Years ago, magazines were published once or twice a month, and they contained serialized novels – a chapter or two in each edition. The goal of the publisher was obvious – people would buy the magazine to get that next chapter, so sales remained strong. This tactic is now becoming popular with bloggers for a number of reasons, not the least of which is to gain loyal readers/subscribers over a period of time.
How It Works
The idea behind serialization is that the blogger selects a large topic – one that is far too large for a single post. Web design, for example, is a large topic; so is personal finance or investing. A blogger, who may have taken small parts of this larger topic in the past, and provided piecemeal and disjointed smaller posts, can now take that larger topic and organize it into sections. That large topic can now be presented in logical and sequential segments that make sense to the reader.
Let’s consider the example of personal finance. You have a financial investment website. You may have written a number of individual blogs on topics related to personal finance, but they have not been inter-connected in any way. Now, you can actually develop a curriculum of sorts and present personal finance topics in a logical order – income, assets, money management, spending, credit, savings & investment, and retirement. Now you have seven blog post topics – almost enough for two months. And you can even divide some of those topics, so that you can dig deeper into them, and have perhaps twelve post topics. Your readers are receiving great value (education on a topic of interest and need).
Other Benefits Of Serialized Content
Readers’ Anticipation: If the topic has been chosen well, and you have publicized it on Facebook and Twitter (or Pinterest, etc.), then your readers will know when to access your blog for the first installment. Be certain to announce it with great “teasers” and tell them to share the announcement with their communities.
Announce it for several days, so that you build up anticipation. If, for example, you have a business that sells window coverings, how about a series of easy DIY home improvement projects that are also budget friendly? Your “teaser” can announce the series and the title of the first installment. “Coming next Monday – the first in a 12-part series on easy and cheap DIY projects to transform your home. 7 different ways to turn one wall into the focal point of a room.” Build the anticipation every day with a variation of your teaser.
Anticipation Means More Readers: If you’ve done your job and made that first post a “stunner,” then your readership will only grow as the series moves forward. Your audience will share with its audiences. And the lovely thing about serialization of blog posts is that anyone can join in late and not miss earlier segments.
Forced Creativity: If you intend to grow your audience through this great series, then you need will be forced to get very creative in your presentations. You may be forced to get some tools to create infographics, short videos, and interactive content (e.g., after a post on the wall projects, readers can vote on their favorite). Once you get in the mode of being more creative and practice with the media tool that engage well, all future posts you create are going to be better.
Forced Productivity: You’ve made a promise to your readers. You cannot now let them down. You’ll get on a writing schedule that will become habitual for the future. When you are on a writing schedule, you are not whipping up content at the last minute that is sloppy and boring.
Forced Learning: You’ll have to do lots of research to produce your series. With every bit of research, you become more of an expert. And a lot of what you learn may give you additional topic ideas that you can use in the future. The more you learn, the more of a niche expert you become.
Internal Links: If appropriate, you can provide internal links in your posts to other posts or to special features of your website. Getting readers to go to other places on your site is always a good thing, for they can see the products and/or services you offer, they can learn more about you and your team, and become more “connected” to you.
Increased Conversions: Maybe you want people to register for a subscription to your blog; maybe you want readers to download an e-guide for which they will provide an email address; maybe you have a survey on your site you want them to take. Perhaps you can give an incentive if they will share the post.
End to the Topic “Hunt:” For the next 6-12 weeks, you will not have to worry about topics. And, as you write the ones in this series, reader comments, questions and feedback should give you more topics for writing social media posts in the future.
Choose A Topic Wisely
The cardinal rule for topic choice is this: do not write about what you think is interesting or exciting; write about what your readers will find important or exciting. Too many content marketers make this mistake.
- If you are “well-wired” into your community, you should already know their pain points, their concerns, their issues, and their questions.
- If you are not wired well, then get on forums and your competitors’ sites and find out what the most discussed topics are.
- Think about topics about which you have considered producing an e-guide or writing a book.
- When you have narrowed your options, be sure to Google some related keywords and see how much duplication there is. You can’t use a topic that has been “beaten to death.”
Just remember, the topic must be broad and one on which you can find lots of information from research.
- After some initial research on the broad topic, you should be able to develop a series of sub-topics for individual posts. Make a list in the order in which you will write them.
- Write catchy titles for each of the topics (you can always change these as you go, but get at least topics for the first few). You will want to have a really compelling one for the first post, because that is the one you will initially publicize. If you are not really creative with titles, there are tools you can use that will give you great title options.
- Now do the deep research on the first few, so that your content will be unique and more in-depth than that of others who have written on the same topic.
- The first post will need to introduce the series, of course, but it should also move on to cover the first topic. Readers will be disappointed if all you do is introduce the series. You want to give them “meat” right away.
- At the end of each post, be certain that you provide that catchy title for the next post and give the date. Also, be certain that you have the plug-ins that allow sharing and conversation. Invite comments, questions, and feedback.
- Once the final post has been written, be certain to ask your readers what other topics would be of interest to them.
- Be certain to include lots of media – photos, short videos, infographics, etc.
- If you have a new series in mind by the time you get to your final post, be sure to advertise it and give a start date.
- Call-to-Action: Decide what you want your readers to do and ask them to do it at the end of your last post.
Dos And Don’ts
If you series is to be successful, be mindful of the following:
- You must follow your publication schedule and it must be a regular schedule. If you decide on Wednesdays, then Wednesdays it is – publishing early is just as bad as publishing late. This does not mean that you can’t write other posts in-between, but the day for your series is sacred.
- Quality is critical, both in the content itself and the way you present it. You must have enough uncommon information that the reader is actually learning something; you must use media to break up and reinforce text.
- Don’t ever put off writing one of your posts at the last minute. It will show, and you will lose readers.
- Don’t write over your readers’ heads. If the research has resulted in some touch to understand information, you have to break it down in easy to read and understand wording. If you know your audience, you should be able to do this. Unless you have a highly technical or academic blog, most readers prefer content that is written at about the 7th grade reading level. Use a readability tool to determine the level.
A Worthwhile Commitment
Yes, serialization requires a commitment. Once you have advertised a series, you cannot go back. You must produce it even if you have to hire a freelancer to help. But there are so many benefits to serialization, you should try.
Right now – start generating your list of large topic categories in your niche; do a bit of research to see if readers will find them useful; narrow or expand that list; pick a topic and just start!
About the author: Marie Mills is a blogger from San Francisco. Her passion is writing, that’s why she moved to Miami to get inspiration for creative writing. Also Marie works as a content writer at Essay Thinker. You can contact her via Facebook, Twitter and Google +