We each develop patterns in our writing. Using a few familiar article formats, for example, can help us efficiently produce new content and our readers learn what to expect from us. However, sticking to the tried-and-true pattens can also lead to stagnant, uninspired content.
Switching up the types of articles you write or the media you typically produce could be just the challenge you need to create fresh and inspired content.
15 ways to frame your content
We scoured the web to develop this list of suggestions for content formatting – some are very basic (our tried-and-true) and some we’ve never seen in practice (and we are excited to try them out).
- Lists: As seen in this article, lists are a simple solution to present information in an easily- scannable format for readers.
- Tutorials (how to): Teach your reader how to accomplish a task or meet a goal with easy to follow steps. No task or goal is too simple for a how-to. The daily tasks you easily perform can be daunting to a first-timer.
- Problem to solution: Similar to how-to articles, identify a problem your readers or clients frequently face and provide solutions.
- News jacking: If a topic in your industry is making the news, capitalize on it by writing about the subject, providing a unique take on it or personalizing it for your clients. Hubspot offers many blog article templates, but the news jacking blog template is helpful as you learn to write this type of article.
- Challenges: If you are participating in a self-imposed challenge or one issued by a business or blogger, share your progress with your readers. Or, issue a challenge to your readers and ask them to share their experiences. A great example is a reader challenge issued by Good Financial Cents to break bad habits in 21 days.
- Roundups: Compile your favorite news and web links in your industry into an article. Our favorite examples are the Weekly Marketing Skinny by Traffic Generation Café, and Weekend Reading for Financial Advisors by Michael Kitces. Roudup articles are best received when published regularly: weekly, monthly or quarterly.
- Interviews: Interview an industry leader, author, fellow financial advisors or bloggers. Share their stories in an easy Q&A format. This not only confirms the authority of your sources, but helps establish the credibility of your site.
- Reviews: Evaluate new products or resources. Examine new books, e-books, white papers and share your thoughts.
- Multimedia: Using a new media can certainly stretch you to make more inspired content. If you haven’t already, share a photo gallery, produce a simple video or podcast, offer a Slideshare or webinar. You may find a new favorite content medium!
- Case study: Write a case study and offer it as a free PDF download when readers enter an email address.
- FAQ or SAQ: Write an article comprised of the questions you most frequently hear from clients. No doubt others are curious to know the same information. A unique way to present this information is a SAQ (should ask questions) article, which lists the questions clients should be asking about services or products, but aren’t. Both formats are a great introduction to someone shopping for your services.
- Checklist: A cross between a list and how-to article, a checklist provides a list of materials needed or steps to accomplish a goal or task. An example could be, “Your Retirement Plan Checklist.” Bonus points for providing the checklist as a downloadable, printable document.
- Infographics: Have infographics run their course? If the content is strong, the infographic can be effective according to Forbes. Do the research, then hire a graphic designer or create your own with loads of free infographic-specific images at Canva.
- Questions/survey/poll: Asking your readers to participate in a poll or survey or to participate in an online discussion not only gives you a better sense of the type of content your readers want, but when you share results and analysis, you provide your readers with more information about their peers and industry.
- Timeline: A timeline can be an incredible storytelling tool. Share the history of your business or a product you offer. Tell the story of why your industry came about and what needs it serves today.
Assess responses to your new content
Using new article formats or media may stretch us to produce more inspired content, but if our readers don’t respond well, it may be time to try something else.
Use your analytics tools to determine the content that receives the best response. Was the topic well received? What role did the format or medium used play in that response? You may have to experiment a bit to better understand what your readers appreciate.
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