The Content Pyramid: Healthy Portions of Posts for Your Blog

How do I map out what I’m going to write about? Well, I use something I call The Content Pyramid. Here’s what it’s all about.

Most of you are probably familiar with the food pyramid, right?

If not, it’s a graphical representation (in the shape of a pyramid) of the suggested serving sizes of different food groups, which together illustrate a healthy and balanced diet. It was adopted by the USDA (United State Department of Agriculture) in 1992 to give Americans an easy and memorable way to understand nutrition.

Here, I want to show you something called a content pyramid.

The content pyramid below is a graphical representation of the “serving sizes” of different types of blog posts that I’ve written on this blog, which together illustrate what I believe to be my own healthy blogging diet—a diet that has proved to quickly build some authority in the blogosphere.

Content Pyramid. The bottom, widest layer is Case Studies and How Tos. The next, slightly narrower layer is Analytical/Rational and Philosophical/Theoretical posts. The second layer from the top is Products/Reviews and Opinions/News. The smallest layer at the top is Personal posts.

In an older post, I had outlined a strategy I use to diversify the content that I publish on this blog. I went into detail about several different types of posts and how they each catered to a specific type of person and how they like to digest information, however I failed to illustrate exactly how often each of those posts were published.

Hence, this pyramid.

Now, in pure SPI fashion, let’s break it down from the bottom, up.

[Bottom Tier] Case Studies & How Tos

Case studies and how-to articles are what made this blog. There is no doubt about it.

Using real life examples from real life businesses that I own (the niche site duel, my iPhone app business, GreenExamAcademy, etc.), these posts accelerate my authority and prove not only that my methods work (or in some cases, don’t work), but also that I don’t just talk the talk, but I walk the walk too.

When I think of other successful bloggers who have made an impact on my life, they each utilize the case study and how-to post quite often and quite beautifully.

For example, almost every single post that Glen Allsop publishes is a masterful how-to article that is based off of something he just recently did. His post about his high converting Facebook page is a perfect example. [Editor’s Note: This post is no longer available.]

Darren Rowse from Problogger often writes about exactly what he does on his other, even more successful digital photography blog.

These types of posts really do become the foundation of a blog (aka. pillar articles) and without them you’re making it that much harder to stand out from the crowd and become a leader in your niche.

If you’re lacking in this part of the pyramid, all you need to do is take action and create your own case studies.

They don’t just happen on their own.

[Second Tier] Left Brain & Right Brain

The second level of the pyramid is for posts that appeal to the two types of people that are reading our blogs—the left-brainers and the right-brainers.

Left brainers are those who are into analytical thought and logic (i.e. Science and Math).

Right brainers are those who are into design and theory (i.e. Creative Arts and Music).

Where the center line that divides the two settles depends on your audience, but I try to make sure I cater to both types of people.

Left Brain Examples:

Right Brain Examples:

This second tier of posts, combined with the foundation, together become the core of the articles that I publish. As you can see, they take up most of the space,

That said, without the remaining top portions of the pyramid, I wouldn’t have the brand that I have today.

[Third Tier] A Voice and Recommendations

Opinions and News

Even though the previous two tiers take up the majority of the pyramid, I feel it’s important to also include a decent mix of opinionated and news type blog posts as well.

Not only do these types of posts keep people up to date, but it also enhances a blog owner’s authority as he or she is the one who publishes the information for everyone else to read (and then share).

For example, this past Friday I posted about Google’s recent algorithm change and its effect on many websites, including my own. Even though I know I’m not the first one to share this information, because I posted about it, it shows my knowledge and up-to-date-ness on the subject.

Opinionated type articles, which could be combined with the news posts, are important too because it begins to give a blog and its owner some personality—a voice. It’s important to have a voice and take certain positions in whatever niche you’re in, because it helps you stand out as a leader.

No one pays attention to the person who just sits in the back of the class and never raises his hand.

Lastly, even though these types of post are important and could become generous traffic generating tools for your blog, I want to reiterate the fact that it only takes up a small portion of my pyramid.


Because these posts are not timeless. Typically, within a week or two (or even a day or two in some cases) these posts won’t be very useful anymore. You’ll want to make sure a majority of your focus is in the foundation of your blog pyramid—pieces of information that are more likely to withstand the fall of time.

Products and Reviews

Many bloggers, including myself, monetize their websites.

It’s okay to monetize your site, but the methods you choose and how often you try to do so can dramatically effect your potential income.

More is not always better, and this is why this segment also takes up a small portion of the content on my site as well, and really the line should be moved over even more because I don’t even write product and review posts at all. I do, however, sprinkle product recommendations within my posts, typically in stuff that I write in Tier 1 and Tier 2 of the pyramid.

No matter what though (and this is huge for me), I will only recommend products that:

  1. I’ve used myself.
  2. That have helped me succeed or achieve something.
  3. I feel would be beneficial to my readers.

These three rules keep me grounded and help me not promote things that could potentially damage my brand or just simply make me seem like I’m in it for the money (trust me, the opportunities are there). If I can offer a product that I’ve used and will help others, I feel more comfortable because it’s a win-win for everyone: my readers get a product that works and have someone to go to for help if needed (me), and of course I get a commission too.

[Top Tier] Personal

I believe it’s important for every business that deals directly with their readers, subscribers or customers, to put in a little personal touch here and there.

Not too much (which is why this is at the top of the pyramid), but just enough to really connect with people, to help them understand that you’re more than just a blogger or some random person behind a website.

I don’t know about you, but I connect with people, not websites.

Still, there are a lot of people out there who are paranoid about posting even their name and a picture on their site, let alone a little bit of information about who they are and what they do. The problem is, when I come across these totally faceless blogs, I wonder to myself, “Why? What are they hiding?”

As a result, I can’t really believe their content and there’s just no connection. I hardly ever come back for more.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I like to know who is speaking to me.

Your Pyramid

The content pyramid above is the Smart Passive Income content pyramid. Yours may look different based on your niche and/or personality, but this is what is working for me.

I’m hoping that at least you can see the importance of timeless posts and how they really became the fuel for the growth of this blog, with all of the other parts intertwined to become the Smart Passive Income brand as a whole.

So what’s your content pyramid like right now? What kind of posts are you writing the most, and do you need to make any kind of shift in what you post in the future?

Happy Monday everyone! Cheers!

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  • Pat Flynn

    Hi, I’m Pat, founder of SPI and host of the Smart Passive Income Podcast. Let’s continue the conversation over in our communities.

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