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)
- Idea: stand up for something you believe in.
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.
- Idea: embrace your encouraging side.
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?
- Idea: share what you’ve learned as a set of rules.
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?
- Idea: the comprehensive classic reading list
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.
- Idea: keep it short and sweet.
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.
- Idea: answer a question you think is too simple.
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?
- Idea: start some controversy.
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.
- Idea: give away what other people charge for.
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.
- Idea: call it like you see it.
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.
- Idea: crowdsource an alternative view.
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.
- Idea: create a collection of awesome blog posts.
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
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