So you got this Blog. For a while actually. But somehow it’s still a deserted western town: No one’s reading, sharing or commenting on your insights. Plus, you are slowly losing your motivation and energy to continue putting all that time in.
You could spend hundreds of hours of a lifetime for (not even that terrible!) blog posts that just don’t seem to reach anyone. And especially don’t grow your audience, therefore your potential clients. You don’t want to go there.
Let us shed some light today on what type of blog posts do work to help you grow your audience as a coach. Because that’s what you want to focus on: the things that work.
(Read more general tips about how to get blogging right in the first post of this series.)
Whenever you start writing a post, start by asking yourself these two questions:
- What’s in it for your readers? (Value)
- How can you present this information so that it will be understood well, and shared by many people? (Format)
The value aspect is about what your reader gets if they read this particular article. Why is this particular post worth reading? Let them know in the headline and in the first paragraphs.
The second aspect is tackling the format. Which one is the right format for presenting your valuable content? How can its understandability be improved? How can its sharing be encouraged (Spoiler: not by annoying buttons)? It’s about the structure, in which your content is wrapped up.
You are very well aware that there exist different types. For example recently many “XX reasons for YY” articles are out there, as opposed to personal, emotional, diary-like outbursts. But which work for what or for whom? And what’s in-between?
We compiled 4 post types that’ll rock your publishing life. Or at least give you some idea whenever you get stuck during production.
The lucid listicle
Let’s start with a very famous one. The hybrid between an article and a list – the listicle. There’s no way you’ve been browsing the Internet in the last 12 months without stumbling over it in its most ridiculous forms.
Examples? (You have to promise to come back to this post, because there’s no way you’re not going to click on them)
- 16 Pictures Of Beyoncé Where She’s Not Sinking In Quicksand
- 19 Puppies Who Are Super Excited About Their First Thanksgiving
- Famous People With Irritable Bowel Syndrome
If you get a lot of these in your Facebook feed it’s time for a spring-cleaning. However, while it’s worth criticizing the more ridiculous manifestations of this phenomenon, listicles aren’t only a punishment for all our sins. When done right, they can be very helpful. Let’s elaborate on how they’re built, and why they work so well.
Their main structure is a list. This typically manifests into sub headlines, which makes it super easy to scan for medium interested visitors. I do this all the time. Scanning the sub headlines and only reading what I think is giving me value.
Their headline is super clear. You get an idea about what’s inside, and very often about the quantity that’s inside. Which makes it easy to decide if you want to commit to browsing it or not. “21 puppies would be too much, but I’m totally ready for 19”. Recently their headlines often pick out one specific list entry, e.g. “all of them are cute, but #15 is too weird to be cute”. We’ll go into it more in our upcoming article about headlines, but: only do it if it adds value. Normally you wouldn’t want to become the next Buzzfeed with your coaching business.
That brings us to the next point: Listicles are allowed, and they work very well, but handle with care. Don’t become ridiculous, and don’t make people regret clicking on your post. Offer value. Offer value and it’s OK to make it easily digestible. In case you haven’t noticed: This post is a listicle. And we think it’s rather fabulous!
- Introduction to your topic. What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome and why is it important to be looked at?
- The list. It usually makes sense to have subheadings for each item. And even if it’s a visual list, don’t forget to write a paragraph for each section. Go into more detail if it’s not a primarily visual list.
- Conclusion. Don’t leave your readers alone with what they’ve just read. Wrap the topic up, and add a call-to-action.
The geeky guide
Are you a specialist in your field? Great, these posts are for you. We’re talking about how-to articles for solving specific problems.
We’re calling them geeky guides because they originate from the tech world. There are tons of posts that deal with solving various problems, and you have probably made use of some of them, since you’re connected to the Internet. How-to articles are some of the most famous types of content to be found on the Internet, and are being searched for in excess.
However they are not, and should not, be limited to solving technical problem. Assuming you are some sort of coach or counselor, and working with humans rather than cables and adapters, there are a lot of opportunities for how-to guides.
If you have a solution for a problem, compile it into a how-to guide!
“How to improve your relationships with your friends and family”, “How to be more grateful in daily life”, you could call it.
As with listicles, also here be clear with your headline and your promise. Don’t try to be too poetic. Be hands-on and practical.
Structure-wise a geeky guide can be a hybrid with a listicle, e.g. “7 steps for how to be more grateful in daily life”. But as we tend to be annoyed by too many listicles, don’t over do it here.
What is important is: Don’t be shy. Try to create the best content on the whole Internet for solving specific problems. And you will become the authority.
The investment you have to put in depends on the complexity of the solution you’re offering. Some how-to articles can be created in a relatively short time span, as long as the problem and its solution are simple. If you’re aiming to solve more complex issues, an article can be months of work (or can even become a book or special report of some sort). Which is a nice goal to have if you have the resources. It definitely positions you in a very authoritative place.
Want to see some outstanding examples? They all come from the tech world, so there’s a lot of space for creating similar ones in your niche.
- Show up the problem you’re solving, without revealing the solution yet. Also let your readers know the benefits of the solution.
- List the steps that lead towards solving the problem. Consider whether every step is worth its own sub headline, or if a list will suffice. Provide as much depth as you can.
- Conclude the subject, and make sure to have a call-to-action related to it.
The soul striptease
Somewhat popular amongst coaches is the sharing of personal experiences. And this can be tremendously helpful. These post types are super personal and show that there is a human behind all those digital words. They add to your authenticity and build your personality brand.
The soul striptease however comes with one major danger:
As you see we’re poetically calling them soul stripteases and not emotional breakdowns. On purpose. Work towards a making point. Don’t confuse your readers with your personal emotional state of mind, and don’t mistake your business blog with your diary.
Especially in the coaching segment, your potential clients can learn from your experiences and insights, and you can pick them up along the way as you are describing what you’re going through. But be lucid enough that it’s ultimately not about you. It’s about your readers. So make sure not to get lost, but to guide.
Want to see some good examples of people who are minding the gap correctly?
- Paul Jarvis: I wrote an article no one wanted
- Mish & Rob: From employees to anywhereists: Our full story
- Naomi Dunford: Entrepreneurship: What To Do When You’re Scared Sh*tless
So, structure isn’t particularly the common ground in these posts, but it suggests a possible framework. Apply “know the rules and break them”.
- Introduction. This is the main soul striptease part. This part can be about you. You can ask things like “do you recognize that feeling I encountered recently…”
- Zoom out and go into a stage that is a bit more analytical in the main part.
- Conclude. Go back to yourself and your results. Also apply it to your reader at this stage (if you haven’t already done that).
The courageous controversy
Last but not least (and actually not even last), let’s shed some light onto another type of article that works very well. The controversial kind of article. A warning before we go into it: this is not recommended for every topic, nor every audience. Handle with care.
However when you’re doing it right, it can work preeetty well.
There are probably quite a few myths in your field of expertise that annoy you. People are thinking it “wrong” and doing it “wrong”. Don’t hold back your opinion on that. Dispelling a common myth is a great starter for a controversial post.
You can either pick a fact out of the blue according to your preference. Or chose to react to a specific fact that someone else is mentioning and craft a blog post pulling that apart. Needless to say this has to be done right in terms of proper research and respecting other opinions.
Ready for some examples (note: these don’t specifically reflect our opinion)?
- Content Shock: Why content marketing is not a sustainable strategy
- Marriage Isn’t For You
- Robin Williams didn’t die from a disease, he died from his choice
As you see, articles that stand out through controversy aren’t about formality so much. They’re about picking the right “fight” and being a little provocative.
If you don’t want to be “anti” something, you can also provoke on purpose in your headline, and moderate it in the article itself. A method which might be a bit misleading, but OK as long as you add value.
So what now?
So we’ve talked about 4 different approaches on how to bring your thoughts into a digestible and shareable format that is capable of rocking the Internet. But of course that’s not it. There are plenty more ways. We’ve pointed out the ones above because they work well for our clients. And because they’re the ones that require a bit more explanation. Here are some more ideas for articles, and as you can see, some are very self-explanatory:
- Review articles
- Resources or link lists
- Checklists and cheat sheets
- and of course posts where other types of media dominate, e.g. video or audio
They all are capable of delivering value to your readers. But ultimately you are responsible for using them right, because they are all just as capable of being useless. Remember, it’s not about just having any content on your blog and assuming Google will find you anyhow. It’s about authenticity, realness and again, value. The more passion and motivation that lies between your lines, the faster your audience will grow, as will, eventually, your coaching business too.
Now back to writing!
Blogging for Coaches
Enjoyed this article? You might also be interested in others from our “Blogging for Coaches” series:
- Blogging for coaches: How to get it right (and why)
- Blogging for coaches: Articles that work
- Blogging for coaches: 5 rules for supernatural headlines