Blog content is a lot like ice cream.
It’s widely available, it’s in high demand, it can be super freaking amazing, and it comes in all kinds of flavors to suit a wide range of tastes.
Imagine that you’re starting an ice cream business. Smart decision – it turns out that ice cream is a solid industry. Popular, growing, and somewhat resistant to economic swings (it’s a cheap way to feel nice when money is tight). Because I’m a nerd with the ability to do the Google (and love using restaurant analogies to describe starting a blog), I can tell you a couple of things about selling ice cream.
- The biggest single segment of the ice cream market is kids, at 22%, but old people buy ice cream the most frequently
- Almost 60% of the ice cream sold world wide is either vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry.
- Most of the growth in the ice cream industry is in new flavors and flavor combinations
This data tells you a couple of important things about your new ice cream business. It identifies your market, tells you where future growth might come from, and gives you a target to focus on in the beginning.
If Vanilla, Chocolate, and Strawberry make up 60% of the sales in the ice cream market, then your business needs to sell those flavors. And it would be an enormous mistake to open an ice cream business that didn’t sell those flavors.
This information about ice cream is directly applicable to starting and growing a blog.
Just like the ice cream industry, blogs have a market of consumers, a core set of products that consumers want, and a different set of products that keep the market growing.
I think most people understand this basic idea on kind of an intuitive level. That’s why you can find similar content “flavors” on many different blogs. However, I want you to understand this concept on more than a vague intuitive level – I want you to actively use this idea to consciously plan your content strategy.
Later on you can try out Passion Fruit Bubble Gum and Salted Caramel Tofu Crunch but, in the beginning, you need to focus on vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.
The Only Blog Post Ideas A New Blogger Needs (because they’re the best)
There’s an entire universe of content possibilities that new bloggers can explore.
Reviews. Product comparisons. Interviews, videos, news & industry happenings, definitions, and long form analysis (my fav xoxo). Like I said, an entire universe. Superstar guru – and coolest guy at the yoga convention – Neil Patel has a good article discussing some of the more advanced content types you can explore.
In the beginning though, it’s important to stay on target. Because once you veer off path from a basic content strategy – or even worse, start writing content without a content strategy – there’s a quick and insidious slide from vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry into the realm of cookies’n’cream and – eventually – Salted Caramel Tofu Crunch.
All of those options add flavor and uniqueness to your blog, and you should write them. But not when you’re just getting started. When you’re just getting started, you need to spend all of your time focusing on three high impact content types.
The Vanilla of the blog ecosystem. You take a single topic and explain to your readers “how to” get it done. Hosting, writing, photo editing, keyword research, whatever. Identify the topic and break it into actionable steps that readers can follow.
People love how-to articles. LOVE them.
If you’ve downloaded and installed the Chrome extension recommended in our Beginner’s Guide to Keyword Research, use it to explore ANY topic – seriously, anything. Making soup, planting tomatoes, whatevs.
Look at the search volume for the different keyword phrases you type in. Pick a couple. Type those keyword phrases in again, but add the words “how to” in front. Bam. Tons of search volume.
As Google continues to get better at understanding search intent – what someone actually means when they type a search phrase into a search engine – more people are going to interact with it in a natural-language way, so “How to do whatever” is not only a core product, it’s also a growth product.
The term “listicle” is also used, but I hate that term. Really hate it. Yeah, yeah, I get it – it’s a combination of “list” and “article” but it’s still dumb.
Lists are self explanatory and can be found e v e r y w h e r e. Top 10 computer monitors. Best 10 WordPress hosts. Top 3 Content Types for New Bloggers (wink wink).
You build a list, add a short-but-useful bit of commentary to each list item, and ta-daah! List(icle). Lists are easy to follow, rich in keywords, and great at satisfying user intent. They convey a lot of information in a limited amount of space. They’re high impact for mobile users and are also a powerful way to showcase some of your affiliate relationships.
Hubs are kind of like lists, but the idea is to use them to create a lot of internal links to your other content.
Imagine a bike wheel – the hub is the center and there are a bunch of spokes (links) leading outwards to other parts of the wheel (your blog).
The basic idea would be to create a good amount of How-to and List(icle) content and then pull chunks of them together into one unifying article. So, you could write 3 articles explaining the “how-to” of getting WordPress set up, one list of like 5 critical plugins, and then make a hub called something like “4 Steps to Set Up Your WordPress Install.” Each of the 4 steps would be a link to your other pieces of content. Powerful and useful.
As a new blogger, these are three types of content you should concentrate on. They are your vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.
Focusing on these three content types as your initial content strategy should be able to easily carry you to thirty or forty posts. By then you’ll be getting the hang of things.
While you won’t be ready to jump straight to Salted Caramel Tofu Crunch at that point, you will discover plenty of ideas for Double Chocolate, Very Berry, and Special French Vanilla.
Give it a shot, it’ll work.
Ready For More?
Check out my very long and controversial article about the eight things I think are essential to getting your new blog up and running the right way