11 Uncommon Blog Post Ideas for More Web Traffic

  • December 8, 2011 by Corbett Barr
  • 35 Comments

A really great blog post can bring a flood of visitors to your website when people who read your post share it with the world.

The best way to create a potentially viral blog post is to experiment with lots of different types of blog posts and to observe what has worked for other blogs.

Below I’m going to share 11 blog post ideas you can use to get more traffic. These ideas each came by examining popular posts from some of my favorite blogs. These posts became some of the most popular posts on some incredibly popular blogs. There’s no guarantee they’ll work the same for you, but try several of them and you might just make a breakthrough.

Try some of these ideas out at your own site. Come back and let us know if they help you reach a whole new audience or connect more deeply with your existing readers.

(and for more ideas, check these out: 5 Extraordinary Blog Post Types that Will Grow Your Audience Faster)

  1. Idea: stand up for something you believe in.
  2. Example: Stop Using the Word “Retard” by Jeff Goins

    Why this is effective: it’s hard to come out against something that’s publicly accepted. When you find the courage to stand up for what you believe in, you’ll become a magnet for other people who think the same way but were also afraid to speak out.

    How to use this idea: the next time you find yourself strongly disagreeing with common sentiment, examine those feelings. If you think others might feel the same way, try writing about it. Do what’s right, even if it isn’t popular, and you might find some new fans while making the world better.

  3. Idea: embrace your encouraging side.
  4. Example: the manifesto of encouragement by Danielle LaPorte

    Why this is effective: there’s plenty of cynicism and negativity in the world already. Sometimes your readers just want to be encouraged. They want to hear they’re going in the right direction. They want to know everything will be OK. They want a virtual hug.

    How to use this idea: imagine your readers are down on their luck. Imagine they’ve been busting their asses and don’t have much to show for it. Imagine they’re doubting themselves and feeling disconnected from the universe. What would you tell them? What could you say to make them feel better?

  5. Idea: share what you’ve learned as a set of rules.
  6. Example: 10 Laws of Productivity by Behance Team

    Why this is effective: you live and breath your domain every day. You have an impressive breadth of knowledge and can cover things in great detail. Your readers would love to hear know the 10,000 foot view of things. They don’t always need the full detail. A set of rules or laws to follow can be incredibly useful to the uninitiated.

    How to use this idea: get out of the weeds and look at the bigger picture of your topic. If you had to create 10 laws for your topic of expertise, what would they be? What have you learned over the years?

  7. Idea: the comprehensive classic reading list
  8. Example: 100 Must-Read Books: The Essential Man’s Library by Jason Lankow, Ross Crooks, Joshua Ritchie, and Brett McKay

    Why this is effective: whatever you write about, chances are it has been written about before. A list of essential books for your field is an awesome resource to share with your readers.

    How to use this idea: what’s on your bookshelf already? What books do other people in your field constantly recommend? Try rounding all of those up into a list. For extra points make the list as comprehensive as possible.

  9. Idea: keep it short and sweet.
  10. Example: A great way to give thanks… by Seth Godin

    It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what other men say in whole books – what other men do not say in whole books. -Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

    Why this is effective: brevity is a beautiful thing. Sometimes it takes more effort to say things with fewer words. Don’t drone on. Do your readers a favor and boil down your thoughts to the essential elements.

    How to use this idea: study the masters of short blog posts. Start with Seth Godin (follow the link above). There’s little risk in writing a brief post. Give it a shot and see how much impact you can have.

  11. Idea: answer a question you think is too simple.
  12. Example: How Much Do You Pay a Home-Based Virtual Assistant from the Philippines? by Chris Ducker

    Why this is effective: it’s easy to assume that some questions are too basic to bother answering on your blog. What you might be forgetting is what it was like when you were a beginner. Straight answers can be hard to find, and people are appreciative when you give them plan, simple answers to essential questions.

    How to use this idea: think about your blog’s topic through the eyes of a beginner. What questions do beginners have? What haven’t you addressed on your site? What are other bloggers overlooking because it’s seemingly too basic?

  13. Idea: start some controversy.
  14. Example: 17 cultural reasons why this European never wants to live in America by Benny Lewis

    Why this is effective: sharing a bold position of yours can really get the discussion flowing. Some people might hate you, some will love you, and thoughtful people will connect with you because your post will be a great place for actual dialog and frank discussion.

    How to use this idea: be careful with this. Don’t be controversial for it’s own sake. Make sure you actually believe what you’re saying, and make sure you show you’ve thought things through by addressing the opposite side of the discussion. Say what you agree with and what you don’t agree with, and then get ready for a little backlash. You’ll need some thick skin to pull this off.

  15. Idea: give away what other people charge for.
  16. Example: 279 Days to Overnight Success by Chris Guillebeau

    Why this is effective: blogging is an arms race. There are crazy people out there who pour hundreds of hours into a project and then give it away. For free. But even though these crazy people exist, it’s still the exception. When you give away something incredible, it can be a great attention grabber. Your readers will know you care.

    How to use this idea: take your next product idea, or a product you’ve already developed but haven’t launched and give it away for free. Alternatively, you can use a pay-what-you-can model, or donate 100% of your profits to charity.

  17. Idea: call it like you see it.
  18. Example: The Short and Sweet Guide to Being Fucking Awesome by Julien Smith

    Why this is effective: as bloggers, many of us have trouble really speaking our mind and addressing topics like we really see ‘em. Julien Smith doesn’t have this problem as much as the rest of us. He’s able to make bold statements with his posts and people respond.

    How to use this idea: try writing about an issue you feel strongly about, and write the post like you’re talking to a close friend. Use the same language and passion you would in a comfortable conversation.

  19. Idea: crowdsource an alternative view.
  20. Example: Map: The United States of GOOD Beer by Nicola Twilley and Dylan C. Lathrop

    Why this is effective: in this post from the folks at GOOD, they took a mainstream post a newspaper had run about beer and asked their readers to nominate their favorite beers. The result is a cool map of great independently owned craft breweries across the U.S.

    How to use this idea: your readers probably aren’t mainstream. They read your blog, and that makes them interesting and unique. Try taking a poll or survey done by CNN or a major newspaper and ask your readers what they think about it. Share the results and talk about how they’re different from the mainstream results. You and your readers will both learn something. Bonus tip: include a graphic to make the resulting data more useful and interesting.

  21. Idea: create a collection of awesome blog posts.
  22. Example: this post :) OK, admittedly this one isn’t so “uncommon,” but it still definitely works.

    Why this is effective: the Internet has become incomprehensibly large. When you pull together lots of good stuff all in one place, your readers appreciate the effort you put in. They’ll thank you for the recommendations. As a side benefit, you may also get the attention of the bloggers you link to in the post.

    How to use this idea: take one of the core topics your blog normally covers and look for great solutions and advice that exists elsewhere on the web. Compile the posts and include a quick explanation and useful tips for your readers.

How About You?

What ideas have you used to create popular blog posts?

What commonalities do you notice in really great blog posts?

photo by thorinside

Written by . Corbett is cofounder of Fizzle, a place for creative entrepreneurs, writers, makers, coders and artists, all working to support themselves doing what they love independently on the Internet. Follow Corbett on on Twitter.


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Gregory Ciotti December 8, 2011 at 6:07 am

Great roundup, actually love the first example the most, good to see people taking a stand (as long as that stand is for tolerance!)

Jon Cooper December 8, 2011 at 6:38 am

Corbett, you hit the nail on the head with #8. Giving valuable knowledge away is what seperates the good from the great. Being transparent in everything you do, and essentially giving away your “secret sauce”, is one of the most effective ways to build up buzz.

I’m actually thinking about giving away five hours of my time to help someone out with their link building efforts. It might not be cut & dry knowledge, but it’s the same idea. Do you think this could work Corbett?

Devesh December 8, 2011 at 7:06 am

Nice roundup, these are great examples. I love the example of Julien Smith’s post.

Mike Yasieniuk December 8, 2011 at 7:16 am

great list of ideas. It is great to mix up the everyday blog with some controversy and having a chance to voice what you are passionate about, even though it might not fit your general topic.

Tushar Agarwal December 8, 2011 at 8:48 am

Standing by what yo said is a very good thing in blogosphere. But it is important that you support your logics with good, sensible reasoning

Glenn December 8, 2011 at 9:19 am

Hi Corbett,

Nice post & thanks for sharing your thoughts, much appreciated.

Especially #8, give away what others are charging for – agreed this will set you apart from your competitors.

Thanks again,
Glenn

Sherryl Perry December 8, 2011 at 9:45 am

Great tips Corbett! I especially appreciate “share what you’ve learned as a set of rules”. That’s a great idea. I also like the idea of keeping it short. I need to sprinkle some shorter articles. I really need to make the time to do some guest blogging which is my top resolution for 2012.

Chris Green December 8, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Hi Sherryl. I’m on the lookout for some good guest bloggers if you want to connect?

Mike Reeves-McMillan December 8, 2011 at 11:13 am

I always seem to get a good response with my “Three Things I’ve Learned” posts, which are a version of your “share what you’ve learned as a set of rules”. I just take something in my life – a job I’ve done, a leisure activity I enjoy, something significant that happened, like getting married – and pull out three life lessons.

They’re easy to write (if you can’t think of three things you’ve learned from something that’s important to you, you’re really not paying enough attention), they’re easy for readers to relate to, and the “3 Things I’ve Learned from X” is a good headline formula to draw people in. Especially if X is a bit unusual.

(But my favourite post pattern is the common old “How to…”, because people often search for it, and I love to teach practical techniques.)

Chris Green December 8, 2011 at 2:25 pm

I think number 8 is an absolutely killer idea. Most people seem afraid of giving away the best content. But i’m pretty sure that the people who do … get the most back in return.

Catherine Adams December 8, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Thanks Corbett for all these tips. I’m 5 mo into blogging and I’m looking to expand my style and types of posts without alienating current readers.

Chris C. Ducker December 8, 2011 at 8:17 pm

Hi C

Thanks so much for the mention here. You bring up so many great points.

As bloggers, we sometimes tend to over-complicate things, I think, in regards to finding ideas for our content. This right here is a starting block for so many newbies and more seasoned bloggers alike.

Thanks again for having me in here.

C

Thomas Frank December 8, 2011 at 10:31 pm

I read #7 (Benny’s post) recently and I loved it. So much of it is incredibly true; I love living in America but most of his gripes are pretty valid.

The rest of these posts are great as well. This post is really helpful, and goes great with the one Sean Platt recently wrote. Actually, I wonder if it’s that post that inspired this one.

Sunil from The Extra Money Blog December 9, 2011 at 9:50 am

Good post Corbett – this is a great list for someone facing a wall or mind block. You’ve made it easy by telling bloggers exactly what to do write on – at least for the next 11 posts :)

Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2 December 9, 2011 at 4:23 pm

My favorite on this list was Julien’s! I love that idea! I love how he isn’t afraid to express it colorfully too.

My favorite premise for a blog post that I believe can mesh well with any of these ideas is the Regis Philbin style monologue that leads into a lesson. This Regis formula is a winner as it kept him popular for decades.

I think Erika Napoletano is especially spectacular at pulling this off. She’ll talk about some awesome/shitty/outrageous that happened to her or someone she knows and leads with what happened and then shows you what you can learn from it.

This is something I want to get better at doing as I know that your followers want to know more about you, especially if you have lived or live an interesting life.

Thank you for this list though! I knew of a couple of these people but not all of them. And this list of ideas will come in very handy in the future.

Extreme John December 10, 2011 at 3:06 am

This list is totally awesome. Thanks for the useful share. It’s really great to write posts and articles in your blog that could bring more traffic and that a lot of people who read it and who are interested would share it to others. These ideas are very unique and astounding. Keep up the good work!

Stacy December 11, 2011 at 8:09 am

Great ideas. Thanks! :-) I love having new things to write about and you’ve given me a great list.

Emily December 12, 2011 at 10:34 am

Those are great ideas; I use two or three already – esp. the one about encouragement – but I will try a couple of the others.

Shefiu December 12, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Great ideas of blogging for effective traffic. Point 9 particularly caught my eye with reference to Julien Smith. I certainly agree it’s best to call it as we see it and treat our audience as friends. But most importantly we should put our personality into our writing.

Mike Martel December 12, 2011 at 3:29 pm

I like the idea of being yourself. People love to hear about you, your story, what’s going on for you, especially the bad. I guess misery loves company.
Nice post, just found your blog on my travels around the Internet. Definately will come back.

Greg December 14, 2011 at 8:52 am

Great Ideas .. Number 3 is a great force…sharing what you have learned is a great education…Thanks for sharing…Greg Avery

Alex Aguilar December 16, 2011 at 9:43 pm

Some great ideas Corbett I think I’m going to swipe a few of them for my own blog! That being said, I’d be a little careful about #7. Stirring up controversy can be a great way to rapidly generate interest and raise your blog’s profile, but it can also have long-term consequences for your site/brand. Having a bold opinion or the playing the devil’s advocate is fine – but you must be able to withstand the inevitable backlash without buckling under pressure.

TheJoeSweeney December 21, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Sweet F-N list. Instant classic. Tons of value. I will be incorporating these into my motivational blog. Gracias.

More Web Site Traffic Guide January 4, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Great list! People should keep blog posts short and sweet. I have been giving out short and direct to the point posts and it’s more readable to customers than posting a too-detailed post.

hypnodude January 18, 2012 at 2:58 am

Great list, very interesting especially the one on the Manifesto which sparked something. Thanks for the good advices.

Michelle March 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Great list. #5 is sound advice. I get so many more comments when I don’t write a novel for a post.

Michelle March 22, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Oops, I meant #5. :)

Ricardo Bueno March 22, 2012 at 2:40 pm

People say “list posts” are over-rated. Still, they work. Big time!

One of my most trafficked posts last year was a list post titled: 33 Must-Read Tips & Tutorials for Bloggers. Basically a list of posts from around the web on everything you need to know to start a blog. It was linked to by several sources and still generates traffic to this day.

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