Blog Growth

5 Different Types of Blogs and How to Make Them Successful

April 9, 2019

Are you in the process of creating an editorial calendar for a new corporate blog? Have you run out of ideas for an existing blog?

If you answered yes to either question, you know how frustrating it can be to run into a dead end. Not only does this personally slow you down, but it can also impact your blog’s ability to generate traffic, leads, and sales.

According to HubSpot, marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13x more likely to experience a positive return on investment (ROI).

While this is a telling statistic, there’s something else to keep in mind: there’s a big difference between creating blog content and creating blog content that generates results.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of blog topics and types to choose from. Below, we outline the five most common types of blogs, along with examples and guidance for getting started. Let’s take a closer look!

The 5 Different Types of Blogs

  1. Listicles
  2. How-to and Tutorial
  3. Case Studies
  4. Resource lists
  5. Long-form

Now we’ll dive into each of these blog types and explain exactly what they look like and how you can do them really well.

1. Listicles

Listicles are among the most popular type of blog for many reasons, including but not limited to:

  • Ease of creation
  • Efficient scanning for readers
  • Ease of creating an engaging headline

Paul Graham has a great quote on listicles. As he puts it, they’re like the “cheeseburger” of the content world. Here’s his reasoning:

“If you’re eating at a restaurant you suspect is bad, your best bet is to order the cheeseburger. Even a bad cook can make a decent cheeseburger. And there are pretty strict conventions about what a cheeseburger should look like. You can assume the cook isn’t going to try something weird and artistic. The list of n things similarly limits the damage that can be done by a bad writer. You know it’s going to be about whatever the title says, and the format prevents the writer from indulging in any flights of fancy.”

For these reasons, he explains, “it should be a good one for beginning writers.”

Listicles, however, work. That’s why they’re popular (this post is a listicle afterall).

Visit any popular blog in your niche and you’re sure to find a few listicles that stand out from the crowd.

BuzzFeed, for example, is the unofficial king of listicles. Here’s an example:

Screen Shot 2019 04 08 at 1.12.54 PM

There’s nothing fancy about the title. It’s straight and to the point, giving you a clear idea of what the blog post is about. However, it’s powerful enough to draw you in, thanks to the addition of “you’ll wish you’d known about sooner.”

Even though writing a listicle style blog post is easier than many other types, there are things you must do to make it successful:

  • Start with an engaging headline. Sticking with the example above, the author could have chosen “29 Problem-Solving Products” as the title. While it explains the content to follow, it doesn’t hit hard enough to keep readers on the page.
  • Separate each point: With a listicle, it’s critical to separate each point, making it easy for the reader to skim the content and move from one detail to the next.
  • Use images: A listicle without images will push your audience away. Strive to include at least one image per point.

Tip: Odd numbered listicle headlines outperform even ones by 20%.

2. How-to’ and Tutorials

A good blog post is engaging. It hooks the reader from the start and keeps them interested until the end.

In many cases, how-to’s and tutorials are the most intriguing type of blog. This is due in large part to the depth of the content, as well as the opportunity to share unique information that teaches your audience something of value.

Kloudio, a SaaS startup, is a good example of a company using how-to’s to provide users with guidance on best practices for their service.

Screen Shot 2019 04 08 at 1.23.51 PM

The title and intro are crystal clear, which provides readers with an overview of what to expect if they continue to read.

Just as important as the title, this particular blog post delivers on the promise of sharing how-to tips on the subject matter.

Screen Shot 2019 04 08 at 1.24.06 PM

The biggest mistake you can make with a how-to or tutorial is failing to deliver on your promise. When you set out to create this type of content, keep these tips in mind:

  • Use a clear title that describes exactly what you’ll touch on
  • Hook the reader with an intro, and then dive into the “meat” of the post
  • Use images, when applicable, to illustrate your primary points

A how-to or tutorial doesn’t necessarily have to contain thousands of words. The goal here is to provide readers with valuable guidance on something that piques their interest.

3. Case Study or Company Success Story

You can write a case study or success story about your own company. You can also do the same for a customer. Either way, it’s a great way to show off (in a good way, of course).

One visit to the Sleeknote website and blog and it’s easy to see that this company strongly believes in the power of case studies and success stories. With one page after the next of success stories, potential customers don’t have to look far to see what they can do for them.

There are a few cues you can take from this company:

1. Choose a Catchy Title

You could easily choose a title such as “Acme Company Case Study,” but this isn’t nearly as catchy as something like this:

Screen Shot 2019 04 08 at 1.33.01 PM

2. Use Images

Your audience will skim your success stories for the most important information. Using images draws their eyes to all the right places. Here’s an example:

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In addition to an image, Sleeknote follows it up with hard data that shows how it helped its customers achieve success.

3. Use Quotes

It’s always nice to include a quote – especially if you’re writing about another company – as a way of bringing more social proof to your content.

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This isn’t the most detailed quote, but it doesn’t have to be. Something simple from your customer is more than enough to add value to your post.

One note on case studies is to know your audience (and what they care about) and know the story front-and-back. Ryan Farley talks about the recent plague of “fake case studies” going around the content marketing space. Basically, many case studies are shallowly written and don’t reflect the reality of a given business story.

While these may work in the short term, a good case study is unique, helpful, and sheds some semblance of truth about the reality of the story.

4. Resource List

A resource list is very similar to a listicle, with the primary difference being that these are typically longer.

Here’s an example from HubSpot that ranks on page one of Google for “content marketing tools” while also being regularly distributed on social media:

Screen Shot 2019 04 09 at 5.38.13 PM

If you want to create a high ranking resource list blog, here’s what you need to do:

  • Take time to choose the perfect headline
  • Make your list longer and more comprehensive than all your competitors
    • Conversely, you could make it better curated. Sometimes a reader doesn’t need 100 tools, but rather the best 7.
  • Include headers and images to make the content scannable
  • Do something to help your blog post standout, such as getting a quote for each point or sharing in-depth screenshots.
    • If you’re comparing many solutions, you can differentiate by getting expert reviews, designing pros and cons tables, or giving quick access to discounted or free trials.

This post does all of these things well. Here’s an example point:

Screen Shot 2019 04 08 at 1.44.08 PM

Another great example comes from Mailshake in their “best meeting scheduling apps” listicle. They list pricing information, give screenshots of the products, and have expert quotes reviewing the tools, helping you make the decision to choose a tool best your business:

Screen Shot 2019 04 09 at 5.40.43 PM

If you model your next resource list blog post after this one, you can expect to have success.

5. Long-form

Do you remember the days when 250-word keyword-stuffed blog posts could take your site to the top of the search engines?

Well, those days are long gone. Achieving success in 2019 means creating long-form content that’s both comprehensive and valuable to your audience.

Tip: Quality is more important than quantity, but studies show that longer blog posts rank higher.

Screen Shot 2019 04 08 at 1.47.37 PM

In the online marketing world, Backlinko is second to known when it comes to long-form content.

For example, this post includes 3k+ words of content, along with more than 100 images. Now, that’s what we’re talking about when we say long-form content.

If you want to create content like this – content that ranks at the top of the engines and gets shared on social media – take these steps:

  • When writing, continually ask the question “how can I help my readers?”
  • Don’t write just to write; keep your content concise yet valuable
  • Use text, images, and video (too many consecutive blocks of text will scare your readers away)

Tip: Find the top competitors for the type of post you want to create, dissect it, and then create a plan for doing it better.

Final Thoughts

Don’t get into the habit of publishing the same type of blog post, time after time. Not only does this fail to excite your audience, but it reflects poorly on your brand.

Instead, take the time to better understand how you can use each of these five blog types to drive traffic, increase engagement, and generate sales.

Do you have experience with all five of these types of blogs? Which one have you had the most success with? Would you add any other types to the list?

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Chris Bibey
Chris Bibey