Build Your Blog’s Traffic and Impact with Resource Posts
Whatever the focus and goals of your site, take some time to create at least a few resource posts. Also called “flagship posts” and “pillar posts”, resource posts are entries in your blog that act as resources for your readers — the kind of stuff they’ll bookmark, email to friends, post to digg and del.icio.us, and generally want to come back to again and again.
Resource posts build traffic and they also help you establish yourself as an expert in your niche, whatever that is. What’s more, they establish goodwill between you and your readership, since resource posts represent at least a little bit of work that you’re offering up to your site’s visitors.
You can expect to put a little more time into a resource post than a usual post,though that depends a little on how careful you are in your blog writing, If you obsess over every line of a short story you’re posting, it could in fact be much easier and quicker to write up a resource post.
So what kind of posts can you consider resource posts? A strong tutorial is a good one, or a list of all the websites you know of that deal with your particular topic, or a list of 40 (or 80, or 107) books in your niche with capsule reviews — anything that gives people a reason to come back and check it out again and again. Here are some more specific ideas:
- Science fiction writers could do a list of 50 trilogies, or 100 books set in the present, or every steampunk novel they know of.
- Children’s book writers could do a list of children’s illustrators who have websites, or 60 books that aren’t racist, or books about rabbits, or a guide to writing dialogue for young readers.
- Travel writers could write 20 tips for taking great vacation photos, a howto on packing light, a list of off-the-beaten-path vacation spots, or a guide to a great museum.
- Literary novelists could do a list of lesser-known novels by Booker finalists, or a post about getting a literary novel published, or a list of 100 French novelists whose work is available in English translation.
- Freelancers could write a series of posts on time tracking, instructions for creating a perfect home office, or a list of 90 free online resources for self-employed workers.
- Fantasy novelists could write a Borgesian list of 50 fantastic creatures in contemporary fasntasy, a guide to another author’s imagined world, or 37 Charles de Lint fansites, or a howto about world-building.
- Poets could compile a list of 100 spoken word albums of poetry read by the original authors, every possible stanza form, or all living poet laureates.
- Textbook writers could create a tutorial for parents and teachers on how to teach a child some topic, list 60 important events that didn’t make it into the history books, or show readers how to do 20 great science experiments.
- Nature writers could introduce every species of American turtle, tell families how to hike safely with their children, or describe 100 sites to see before you die.
- Technology writers can list the best site to get reviews on each of 75 categories of electronics, how to set up a new computer, or review every tech manufacturer’s customer service record.
- Any author could write a list of 100 authors in their field that didn’t deserve their obscurity (or that do deserve obscurity, for that matter — I’m looking at you, Ayn Rand!), 50 writers who are famous for the wrong thing, or their 32 favorite writers’ blogs.
And so on. The idea is to be big, bold, and most of all, truly useful. And opinionated, if necessary — there’s nothing wrong with a little controversy! It will bring new traffic, and people will respect you for taking a position (though it pays to have a tough skin — online anonymity can provoke some pretty hateful responses).
What kind of posts can sports writers consider resource posts?
Aneesa: Since I neither write nor read much in the way of sports writing, I’m not sure exactly, but I think something like the greatest plays of all time, the greatest athletes of all time, how to describe a game, how writers can get their first big interview (or locker room access), the ten worst sports announcers ever — maybe that gives you some ideas? Or consider a recurring list of the best up-and-coming players of the season — useful stuff if published far enough in advance, though it doesn’t have the same long-term staying power more “evergreen” topics might have. Or here’s another one: the best sportswriters in the business.
I suppose it doesn’t have to be “bests”, either — how about 25 under-appreciated athletes? Or the rise and fall of a great team or athlete? The idea is, what will a lot of people want to know right now, and keep on wanting to know? Since I don’t know your field all that well, some of these suggestions might just be dumb, but I don’t think it would be all that hard to come up with better ones.
Thanks Dustin. You have provided me with some excellent ideas. I hope that I have a good start with the posts I’ve been writing on Love the Game, Don’t Like Puck Bunnies.
Aneesa: The “Must Read Hockey Books” post is a great example — lots of commentary to keep it from being just another lsit of books, but clearly something to come back to more than once. I’d pull all the links into a list at the bottom for easy reference, though (keeping them interspersed with your reviews, too, of course).
Naturally, you want your whole site to be a resource as well; writing “resource posts” isn’t meant to be the only way you build your site. Technically, on a well-written site, every post is a valuable resource, but once in a while, you throw out a massive list, or anything else people are going to want to keep coming back to, alongside your “everyday” useful posts.
I like the idea of being big, bold and educational 🙂
I already have an idea of what to write now!
Aneesa: As someone who doesn’t follow sports, but would like to be more conversant in the ones that are “water cooler” topics (football, baseball, basketball, golf, etc.), I’d love to see a resource post on the best introductions to popular sports (e.g. Football for Dummies) that go beyond Wikipedia. I think there are a ton of would-be sports fans out there who are looking for a point of entry.
Great advice. I cannot recommend this strategy enough.
Back in January, I compiled a list of 70 public speaking bloggers as a snapshot of my niche.
Traffic: It generated much more traffic than anything I had previously written, and continues to be one of the more popular articles I’ve written.
Expert in your niche: That article got me noticed, and I have tried since then to build on it. The list has grown from 70 to 106, and I now deliver a weekly review of the niche.
It took a long time to compile the original list, but it was worth every second.