How To Create Must-Read Recurring Content Columns

5 Regular Column Types Every Content Marketer Can Use

Recurring Content Columns Are recurring content columns a part of your editorial mix?

A recurring content column is an ongoing column. It’s a regular element of your editorial calendar.

Think Page Six, the New York Post’s gossip page.

Or go high-brow with New York Times op-ed columnists like Tom Friedman, Paul Krugman and David Brooks.

Or take a broader view with a regular feature on a category like sports.

When I worked at The Economist, the Obituary was the most popular column. No surprise. It’s gossip Economist-style.

Regular recurring content columns Recurring Content Columns

 

I wrote a regular biweekly column for ClickZ called Actionable Analysis. I get the power of recurring content columns.

  • Have a consistent content hook. It provides an ongoing content focus.
  • Write moderate length articles (about 600 to 1,200 words). With decreasing attention spans, optimal length has decreased.
  • Provide predictability (in a good way!) Readers know when and where content will be published. This builds your audience. Smart Passive Income’s Pat Flynn wrote an article about recurring content. He shares his monthly income break out. Readers want to see how the results change. Pat Flynn's Monthly Income Report - Recurring Content Column Example

Use recurring content columns to build trust with your readers.

Over time you’ll develop a relationship with your audience, even if you never meet IRL or engage directly.

Don’t get me wrong.

Recurring content columns presents challenges.

  • Must find new ideas on a single, well-defined topic. Depending on your focus, this may be easy. For example, sports, politics and gossip continually change. But over time, you may find you’re overusing some themes.
  • Require a consistent format or topic. Depending on your approach, this can be limiting.

But recurring content columns also provide benefits for content creators and readers.

  • Structures your editorial calendar. It provides regular articles on a specific topic.
  • Expands your content’s voices. It can be guests, employees or customers.
  • Creates reader expectations. This helps you to build an audience.

I find many content marketers and bloggers have difficulty incorporating recurring content columns into their editorial plans.

Use idea generation sessions combined with group vetting to surface columns worth testing.

Actionable Content Marketing Tips For Recurring Columns:

  • Select topics for which your audience needs information. Not sure? Ask your readers.
  • Ask “Who’s insights do your readers need?” Solicit input to answer: What information can you supply that will help your target audience?”
  • Assess topics that provide sufficient content related to your goals. Before you introduce a column, brainstorm article ideas. You don’t want to run out of ideas after the fourth post.
  • Evaluate column potential. Assess the topic and its relationship to your core content strategy.

5 Types Of Recurring Content Columns

Columns are great since they form a key element of your editorial content plans. Each new column should support your content strategy and address a significant audience segment.

Here are 5 types of recurring content columns you can easily adapt for your specific objectives.

1. Advice recurring content columns

Think Ann Landers and Dear Abby. These two long-running, syndicated newpaper columnists (twins actually!) dished out advice in letter format for decades.

The truth is advice columns date back much earlier than the mid-twentieth century. The Athenian Mercury first published advice columns in 1691.

I call this format answer man content. It’s pure Marcus Sheridan, “They ask, you answer.”

Like the advice given by these sisters, write your content in the form of a letter answering individual reader’s questions. It’s more personal. Kay Gardner and Ann Shayne of Mason Dixon Knitting use the letter format as the key way to convey information. The added benefit: They write for an audience of one.

Advice Recurring Content Column example

Blog posts use letter format like old fashioned advice columns

Actionable Content Marketing Tips For Recurring Columns:

  • Answer questions your customers have. Who doesn’t get a ton of questions about their business? Even better, get different employees involved in your content creation.
  • Offer targeted advice for your niche. Be the expert. Give step-by-step solutions.
  • Include the questions or letters to provide context. If you use real people’s questions or letters, get their permission to use the content or names, especially if children are involved.

2. Interview recurring content columns

Interviews bring a variety of perspectives to your content offering or blog without the supporting work of guest posts.

Who to interview:

  • Experts or thought leaders
  • Customers
  • Authors and other creative people

Use a consistent set of questions or tailor questions to the interviewee.

Alternatively, take a panel interview approach. Ask a set of people the same question(s). I did this to spotlight the presenters in my Content Marketing World track.

Interview Recurring Content Column - Example

Panel Interview Column Example

 

Actionable Content Marketing Tips For Recurring Columns:

  • Consider the people you want to spotlight. Answer: Why would my audience be interested?
  • Streamline the process. Make it easy for everyone involved. Thought leaders are most likely to provide interviews when they have a new book or product out.

 

3. Roundup recurring content columns

Focus roundup content on the latest news or gossip in your category.

For example, Sugarrae (aka Rae Hoffman) writes a weekly newsletter focused on search. In addition to giving a blurb about each element, she ranks the difficulty of the recommendations.

Roundup Recurring Content Column

Excerpt of Sugarrae’s Weekly Roundup Email

Alternatively, create a roundup by incorporate different points of view on a specific topic. Get input from different people.

For example, List 25 is a regular roundup column consisting of 25 points.

Roundup Recurring Content Column

For your content offering, focus on a manageable number like 5. (Research shows 5 is the magic number!)  

Actionable Content Marketing Tips For Recurring Columns:

  • Take a Goldilocks approach to your topic. Check the amount of available information. You want not too much, not too little.
  • Get input from 3 influencers in your field on a key topic or question each week. Combine a roundup with an interview like the Sunday morning television talk shows.

4. Curation recurring content columns

Content curation is a key element in today’s content marketing plan. Make it into a recurring content column with your own or other people’s content.

Copyblogger enhances their existing content by selecting 3 columns focused on a common theme. They add a new introduction explaining how the content is connected.

On Spin Sucks, Gini Dietrich taps into video without creating her own. Dietrich curates 5 videos and ties them together with a theme. She gives readers who alert her to the content a shoutout. Check out her consistent column branding and her curated commentary below.

Spin Sucks Gin & Tonic Logo

Curated Recurring Content Column

Curated Recurring Content Column

 

Actionable Content Marketing Tips For Recurring Columns:

  • Offer content readers and influencers in your niche need but have overlooked. Go beyond the top blogs and media entities. Your goal is to position your business.

5. Special format recurring content columns

Add content in a different format to your offering. Extend your reach to people who don’t like text.

For example Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose do a weekly podcast, called This Old Marketing Podcast.

Other Content Format for Recurring Content Column

Other Content Format for Recurring Content Column

Moz’s Rand Fiskin does a Whiteboard Friday. Fishkin explains a marketing concept using a white board. Both video and text are added. Whiteboard Friday SEOmoz Blog

Don’t assume text has to be your initial content format. Mari Smith recommends using Facebook Live and repurposing it. (For a full description check this article.)

Mari Smith Creates Facebook Live Content

Mari Smith Creates Facebook Live Content

Actionable Content Marketing Tips For Recurring Columns:

  • Combine an interview style with another content format. Many podcasts follow this format. Namely, John Lee Dumas’ Entrepreneur on Fire podcast with 7 interviews per week.

 

The recurring content column bottom line:

Expand your content offering with regular on-going features your readers anticipate.

Recurring columns provide editorial structure.

Regular columns distribute content creation effort across your organization. You’ll need guidelines, processes and editorial support to ensure quality and consistency.

If your column isn’t perfect the first time, don’t worry.

My first two ClickZ columns were painful.

But it got easier. The same will happen for you.

Take a tip from John Lee Dumas. Stop waiting. Start publishing.

What type of recurring content column is part of your content marketing or blog? How has it contributed to your content offering?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

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