8 Creative Blog Ideas that aren’t listicles
Yes I’m well aware of the irony of a listicle that goes over blog article ideas that aren’t…listicles. Now, let’s just move past it, shall we?
A good listicle once in a while is sometimes just what we’re looking for, but your blog should be so much more than a collection of listicles and how-to articles: variety is the spice of life after all.
A lot of these article ideas aren’t great for SEO, but many are excellent for generating social shares. I wanted to highlight that because everyone thinks that your blog just exists for SEO and it doesn’t.
There are so many ways to benefit from having an awesome blog apart from an endless stream of how-to listicles that you’ve only really written for SEO purposes (and I’m an SEO copywriter so if anyone has an interest in blog SEO it’s me!).
So, what can you write apart from the famed listicle and how-to articles? Buckle up, because I’m about unveiling the top 7 creative blog article ideas that I love using for both myself and my clients.
- 8 Creative Blog Ideas that aren’t listicles
- Interviews [and don’t just copy and paste your transcript]
- Reviews of your favourite products/services
- Debriefs: Talk about your latest projects
- Case Study: share client success stories!
- Resource List: your favourite tools & resources
- News: comment on your industry’s latest
- Reaction articles: your opinion on something that’s trending in your industry
- Challenge articles: take part in a challenge and blog about it
Interviews [and don’t just copy and paste your transcript]
Do you have a podcast or a YouTube channel? Ever bring on folks for guest interviews?
One big mistake I see a lot of creators make is that they usually just throw up the full transcript from their podcast or YouTube video, but these make for a pretty poor reading experience.
Usually transcripts aren’t properly formatted and because they’ll keep things in like umms and aahs and weird grammatical structures that we use when speaking (but not writing) the end result is a clunky, messy post.
This doesn’t only make for an uncomfortable reading experience though, it can also negatively affect how the post does on search engines. Google (and Bing, because I guess they exist too…) like it when content is well written and well formatted, and transcripts just won’t provide that.
So if you are pulling an interview from a transcript take the time to properly edit the transcript so that it’s readable.
You can still use an interview on your blog that’s not from a podcast or YouTube video, just reach out to whoever it is you want to interview and send them through some questions which they can fill out and send back to you.
Bonus tip: you can use a transcription service called Otter to create transcripts from your zoom calls. There’s a free plan that gives you up to 600 minutes and it’s what I use when I do my client and customer interviews.
Interviews with guest experts aren’t just a great source of value for your audience, but they’re also a great way to ensure some social shares. If someone is involved in the content creation process then they’re more likely to share that article, so it’s a great way to benefit from someone else’s audience.
Reviews of your favourite products/services
Review articles are great for a few different reasons:
- You can promote affiliate products
- They’re usually great for SEO
- But check the note after this paragraph!
- If you use a schema plugin (RankMath is an SEO plugin with built-in review schema options) you can get one of those neat “featured snippets” on the search engine results page which increases click-through rate
- You can shout out the company you’ve done the review for on Twitter/Instagram and more than likely get them to Retweet/Share your story.
- If you’re shouting them out make sure to properly tag them or else they won’t see it!
However, be warned: Google rolled out an update in April 2021 that has negatively impacted many review sites and articles. The new update is said to favour very in-depth reviews of products (and services to a lesser extent). So, for now it might be more of a way to leverage some favour with your favourite companies to get a shout-out and promote some affiliate links rather than gain a lot of traction on Google.
Here’s a tweet from Danny Sullivan, Google’s public search liaison on the topic.
It looks to improve for all types of product reviews, single reviews or round-ups.— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) April 8, 2021
Howeeeeeeeever, don’t be too worried. A lot of people out there just stuff a bunch of affiliate links into posts and barely take anytime to provide context or a proper review. As long as you’re providing quality reviews, you’ll probably be okay – but you might experience more SERP volatility for these review articles right now.
(SERP volatility means that many websites in certain industries are negatively impacted by something like an update rather than something they’re doing specifically).
But you don’t have to limit your reviews to just products and services, why not write a review about a movie or series that’s related to your niche? For instance, if you’re a social media manager you could write up a review of The Social Network which would surely interest your audience.
This may not be the most “strategic” type of post in terms of SEO, but it would be interesting for your audience. If you do YouTube you could do a “Social media manager reacts to The Social Network” then create a related blog post that reviews the movie.
Debriefs: Talk about your latest projects
I’m a big fan of debriefs, the last one I did was a debrief on how I built my WordPress site from scratch because people love seeing real-world examples of how something was done. Also, it’s pretty cool as a keepsake for you to see what progress you’ve made.
You could do a debrief on your latest course launch (what went well, what didn’t, what nearly blew up…) and create a blog post detailing all of it. With the rise of social media more and more people are curious to know what goes on behind-the-scenes of creators’ projects.
So why not let them know?
If you’re going to write a debrief make sure you track your progress. I’m mad at myself for not being better at tracking and recording exactly what I was doing as I built this site because it makes for great content: don’t live with my regret 😩.
Here are some tips about tracking your progress while working on a project so you can easily use it later in your blog posts;
- Take pictures of everything, including yourself: this works great in any type of fitness challenge, but it also works well for just about everything else
- Take screen recordings: if you’re setting something up for the first time I wouldn’t record. I’d wait until I get it up and running then go back and record my screen to show what I did (this way your audience won’t later be watching you fumble through options or whatever it is you’re recording)
- Build up curiosity in your audience before you release the full debrief: post snippets about what you’re doing on social media and tease the content before you write it up
- Keep everything in one folder please dear God: I think this one is self-explanatory – you need to be able to locate your shit
- Use descriptive file names: this is something I got into the habit of doing just by working as an SEO copywriter, but now I do it for everything because it just makes good sense. You don’t want to open a folder and have to open every single image/recording just to see what it actually is. Use descriptive file names (with each-word-separated-with-a-dash) so you can quickly locate what you need
Case Study: share client success stories!
These don’t just make great blog posts, they’re just damn good marketing.
I used to think nobody read case studies, until I was scouting for a PPC (pay-per-click) specialist for a client of mine. On her website she had two amazing case studies all about the results she got for her clients and detailing what she did to do it.
Sold – take my money please.
The best way to do a case study is to interview the customer/client and get a more in-depth idea about how your course/service/product changed their life (or changed enough of their life to matter). Then from there you can start writing up their case study, talk about how you helped them and weave in their own quotes into the case study.
If you’ve never done a customer or client interview before, here are some good questions that can get the ball rolling:
- Think back to when you first bought [product/course] what problem were you trying to solve? What was going on in your life at the time?
- What stood out to you about [product]?
- How has [product] impacted your life?
- How would you describe your life before and after [product]?
I even reached out to get some insider tips from copywriters I know who specialize in writing case studies.
Here are their top tips for getting great case studies:
I’ve learned not to fill a silence- when there’s a natural lull in conversation, you’re tempted to keep talking, but when you’re interviewing someone, let them fill that silence and often that’s when they give you the best material.Katy McKay, CopyKaty
Ask open ended questions that follow a ‘story’ structure so you get the full breadth of their experience with X company; before, during, and after. And have some going deep questions to pull out more detail like “tell more more about that” and “how did that make you feel?” for example. Showing genuine interest and enthusiasm will get you a more generous intervieweeAmanda Perry, Case Study Queen
One practice I have is to never assume the backstory. So ask a few ‘stupid’ starting questions to get it in their words and to warm them up. Another tip is to ask the same question in a different way…it’s amazing how different or revealing the ‘same’ question can be. Hope this helpsElizabeth Bond, Whirlybird Words
Want to see an example?
Elise Darma is an Instagram strategist who also makes good use of case studies which you can check out for inspiration.
Resource List: your favourite tools & resources
Resource lists are a really good idea not only for promoting affiliate links (and even your own products), but they also tend to do well on search.
I’ve included an example for “blog resources” which you can see has pulled up over 79 related keywords with a combined search volume of nearly 10,000 per month.
Be careful when you’re targeting keywords for resources pages. As you can see in the picture above, the average keyword difficulty is just over 70% which means that that as a whole group, these keywords are hard to rank for.
Go as long-tail as possible with your keyword research: embrace the low search volume and low competition because you’ll get way more bang for your buck and be more likely to show up on organic search.
Like with review articles, these resource lists are also a great way to shout out companies on social media and get them to share your post.
News: comment on your industry’s latest
Why not capitalize on what’s currently going on in your industry to pick up some organic search traffic and social shares?
These types of commentary articles are a great way to showcase your thought-leadery-ness in your industry. Don’t just talk about what’s going on, really go into detail and give your opinion on the matter at hand.
However, it could be a little lighter. For example, say you teach people how to use Pinterest and they roll out a new important update that would no doubt affect your audience.
Hello, blog article.
A great way to stay on top of industry news is to set a Google alert for specific key terms and Google will notify you when there’s fresh news on that topic.
Another cool tool that I like to use is Feedly which curates a news feed of articles for me based on my interests. It’s also great for my client work and I can stay on top of the latest developments in their industries.
Reaction articles: your opinion on something that’s trending in your industry
Of all the creative blog article ideas mentioned here, this one is perhaps the most creative.
We’ve all seen those [X] reacts to [Y] videos on YouTube. I used to think they were pretty stupid, until I saw “Blink 182 reacting to teenagers reacting to Blink 182” wow…talk about going meta.
I also love Doctor Mike’s “Doctor reacts to…” videos so I guess in the end they won me over.
But you don’t have to be a YouTuber to take advantage of this growing content marketing trend. Sure, you won’t be able to show real time reactions to something like a video, but you can ‘react’ in other ways.
Here are some ideas to get the ball rolling
- [Your job] reacts to [latest scandal in your industry]
- [Your job] reacts to [latest update in software that’s important for your job]
- [Your job] reacts to [latest viral video in your niche]
- [Your job] reacts to [annoying thing that happens in your industry]
- For me this could be [SEO Copywriter Reacts to bullshit keyword research advice]
These posts won’t be great for SEO but can generate social shares (important to remember that your blog doesn’t SOLELY exist for SEO – and come on, that’s ME telling you that so take me seriously).
Challenge articles: take part in a challenge and blog about it
Do any of your favourite companies or influencers run challenges? Why not take part and write up a blog article all about your wins?
These blog articles can be a gold mine of getting traction from your favourite companies/influencers who are running the challenge.
Think about it.
You’ve painstakingly set up a challenge for your audience, set-up a Facebook group, committed to showing up everyday to help people and you find out someone taking your challenge is bigging you up and documenting all the wins they’re getting during your challenge?
I’d share that! I’d share the hell out of that!
And you’ve already got somewhat of an “in” with that person because you’ve taken part in their challenge so you might have direct contact with them via their Facebook group.
If not, why not just reach out and email them or their team and say “Hey, I absolutely loved your free challenge. So much so, that I blogged about the amazing wins I was getting every single day. I hope it’ll help your marketing too – here is it [link].”
Try and be strategic with it though.
If you teach people how to use ClickUp to improve productivity and someone has a free challenge about running, it won’t serve you at all if they share your article. Try and do challenges from people in shoulder industries or who you share an audience with (not the exact same audience, but there should be a degree of cross-over).
So, those were my top 8 creative blog article ideas and not a damn listicle in sight
I hope now you realize what potential your blog actually holds beyond just “How to do blablablablalba ok, bye” type articles.
Okay, I’m being harsh, listicles and how-tos are also valid content ideas, but they aren’t the only ones!
The hill I will die on is this; the way to win at content marketing/search is by standing out. You don’t do that if you just write up how-to listicles over and over again with the same generic information that people can find anywhere.
QUESTION: Would you be interested in me writing up an article on how to jazz up the bog standard listicle and how-to article? Let me know in the comments.
CHALLENGE: try out at least one of these blog article ideas and let me know how it goes! You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org – I’d be so happy to hear from you.
I will happy dance if you share this article
Kerry Campion is a content marketer and SEO copywriter for ambitious SaaS companies. Her gig is creating customer-centric content marketing strategies and writing SEO copy that sounds nothing like SEO copy so her clients get the organic traffic they want, WITHOUT sacrificing their brand voice and badassery.