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Three Ideas for Serial Posts

Create anticipation within your audience with these three ideas for serial posts on your blog.

Radio by Tom Godber (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Interested in more ideas on serializing? Check out some of Ben‘s posts from our archives.

Serial posts are one way to encourage your audience to return to your blog and make your site a part of their reading habit. Today, we’ll look at three ways you can serialize and have a bit of fun doing it no matter whether you’re writing or publishing photographs.

Old school cliffhanger

Back in the late 60s, every other episode of that awesome campy series, Batman, ended with the caped crusader and his sidekick Robin stuck in a trap and headed for sure demise. In the following episode, Batman would finagle a bat-tool of some sort out of his utility belt and save the dynamic duo from disaster. Batman is an example of a classic cliffhanger.

Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, consider sharing your post in multiple parts, spread over a couple of days or week to week. Withholding critical detail will build curiosity in your readers — they’ll return because they just have to know how the story ends.

A photo essay in “x” parts

If you’re into photography, consider using your camera to tell a story, and then serialize it by publishing posts on successive days or weeks. Looking for some inspiration? Michelle published a great photo challenge called, “Threes” earlier this year where she asked participants to take three photographs that together told a story. While the number three offers a tidy, “beginning, middle, end” feel to it, why not experiment and vary the number of photographs in your story. The more you use, the more serial posts you’ll have in your drafts folder. If you’re not sure about a topic for your story, check out previous photo challenges to help nudge your visual storytelling muse.

Switch up your point of view, or person, then serialize it

I never tire of the thrilling juxtaposition that a new perspective brings. Serial is a new podcast from the people behind This American Life that has earned a large and dedicated following by sharing a new perspective on the same story each week. If you’re writing fiction, consider writing scenes through the eyes of more than one character and then serialize those posts. If you’re writing creative nonfiction, consider the various angles from which you can tell your story and then publish your story told from a new angle on successive days or weeks.

Bonus idea: variations on a theme

This American Life is a radio show and podcast where each of the “acts” is a segment on the show’s theme of the day. In the most recent episode, My Pen Pal, host Ira Glass shares a story about an unlikely pen pal relationship between General Manuel Noriega and a young American girl, as well as a story about a woman whose husband wrote to her every day of the eight years he spent in prison and the effect those letters had on their relationship. If you’re into poetry, why not try writing about the same theme using different forms. How about a haiku, a sonnet, and some free verse on the theme of how travel alters your perspective, for example?

The Moth* is another podcast that shares personal stories based on the theme of the evening. If you’re into collaborative blogging, you might consider choosing a theme and having blogging buddies do guest posts on your theme, over successive days or weeks. Not only will your blogging buddies provide great post material, they might just bring their audiences along too.

* Bonus bonus: here’s WordPress.com editor Mike Dang telling a personal story on The Moth podcast where the theme of the night was “Bosses.”

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  1. I created “Obscure Friend Memory Mondays” and “Throwback Thursdays”. This helps me create something fresh for whomever is still following me. 🙂

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  2. The only problem I have with the cliffhanger serial is that its hard for me to think of posts like that I’ve liked and come back to finish from other blogs. In concept its quite tempting though as my word count has a tendency to be way too high on the average post.

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  3. That sound really good. I just started on my new blog and this post gave me some great ideas! Feel free to visit and comment.

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  4. My biggest problem with serialized posts is that I’m worried that a new reader may jump in the middle of a series, and become lost because they don’t know how the story started. One way to overcome this problem is to have a link at the beginning of the post that takes the reader to the first post in the series, and with each completed post, going back to the previous post and linking it to the new. This may be unnecessary for 3 or 4 part serials, but in 2013, I wrote a story of numerous parts. I also created a page with a “chapter index” for my story.

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  5. As a ‘This American Life’ and ‘Serial’ junkie, I really enjoyed these references in this post! I’ve been toying around with a loose “the struggle is real” series that runs the gamut from relationships, to self discovery to health and fitness. Now, if only I could get Ira Glass to read my drafts out loud to me, I think that would help 😊

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  6. تاريخ اليوم الثامن من نوفمبر من شتاء العرب للقرن الواحد و العشرين لعام ألفين و أربعة عشر أسعد الله أيامكم thanks

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