresh voices. Consider making it a personal list, such as your mentors or the bloggers that inspire you most. Then, don’t forget to tweet it out to all those A-listers — hopefully, they’ll share it with their larger crowd, and could help you build relationships.
    13. Think multi-media. Many of my most popular Forbes posts have slideshows I built for them, too, including my most popular ever, which has gotten over 770,000 views. And I’m seeing many bloggers do well by creating an eye-catching, pinnable graphic (or 18 of them, as in this Guest Crew post) for their post. Add a video or audio file. It doesn’t always have to be all words.
    14. Ride the news. Is there a piece of breaking news in your field — say, a merger of two big companies that affects your readers, or the implosion of one big employer? Be the one to help readers understand what it means for them. Use Google Alerts, scan your local newspaper or national magazines — know what’s going on.
    15. Trend mashup. If you’re noticing some odd new ideas or trends, save them up and do a big roundup of them. For instance, I kept getting press releases about weird/unusual new foods, so I saved them and created this post.
    16. Write about hot topics. For my Forbes blog, I recently discovered one startup sector that’s under a microscope right now: legal cannabis businesses. Here on this blog, social-media topics and analyses of pay on popular writer sites have always gotten exceptionally high traffic. Guess what I’m tracking news on and prepping more posts for?
    17. Daisy-chain it. Another way to get great traffic and build reader loyalty is to write additional posts on a similar topic. Link back and refer to the previous posts to create a virtual daisy chain that connects these posts, so readers can click through and read the older posts as well. Check out how I’ve seeded my other legal-weed posts into this most recent legal-cannabis post, and also featured the previous related posts in the sidebar. Daisy-chaining can be a quick way to double or triple your pageviews.
    18. Follow ups/updates. If you wrote about something that was big news a year ago, make a note in your calendar to come back in a year and see what happened. Few bloggers ever update their stories…and creating a follow-up story makes for easy daisy-chaining.
    19. Riff on a popular post/person’s ideas. If there’s a person or a pronouncement that’s been the talk of the blogosphere, offer another take — especially if it’s a contrarian one.
    20. Popular-topic themed link roundups. Have you noticed a particular word or phrase in your analytics that’s bringing a lot of readers? Or do you have one tag or category on your blog that always does well? Organize the best posts on that theme into a link-roundup post. These are some of my most consistent top traffic drivers. (I find they don’t get many comments, though — people are too busy reading all the linked posts!)
    21. Review tools or products. Kristi Hines does an amazing job with tool roundups, and even includes detailed comparison charts. Everyone wants to know what solution is best for what they’re trying to do. Readers super-appreciate your doing the tough legwork for them.
    22. Tell the future. Everyone wants to know what’s going to happen next, so anytime you can forecast a trend or event, go for it.
    23. Combine more than one of these. Think of this as a mix-n-match list. For instance, that GuestCrew post in #12 is a mix of thought-leader roundup and highly graphical, pinnable/tweetable snippets. Besides daisy-chaining to past posts on the topic, that new legal-pot post is also based on newly released industry data. And this post mentions public companies that can be $-hashtagged for Twitter, includes a slideshow, and is based on data.

Use two or three of these techniques at once, and you’re cooking with gas. When you’re guest posting on popular blogs or writing for a client, it’s especially important to use and combine proven approaches, so that your post is a hit.

What types of blog posts are most popular for you? Leave a comment and share a link to your example.

How to be a Well-Paid Freelance Blogger

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27 comments on “My 23 Best Types of Blog Posts That Grab Attention
  1. Bookmarked! I’ve realized that the way you present content is a huge deal in getting notice and these ideas should help a lot. You’ve got some very valuable articles Carol and that’s saying something with all the fluff out there on the internet.
    Chris Navarre recently posted…10 In-Depth Reasons Not to Go to CollegeMy Profile

  2. Great list! Like you, I find combining some of these are my best posts, so readers want statistics to validate what you’re saying along with trends and information.
    Linda Aksomitis recently posted…Plotting a Novelโ€“Difficult Choices Authors Have to MakeMy Profile

  3. I especially like the idea to ‘Ride the news’. Recently I actually published a blog post about some developments and innovations in the greeting card market, and I look at what type of blog posts on my blog readers like the most.
    HP van Duuren recently posted…Did You Get – Innovative – Christmas Cards Last Year?, How About Greeting Card Writing?My Profile

  4. Uttoran Sen says:

    Hey Carol,
    excellent round up, thanks for the mention,

    Just went through your entire list, seems like we have tried quite a few of these already. I can tell, contests work really well and with our Crowd Speaking model, it is making an even greater buzz.

    Interesting mention about the data, and with so much research going on, there is no dearth of data for any niche. I like to mention research every time I make a claim – if we don’t do that, people will bring that up in the comments.

    Tweetable Quotes is working out really well for us, we even started a contest to give away 5 copies of the plugin. From what I have seen so far, people really like to share things on the social media – we just need to make it easy for them.

    thanks,
    Uttoran Sen,
    Uttoran Sen recently posted…The Bare Bones of Content Marketing โ€“ 32 Ways to Reach Your MarketMy Profile

  5. NoahDavid says:

    Thank you for such an exhaustive and inspiring list! This is going to the top of my “Blogging Advice” bookmark list!
    NoahDavid recently posted…The Wrong Reasons to Write a NovelMy Profile

  6. Ironically, one of my most popular post is about neo-Luddite living. I should probably revisit the topic some time soon.
    Charlene Oldham recently posted…Wednesday Words of Wisdom from John WoodenMy Profile

  7. Daryl George says:

    Great list Carol!

    I always find that “income reports” tend to be the most trafficked posts on the sites that have them. Let’s be honest, one of the thing that inspires people most is seeing other’s success – it’s why Tiger Woods had a picture of Jack Nicklaus on his bedroom wall as a kid, dreaming of beating his record of 18 major championships.

    Income reports inspire and tell other people “yes you can too!”
    Daryl George recently posted…No Gigs, No Problem – How to Make Money From Your Freelance Blog Without Freelance Writing ClientsMy Profile

  8. T.O. Weller says:

    Hi Carol, thank you for a great list. Anyone who has been reading online for any length of time will have seen examples of these types, but how to remember them all?
    Now that I’m starting to get the hang of this blogging thing, I will be trying my hand at guest posting soon. I’ll hang on to this list as a strong jumping off point.
    T.O. Weller recently posted…The Best Way to Stand Out in a Noisy Online CrowdMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Great to see you here, T.O.! I personally was inspired early on in my blog career by a similar type of post on The Blog Herald, and used it as a bible for a long time. Hope this one can do the same for you. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. Karen J says:

    I devour ‘step-by-tiny-step’ posts, too, Carol.
    I have lots of pieces of information and how-to’s in my personal tool box, but as Raspal said, missing steps often make matters harder rather than easier.

    Great article – great ideas! ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Those who don’t already subscribe to BoostBlogTraffic.com should check out this recent post on focusing your approach to build your reputation: http://boostblogtraffic.com/online-career/.
    Katherine Swarts recently posted…Onward and UpwardMy Profile

  11. Carol,

    Great post, as always. It’s great to have everything collated into a single post for reference — even if it’s not something ‘new.’ I’ll be referring to this in my Evernote writing notes constantly for ideas!

    P.s. I loved reading your Forbes pieces on the emerging cannabis sector.

    Thanks,
    Jake.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Thanks Jake! Apparently you’re not the only one. One of those got 100K+ views already.

      It’s not that often that the U.S. economy births a new legal sector — it’s a fun one to watch evolve. And of course, there are lots of people with, ahem, a personal interest in the topic. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Raspal Seni says:

    I love list posts and How-to/How I did it, step-by-step posts. I also like series posts, like #17, daisy-chain it. Need to read your one-point lists post.

    I’ve seen many blog posts where people publish how-to posts, but miss a point or the other. Some of them even confuse us what they mean to say, due to missing some stuff.

    I have a friend who answers readers’ questions once a month on that day’s blog post comments. I wanted to start this too, but I don’t have that many blog readers yet. Will try by asking my small list about this.

    Wow, these are a lot of post types and ideas. Thanks for the post, Carol.
    Raspal Seni recently posted…Your Domain Registrar Sucks โ€” and What can You do About ThemMy Profile

  13. A.E. Albert says:

    I’ve been blogger for a bit now and am starting to run out of fresh ideas. I love the ideas for different formats and mediums.

  14. Another great post, Carol, which I’m sure to come back to again and again for inspiration. I enjoy blogs written with character and humour, such as yours Danny Iny’s and Sophie Lizard’s. Incidentally, I smiled at item 17 with the use of ‘seeded’ in relation to cannabis!
    Derek Thompson recently posted…And now for some good news…My Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Well, read the posts if you’d like more double entendres, Derek! I have to say, it’s a field that’s hard to write about without punning. It’s a growing industry…it’s attracting a lot of seed money…if it becomes illegal again, profits will go up in smoke…OK, I’ll stop now. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      And I love Danny and Sophie as well. I’ve learned a *ton* from Danny over the years, and was lucky to get to meet with him 1 on 1 at World Domination Summit and a couple other live events in recent years.

  15. Marcie says:

    You can learn at least 40 more types of blog posts in my book, 62 Blog Posts to Overcome Blogger’s Block, which is available in print and electronic versions.
    Marcie recently posted…Read My Author Income Article on Pen & ProsperMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Cool, Marcie! I thought about doing a longer list, but decided I want to make this data-driven. I just looked at what got me the most traffic, and the types of posts those were, between the two blogs I operate. So that’s this list.

      I’ve done two longer lists of blog-post ideas, and how to find them, one for bloggers and one for business owners:

      http://www.copyblogger.com/brainstorm-blog-topics/ (1800 RTs and counting!)

      http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/223023 (2000 RTs+)

      I think you can see from those examples how popular long-list posts are!

      And of course, all of these make great long-list posts, themselves. So this type of post you’re reading is one of the popular topics!

  16. Rohi Shetty says:

    Hi Carol,
    This is gold!
    You excel yourself.
    I plan to create a checklist and write a post of each type.
    I’m bookmarking it and sharing it far and wide.
    Rohi Shetty recently posted…How James Chartrand Helped Me Publish 6 Kindle Books in 5 MonthsMy Profile

  17. Great article!

    Im guilty of writing whatever is on my mind. My blog is quite small so I cant really see the impact each of my posts have. Not a lot of social shares at the moment. But ill use this article as resource for ideas for my next post.

    I was already thinking of interviews so when you mentioned that, it was a confirmation that I am on the right track. Oh and I linked to this website in my last article. Looking forward to reading the next article!

    • Carol Tice says:

      Glad this got you thinking, Timothy. If you’d like your blog to move beyond the phase of ‘not a lot of social shares,’ you’ve got to write the kind of content that *gets* shared. Hope this guide can help! Be sure to check out the links — hopefully these examples and seeing the results will be motivating.

  18. This is a great resource for those days when ideas seem to run dry. Thank you!
    Philippa Willitts recently posted…Don’t work for free – people die of exposure!My Profile

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