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10 Types of Killer Filler Content for Your Blog

Last week I ran an impromptu Ustream chat session with my Twitter followers on the theme of Blogger Productivity (to celebrate the launch of Blog Wise). It was an informal and fun session (you can view the hour-long recording of it here) but one of the recurring questions that came up was around the topic of posting rhythm and how to keep up regular posting when you may not have the time to post daily.

It’s a question I hear quite a bit. The pressure of posting daily, coupled with keeping the quality and usefulness of posts high, tips some bloggers over the edge—particularly those who write longer, deeper articles that take a great deal of thought and research to prepare.

One of the answers I gave was to consider developing a posting rhythm that mixes up the types of posts that you deliver to readers.

If you can only sustain one or two longer, deeper, more researched posts a week, you might want to consider adding in some regular posts into your week that are of a different style. The key is to keep the posts of a high value to your readers without them taking a whole heap of your time to prepare.

What we’re talking about here isn’t “filler” content. It needs to be “killer” content … or perhaps “killer filler” content.

Let’s look at a few examples.

1. Reader discussions

A semi-regular post type that we run on dPS are posts that purely ask readers a question. There are a few ways to do this. One is to give readers a couple of alternatives to an issue and ask them to nominate which is their preferred approach (e.g. Are you a Binge Photographer or a Snack Photographer?).

Another alternative is to run a “community workshop” where you take a reader’s question and then give it to your community to answer (e.g. Help this Locationally Challenged Photographer Improve her Portraiture).

You could also set up a debate… ask for stories or examples on a topic… or just pose a question. These posts are easy to write but can add a lot of value in terms of reader engagement and community-building on your blog.

2. Polls

Similar to asking a question, a poll can be an easy post to get up, and can deepen reader engagement—and start a good discussion too (e.g. What Mode do You Shoot in Most?). Not only that, you can take the results of the poll and turn that into a second post a week or so later.

3. Homework and challenges

One of the most popular weekly posts that we do on dPS is a weekly photography challenge: I name a theme, and readers go away and take a photo on that theme before coming back to share their image. This little challenge has become a weekly assignment that some readers revolve their photographic week around—and it could be adapted to many other topics (e.g. Photographer in the Picture: Weekly Photography Challenge)

4. Link summaries

A few years back, this type of post was a regular thing on many blogs. Bloggers would freely link up to other posts in their niche, quite often sharing a list of links with a few added thoughts on each. These days much of this link sharing happens on social media but I still find readers love these posts. In fact when I’ve created these posts on dPS, they often become posts that others share on social media (e.g. 18 (+7) Great Photography Links from Around the Web).

You’ll see in that example that I not only link to 18 great posts on other photography blogs, but also link to seven dPS articles from the archives, driving traffic both externally and internally.

5. Link of the week

Another way to write link posts is to just feature one in a post. Identify a high-quality, useful post from another blog or site, link to it, and add a few of your own thoughts to preempt or build on what your readers will find when they visit the link.

In this way, your readers find some useful content but they also get your quick insights on the topic. You’re also potentially building a relationship with the blog you are linking to by publishing this kind of post.

6. Best of and archive posts

If your blog has been running for a number of years, you probably have hundreds, if not thousands, of useful posts in your archives that new readers have never seen. Why not throw some posts into your mix that link back to some of those older ones?

Perhaps you’ve written five posts on the same topic over the years. A “best of” post that links back to them can be useful to readers. Another way to do this is to do what blogs like Lifehacker used to do regularly: publish a regular “One Year Ago on Lifehacker” post that links to a variety of posts from 12 months ago.

7. Guest posts

Much has been written on the topic of guest posts, and they work better on some blogs than others, but it is certainly worth including posts written by others from time to time on your blog. You may not do them every day, but a number of blogs I know run “guest post Tuesday” (or another day of the week) where they feature either a reader’s submission.

8. Hire a columnist

Some people don’t like to publish guest posts because they add too many different voices to a blog. An alternative might be to hire someone to write a post or two a week. This way, you build consistency into your blog and can hopefully build some momentum into your posts.

9. Videos

Head to Youtube, type in some keywords related to your topic, and see what videos are available—you might just find a video that is of high value that would really help your readers.

Embed it into a post, add some of your own thoughts, and you’ve got a great post (e.g. How to Create Impossible Images). I don’t do this every week, but I do like to throw a video into the mix once or twice a month on dPS—and readers love them (they’ve also helped us build relationships with other sites who produce the videos).

10. Interviews

This idea does take more work than some of the others listed above, but interviewing someone in your niche can be a great way of creating content without a heap of work. The hardest part is finding someone with expertise in your area who has time to be interviewed, and then constructing some questions that will be interesting to your readers to hear the answers to. But once you have this, you just email the questions to your interview subject, and let them shoot back the replies for you to format and put into a blog post. The key is finding interesting people and asking questions that will help your readers in some way.

I’m just scratching the surface here of the types of posts that are a little less labor-intensive to create, but which can still serve a purpose for your readers. The key is to experiment, test what types of posts get positive reactions, and evolve them into something that you can add into a regular posting calendar for your blog.

An example posting schedule

How you do it will completely depend upon you, but you may even find it useful to assign a different type of post to each day of the week:

  • Monday: Guest post
  • Tuesday: Reader discussion
  • Wednesday: Your longer, more thoughtful post
  • Thursday: Video of the week
  • Friday: Your second longer, more thoughtful post
  • Saturday: Link roundup
  • Sunday: Challenge/homework post
About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. I completely agree. Sometimes we all hit the writers block. The pressure of posting consistently makes the matter worse. No one can come up with a high quality post daily.
    By using these killer filler ideas, I am sure, at least I can update my blog regularly and increase user engagement.
    Thanks for the tip.
    Anurag

  2. Kenny Fabre says:

    Darren

    Reader discussions and interviews are very effective; I had seen your interview with Yaro Starak and I know these podcast interviews make his blog much more interesting.

  3. Presenting fresh content for your readers on a daily basis can often turn into a challenge. This post is extremey useful for me, and I am going to try out your suggestions in managing and updating my blog. Thank you for these great tips Darren.

  4. Victor says:

    Darren:

    Great article… Yes, I agree about getting stuck with writer’s block when it comes to daily posting. I kinda liked your breakdown strategy to accommodate two times article posting on blog. I believe by following this filler strategy one can spare more time to interact with readers without impacting posting.

    Thanks for sharing.

  5. I’m doing two, longer posts per week plus one link roundup and sometimes one guest post or killer filler.

    I really do need to work on mixing at least one killer filler post in each week, something that doesn’t take me two hours.

    One of the best posts I have seen recently was very short and simply asked a question. It fired up more discussion in the comments, and I probably returned to the post 10 times tor read new comments.

  6. I like the idea of varying post types. I’ve recently decided to start running a weekly link collection post.

    I’m not sure about posting poll posts though. They seem like they’d be better kept to the sidebar.

  7. Dan Ang says:

    Hi Darran,

    Great tips. I’m just starting on my blog and this is what I need to get started.

    Thanks,
    Dan

  8. This post has given me some great ideas for blog posts, I think the key thing to remember is that content doesn’t have to be new. I could dig through the archives on a couple of blogs and come up with 20 or more posts that my readers probably won’t have read, or will have forgotten aboutis is of course in addition to sharing new content you’ve found whilst wandering the web.

  9. suraj says:

    Posting schedule you mentioned here is best. We should read and reply the comments in blog. Comments is really Helpful for getting new ideas. If you are getting guest post then posting guest posts once or twice a week is a good idea.

  10. Carlos Ramos says:

    At the moment, I am in the process of making my thesis and so I cannot allocate as much time as before to blogging and find this an issue because I have not posted for almots two weeks (gasp). But here are some ideas to help me get thru this without leaving any of the two tasks alone.

    Thanks Darren :).

  11. Mike says:

    These are some great tips! I never thought of using some of these in my own blogging and might have to start using them in my own blogs and stuff.

  12. Great tips! I love viewing polls and interviews on the blogs that I follow. The “Link Summaries” and “Link of the Week” type posts usually turn me off when I see them on a blog. Those type of posts are ok once in while, but I’d caution bloggers about using them frequently (once a week). If I’m coming to your blog, it’s because I want to read your writing, opinions, and thoughts.

  13. Tom Cranmer says:

    This is great information. I do a bi monthly blog and plan on using some of these tips.

    Thx

    Tom

  14. Joe says:

    Darren,

    Thanks for sharing some really awesome ideas to generate content, I’m going to give a few of these a try this week!

  15. Morgan says:

    I LOVE the ideas you’ve listed. I really need more consistency on my blog as I’m kind of all over the place right now. I’ve also been thinking about doing a link of the week or resource of the week so I think now is as good a time as any to get started! :)

    Thanks so much for the awesome tips, always appreciated. :)

  16. Katya says:

    Doesn’t the very fact that it’s “filler” imply that it’s not really what the audience wants?.. Sometimes I think it will really pay off to eliminate the fillers and just focus on 2-3 STRONG articles a week.

  17. Chris says:

    Love the reader discussion idea. It creates a reader community and gets your readers more envolved with your blog! If they feel like they are a valuable part of your blogging community they will keep coming back to see what their friends have to say.

  18. Mike says:

    It is often hard to find time to create unique content that will give my readers something they can find useful. I never thought of some of these ideas as I was always just focused on writing posts. Thanks for the tips.

  19. Gemma W. says:

    Thanks for the ideas. I’ve noted them. But some of them seem like they’re best suited to blogs with a well established community. Do all of these ideas work just as well with blogs that are only just getting started?

  20. Roy says:

    I think one of the most important strategies is to pace yourself. It’s like a long distance run. The runner must never over pace himself or herself.

  21. Ahmed Sharif says:

    loved the article!!
    its not that I don’t know most of these… but to think of them at the right time requires that compilation in mind that doesn’t happen too often… this has been a great help, Darren!! :)

  22. Jody says:

    My blog is just getting started, and this post is so helpful. Thanks!

  23. Richard Ng says:

    Great tips, I’ve personally done a few of such “filler” posts, it definitely give me more ideas of what considered as “killer filler” post.

    Cheers!

  24. Angel Willis says:

    Great advice! I particulary like the idea of linking to other posts and writing some content about each post. I think these tips will enable a blog writer to continue posting valuable content on a regular schedule, even when writer’s block strikes. Thanks!

  25. Darren.

    Great points you mention, I personally feel if you manage to get the interviewed of highly known person in your niche that would be great boast to your blog, but certainly it takes a time to get the interview before that you have to maintained a little bit authority via your previous content.

    Secondly, I think that is very keen resource to get more knowledge and information if you are keep doing interviewing to those re-known & active bloggers.

  26. Slavko says:

    This is probably what differentiates blogs from one another in terms of something unique, something fun, interactive, yet valuable a lot.
    Interesting how adding just couple of these practices will in turn make your blog better in so many ways, more interesting, with breath of fresh air if I may add. The experiment that proves this right is just applying some on a personal blog. It will instantly attract more interest.

    Even though I cannot decide which one is my favorite, I will go with pulling one from the archives, and making a link summaries post.

  27. Another great post type I have found useful (and borrowed from Patt Flynn) is the forum question post. I search forums on covering topics on my niche for questions their members have asked in the recent past. Then I right a post answer the problem or question. This works well for people still trying to build a community, and thus can’t yet utilize the poll or community type of posts mentioned above. Thanks for the ideas!

  28. These are great ideas — I particularly love the idea of reader discussions, and homework and challenges.

    When I set up my latest blog, before it even went live I sat down and thought of what one weekly feature I could publish regularly, so that at least on that one day I’d never have to come up with an idea for a blog post! Since there is so much great content out there on other blogs in my niche, I decided I would do a semi-regular OPC (Other People’s Content) Day, so on the occasional Wednesday I now do what I call “OPC Wednesday.” I’ll grab a great video and post it with my thoughts, or talk about a wonderful piece of content I read on someone else’s blog recently, or straight up link directly to something online I found useful and relevant and talk about that. This works really well for me, because now whenever I see something online I want to share with my readers, I save it to my “OPC Wednesday” file, and I’ve now got tons of stuff in there I can use going forward!

  29. Carolyn says:

    Thanks for the ideas! Right now I’ve got an injury that’s possibly going to require surgery, and I’ve been trying to figure out how to get enough posts done in the next few days to get through the expected recovery time. Perfect timing!

  30. I have lots of ideas for my content but I see now that there is so much more potential to mix the delivery up a little. Thanks for the boost Darren. I’m already looking forward to this year’s Problogger event!

  31. Paul Mooney says:

    thanks for the idea, I am going to give a try… =)

  32. Sometimes just the panic of “what am I going to write?” goes into a loop that’s hard to step out of. When I come in the office in the morning knowing what I need to write, the ball gets moving quickly. Thanks for the ideas and the blogging schedule.

  33. Great tips. I will write them on stone and put them in a visible place. Thank you very much.

  34. Annie says:

    Thanks to you and the other commentators. I have resorted to RSS
    feeds on one blog which is difficult to monetize. Now I’ll rethink.

  35. pradeepf says:

    Writing killer articles can be a bit time consuming,but one should always do some brainstorming at first and then collect all the resources that might be necessary while writing the article,this helps in cutting down the actual writing time as well as the end content tends to be more informative and unique.

  36. It’s actually not very hard to find great guest posters who can write great content on aspects of starting an online business or making money online. More a question of being selective at the start and only going for authors who can really add value to your audience and subscribers.

  37. The key to having a successful blog is to keep it interesting. People enjoy different formats of content. The link summary works well because you are still providing great content, it just takes less time to create. In addition, you are “giving back” to your fellow blog community by helping to promote the work of others, who may eventually return the favor.

  38. Lorna says:

    Really helpful post Darren, we’ll definitely be putting a blogging schedule together

  39. Dr.Srinivas says:

    Good tips especially to feed the web savvy visitors who look for articles regularly. I was thinking about how to modify the tips you provided and make it relevant to medical niche.

  40. Chris Gagner says:

    Thank you for such an insightful post. I have only been posting to my blog 3 times a week due to not having time to do more. I’m going to add videos, discussion questions, links, and challenges to my blog. That will fill out the rest of the week!!

  41. Great tips. I have completely abandoned my blog due to time. It sucks and I wish I could do it more often but alas, it is what it is. I can’t even do one a month anymore.. :S