I want to talk today about Evergreen content, and suggest seven types of evergreen content you should try on your blog.
Let’s talk evergreen content. Back in Episode 136, I introduced the idea of evergreen content as being one of the best types of content that you can put on to your blog. Today, I want to extend that episode, Episode 136, and suggest to you seven types of evergreen content that you might want to invest some time into creating on your blog. Back in that episode, I talked about why evergreen content is so great an investment of time.
If you’re not familiar with the idea of evergreen content, you’re not really sure what it is, you might want to go back and listen to that one first. But in short, evergreen content is the type of content that is relevant today when you’re publishing it, and will still be relevant in a year or two years or even ten years’ time. It’s the type of content that doesn’t date. As a result of that, it’s the type of content that you and others are able to share over and over again, after you publish it, into the future. As a result of that, it tends to be the type of content that you can repurpose into other formats as well. It often does well in search engines. As a result of all those things, it has a longer shelf life.
It’s a really good investment of your time. You might write a post today that’s evergreen and for the next few years you’ll continue to get traffic to it and be able to share it.
Back in that episode, I did give you an example of a post I wrote on Digital Photography School, it’s called an introduction to ISO settings on cameras. Not the most sexy title in many ways. I shared in that episode about how on the day I published that post, it had 100 views on its first day, which was okay. The cool thing about this post, because it was evergreen, a year later it was still getting views. In fact, the views had gone up to 200 to 300 views a day. Two years later, it was getting 700 views a day because by this stage, it began to rank in search engines.
I actually just went back and looked at that particular post in Google Analytics. Today, it has had over 1,000 visitors to it. Over the last month, it’s been averaging about that much. Since I published it many years ago now, it’s had over four million visitors to it. This is the beauty of evergreen content, it’s the type of content that you write today and in ten years’ time it still might be getting those views because it’s still relevant to your readers.
Back in Episode 136, I gave you some examples of evergreen content, some examples from my own blogs. I talked about why each one worked, but a number of people since that episode have been asking me for more on this topic of evergreen content because they’re not sure how it relates to their particular type of blog. I’ve had a number of people say, “Evergreen content is good for you because you do how to content. But what about me? I don’t have a ‘How to’ blog.”
Today, what I want to do is extend this idea, extend Episode 136 in some ways and take it in a slightly different direction and talk about different types of content that you might want to create for your blog. Again, there’s going to be lots of examples today but I’m going to cluster them together into types of articles.
My hope is that somewhere in what I’m going to present to you today and in the upcoming episodes on this topic, that you might find something that’s relevant for your blog. I really do encourage you to head over to the Facebook group where there is a thread on this topic as well. The amount of content that’s been shared there, the amount of evergreen content is just quite inspiring. There’s blogs there that are travel blogs, fashion blogs, there’s business blogs, there’s computer IT blogs, there’s a variety of blogs, weight loss blogs. Everyone has been able to find some evergreen content, so that might be a great place to head into.
Let’s get into the seven that I want to talk about today. It is also worth knowing that between the things I’m going to talk about today, there is some overlap. You might actually say that a particular post might fit into two or three of these categories as well. I do want to expand them out a little bit.
The first category of content that I want to talk about is the most obvious one. When I asked in our Facebook group for examples of evergreen content, this by far was the most common response. It is ‘How to’ content. This is going to be no surprise to you that I’m talking about this one first, because for me it’s been my bread and butter of my own blogging over the years.
Content that teaches people to make something, do something, achieve something, be something. It’s how to do, how to be, how to make, how to achieve, that type of content. This is the type of content I want to start off with. Ninety-five percent of the thousands of posts that I’ve published on my blogs would fit into this category. ‘How to’ content works very well as evergreen content because it is one of the main reasons that people go online, they tend to go online and do a search on Google for ‘How to’ information. They want to learn something about how to achieve something, be something, make something. If you are creating that type of content, you’re positioning yourself to be found on the ends of those searches, whether those searches would be happening on Google, or iTunes, or on social media as well.
Many times, these ‘How to’ topics are quite evergreen in nature. Unless you are doing a really cutting edge, ever-changing kind of niche, most of the ‘How to’ content we can create today will still be relevant at least in a years’ time if not in more than that.
‘How to’ content is also really great because it creates sticky readers. It actually makes the impression upon people. If you teach someone something, if you teach them how to do something, how to be something, how to make something, they’re going to be thankful for that and they’re going to remember who taught them how to do that. As a result, they tend to come back to your blog.
It’s also great for building credibility as well. When you teach someone something, they see you as an expert, they see you as a teacher, as an educator, and that helps to build your credibility. ‘How to’ content is very, very powerful.
As I think about ‘How to’ content, there’s a number of different ways that we can classify it. One way would be to think about the level of that content. Let me just talk for a moment about beginner ‘How to’ content, this is actually what I major on. Particularly on Digital Photography School, in the early days of that particular blog, it may actually seem really basic to write beginner-y content. I know a lot of bloggers don’t write certain blog posts because they think it’s too obvious. As I’ve said on this podcast before, it’s the obvious stuff that people are actually searching the web for.
Millions of people everyday are going to Google to ask questions they’re too embarrassed to ask their friends. This is why on my blogs, posts like ‘How To Hold A Camera’ do so well, really basic stuff that you take for granted. You know this stuff but other people don’t. Actually, writing that type of very basic content can be a very powerful thing. If you write enough of that content, you’re positioning yourself to be on the end of those millions of search results.
On my blogs, ‘How To Hold A Camera’ would be one example on Digital Photography School. Another one over on DPS is ‘Beginner’s Tips For Night Sky Photography’. I just looked at that and that’s done very well for us. It’s a beginner’s guide, I guess, to a particular type of photography. On ProBlogger, a good example would be ‘How to Start a Blog’. It’s the most basic question that a new reader might be asking when they come to ProBlogger. Beginner ‘How to’ content can be very powerful.
But ‘How to’ content for advanced people of course is just as powerful in many ways. There may not be quite as many people searching for that advance content, but there’s probably less content online that is at that advanced level as well. It can be well worth investing time into. It’s not just beginners who are searching for that type of information.
My blogs do tend to start out more on the beginner-y end. Over time, Digital Photography School started out ‘How To Hold A Camera’, ‘What is ISO?’, these very basic things. But over time, our audience began to grow up and they became more advanced because I was teaching them stuff. Typically, I begin to start writing more intermediate content, and then more advanced content. On Digital Photography School, we have posts like ‘Advanced Tips for Touch-Up Images’, which I’ll link to in today’s show notes as well.
Whether you’re writing beginner ‘How to’ content or advanced ‘How to’ content or something in between, there’s a variety of things that you can do to really get in touch with that. Brainstorm, what are your readers’ main problems? What are the main challenges that they have? What are the main obstacles that they face? What are the main processes that you can walk people through? Brainstorm around those things and you’ll come up with plenty of ideas as well. Put yourself back in your shoes, into the early days of your own development on your topic, and think about the problems that you had, the challenges that you had, the things that you needed to learn, and then write about those things.
The other thing I’ll say about ‘How to’ content is that it can take many forms. It can be written, it can be visual, it can be video, it can be audio, or a combination of those things as well. Don’t feel you have to write it, in fact, sometimes when you bring a visual element to it, in addition to the writing, it can really come alive. We find that on Digital Photography School particularly, if we do a step=by=step ‘How to’ article and we include screen grabs or pictures of different steps along the way, those posts tend to do much better than if we just write the content.
The other way to do a ‘How to’ piece is to personalize it a little bit more. You can do a ‘How I did it’ post, that’s still teaching people how to do it but it’s talking about it in terms of a story or your experience of it. ‘How I did it’, ‘How I achieved it’, ‘How I made it’. That type of post can work as well. It’s still a ‘How to’, but it’s putting it in a personal way, and it’s almost something from your past. It’s actually a tangible thing and people really like that.
You could also write in the more theoretical voice, in the third person, or you might even talk about how someone else does it. You might want to write a post that’s an observational post about how someone else in your particular industry approaches a problem. You might interview them to get that information, or you might just observe it yourself.
It’s a bit more of a case study, I guess. ‘How to’ content can take many different forms. If you want to learn a little bit more about ‘How to’ content, back in Episode 142, I did a whole episode on how to content as well.
Number one type of evergreen content that does so well for me, I’m going to continue to invest into this, is ‘How to’ content.
Number two is Frequently Asked Questions. Frequently Asked Questions, FAQs, are gold when it comes to evergreen content. If you’ve ever joined me on one of my Facebook Lives that I do, I do these ‘Ask me anything’ Facebook Lives every now and again on our Facebook page. You know if you’ve been to more than one of them that I get a handful of questions over and over again. Whilst there’s always some new and fresh questions that I’m asked, I almost always get asked things like ‘How often should I post on my blog?’, ‘How long should my posts be?’, or ‘Can you really make money from blogging?’ These are three questions I get asked all the time.
Of course, these are not new questions. As I think back to when I started ProBlogger in 2004, they’re the type of questions I got asked back then. In fact, I’ve probably been asked those three questions every week since 2004. I don’t mind answering those questions at all, but it gives me a hint as to the type of content that I should be writing on my blog and the type of content that’s gonna be great, evergreen content, because these questions don’t go away. That’s a hint to you that it’s going to be great, evergreen content. If you hear a question more than once, please, whatever you do, make a note of it and create some content that answers that question.
‘Frequently Asked’ posts can come in a variety of different types. For example, you might take one of those questions and answer it as a post. For example, on Digital Photography School, we have a post ‘What Do The Numbers On Your Lens Mean?’ This is a question we get asked semi-regularly, so we wrote a post on it. It’s a single question that the answer is the post. On ProBlogger, ‘How Often Should I Post?’ is a post that I’ve written. I’ll link to all these in the show notes, or ‘How Long Should A Post Be?’ These are where I tackle a question and the post is the answer to that.
The other type of frequently asked questions posts that you might want to do is where you answer a number of frequently asked questions in the one post. For example on ProBlogger, I could write a post—I’ve never actually done this, maybe we should. I could do a post, ‘Frequently Asked Questions of Bloggers’, or ‘Frequently Asked Questions That Bloggers Ask’. That’s an overarching one, and I might tackle all the frequently asked questions in the one post. Or, you might choose to do that on a category.
On Digital Photography School, we have a post called ‘7 Common Questions About Long Exposure Photography’. It answers seven different questions. We have another one called ‘9 Commonly Asked Questions On Shooting In Low Light’. You can see there that we’ve chosen a topic and then we’ve answered the frequently asked questions that pertain to that particular topic. Two different ways of approaching FAQ. Again, in a previous episode, I did a whole episode on FAQs as well. If you want to dig into that a little bit further, Episode 139 is a good one there. In that episode, I actually dig into seven ways to identify these frequently asked questions, particularly if you haven’t got a big readership or if you’ve got a new blog and you don’t know what the frequently asked questions are, there’s some techniques in that episode, 139, on that.
Frequently asked questions are great. I don’t tend to do a lot of them, but it’s something that I do weave into my blogs from time to time.
Number one was ‘How to’ content, number two was Frequently Asked Questions, number three type of evergreen content that you might want to try is what I would call a research results type of content.
Research results or stats or any kind of data can make amazing, evergreen content, particularly if you do the research yourself and it’s original and unique to your blog. One of the best examples, as soon as I came up with this point to talk about today, one of the examples that came straight to mind was Mike Stelzner from Social Media Examiner who every year does an annual industry report on social media marketing. I’ll link to the latest one of these in the show notes today for 2017. Every year, they do this major survey of their readers. They have a fairly large blog and they ask them a variety of questions about their experience and their use of social media over the last year. They gather all this data and then they put it together into a report. The data is so rich, it’s so good. They, from that data, are able to spot the trends in social media and opportunities for their readers. They get a lot of ideas for future content for their blog from that report, and it also makes really interesting reading for their readers themselves. They put it into a report and then they offer it to their readers as well as an opt-in. They talk about some of the data in blog posts as well.
This type of content, when you research and you provide the results of your research, is the type of content that can do very well in an evergreen way as well. Michael’s doing it every year, so that data is dating a little bit. But a year is a long time to get traffic to it. I would bet that that content is getting a lot of traffic throughout the year because it’s the type of content that people want to share and they want to link to as well because it’s original, it’s valuable. It’s not the type of thing that you can get just anywhere at all.
You might think I can’t do a major survey, I don’t have enough readers to do a major survey. There’s other ways that you can take this same idea of presenting data and statistics. A very simple thing that you can do is to run a poll on your blog, and then do a second post with the results of that. This is the type of thing that I did many times over on Digital Photography School, on ProBlogger. In fact, I just saw a poll that I did in 2006 on ProBlogger that is still getting traffic today. It was a poll that I ran on ProBlogger asking our readers how much they made from blogging.
Then, I did a second follow up post a month or so later once I collated that data. Basically, the post was just a pie chart of me showing how much bloggers made from blogging. That results page was just a simple pie chart with a few of my own comments added to it. That post, still, today gets traffic. Even though that data is particularly out of date, it’s still getting traffic today.
It’s a type of example that you can take and run with for yourself. Do a poll with your audience, pull it in the results, write a second post, and then you’ve got some unique data that you can present to your readers.
Another thing that you can do is to ask your readers an open-ended question and then summarize the responses. Again, this is something I’ve done numerous times on ProBlogger where I might ask… In fact, it’s kind of what I’m doing with this podcast today. I asked in our Facebook group for examples of evergreen content, and I could quite easily take all those examples that you’ve given me in our Facebook group and write a post about that with 101 examples of evergreen content. In fact, maybe I should do that. That itself would make really good content as well. Asking an open-ended question and summarizing the responses in some way.
There’s plenty of places that you can find good data. If, for example, in my Amazon Affiliate reports I see what cameras my readers are buying, every month or so I get that data out of Amazon Affiliates and I put it into a blog post. I create a bestseller list and then write a post, here’s the cameras that our readers are buying on Amazon. Those become posts themselves. Our readers loves those posts, I’ll link again to those in the show notes today. Anytime that you can get data, particularly if it’s unique to your particular situation, that can be really good.
The other thing I’ll say is if you can’t do research, even other people’s research, as long as you give credit, can work for evergreen content as well. You might see a study that’s relevant to your industry and then write a post about that study where you summarize some of the results, of course giving credit back, linking to the source of the data, but then interpreting it for your readers. It’s really important to make it unique in some way, make it more useful to your readers. A lot of your readers will be interested in the data, but if you can translate it, interpret it for their particular situation, that can be a very powerful thing. Research posts can do really well for evergreen content as well.
The number four type of post or content that I think does particularly well with evergreen content is storytelling. Stories don’t tend to date. This is pretty evident when you think about the kind of stories that get told today. Many of the stories that get in media today are actually really ancient ones. They get passed on from one person to another by word of mouth, or they get reinvented for new mediums as well. A good story doesn’t date. People are still interested in that.
I just listened to a podcast earlier today as a true crime podcast. The story that was told in that podcast was from the 1930s. It hasn’t dated, I’m still interested in that because the story itself is what grabs me. Tell stories on your blogs.
I’m not going to go into great detail on storytelling because again I’ve talked about storytelling in previous episodes. You can go back and listen to Episode 80 where I talk about why stories are great, but the one you really want to listen to is Episode 81 where I give you 14 types of stories that you can tell on your blog.
A few examples of good stories that have worked for us on my blogs, on Digital Photography School we did a post called ‘Using Photography To Make A Heartfelt Difference’. It’s a type of post that if you’re sensitive to heart-wrenching stories, you might not want to go and read. It actually is a story, one of our writers told about using her photography to help families going through real times of grief. That post, it just has done amazing things. One, it’s highlighted a charity that we really believe in and support. Two, it’s actually really connected with our readers. A lot of our readers go back to that post; they remember it, they share it as well.
Another post on ProBlogger, ‘How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise, and Get Paid to Change The World’. I know many of you know what this post is already, it’s the story of Jon Morrow. Jon tells his story of being paralyzed from the neck down and still making a living out of blogging. His story is so inspiring. Again, I’ll link to both of those in the show notes today.
Storytelling is amazing. Both of those posts were written over five years ago. In fact, I think Jon’s was eight years ago. Both of those posts to this day continue to get traffic to them. The story doesn’t date, it’s evergreen. Storytelling is really important.
The fifth type of content you might want to try is case studies. In many ways, a case study is a story. It’s actually one of the types of stories that I did mention in Episode 81. Case studies are very powerful, and I really wanted to pull that out from that category of story telling. I think it’s particularly useful for a lot of bloggers who don’t think they’ve got anything evergreen that they can talk about.
Maybe you’ve got a case study that you can talk about, people love case studies. They can be incredibly evergreen, unless you’re in one of those cutting edge, ever-changing industries or niches, you will find that case studies don’t date too much. Case studies are essentially stories that are not just told to make people feel something or entertain them, but they’re actually stories that pull apart a process or an experience so that those who read them can learn something from them. They often have a lesson from the story as well.
Case studies, you might think of them as fairly business orientated type of posts but actually, I think case studies can be applied to most niches. For example, maybe you’re a travel blogger. You might tell the story of taking a trip, planning the trip, going on the trip, recovering from the trip, what you learned on the trip, what you did well on the trip, what you didn’t do well on the trip, things you might do differently next time. You might pull apart your strategy for booking the trip and talk about how you do it differently. That’s a case study.
A fashion blogger might do the same thing, they might have their approach for preparing for a wedding, what outfits did you research, what did you ultimately choose, what accessories worked, what did other people wear, how did it work out with the weather, what you’d do differently next time, the lessons that you learned along the way.
These are case studies, they’re stories, they’re teaching stories in many ways and that’s a case study. These posts do really well. I guess you’re talking about an event, something that happened, how it unfolded, and what can be learned from that. There are lots of approaches that can be taken with case studies. You could tell us success case study, but also a failure case study. Sometimes, people really like those success ones, how I built a blog from scratch in three months, that type of post does really well. But then you could also do a how I sent an email to a million people that weren’t supposed to get the email and what I learned from that failure. We’ve certainly done those types of posts on ProBlogger as well.
Sometimes, those failure posts can actually be just as useful to people as the success ones. Again, these don’t date. Those types of lessons that you learn can be as relevant today as they would be in five or ten years’ time. Again, I’ve got some examples of case studies in the show notes as well, some of mine and some of yours as well.
Two more types of evergreen content that I want to talk about. They build upon each other. Number six is what I would call ‘Introductions to’. These might overlap a little bit with ‘How to’ content, or even Frequently Asked Questions because you could do an ‘Introduction to’ on a frequently asked question, but they also could be a category of their own.
As I look at my Google Analytics, this afternoon I actually spent a bit of time doing that. I see that a lot of the posts that have done really well for us over the long term, this evergreen content, have had this ‘Introduction to’. They’ve actually had those words in the titles. I mentioned one of these at the top of the show, an introduction to ISO settings. That actually wasn’t really a ‘How to’ piece of content, it didn’t really teach how to do anything, but it taught what something was. In some ways, it was a definition, but it did have a little bit of advice attached to it as well. If you go and read that post, you’ll see that it wasn’t a ‘How to’ post. That was actually a part of a series that we did, we did three parts; ‘An Introduction To Shutter Speed’, ‘An Introduction To Aperture’, and ‘An Introduction To ISO’. We linked all those posts together and we did a summary post over them all and talked about how they are the three elements in well-exposed photos. Every time I mentioned shutter speed, aperture, or ISO, we link back to those posts as well.
As you look at them, they’re all fairly short articles. They’re only like 500 or 600 words, they’re fairly basic, beginner concepts. You could of course do a more advance introduction, an introduction to a higher level topic. But particularly with those beginner type concepts, an introductory post can work very well.
Keep in mind with introductory posts, they don’t need to be super long. They don’t need to be super deep. They introduce your readers to something. They might give some first steps, they might give some definitions. They probably should link at the end of them to some reading on deeper articles. I’ll talk about that in a moment as well. People who want to go beyond the introduction then get led to something that’s more in depth.
Introductory posts can be quite broad. You could do an introduction to blogging, you could do an introduction to photography as your overarching themes, or you could drill down a little bit more and you could do some introductions to a category on your blog, or an introduction to a specific topic.
On Digital Photography School, we have an introduction to street photography, we have ‘An Introduction To Bird Photography’, we have ‘An Introduction To Choosing A Camera Lens’. These are quite broad things, these are categories of our blog, but then we also have more introductions to some very specific things. ‘An Introduction To Taking 360 Photos’, these are very niche type topics. You can do introductory topics that are broad or quite focused. That’s number six.
Number seven, the last one I want to talk about today, is almost the opposite of the introductory post. It’s ‘The ultimate guide’. While introductions type posts tend to be a little lighter and targeted to getting people started with the concept, another approach is to go much deeper. In fact, to go very comprehensive. ‘Ultimate guide’ type posts take a lot more work, they tend to be more comprehensive in their nature. They go deeper, but they can really pay off.
I’ve seen this time and time again, it’s the longer, more deep, more comprehensive articles that tend to build credibility with your readers, they make a big impression on your readers, they also tend to get a lot of shares and a lot of links and they can rank really well in Google as well. They’re also the type of content that people remember and they come back to over and over again. The other thing I said about ‘Ultimate guide’ type posts, which I’ll give you examples of in a moment, is that they can be repurposed into other types of content. You can repurpose them into an opt-in as well for your blog or a lead magnet.
They also work really well as a companion to an introductory post. For example, on Digital Photography School, we have a post, an introduction to street photography, which I mentioned before. If you’re going to look at that post, it’s ’10 Quick Tips Of Street Photography’. It’s about 1,500 words from memory, so it’s not super short but it’s not super comprehensive either. It’s a good starting point if you want to learn about street photography. But if you go and look at that article, you see at the top of it and at the bottom of it we link to our ultimate guide to street photography. Then, you got to look at that one and you see it’s over 6,000 words long, it’s really deep. It’s very comprehensive, it’s the type of article that people want to print. In fact, we give them a PDF version of it if they want to opt-in to grab that.
It’s a much meatier post as well. It’s the type of post that you can spend a good half an hour reading and really digesting, and then you probably want to share it with your friends and save it for later.
Our goal on Digital Photography School is to have an introductory post for all of these big categories, these different types of photography. We want to have those intro posts, those digestible, easy-to-read posts that give people a taste, but we want them all to link to an ultimate guide as well. We try and produce at least one ultimate guide every four to six weeks.
Again, I’ll give you some examples of these in the show notes today. We’ve got an ‘Ultimate Guide To Photography For Beginners’. Very broad category there. We’ve got an ‘Ultimate Guide To Getting Started With Lightroom’, ‘How to’ content in that particular one. ‘The Ultimate Guide To Landscape Photography’, again one of our broader categories. Again, you’ll see some examples there in the show notes. These do really well but they do take a lot of work to put together as well.
They’re the seven types of content. I really want to say right upfront that they’re just seven of many types of evergreen content. I’ve already got a list of another 14 or so that I do want to cover in a future episode in a couple of weeks’ time.
Number one was ‘How to’ content, whether that’d be beginner or advanced. Number two was Frequently Asked Questions. Number three was research results. Number four was stories, storytelling. Number five was storytelling through case studies. Number six was introductory type post, ‘Introductions to’. Number seven was ultimate guides.
I hope that you found something in there that you can gnaw away and write, something that’s going to be evergreen, something that won’t date on your blog that’s going to continue to bring life to your blog for the ongoing future.
What will really make me happy is if you actually, as a result of this episode, create an evergreen piece of content. That’s what would really make me happy. I did not come up with this list today just to talk to myself, I really would love to see you applying it. If you do write an evergreen piece of content, can you share it with us over on that thread in the Facebook group as another example that people can get some inspiration from? That will show me that people are taking some action on this as well. You might also want to tweet me at @ProBlogger and share that example of the post that you wrote as well.
Go ahead, give it a go, see what you can come up with and share your results with us.
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