One of the biggest pain points that I hear from people and businesses who want to learn blogging is the struggle to know what to write and blog about. It can be hard sometimes to come up with ideas, even if you’ve already taken the time to research your Content Pyramid and have filled out your blogging planner.
One approach that I’ve taken in the past to help bloggers with this issue is to give them tools and processes to generate lots and lots of ideas for new blog posts, and record them. Another approach that I’ve offered is that of simplifying the writing process itself and distilling it into a standard format or template.
With this series on Learn Blogging Post Types, I’m offering yet another approach. I am going to introduce you to 12 different kinds of blog posts that you can write that go beyond plain paragraphs of ponderings. These post types offer new structures, new parameters, and new perspectives on the content that you might create. Once you’ve studied these blogging post types and created a few, you will train your mind to see the possibilities for these kinds of content in new places everywhere.
It’s a new play on an old psychological trick called Frequency Illusion. When your mind becomes aware of the existence of a thing, a thing that you’re interested in, you naturally become more aware of additional instances of that thing. Like, the last time you bought a new car and suddenly noticed everyone around seemed to be driving the exact same model.
Once you’ve been made aware of all of these other ways that you can approach content and blogging, your eyes will be opened to new possibilities and, I hope, will find it easier to create new content.
In this series we will learn about:
- The Roundup (you’re here)
- How To
- Case Study
- Personal Story
- Business News / Announcement
- Employee / Customer Spotlight
- Thought Leadership
Let’s get started learning.
Learn Blogging: What Is A Roundup Post?
Some people use the term roundup to refer to a post where they’ve collected links or resources from a variety of sources. That’s actually a Listicle which we’ll cover a little later in the series. A Roundup, rather, is a piece where the majority of the content is comprised of input directly and uniquely from other experts. The most common example is where you ask a number of people the same question and publish all of the responses.
Stop for a moment and think about some of the other experts and influencers you know in your industry, whatever industry that is. Now, think about the #1 problem facing your target audience, and imagine asking each of those experts how they approach that particular problem.
For a roundup about blogging for bloggers, I might ask Ann Handley, Jenn Herman, Joe Pulizzi, Andy Crestodina, Chris Brogan, Ryan Biddulph and Darren Rowse how they find the time to actually write. They’d each give me wildly different and fascinating responses which I would then publish as a single blog post. I would round up their responses and herd them all into the same pen.
Why Do I Love Roundup Posts?
There are a few reasons why I love Roundup Posts!
- By their very nature, a roundup post filled with external experts brings diverse opinions and voices into your blog.
- When shared to social media, you have an opportunity to tag every contributor and if they engage with your post or share it, they give you and your blog visibility to their audience.
- It saves you time! Except, well… it doesn’t. More on that in a moment.
Great Blog Roundup Post Examples
Here are a few great roundups from a variety of industries to give you a sense for what others have done:
- 17 Experts Suggest “How To Avoid Blogging Mistakes”
- 12 Foodie Experts Share Their #1 Tip for Healthy Eating
- 17 Marketing and Branding Experts Share their Favorite Logos
- 25 Experts Discuss the Future of SEO
Notice that most roundups indicate within the title that there are a specific number of experts weighing in on the topic. While you could choose to go with a different, more creative technique for your headlines, I would caution against over-thinking it. If you make it clear from the start that this is a roundup post with X experts sharing their opinion on Y or Z, readers will come in knowing exactly what to expect.
Learn Blogging: Roundup Post Vitals
These are the vital aspects of a roundup post:
- Must include more than two additional contributors. If you only have one contributor, well, that’s an interview! And we’ll talk about that later.
- Questions asked should be consistent throughout. A popular writing technique on mainstream publications like Entrepreneur.com finds authors writing about a particular topic and weaving in thoughts from other experts they reached out to. These aren’t true Roundups since all of the experts are simply giving commentary rather than answering a specific question in a variety of ways.
- There is no minimum or maximum length and in fact, Roundup posts tend to be quite lengthy, particularly if you ask a meaty question and involve a lot of experts.
By the way, there’s no real limit on how many contributors you can involve! I once published a roundup with sixty-five experts!
In fairness, I should point out that the longer a roundup post is, the more contributors you have, the more time it will take you to insert, format, and arrange all of that content to get it ready for publishing. Some of the longer roundups I’ve worked on took hours to assemble. But it was still easier than coming up with that much content on my own!
Blog Roundup Post Best Practices
Follow these best practices to ensure your Roundup is a success!
- Use a Google Form to collect responses and always ask for their name, email, company, title, Twitter handle, preferred headshot and bio, in addition to the answer(s) to your question(s).
- Avoid asking a question which could be answered Yes or No or too briefly. You want long, meaty answers!
- Ask experts politely and via email, if possible. Social network private messages can work too but always offer to email them a link to the form.
- Always include a deadline in your request and on the form and make it a week or two out.
- If your Roundup has ten or more contributors, list them all in the introduction as you describe the post and what you’re talking about, and use HTML anchors to link their names to their sections with their responses.
The Secret Sauce To Make Roundup Posts Scrumptious
Want to take your Roundup Post to the Next Level? Here’s my best advice:
Create a custom graphic for every contributor. This graphic should include their headshot, name, Twitter handle, and some subtle branding of your own, along with the title of the roundup perhaps. Most experts outside of the marketing industry will not be accustomed to being included in roundups and even oft-quoted social media influencers are still flattered when I publish a roundup that has custom gorgeous graphics for them. They’ll be impressed and they’ll be more likely to share your roundup with their audience!
Here’s an example from a roundup I published.
We’ll continue to learn blogging by diving into Curation Posts next. Meanwhile, if you have questions about roundups that I didn’t cover here, ask away!
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