This column is written by Kimberly Turner from Regator (a great tool that gathers and organizes the world’s best blog posts). – Darren
Happy Monday, bloggers! Every week, we use Regator‘s blog trends to show you what the blogosphere has been buzzing about during the previous seven days. (As always, click any trend to see posts about that story.) Because so many people are blogging about each of these stories, it becomes more important than ever to find a way to set your post apart.
This week, we’ll be taking a look at a few posts from bloggers who used interest-adding formats to approach these widely covered stories. So many of us tend to think in terms of text and paragraphs when we sit down to blog, but there are dozens of options you can use to add variety to your blog, find new ways of looking at a story, and present an oft-covered topic in a fresh and engaging way. Live blogging, slideshows, infographics, charts and graphs, timelines, contests, polls, lists, interviews, videos, reviews, tutorials, Q&As, and lists are just a few formats that are worth keeping in mind. Let’s take a look at how some bloggers approached this week’s top stories:
- Earth Day – Treehugger‘s “An Earth Day Tribute to 11 Environmental Heroes” uses a slideshow to great effect, putting faces to the names to help readers connect more closely with the people being profiled. If creating a slideshow feels a bit overwhelming, a post with large, high-quality photos with deep captions can achieve the same thing in most cases.
- Goldman Sachs – In “SEC vs. Goldman Sachs Q&A,” The Huffington Post explains a complicated issue without frightening readers off with huge blocks of uninterrupted text by using a Q&A format.
- NFL Draft – In “Our NFL Draft Drinking Game Will Melt Your Face,” Asylum creates a game, complete with lengthy list of rules, for readers. My first thought was that creating games would rarely be a good option, then I searched Regator and found blog posts on drinking games relating to Earth Day, Avatar, Glee, income taxes, Battlestar Galactica, and dozens more. A search for more wholesome, less boozy options turned up posts on Appropriation Bingo, Gender Bias Bingo, Food Writer Bingo, Chatroulette Bingo, and too many more to mention. Get creative.
- South Park – BoingBoing‘s “South Park’s 200th, Litigious Celebs and Mohammed” makes great use of video. Videos add an extra dimension that can work well if your subject is engaging enough to hold your readers/viewers’ attention. In general, the shorter the better (without losing important context, of course).
- Gizmodo/iPhone 4G – Like a Q&A, timelines have the ability to break a complicated situation up in a way that makes it more digestible for readers. The timeline used by Today @ PCWorld in “Apple’s iPhone 4G Debacle: A Timeline” is in text format but, if you have the technical prowess and time, you could potentially get quite fancy with interactive visual timelines.
- Nick Clegg – Live blogging events encourages interaction and gives your readers the freshest information available. The Telegraph used this technique in “Sky TV Leaders’ Debate: Live Blog.” If you blog with others, live blogging as a group is a good way to give readers’ some extra viewpoints.
- Country Music Awards – You can use polls as a quick, easy way to cover a story and to encourage reader debate and comments. The Hollywood Gossip‘s post “ACM Awards Fashion Face-Off: Taylor Swift vs. Miranda Lambert” is an example of how brief a poll post can be.
- Project Runway – Interviews are a great option and, if you ask the right questions, also guarantee that you’ll have something original and exclusive to post. FabSugar‘s “Exclusive! Project Runway’s Jay Talks About Second Win and Why Nina’s Opinion Matters Most” has a descriptive headline and solid photos to accompany the interview.
- Tribeca Film Festival – Film, book, art, and music blogs employ reviews regularly (The Independent Eye has a series of well-written review posts on Tribeca Film Fest movies) but your niche might give you some even more interesting/unexpected options.
- Beijing Auto Show – Going to an event of interest to your readers? A thorough day-in-the-life post to share the experience with them is a useful alternative to live blogging (who has time to live blog while taking part in an event?). The Truth About Cars‘ “TTAC at the Beijing Auto Show. Day Two” is an example of a detailed post of this kind. It’s obvious that the blogger took care to take ample photos and notes throughout the day.
What other formats have worked for you and your readers? Please share your examples in the comments!