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The Content Pyramid: Healthy Portions of Posts for Your Blog

The Content Pyramid: Healthy Portions of Posts for Your Blog

By Pat Flynn on

This post was previously published back in 2011. I thought it would make sense to republish with new and timely content examples, considering the Content Pyramid is still relevant today. I hope you find it useful for your blog!

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 proven to quickly build some authority in the blogosphere.

Content Pyramid

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, but 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

Content Pyramid - Bottom tier

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, The Smart Podcast Player, GreenExamAcademy, FoodTruckr, 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, Bryan Harris put together a compelling and powerful case study on how to launch a product with a tiny email list.

Brian Dean from Backlinko wrote about an SEO strategy case study that boosted his organic search engine traffic by an amazing 963 percent.

And no, your name doesn’t need to be a variation of Brian (with an I or Y) to make this work!

These types of posts really do become the foundation of a blog (a.k.a. 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

Content Pyramid - Second Tier

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, 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

Content Pyramid - Third Tier

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, I’ve written about Google’s algorithm change and its effect on many websites, including my own. Even though I know I wasn’t the first one to share this information, because I posted about it immediately after it occurred, it showed my knowledge and up-to-date-ness on the subject.

Opinion 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.

Why?

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.

People are still emailing me daily about how much they love Market Samurai, for example, and it’s awesome. [Full Disclosure: I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.]

ConvertKit is another product I need to mention. Toward the end of 2015, I made a big decision to move my list of subscribers (135,000-plus at the time) to ConvertKit, a decision I’ve been really happy with. So much so I chronicled at length and created a ConvertKit demo video (see below). I also eventually became a compensated advisor and affiliate for the company.

Top Tier: Personal

Content Pyramid - Top Tier

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.

Personal Examples:

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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