October 22, 2021 | 9 min read time

We've often referenced the fact that Content is King but, churning out article after article on your blog can start to become a little monotonous and dull, certainly for the creators but also potentially for your audience (disclaimer: if your format is what your audience wants, needs & expects, then don't change it for change's sake, users come first!). 

At Wonderful, we often talk to clients about their options when it comes to content, as creating compelling and engaging content is key to any good strategy. Whilst moving into video, podcasting and even TikTok isn't for everyone, the old staple of a good quality blog still lives strong but doesn't have to be devoid of variety (after all, it's the spice of life, right?). 

variety is spice of life spice girls

To help, we've listed 5 blog formats you might like to try to give your content a new lease of life (honestly, these should probably be in any content writer's arsenal): 

5 Blog Content Format Ideas To Try: 

  1. Listicle
  2. How-To
  3. Comparison
  4. Expert Round-Up
  5. Pillar Post

1. Listicle 

What is a Listicle? Well, a Listicle is a list based article, a series of items presented as a list, with detail about each item. This post is a (good) example of a listicle, highlighting five items and adding detail to each of them to create a more educational and valuable piece of content (see what we've done here?). 

Title: A listicle title should contain the number of items within the topic you're about to explore. So, '5 fresh ideas..., 'Top 10 best...', '7 reasons you should...' and so forth. Interestingly, you should also pay attention to the number of items in your list, there's a reason top 10s and 7s come up quite often compared with 200+ (it's usually down to how long it takes to consume vs how valuable this many items really is, but as always, tailor this to your audience and play around with how many seems to generate the best read/dwell time). 

Introduction: Like with any good, easy-to-digest content, get to the point - tell your readers why this content is of value to them within a short paragraph or two at most (make it easy to jump to the list!). 

Body: Use an <H2> (a sub-heading) and number each item where applicable. Ideally, to keep readers engaged, you can separate each list item with a supporting image, video or chart, and include links to other valuable and relevant content for further reading if suitable (be careful not to take users off to content which bears no relevance or might be orphaned and lead to dead-end user journeys!). Be sure to add extra information within each point to explain why each item is important and to help readers understand the topic. 

Conclusion: Help the reader to understand and digest what they've just read by reinforcing the original point of the article - what are the key takeaways from this content? Also - add a call to action - what is this content's purpose from your business' point of view? What is the next action you want the user (potential customer) to take? Is this content top-of-funnel which is aimed at building a bit of brand awareness and credibility; or does it contain detailed product information which may nurture a sale to close? Use the right CTA for the right point of the user journey. 

top 5 reasons on typewriter

2. How-to 

What is a How-to? Not that you need us to explain it, but How-tos or How-to Guides are usually a very specific article explaining in clear and concise terms how to do, become or achieve something.  

Title: A how-to title should start with the phrase 'How-to...' and clearly outline the problem the article solves, using simple, clear language and phrasing as well as active verbs. 

Introduction: Akin to listicles, the introduction gives you an opportunity to actually summarise the problem you're trying to solve in the article, including a summary of the solution. Keeping it concise, you may want to name-drop a case study, or use a synopsis of one to demonstrate that your proposed solution works in the real world. 

Body: If the guide is a step-by-step, you could use similar tactics to a listicle, using an <H2> (a sub-heading) and number for each step of the process where applicable, especially in situations where following steps sequentially is important. Using action words can help explain what each step is about. You should also support each step with some detail - what are you specifically trying to accomplish with this step and how does it contribute to the wider goal? Give detailed instructions and share links to read more or to other reference material if applicable. You may also need to share other important details such as tools the reader will require to achieve their goal, or other important information or pre-requisite skills required.  

Conclusion: As always, direct the user on their continued journey - usually with How-to guides, this will be to learn more or to practically try and implement what they've learned. Summarise what the user has learned and what they should now be able to achieve using this content guide, and suggest these next steps with clear CTAs. 

child using instructions to build lego

3. Comparison 

What is a Comparison article? As the title of the format suggests, a comparison post gives you an opportunity to compare two or more topics, subjects, products and so on, explaining the benefits, pros/cons of each, usually based on a specific objective. I often find that if you can answer the question 'which is better x or y' with 'it depends' or another follow up question like 'for what?' or 'in what situation?', it's highly likely that you've not been explicit enough in defining the 'why' or the reason for your comparison.   

Title: Use titles which clearly outline what is being compared to what - often employing a simple 'this vs that' format is the simplest way to achieve this. Be sure to use keywords that tell the reader exactly and specifically what is being compared. 

Introduction: As aforementioned, it is not only important to outline what is being compared in this article, but why it is being compared, along with any other information or context that may impact the analysis which follows. The intro is an opportunity to share the information the reader 'needs' to know - keep it succinct and to the point, and don't feel the need to go over information the reader is already likely to know. 

Body: It is important in a comparison blog to use structure to help make the comparison easily understandable. There are two main ways you can structure the body of a comparison article to achieve this. You can:

  • Write a full breakdown of one subject of the comparison and then move on to the next.
  • Examine the same or equivalent features for both subjects.
  • Ensure both subjects are organised in the same fashion. 

Comparing two cars using this method, for example, might look at Car A Speed, Car A Accelleration and Car A Looks. Followed by Car B Speed, Car B Accelleration and Car B Looks. 

Or:
  •  Break your comparison down by feature and compare both (all) subjects within each feature.

Comparing two cars using this method, for example, might look at Car A Speed, Car B Speed, Car A Accelleration, Car B Accelleration and Car A Looks, Car B Looks. 

Conclusion: Comparison articles need to give a clear steer on which option is the 'winner' based on the context outlined in the introduction and title, so be sure to provide a full breakdown of one subject before moving on to the next and summarise the major advantages and disadvantages of both options to facilitate decision making. 

Comparison Articles

4. Expert Round-Up 

What is an expert round-up? An expert round-up blog article often takes the form of an interview or panel summary, asking a series of specific questions around a topic and relaying individual expert answers to help readers come to conclusions based on expert knowledge. 

Title: This is all about building trust and authenticity to the article as well as summarising the content - list how many experts are being referenced in the piece, as well as their expertise and the main topic being discussed. 

Introduction: Explain what the post is about and, more importantly, why it has been written. Introduce the panel of experts - an expert isn't just an expert because you say they are, so be sure to build bios that emphasise the experts credability for being referenced on the topic, focussing on their background and experience. Also be sure to outline the key takeaways the reader can expect having finished the article. 

Body: Structure the piece like an interview, using an <H2> (a sub-heading) for each question being asked to the expert panelists, and use blockquotes and text boxes or even images and video clips to pull out particularly insightful answers (and to make the article more visually interesting). Clearly indicate which expert is answering the question at hand - some good examples of this use headshots or avatars to highlight who 'said' the answer. The most useful pull-quotes and answers could even have link-sharing functionality added to them, giving you an opportunity to leverage an expert's insight to gather more social/email traffic or valuable backlinks.  

Conclusion: Keep this simple - recap the most important points, or use a succinct expert quote to roundup the article. Be sure to also use the right CTA for the next part of the user journey - after reading this article, is the user better armed to make a decision about your products or services, for example? If so, lead them on that path. 

panel of experts discuss topic

5. Pillar Post 

What is a pillar post? Typically, pillar posts are broader than some of the other content types outlined previously, often covering an array of sub-topics within one umbrella topic.  

Title: A broad title covering an array of keywords, pillar post titles often begin with phrases like "The Ultimate Guide To..." and "Everything you need to know about..." - often these promise a lot and deliver a little, so be confident you really are delivering the 'ultimate' guide in these instances. 

Introduction: Provide a broad synopsis of what topics are outlined in the article below. Some pillar posts even contain a contents/index section so people can jump to specific sections most relevant to them.  

Body: When producing pillar posts, you could use similar tactics to a listicle, using an <H2> (a sub-heading) for each specific sub-topic. Each of these should then be followed by a summary of the sub-topic and a selection of internal links to other content on your website which go into each of these areas in more detail, taking users on their most relevant journey to discover what they came to you for in the first place.   

Conclusion: Pillar articles are often seen as a jump-off point or reference index for other content on your site - if the user hasn't clicked through the array of other internal links to find out more, it is important to end on a strong call to action which will enable them to discover more about a specific product or service you offer. This may also be an opportunity to direct users to a valuable piece of gated content which can be used as a lead-generation magnet. 

pillar posts act as doorways to other content

Time to try...

Hopefully, these 5 blog article types have given you some inspiration to freshen up the mix of your content on your website, enabling you to target specific formats to specific user needs / goals, aligned with your marketing (and wider business) objectives. 

Of course, it doesn't stop there, but this is a listicle of 5, so we won't drag it on any longer! 

If your content strategy could do with a refresh, or your business is struggling with broader, more complex digital challenges, why not get in touch

 

James Gray
James Gray, Head of Digital: An experienced marketer with a passion for all things digital. He particularly loves data, using it to power the strategic thinking driving our online and offline campaigns.

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