May 12, 2016 | Amy Abt | Marketing Director

Popular Blog Post Formats and How to Pull Them Off

Is your blog stuck in a rut? Do you feel like you’re posting quality content every week but aren’t seeing much traffic? If you’re looking to mix things up without losing your blog’s direction, changing the format of your posts is one solution. There are a wide variety of formats to explore, from thought leadership pieces to curated posts, and each have their own unique advantages. Below are two popular blog post formats to try out and tips for pulling them off effectively.


Chances are, if you’re someone who spends a lot of time on the internet, you’ve probably read your fair share of listicles. Most widely popularized by entertainment and pop culture site Buzzfeed, listicles are posts that organize content into a numbered list.

Though they’ve gotten a bad rap in recent years (think fluffy clickbait posts like “21 Reasons Your Miniature Potbellied Pig Needs A Snuggie”), if done well, listicles can be an extremely effective way of communicating information.

Here are three tips to keep in mind when creating your own listicle:

  1. Follow a logical order – When creating lists it’s tempting to think of each numbered section as its own self-contained piece of content. In reality, listicles are blog posts just like anything else–they need to follow a logical order and tell a story. Think about how the information in each section builds on or flows into the other, then order your list around that narrative.
  2. Use examples – This is a good rule of thumb to follow for any piece of content, but incorporating examples and imagery is especially important for listicles. Using real-life or hypothetical examples to illustrate your points is a great way to make the information more relatable to readers.
  3. Provide links to additional resources – While it’s important to make your listicles dense enough that they provide value, including too much information can end up making your list a mile long. To keep things concise and avoid overwhelming your readers, link out to additional resources that provide more in-depth information on a topic when appropriate.

Learn more about creating great listicles here.

How-To Posts

A common staple for business bloggers and DIYers, how-to posts provide step-by-step instructions that instruct the reader on how to do something. From creating landing pages to home-brewing beer, how-to post topics can run a gamut. One thing they have in common? They’re incredibly popular. Providing valuable, evergreen content with clear takeaways, how-to posts are an excellent way to generate traffic and educate your audience on a topic they care about.

Here are three tips for creating great how-to posts:

  1. Make an outline – Before you do anything else for a how-to post, you should create an outline to follow. You need to map out where a reader will start (including what background knowledge or tools, if any, they need to complete the how-to guide), what they will have accomplished in the end, and all the steps they need to take to get there. Once you’ve got a general skeleton down, you can start fleshing out the steps and filling in any gaps you may have missed.
  2. Use visuals – Even the most meticulously detailed how-to posts will benefit from accompanying images–after all, a picture is worth a thousand words. Screenshots, photos and illustrations are all extremely useful for helping to show the reader how to do a specific step when it’s too difficult to simply tell them.
  3. Test and retest – When deciding on a topic for a how-to post writers tend to choose subjects and processes they’re intimately familiar with, which makes sense. You can’t be expected to effectively teach someone how to do something if you barely know how to do it yourself. The problem is that the more comfortable you are with a process, the harder it is to approach it from the perspective of a novice. It’s easy to miss explaining a step when you’ve been doing something on auto-pilot for ages. That’s why testing and retesting your how-to posts after they’re finished is so important. Go through each and every step as if you were a complete beginner. If you miss something and get lost midway through, chances are your readers will too.

Check out this handy how-to blog post about creating awesome how-to blog posts (so meta).

Looking for more tips about content creation best practices? Check out our previous blog post on the topic.

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