Revitalizing Your Blog with Alternative Content Types
You're a serious blogger. With a background in technical writing and journalism, you supply your readers with a daily dose of thoughtfully-written, highly valuable, easily-actionable content, and you take pride in the fact that you accomplish this task with nothing more than good ole' fashioned words (and a few pictures, just to keep with the times).
However, you begin to notice your readership numbers dwindling, if only ever so slightly. Comments just aren't being posted like they used to. Inbound links are becoming increasingly rare, despite your efforts to write content with useful links to peers and competitors.
Before you abandon your blog, consider your approach. In the current online environment, blogs that rely on text and pictures exclusively are starting to seem boring and redundant. In order to set yourself apart, you'll need to step outside your comfort zone and explore some alternative content types.
Next to words and pictures, video is far and away the most popular content medium you'll see on blogs and websites. A two-minute video is capable of expressing more ideas more clearly than hundreds of words of text, and if produced smartly, can do a significantly better job of grabbing and maintaining the consumer's attention as well.
A few examples of how to use video, just to get you thinking:
- Interview a peer or influencer
- Document a niche-related event
- Demonstrate a product
- Record a how-to
An infographic is a collision of words, photography and graphic design, created for the express purpose of providing information or making a point in a highly visual and intuitive way. A great infographic draws the reader's eye from one image or info point to the next, almost like a comic book.
One of the most common uses of an infographic is to take statistics, which can be dry, boring and cumbersome in the context of text, and present them in a way that's dramatic and interesting, as well as more illustrative of the intended point. With a little modeling on your part, you can make an infographic for anything from a product comparison to an emerging trends analysis.
Videos and infographics are becoming more commonplace on high quality blogs, but what about audio? Since the dawn of internet speeds fast enough to carry streaming audio, web surfers have been annoyed by music and audio files that begin playing as soon as you land on the homepage, without any prompting. Although you'll want to continue to avoid this particular technique, there are many other ways to feature audio in your blog.
One idea is to make an ongoing podcast series, which is akin to you starting your own radio show to complement your blog. If you're not interested in such a daunting time commitment (high quality podcasts take time), try these ideas:
- Create a Spotify playlist of songs loosely related to a topic you're covering.
- Suggest some MP3s to listen to while performing a certain task, or for setting a certain mood.
- Embed an MP3 player that's turned off by default, but allow users to turn it on and shuffle through songs at will. Update the music selections frequently to keep it fresh.
A slideshow can be a great way to convert a traditional list into a series of pictures and captions. Some users complain that slideshows take longer to read than typical lists that fit into a single page, so the trick is to make the slideshow interesting and entice the reader to click through as many slides as possible. This is relatively easy when you make it clear that you're counting up to the "best tip" or the "most important product," for example.
Services such as SlideShare make it easy to create slick-looking slideshows with minimal fuss, and the best news is that they can often be used free of charge.
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