Types of blog and best blog formats

Are you new to the world of blogging? Confused about the different blog types and blog formats? Wondering how to write your blog posts or where to share them? 

Whether you want to blog for fun, blog for money or blog for business, it can be hard getting figuring out where to start. Fortunately, you’re in the right place!

In this article, I’ll be talking you through the basics of blogging, covering everything from types of blogs and best blog formats right through to writing and sharing your posts. 

Table of Contents

What is a blog?

Back in the early days of the internet, people started keeping online diaries – aka weblogs. The term ‘weblog’ was later shortened to ‘blog’ and became both a noun (this is my blog) and a verb (I like to blog).

Originally, blogs were used to log daily activities and were usually the work of one author. But as the internet evolved, blogging became more popular, and these days you can find blogs on pretty much any topic. Some are the work of a single individual writing about a specific topic. Others have multiple contributors and cover a whole range of subjects.

The three main types of blog

There are numerous types of blogs, but they tend to fall into three main categories: hobby blogs, money-making blogs, and company blogs.

Hobby blogs or personal blogs

Some people simply enjoy writing and blog for fun. They might be using their blog as an online journal to share their personal experiences or talk about a hobby or interest.

These types of blogs might be about general day-to-day life or a specific aspect – parenting, job hunting, or backpacking around the world. Alternatively, they might be focused on a general interest or pastime – golf, art, music, films, cycling, running, cooking etc. Or they might cover a very niche subject – a fan site for a specific band, a library of vegan recipes, or a guide to walking routes in the local area.

Money-making blogs

Money-making blogs are exactly what they sound like – blogs that make money. There are a few ways to generate income through a blog, including getting paid for ad placement, earning commission through affiliate links or sharing paid reviews.

Hobby blogs can be turned into money-making blogs once they have secured a loyal readership or are getting a lot of traffic.

But making a full-time income from a blog isn’t easy. You won’t make much ad revenue if you aren’t getting many visitors, and it takes time to build a strong following. If you intend to use your blog to generate income, be prepared to put some work in.

Business blogs

While money-making blogs are a business in themselves, business blogs (like this one) tend to be attached to an existing business or organisation.

The blog doesn’t necessarily make money directly, but it helps attract new website visitors in order to raise awareness or generate leads for the company.

Business blogs usually relate to the industry the company sits in – for example, a marketing agency would share posts about marketing. The purpose of the blogs is to build trust, showcase expertise, and encourage readers to take action. This action could be subscribing to an email list, downloading or signing-up for something, submitting an enquiry, requesting information, or making a purchase.

Some business blogs also crossover into money-making blogs. Again, you’re more likely to make money directly from the blog if you have established good visitor numbers.

Do blogs make money?

It is possible to make money from a blog, and some bloggers make a comfortable living. The most successful blogs earn millions in ad revenue every year.

But generating significant revenue from a blog isn’t something that happens overnight.

You have to get visitors to your blog, and that takes a bit of work.

Once you have good visitor numbers, you can start to make money through:

Ad placement – show ads on your website and get paid per view or per click (depending on the type of ads).

Affiliate marketing – earn commission by recommending and linking to other people’s products and services.

Sponsored/paid content – if you have a high readership, you can charge people to feature on your site. They might create their own post and pay you to share it, or they might pay you to write a review of their product or service.

Selling a product – you can make money through your blog by creating a paid product such as a book or course.

Generating business leads – use your blog as a marketing tool to generate leads for your existing business.

Should you start a blog?

Only you can make the decision about whether starting a blog is right for you. The answer will depend on several things:

  1. Purpose – do you just want somewhere to share your writing, are you hoping to make money, or do you want to use your blog as a marketing tool for an existing business?

  2. Time – how much time are you willing to commit? It’s not just the time it takes to write the posts that you need to think about. If you want to build an audience, you need to factor in time for sharing your content and marketing your blog. This is going to be especially important if you want to make money from it.

  3. Budget – it is possible to start a blog for free, but this comes with some restrictions. If you want a dedicated site with a custom domain, there will be a cost involved. You might need to pay for the domain name, hosting and web design, depending on what type of site you want (although there are some very cost-effective packages out there). If you’re attaching your blog to an existing site, there shouldn’t be any additional cost.

  4. Motivation – if you want to blog regularly and build up an audience, then you’ll need a lot of self-motivation (and ideas). If your primary goal is to make money, you might be able to motivate yourself to write about boring but popular topics. However, it’s much easier to stay motivated if you pick a topic you’re interested in.

There are plenty of benefits to blogging, especially if you want to use it as a marketing tool for an existing business, but there’s no point in starting a blog if your interest in updating it is likely to fade after a month or two.

Hobby bloggers – if you want to test the water, try a site like Medium. It’s free to set up an account, and you can write articles on any topic you like. People can follow your account and see your posts. If you find you enjoy writing and you’re building a following, you can always create your own dedicated blog later.

Money-making blogs – be prepared to put in some work before you start to see a return. Take time to think about your target audience, your niche and your goals for the blog. Plan your content and research which platform will be best suited to your objectives. You might also want to consider buying an existing blog – one that already has an audience and is generating revenue. Check out Flippa and Empire Flippers – two popular online marketplaces for buying and selling blogs and online businesses.

Business blogs – these are my area of expertise, and they are one of the most cost-effective ways to get started in content marketing. But content marketing isn’t a quick fix, so if you are just starting out or you’re desperate for work, blogging isn’t necessarily the best place to start. That said, blogging for business has many benefits – establish yourself as an expert, promote your products or services, build trust and credibility, and so on.

If you’re thinking of starting a business blog, but want to test the water first, you could create articles or newsletters for LinkedIn. This will help you figure out how much time you’ll need to commit and what topics your ideal clients are most interested in.

And if you need help with a content marketing strategy, you can always book one of my 90-minute consultations.

Common blog formats

Blog posts can be created in a variety of formats, and they don’t always have to be text. Video blogs – aka vlogs – are a great way of presenting information if you aren’t comfortable writing.

Alternatively, you can combine video and text or create blog posts to run alongside your podcast – it’s entirely up to you.

But even if you decide to stick with text, there are still plenty of blog formats to choose from.

Here are some of the most popular:

Lists or listicles

Lists (or listicles) are one of the most popular blog formats and are exactly what they sound like – lists.

For example:

  • 100 must-watch action movies
  • 10 best cycling routes in Yorkshire
  • 50 ideas for your next blog post
  • 25 easy-to-cook vegetarian recipes
  • 7 bicep exercises you can do at home

How to guides

When we need to learn how to do something, our first port of call tends to be the internet, and that’s why how-to posts, guides and tutorials are always a winner.

  • How to write a business book
  • Beginner’s guide to blogging
  • Step-by-step guide to buying a house
  • Ultimate guide to SEO
  • How to make money as a freelance writer

What or why posts

In the same way we look to the internet to learn how to do stuff, we also use it to find answers to who, what, why, when and where questions, and that’s why people like what and why posts.

  • What is a blog?
  • Why should you change your password regularly?
  • What is the difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant?
  • Why you should never share mascara
  • What is the best way to cook chicken?

Interviews

Sometimes it’s nice to give your audience a different perspective by interviewing guests for your blog. You can present this as a Q&A-style post or write it up as a feature, incorporating quotes from your guest.

Reviews

Review posts can be used to give readers your personal opinion on something – books, TV shows, films etc. Or to help them make a decision about a product or service by talking through the pros and cons.

If you’ve been given a product for free in return for a review or you’ve been paid to review something, make sure you let readers know.

Comparison post

Comparison posts can be great for helping your readers make decisions by explaining the different options available to them.

  • Which accounting software is best for small businesses?
  • Which email automation software is right for you?
  • What’s the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com?
  • Inbound versus outbound marketing: what’s the difference?
  • SEO versus PPC: the pros and cons

Curated content

A curated post is one where you bring together lots of information for your reader to help them save time. You do the research so they don’t have to, then you compile the results in one place.

Examples:

  • 20 best blogs to follow for money-saving tips
  • 25 productivity apps every freelancer should know about
  • 100 stats every marketer needs to know
  • 25 websites where you can find free stock images
  • 15 of the best website designs

Infographics

Infographics are a fantastic way of presenting information in an eye-catching way. If your design skills are up to scratch, you can use infographics to present information to your readers.

Which blog format is right for you?

The right format for you will depend on what your objectives are for your blog, what topics you want to write about and most importantly, what is going to be most interesting to your target audience.

The good news is you don’t have to stick to one format – you can switch between lists, guides, interviews and other formats as often as you like. And you don’t have to stick to text – you can add videos, slide shows, quizzes, and all kinds of other things to to your blog posts.

Think of your blog like an online magazine – you are the editor, and you get to decide what goes into that magazine.

Can you have different types of blog post and different blog topics on the same website?

Absolutely. As I said above, it’s perfectly fine to use different types of posts on your blog.

When it comes to blog topics, you don’t have to stick to one, although you’ll probably find it easier to build a loyal readership if you stick to a specific subject area. If you’re switching between fashion, gardening, cooking and fishing, for example, you’re going to confuse your readers.

However, you can split your blog posts into categories. For example, I could have categories for blogging, marketing, copywriting and business to make it easier for my readers to find the most relevant blogs.

How long should a blog post be?

There is no right or wrong answer to the question of ‘how long should a blog post be?’ The answer depends on your blog objectives and the topic. 

Most sources recommend a minimum of 300 words – anything less than this won’t provide readers with much value.

If you’re focusing on search engine optimisation (SEO), long-form content often performs better as this tends to generate more backlinks. 

There are also benefits to long posts when it comes to engagement. If an article is useful, interesting, entertaining or value-adding, then a reader is more likely to share it, comment on it or like it. As a business, creating in-depth articles shows your expertise and helps you build trust with a reader.

Take the article you’re reading right now, for example – it’s pretty comprehensive and has a word count of over 5000.

One of my most visited pages, How to write a business book: The ultimate guide is over 6000 words.

But that doesn’t mean you should write long blog posts just for the sake of it.

People will only read a long post for as long as it holds their attention – nobody wants a 3000-word article that waffles on without giving away anything useful or getting to the point. 

How do you make long posts engaging?

First, you need to pick subjects that people will actually be interested in, then you need to decide how in-depth to go, and how you will break up the subject. 

People won’t necessarily read every word of your article – they might  just skim the article and pick out the important or relevant points. Headings and subheadings make it easier for the reader to find the information they need.

Even if someone is skimming a long article, they will spend more time on the page than they would if they were skimming a 300-word article.

Are short articles a waste of time?

Not at all. Some subjects only need short posts, and there’s no point trying to drag out a blog post just to get the word count up.

News updates, case studies, press releases and announcements work perfectly well as shorter posts. 

You also need to consider how much time you can dedicate to blogging or how frequently you want to blog.

If you’re blogging every day, then you’ll probably find 300-600-word posts more manageable than 2000-word articles. 

Try testing different article lengths to see which perform best. 

The most important thing to remember is to create content that interests your target audience. If your content is boring, it doesn’t matter how long or short it is as nobody will want to read it.

How to write a blog

There is no right or wrong way to write a blog. Some people like to start with bullet points and work from there. Others like to get all their thoughts on a page and then organise them afterwards. Some people even use a dictate app to record their thoughts and then edit the text later.

How you approach the writing stage is completely up to you.

What I would recommend is that you don’t try to edit as you write. If you’re trying to make every sentence perfect as you’re writing, you won’t get very far. Instead, write the first draft and then come back to it later to perfect it.

I recommend leaving as much time as possible between writing and editing – a week if possible, but a minimum of 24 hours if not. This allows you to come back to it with fresh eyes so you spot opportunities for improvement more easily.

If you’re new to blogging and have no idea how to approach it, here’s my four-step process for creating one quality post per month in just one hour a week.

Block out an hour each week to work on your blog.

Week one – use your hour for planning your post. Create a rough outline – what will your post be about, what questions will you answer, what information do you want to include? Do any research you need to do and pull together any facts or statistics you want to include. Your notes don’t have to be in order – they can just be bullet points to go through later.

Week two – write your first draft. Using your notes, write the main bulk of your blog post. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just get your ideas in a logical order and start developing your notes into something that makes sense for the reader.

Week three – this is where you edit and perfect your post. You’ve got something to work with, now you just need to mould it into something brilliant. Cut anything that isn’t relevant – you can always use your cut sections in a future post.

Week four – do your final edit and proofread. Look for any typos or grammatical errors and get your post ready to publish.

If you follow this process, you’ll have one quality blog post every month.

How to format your blog posts

There’s no right or wrong way to format your blog posts – it’s your content, so you can present it however you like.

That said, there are some things that will make your blog post more appealing to readers, so if you don’t want to try anything too risky, here are the basics.

  1. Choose a strong headline. This is what readers see first, and if it doesn’t grab their attention, they are less likely to read your post.

  2. Use subheadings. Break your post up into subsections and use clear subheadings. This helps your reader see at a glance whether your blog post is going to be useful or interesting to them. They can decide to read the whole post or just the sections that are most useful/relevant.

  3. Make your post skimmable. Subheadings are a great way to make your post skimmable, but you can also use bullet points, highlight key points using text boxes or different fonts, and add interesting visuals. If you’re creating an in-depth post (like this one), add a table of contents at the start.

  4. Opt for readable fonts. If your blog post is too hard to read, people will lose interest quickly. Choose a clear font in a readable size and avoid putting light text on light backgrounds or dark text on dark backgrounds.

  5. Keep your paragraphs short. Long blocks of text can put readers off. Keep your paragraphs between one and five sentences long. And avoid using overly long sentences. Aim to keep 70-80% of your sentences below 20 words, and don’t let any sentences creep over 30 words.

  6. Include links and credit your sources. Add relevant links to your post – either to other pages on your own site or to external websites. And if you’re using research, quotes, data, or images from other people, make sure you credit them (linking to the original source is an easy way to do this).

  7. Don’t be afraid of high word counts. It’s not true that people don’t read long blog posts (you’re reading this one), so don’t be afraid to go long. Short posts work for some topics, but if you want to provide real value on a subject, 250 words just isn’t enough. If your blog post is skimmable, readers can pick out key information if they don’t want to read the whole thing. And they can always bookmark long posts to revisit later.

  8. Avoid having too many distractions. You want your post to be eye-catching and visually appealing but avoid going over the top. Too many different font sizes, colours and styles can make your post feel too chaotic. And avoid having loads of annoying pop-ups. A couple of ads are fine, but if there are too many interruptions, your readers will get frustrated.

  9. Include a call to action. Let readers know what to do once they’ve finished reading. Do you want them to follow you on social media, subscribe to your newsletter, sign up for something, buy a product or click through to another page?

  10. Optimise your post. Even if you aren’t specifically focusing on search engine optimisation, it’s good practice to make sure search engines will understand what your post is about. Write your post for your readers and then optimise it for search engines to help more readers find it.

Sharing your blog posts

Writing and publishing your blog posts is only the first step. Now you need to get readers. 

As you grow your blog and your audience, you will increase your chances of being found in search results. But when you’re starting out, you need to go out and attract those readers yourself.

Using social media

Social media is the easiest place to start sharing your posts – especially if you already have accounts and followers. 

For LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, simply copy and paste the link to your latest blog post into your social post. If your blog is set up correctly, those platforms will usually pull the featured image, headline and a snippet of text through automatically.

But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to do anything. Just sharing the link with a bland or generic statement like “new blog post alert” or “check out my latest blog posts” isn’t going to do the trick. 

You’ll already be at a disadvantage because you’re trying to get people to leave the platform. Your connections want a good reason to click away.

So give them a reason to click through to your blog. Tell them why they should invest time into reading your content. Make them want to stop scrolling and listen to what you have to say.

For some of the other platforms, such as Instagram, you’ll need to do a bit more work. Insta doesn’t let you share clickable links in the post, but you can add a link to your bio. This link could link straight to your blog, or you could use a tool like LinkTree, which allows you to create a bio landing page.

Share in groups or forums

If you are in any Facebook groups or online forums, there might be opportunities to share your content. You can also look at Q&A sites such as Quora for conversations where a link to your post would be appropriate. 

Check the rules of the site or group to ensure you are allowed to share links and ensure the links are relevant. Don’t just spam every thread with links, as other users will get annoyed with you – some sites will just remove your links, others might ban you.

Sharing via email

If you have an email list, use it to share your latest blog posts. Let your subscribers know when you’ve shared something new. 

Summarise the post and add a link for them to read in full. 

If you don’t have an email list, you should consider building one. Email is a great way to nurture potential clients and stay in touch with existing ones. 

Check out this article for a comprehensive list of email automation software: 31 Best Email Marketing Software Platforms for 2023 (influencermarketinghub.com)

You can also include links to your latest blog post in your email signature. People are more likely to click on a “10-tips” or “how to” link than just a link to your website home page. 

Blogger outreach

Get other people to share your post and link back to it from their content. 

A good blog includes links to other content – I’ve linked to other websites in this post. 

So if your post can add something to somebody else’s post, get in touch with them and ask them to add a link to your blog. 

You can learn more about blogger outreach here: Blogger Outreach Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide (smartblogger.com)

Paid promotion

If your blog post is in-depth or promotes a particular product or service, you might want to try paid promotion. 

Paid search will help your blog post get found on Google – check out this article to find out more: The Complete Guide To Paid Search For Bloggers (quicksprout.com)

You can also promote content on Facebook to reach more people and increase your page likes: How You Can Use Facebook Ads to Promote Your Blog (getresponse.com)

I wouldn’t recommend doing this when you first start out, as paid adverts can get expensive, but it’s something you might want to research for the future once you know what your audience likes.  

Create internal links

Where relevant, link to other content on your site. And include a “more like this” or “related articles” section at the bottom of each post, linking to other blog posts. This helps give more value to your readers and keep them on your site longer. 

Resharing and repurposing

One of the biggest mistakes people make with their blog posts is only sharing them once. 

People won’t always take notice of your content first time around, so make sure you share it multiple times. 

And reuse, recycle and repurpose your content. Once it’s live on your own site, add it to sites like Medium or reshare it as a LinkedIn article.  Medium’s ‘import a story’ option allows you to add a link to your post – it will then pull all the content through and add canonical links to tell Google it is duplicate content. Plus, it will add a link to the bottom to let readers know where it was originally published. 

You can find out more about repurposing content in this article: What’s hiding in your content closet? 

Can you publish a blog post on more than one site?

If you are sharing the same content everywhere, Google will see it as duplicate content and may not be able to figure out which post is the original, which could be detrimental to your blog. Usually, Google will index the site with the highest authority, but in some cases, sites can be penalised for sharing duplicate content, so it is important to understand how to avoid this. 

Include canonical links

This tells Google the content is duplicated. Sites such as Medium will add canonical links automatically when you import a story, meaning the ranking of your original post doesn’t get impacted. And you can reuse your blog post as a LinkedIn article and add a link to the original post. 

Syndicated content

Some people create syndicated content – content designed to be published on multiple sites. This can be a good way  to build backlinks. This article explains content syndication in detail: What Is Content Syndication and How Does It Work? (semrush.com)

Create multiple versions of your content

You can write multiple versions of your blog post so it covers the same topic but uses different wording. Change the headline, change the text, and use different images. So, for example, if you did a “5 tips” post, you could switch it up to be a “5 things to avoid” post.

Guest posts

Guest blogging is where you write a post for somebody else’s blog, or you ask a guest to write an article for your blog. 

If somebody has asked you to create a guest post for their website, then check whether they are happy for you to publish it on your own site as well. In most cases, if someone is requesting a guest blog or paying you to create content for their site, they will want it to be exclusive. That doesn’t mean you can’t share it on your socials and in emails or link to it from your own site.

If you are writing guest blogs for other people, ensure they include a link back to your site.  

Can you share other people’s content on your blog?

If you see a blog post you like and want to share it with your readers, you can simply include a link to that post within yours (as I have throughout this article). 

If you want to share an extract from someone else’s post, make sure you credit the original author and link to the original content. 

If you want to share the post itself in full, you would need permission from the original creator, and you would need to add a canonical link (to tell Google it is duplicate copy). This would work the same way as syndicated content. 

What you must not do under any circumstances is copy and paste somebody else’s content and try to pass it off as your own. This is plagiarism – the original creator owns that content. 

Not only could this get you in trouble with the original creator and with search engines, but it could also damage your reputation. Stealing somebody else’s intellectual property is dishonest and will demonstrate a lack of integrity, which will make it hard for customers to trust you. 

If you see a post that you think would benefit your audience and you don’t want to just share the link, your best option is to create your own unique version of the post. You can add your own thoughts, experiences and research to the post – perhaps put a different spin on it, give a new perspective or make it more comprehensive. You can always add a link to the other post if it is relevant. Or even create a curated post, including links to the best blog posts and articles on a particular topic. 

Are there any blogging courses?

Yes – there are hundreds of blogging courses on offer. Choosing the right one for you will depend on the objectives of your blog, what stage you are already at, and what kind of support you are looking for.

Do you want a step-by-step for beginners, or are you looking specifically for training on how to monetise a blog?

Do you want a self-paced course, group workshops or one-to-one support?

At Make Your Copy Count, we offer a self-paced online training course, Blogging for Business.

This is aimed at freelancers and small business owners who want to use their blog as a marketing tool to generate leads.

What’s included?

  • Downloadable Course Workbook
  • Module One: Understanding content marketing
  • Module Two: Your Strategy
  • Module Three: Your Audience
  • Module Four: Adding Value
  • Module Five: Blog Titles
  • Module Six: Writing & Structuring Your Posts
  • Module Seven: Editing & Proofreading
  • Module Eight: Increasing Your Reach
  • Module Nine: Your Next Steps
  • Further Reading Recommendations

Enrol here for only £99 (inc vat).

Is this course right for you?

If you are a freelancer or self-employed business owner and you haven’t got a blog or aren’t using your blog consistently, then this course is for you. This course doesn’t teach you how to monetise your blog, but if you are starting a blog from scratch, you may still find the content beneficial.

It takes you through the basics of content marketing, creating a strategy for your blog, coming up with ideas, writing, structuring and editing your post, and maximising your reach.

By the end of the course, you’ll have the skills and confidence to create blog posts with purpose.

Hi – I’m Lisa

If this is your first time here, thanks for reading. 

I’m Lisa – owner of Make Your Copy Count Ltd, and author of the ‘A-Z of Blogging’ and ‘The Freelance Fairytale‘. 

I help freelancers and small businesses attract more of the clients they want by providing copywriting training and business mentoring

If you’d like to get to know me a bit better, sign up for my daily email here