*Disclaimer – This article contains links to affiliate sites. If you make a purchase through an affiliate link, I gain a small monetary commission. Including;
Jason Stevens is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.*
If you have a website, a blog or a company page, the format of your content on your website is as important as the actual content and the audience it is for.
Produce insightful, relevant, timely, informative and original content and your audience will devour it. With that content being leading and top notch, your readers will come back for more. Produce your information in the wrong format for your audience and although content is king, sharing and ultimately your audience doing something with your content is the queen. If it’s not in a format pleasing to your tribe, you will lose or dramatically decrease the number of views. Or worse, hardly anyone shares your content.
You certainly would not produce a review of a service or product if the content is more relevant as a ‘how-to’ for that particular subject matter for your audience.
That’s not the only reason for producing content in the right format. But delivery of information on your website or blog, may also be the style your audience has come to expect. It also pays to be different and produce content formats to show information in a way to be understood easier. This also can be done by updating old content or in a manner that makes content better understood, or provide timely advise to the right audience.
We learn and receive information through reading, hearing, or watching, or doing or with a varying combination of all four.
Experiment with different content formats as well. Your audience may become passionate that your relaying subject matter in a format not yet seen before.
Here is an article & infographic of the 44 content formats by Justin McGill @ Hubspot that inspired this article – How To Build An Unbeatable Content Marketing Plan.
Let’s delve into the list of 44 formats of content and helpful examples that will rock your website or blog.
1. How – To’s
A staple of many websites. The How-To format shows readers an educational procedure of how to get from point A to point B in a manner of short workable action steps to achieve a specific goal or outcome. How-To’s are used to improve a readers knowledge and education with short, actionable steps.
Example tutorial here – Digital Photography School – 5 Tips For Setting The Focus In Your Landscape Photography.
2. Content Curation
This can be defined by sorting through large amounts of research, data or even other blog posts and presenting the results in a meaningful way, based on a topic or theme. The information is compiled and condensed into a format like a blog post article, a video or a podcast episode. This article is a content curated piece.
Example content curation article here – The 7 Attributes Of Highly Effective Curated Posts
3. Case Studies
Case studies research and reporting the findings of results from a development of a person, business or event over time. Usually, examples of case studies show how the growth of a person, business or event are then shown what has been achieved in an article, report or thesis. The benefit can be especially in an environment of learning, of showing how an individual got from point A, to point B and the benefits of the final results.
Example case study here – Travel Blogger Academy – How To Write An Ebook Case Study
4. Charts / Graphs
Charts or graphs are excellent to provide a point or conclusion in an easy to digest and concise manner. With a great design chart or graph and lots of well-defined detail, this can show an incredible amount of information that a reader can absorb in a short amount of time.
Example Graph here – Ranking Factor in Google Search in the UK
Ebooks are a digital format of a book that one can publish through a traditional publisher or through self publishing. Ebooks are an excellent way to distribute information to those readers of your website, blog or through your email list. An ebook may be created by you or from another 3rd party. Ebooks are electronic copies of books.
Example Ebook here – Dan Norris – The 7 Day Startup *This is an Amazon affiliate link*
6. Email Newsletters / Autoresponders
A newsletter is similar to curating content with gathering several items of content usually, from news sites, websites or blogs and curating them into a single email sent on a regular basis (bi-weekly, or weekly or even once a fortnight) to your email list. The benefit of this is you can keep up to date and provide relevant, useful information to your list.
Example Newsletter here
A well-placed cartoon, a highly detailed illustration or a well thought out infographic is a great format for readers to gain a lot of detailed information from a simple format. Since much of detail is included in a single package, readers can digest a large amount of information at one time, or break down information into more readable chunks.
This is an example group of infographics at the venngage.com website
8. Book Summaries
Read a good book recently? Share it with your audience. Summarise the best parts and the not so good parts of a book you read.
Here’s an example book summary.
A review is a staple and powerful way to express an opinion on a service or product. Consider the impact of an influencer or celebrity and watch how often a product may fly off the shelf with their endorsement. Reviews operate with endorsements by others and are still a perfect means to provide extra information to purchase decisions. If done correctly they are an excellent encouragement to a final purchase decision.
Giveaways are good as people love a freebie. The right giveaway can be relevant and useful for the person receiving it, especially if designed as a reward for asking someone to sign up for an email list. Giveaways as a format can be just about anything you can think of. An ebook, an email course, a webinar, a whitepaper, a coaching call for 15minutes, etc.
Example review on Wishpond showing case studies of success from giveaways via Facebook
If your website is big and chock full of information, a strategic FAQ may help readers navigate your site. If you sell a product or service with lots of detail and information, you will most likely need an FAQ. Questions come from your buyers who frequently ask or your buyers need to understand concepts of your item for sale. By having an FAQ page your site, you can overcome objections and provide relevant questions to your audience to help with their purchasing decision. Also, this illustrates to your clients a willingness to assist them before, during and post-sale.
Here is an example FAQ page from Darren Rowse’s www.problogger.com website.
12. Q&A Session
A good question and answer forum is an excellent way to get to the heart of the needs of your clients or audience. Each time you run a Q&A session, you discover the pain points and wants of your audience. With this information gathering, this assists to help you create better services or products. By defining exactly what is required, you have laser focus on helping your customers by giving exactly what they ask for. Depending on their buying journey, you will create a product or service that will be higher in sales simply because you are listening intently and supplying to your clients.
Here is an example video of running a Q&A session with Amy Landino & Brian Fanzo @ Social Media Marketing World 2018 conference
A webinar can be done as a live event or as a pre-recorded format. People will usually sign up through a web link or landing page with their email address to connect with the webinar on a specified date and time. Occasionally a login is provided if the webinar is a more private one. Webinars can be used for question and answer sessions, showing how to use a specific product or service or to talk about the benefits and features of an item sold at the end of a webinar. In a webinar, many people can join and usually ask questions via a text chat box somewhere on the screen. The ‘host’ who is the person running the webinar will be talking and may show slides on a screen that all the viewers can see.
An example how to sell via a webinar with John Lee Dumas
Guides are an excellent means of providing detail to a product, service or function on your website (like a membership site) A guide will provide detail on the feature, benefits, and use of said product or service. Guides often use a walkthrough or a step by step approach to providing help for readers to understand in more detail.
An example what to sell product guide by Shopify
A dictionary may be suitable for your site if it is a very technical and high-level detail site. You may have a particular lexicon used for your niche or industry that will help those that are at the same level of knowledge and understanding in your field. By providing a dictionary you enable not so technical people to gain a better understanding of the concepts used on your site.
An online dictionary at dictionary.com
16. ‘Day in the Life of ‘ Post
A day in the life of post enables the reader to experience the day to day life of the business owner, influencer or industry leader. This may be a view of the workday possibly broken down hour by hour. The reader gets a deeper understanding of the processes, challenges, fun and the schedule of the person they are receiving. It is like reviewing a detailed diary about a person day. This can provide possibly some ‘aha’ moments for the reader who may discover a task, not used by them previously that may help them in their own endeavors. Even without key learnings viewing someone else’s life through single day lens can be fascinating in itself.
A example day in the life post of a female pilot and how it is like to fly at 40,000 feet on forbes.com
This format can have a wealth of information and by using tables, charts, lists or other pictures or graphics in a meaningful way, impart a lot of information is such a small easy to digest format. Infogrpah9ics can be simple, detailed or provided in a way to that lots of information is presented in graphic representation.
An example infographic picture
This format is heard more often on Audible podcast (where it is an extremely popular form) or via video. Used appropriately on a website and it can be a powerful way to explore a particular subject broken down between interviewer and an expert being interviewed. Whilst an audible podcast may be a long form interview, many other formats for an interview via text as an article on a website is a great way to really niche down on a particular subject. Having mentioned already let’s not forget that audio and video can be used as a format as well.
Lists are one of the most often used formats (this post is a list post!) Lists are also an excellent form of providing information in a way a reader can read from A to Z. A reader can also scan this style of post and take away the most relevant parts to read. Lists post can also form part of a much larger post or be a portion of a multi-format posts. The other benefit is listed can be as long or as short as they need to be. For a producer, lists can be also a speedy format to create and publish quickly.
An example list post article – on list posts on CoSchedule
20. Mind Maps
An excellent format whether used publically or internally to help you with creating an article, course, product or infographic. Part picture, part an expression of a thought process and part research tool, mind maps are used to illustrate one thought, then expanded to show other interrelated and connected subjects of various details. Think of a niche, then sub-niches of that niche, then a set of sub-sub niches and this can form the basis of a mind map.
These are a great, simple and straightforward means to put a point across and done in a humorous way.
22. Online Game
Online games can take many shapes and sizes. You may be thinking World Of Warcraft when the format of online games is suggested. For a professional website or a blog, it’s an entirely different format. An online game can be as simple as asking people a few questions with selecting one answer from multiple choices per question. Another type may be in a form of interactive infographics where you select certain criteria to reveal more information. Online games can be an actual game or more along the lines of gamifying a process to move a reader from point A to point B on your website.
An example online games site for digital media literacy for kids
23. Helpful Application / Tool
An application or tool is an excellent way to extend your website and help your user with a format that extends your product or service beyond the site. Your user will benefit by allowing them to use your application via other hardware or mediums. Think Fiverr when looking at a format designed to extend a service beyond use on the desktop. A separate tool or application may also be another product that can be used in conjunction with your website or product. This may enhance or extend your website’s functions in some way.
idonethis – an online team tracking application
24. Opinion Post
An opinion post is just that. A blog post referencing your opinion on a specific subject matter. Opinion posts on a blog usually draw a line in the sand to agree or disagree on a particular matter. For example, you may write a piece about how Twitter is still a relevant and helpful social media for promoting your work and building professio9nal relationships. Opinion pieces are usually backed up by experience, case studies, long-term observation. Occasionally you may garner information that is influenced by talking with other professionals or even through your own trial and error. Coming from a point of view of sharing experience coupled with fact-based research, opinion pieces are a rather good way to express a strong form of content on your blog.
25. White Papers
white Papers are especially from a marketing perspective, a unique, in-depth article covering a specific topic that reports on a problem and provides a solution. They are primarily used to educate an audience on a unique problem and solution that’s very focused and specific to an industry. White papers are available for free or can be sold, just like an ebook.
A vlog is a video collection detailing a a persons specific journey for a period of time that is captured on video. Unfolding like a visual diary, a vlog is a collection of stories captured and a person or persons will relay in detail on camera, their experience each episode.
Casey Niestat on how to vlog
Similar above to blogging, except that with the video format, people can make video’s short, long, episodic, Be done on the fly or follow a script. Making a video in terms of content is usually performed, highly edited and make with a specific format in mind. For example, a marketing blogger may create video’s answering an individual question about online content marketing. His or her videos are specific to a particular niche, answer one question at a time and viewers can expect the same style each time a new video is produced. The release format of videos is usually consistent as well, such as daily, weekly or a few times a month.
An example video on YouTube with Darren Rowse of Problogger speaking at the SuperFastBusiness conference
A template is usually a preformatted guide to help individuals with producing a specific set of tasks in a defined manner. The tasks are very short and will take a certain amount of time to complete.
An example template creating an ebook
Surveys are a great way to determine how your readership is viewing your service as a provider of information and with regards to products or services you may have. By asking specifically of how you may serve your audience, this will give you insight into asking the right questions to guide how you move forward with providing for them.
Slideshares are an excellent resource for relaying a lot of information in a short period of time. A SlideShare can impact with explanations broken down as a list, graphs can be used to highlight specific information and each slide can enable the reader to see a broad concept on the first slide with further in-depth details provided as each slide transitions to another. Providing a much more in-depth information than say an infographic, in recent times, slides shares have seen an increase in sharing across social media.
Resources are one of the best formats to support or supplement any of the other formats in this list. The huge benefit of a resource is they can be literally anything. There is no limit. A resource can be a downloadable template, an email sequence, a free ebook, a few how-to videos, an online course, a high-value workshop event, consulting or your podcast, the list is endless. A key component of a resource is they allow your audience to maintain engagement on your site if it is chock full of resources.
Quotes simply inspire and make people feel good or to inspire. They are useful for succinctly illustrating a point you are attempting to make to your tribe.
‘Permanence, perseverance, and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.’
A quiz can be a quick win for your audience. The benefit of a quiz is they can be used as a stand-alone piece or as part of a longer multi-format article. Another benefit is its a simple form of generating research data on your audience.
An example quiz
Polls are a great way to survey your tribe with just a handful of questions. By keeping their choices to a few questions you will quickly get a determination on one or two strong answers.
An example poll
Depending on the outcome you desire for your audience or tribe, a podcast may either be your primary platform with links to a site you own or may be part of your overall multimedia strategy.
With a podcast, you will primarily become a known person within your particular industry or niche of business. If you are already known within your industry a podcast may help you being an influencer in your field.
By linking a podcast, whether as a stand-alone site or part of your company’s website, you will extend your reach to your current audience or grow a new audience.
Having a podcast can also lead to monetizing in different forms through sponsorships, rolling ads or with links to affiliates. The nonmonetary benefits can be great as well. Your podcast may help or start a speaking career, allow for client acquisition for your business or help with cross promotion with other companies.
Example podcast episode on creating online content
36. Pin boards
Pin boards, generally found in places like the social media platform Pinterest, but are on other sites as well. Pin boards help to relay a story through photos or video in a format that users can easily read or digest and quickly share with others. If your videos or photo also contain links, its an easy and quick way to generate traffic to your site, especially if your pin is shared to a very large number of people.
37. Photo Collage
A photo collage is a unique way to tell a story on a website or on social media. A collage stands out by telling a particular story with mostly visual media.
38. Original Research
Original research is a powerful way (and similar to a white paper) to take information in conducting studies or gathering information by research. Your research may involve case studies, interviewing people like clients, previous guests on podcast or mentors/leaders in a field, collation of many industries or niche specific research papers or white papers. You then use the research and produce original information in another format of your choice. This format may be written articles, a book, episodes of a podcast, an info graphic, a video, any format of media of your choosing.
The Queensland State government of Australia outlines a brief on conducting market research before starting a small business.
39. Press Releases
A press release is usually an article or another form of media like video, that reports on an event or circumstance to occur now or the not too distant future. The report will generally come from a business and be given or distributed by the media that picks up the report. A media brief or press release is given to media in the hopes of them distributing through too many people via, TV, Radio, magazines, newspaper, and other media communications.
Already used in multimedia websites, using photo’s in a stylish way will help your website stand out from the rest. Most bloggers use a photo or two of their articles. Those with photo-based sites use many more photo’s and generally display them larger than most other sites to tell their story. Photos can be self-produced, or acquired from other sources, especially on websites that specifically cater for this type of distribution. Photos also enhance other than plain text on multimedia and on social media.
Predictions are useful for generating interest in the potential future or possible trends in your industry. Generally, you would be best to write or create content if you already are known for this type of content in your field. Predictions are also fun in the sense of seeing what unfold over time and discovering if what you said came to fruition or not. If you are a leader in your field, then many will follow your words on future trends. But beware the backlash if your predictions don’t come true!
Here is an example prediction video for social media trends by Gary Vaynerchuk
42. User Generated Content
User-generated content is a format that is created by one or more persons who are not the primary person responsible for generating content. For example, I may be the primary producer that is running a website and I write and contribute articles consistently each month. I may also ask for others, like my readers to contribute and publish their articles on my site. Or you may be a brand that has a competition running and an entry condition may be to contribute a short one minute one video. The benefit of user-generated content is it can be a contribution by more than one author using many of the formats listed in this post.
43. Company News
Company news using a newsletter format, short form text snippets, video or even via email is still a useful tool to generate information in a meaningful way and advising your company’s staff internally. Company news would be generated and sent usually on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis. It’s also a great way to advise internally and provide key points of information to keep your employee’s up to date on what they need to know that will have some influence. Otherwise attempting to provide news in other modes may take too long to be acted on.
Example of a company newsletter
A timeline is an awesome way for storytelling events that can illustrate how its a project, product, service or event, has evolved over time. Timelines generally follow a theme and high time key events over time showcasing important milestones. Generally, timelines are displayed as an infographic, but you are not limited to only this format.
Example of a timeline graphic here
There are a few other forms of support to the content strategy formats listed, such as SEO, external publishing (like Medium, Hubpages, guest posting, etc), relationship building, attending conferences and trade shows and email marketing. Applying several of the formats above with an overall content strategy will help you hit targets for achieving your blog’s or websites goal.
Some strategies above are rather powerful mediums on their own, such as publishing whitepapers, producing original video’s, publishing research, holding webinars & podcasting.
By producing timely, relevant, well crafted and created content, your audience will come back again and again for more. It may be just the key element needed consistently for providing a product or service supported by your content for your audience.
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