It takes time, effort and a little bit of luck to think up a truly original blog post idea. You may be inspired by something that happens to you on the job, or by an article you read, or even have a great idea in the shower.
Once a brilliant idea strikes, you can take action to research, write the blog post and publish it. But once it's done, you already have to start brainstorming your next great idea.
Instead of constantly struggling to fill a full editorial calendar with one-off blog posts, what if you could re-use that same idea again and again by slightly tweaking it?
This is exactly what serial blog posts can do — saving you huge amounts of time and creative effort. Instead of thinking of just one idea, you can expand an idea into multiple blog posts on the same theme. Don’t struggle to craft brilliant, original content week after week; let serial blog posts do more work for you.
Find a Theme
Instead of focusing on one simple idea, dig deeper and find an overarching theme you can really expand on over a series of blog posts. The topic you choose obviously depends on the focus of your blog, your target audience and your goals for engaging your audience. Whatever you choose, however, make sure you can write more than just two or three articles on this theme. Each post should offer an in-depth investigation into one aspect of the topic you’ve chosen, and then continue to examine it from various angles over time.
For example, on the InsightSquared blog, I've written an ongoing series about terrible cold sales emails, culled from real emails we received in our inboxes. In order to source content for "True Crimes: Sales Emails," I’m always on the lookout for emails that are examples of common mistakes sales reps make. I blur out any personal details, critique the emails and offer a concrete solution to the errors the sales rep is making. It’s not only fun to write, but also takes much less time to write than other blog posts.
Decide on a set schedule for your serial blog posts: Do you post once a month? Once a quarter? Or every other week?
Whatever you decide, really commit to that schedule. Set yourself calendar reminders for the next 10 posts, so you never forget to post a new entry on the third Tuesday of every month. This consistency will keep your readers coming back for more. You’ll be shocked at the enthusiasm you’ll see from readers who become fans of not just the blog or you as an author, but of the series itself. For example, here is a tweet I received from a reader about the latest True Crimes post:
I love seeing this enthusiasm from readers! The True Crimes series has become one of our top performers in terms of shares on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. I’ve now written seven posts in the series, and each new article garners more and more traffic. The consistency and familiarity of the topic seems to naturally build traffic over time — an added bonus for your blog.
In addition to posting consistently, you should also create a mini “brand” for the series. As I write each new blog post, I want the design and content to tie all of the posts together as a unified series. I write each post with a similar headline, a variation on a similar introduction and always include the same custom image so readers immediately know it’s part of the series.
This consistent branding helps reinforce the fact that this single post is part of a larger series on the topic. You should link back to previous blog posts within each new post, pushing traffic to the entire series as a whole. Any new readers who may have missed the first few posts will then go back and discover the entire series, earning the series even more traffic over time.
The Long Game
It’s not just about creating great content for your blog today, either. Once you have maybe 10 blog posts in the series, you can take all of that great content and easily combine the individual posts into a white paper or an e-book. Because the content is already linked by a single theme, it’s incredibly simple to rewrite as long-form content. By transforming blog posts into a high-value, form-gated e-book, you will be able to earn a much higher volume of leads with content you wrote months ago. This saves you an incredible amount of time, and also helps push your marketing efforts to the next level.
If you have a small content team, writing a blog series is always worth the investment. Serial blog posts allow you to be more efficient, build a backlog of posts quickly and offer your readers high-quality content at the same time. Stop racking your brain for new ideas each month and start loving serial blog posts.