If you’re not sure how to serialize your posts, here’s some food for thought.
Late last year, Krista shared a few ideas for serial features — those recurring posts that help build a reading habit among your readers, and that can form the backbone of your editorial calendar. In case you just recently started your blog, or if you’re still shopping around for post ideas to adapt to your blog’s niche (if it has one), here are three more directions to explore.
Be a (friendly) parasite
One of the most natural ways to ease into a steady rhythm with your own posts is to write in response to something else that sets the pace for you. Why not make the most of the regular schedule of TV shows and podcast episodes, or real-life events like college courses and book club meetings?
You could write a weekly spoof of your professor’s most obscure, undecipherable comments, or come up with a roundup of the best (or funniest, or most puzzling) reactions to the work your book club just finished. Or find an offbeat angle from which to analyze the latest episode of your favorite show. (A weekly takedown of the fashion on Downton Abbey, anyone?)
The ideas are endless, but the point is the same: to use something that repeats itself organically in your own life and echo the pattern, in a fun, engaging way, on your blog.
Build anticipation with a long-term countdown
Blame it on evolution — or on too many representations of spaceship launches in sci-fi movies — but many of us find countdowns irresistible. The (extreme) ubiquity of lists and end-of-year rankings drives the point home.
You can help readers who start following your posts after you’d already launched the series by collecting previous installments in one convenient location — for example, a category page with its own sidebar Image Widget.
With a serialized countdown, though, you avoid the pitfalls of doing “just another list.” You create a slow-brewing sense of anticipation, instead of the cheap, short-lasting thrill of instant gratification. Your countdown can be about anything: from “My 15 favorite [insert whimsical object you’re passionate about]” to “Things I’ll never do without an umbrella” to “Reasons other people’s bucket lists are annoying.”
This type of series requires a bit of planning ahead of time — you might want to have a rough sketch of where you want it to end, and how many installments you want it to include — but it’s a fairly minimal investment for something that could pay off in the long run.
Document the passing of time
Most of us don’t have the time and resources to pull off a Boyhood-like project, where the same cast and crew convened yearly for more than a decade to tell a coming-of-age story. But the powerful effect of showing the passing of time — on people, on places, on objects — can still be achieved in a serialized post, if you have the patience and perseverance to attempt it.
My colleague Pam has been posting a picture of her three boys every single month since they were born. The time it takes to produce each individual post isn’t huge, but the cumulative effect, more than seven years down the line, is nothing short of dazzling.
Of course, not all of us have a set of adorable identical triplets to photograph. But that shouldn’t stop you: you can write a weekly report on the evolving status of your garden (or your desk, or your fridge…). Post a poem once a month about the happiest moment you experienced in the previous 30 days (or the most moving, most bizarre, or most humbling). Or find another way — whether visual or textual is your call — to show your readers the progress you’ve made on an ongoing project.
Do you have any other ideas for a serial post? Share them with us in the comments!