Your All-In-One Guide to All-In-One Guides
Often on social, and usually at the beginning of the new year, brands and publishers alike release an “All-In-One” or “Total” guide to X, Y, and Z. The problem is, however, that these “All-In-One Guides” are not quite what we expect and hope to read.
The “total guide” concept is a perennial favorite on social media, but many of these guides fall short in their attempt to be comprehensive. Instead, they flounder about, drawing bits of information on a range of topics without a coherent, topical thread. Luckily, truly great total guides are completely within your reach, if you know the rules.
Here’s the total guide to total guides: a comprehensive, instant expert strategy for great content.
Do Your Homework
It may seem like a hassle to keep up with all the different blogs relevant to your industry, but reading up on what others have to say is an important part of mastering your field. Subscribe to these blogs and use this content as a guide to what topics are currently of interest.
Based on your reading, you’ll be able to detect emerging trends. These trends are the concepts worthy of a “total guide” post. Use their individual topics as subsections for your larger post.
Use Broad Categories
The kinds of categories you’ll use in a “total guide” post depend on how narrow your topic is. A “total guide” with a wide scope may use headings and subheadings to walk through a topic, potentially even starting with the history of the topic.
The best way to turn a couple sentences under a subheading into an expansive component of a total guide is by including a link to more information. By clicking the link, users should be able to access another blog post dedicated to that subtopic. A total guide doesn’t need to say everything, but it should always point in the direction of more information.
Depending on how formal your complete guide is, you may include links by embedding them in the broader content or you can simply include them as a list under a short subsection. You can be highly comprehensive in the latter way, but the post will read less like a blog and more like an index with this approach.
Consider Different Formats
While the concept of a total guide may seem like a singular one, there are actually several different approaches that work well. Three of the most popular versions of a total guide are the A-Z guide, a detailed why and how, and an expert answer post. Each of these types has its own advantage.
The A-Z guide is closest to the traditional “total guide” concept, and you can take this title literally or conceptually. A literal interpretation offers an alphabetized structure, letting you run down the list of concerns in order. Conceptually, an A-Z can also just stand in for the name “total guide.” In that case it’s just another way of saying that you’ll find everything you need in this post. Rug Pro NYC offers an example of a comprehensive A-Z post, walking readers through the history of rug making, different styles, and methods of cleaning.
Why and how posts tend to be more task oriented. For example, take a look at this post about product development. They tell you about a concern, why it matters, and how you can accomplish the associated activity. These are essentially a recipe, and a recipe does need to tell you all the steps, but it may not go any further in contextualizing the content.
Finally, expert answer posts offer a sense of authority, even when they lack some of the completeness of other “total guides.” Instead of summoning readers with the call that this is everything, it says that you’ll find the highest quality, most insightful answers here. These posts work especially well because expertise is compelling, no matter the topic. The experts weigh in on content marketing in this post.
When writing a total guide, don’t allow your content to get dry in order to get everything said. Continue to use your usual blogging formula for compelling content. One way to do this is through the CURVE method – focusing on curiosity, urgency, relevance, value, and emotion.
When you engage all of these concerns, your posts will always draw readers and keep them interested. Compelling content is what will carry your readers from A to Z in a total guide or any other post.
Read More: Beginner’s Guide To Periscope: What You Need To Know
Image Credit: Motaen
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