Nine types of CEO blog article

A common question for new CEO bloggers is: “what should I write about?” In our experience, there’s two good ways to get started writing great CEO blog posts.

One alternative is to start with a type or style of post in mind. With this approach, you adopt a style for the article upfront, and then find the right ideas to fit your thought leadership positioning (find more about getting the right thought leadership positioning here).

This article looks at this approach in detail. In turn, we cover nine common article styles (with a practical example of each):

  1. Industry Trends
  2. Best Practices
  3. Commentary and Analysis
  4. Guest Post
  5. Question & Answer (Q&A)
  6. Excerpts
  7. Comprehensive Guides
  8. How-to Articles
  9. Roundups of Information

When you’re starting an article style first you can use these nine styles for inspiration as you sit down to create content. A quick warning that the quality of idea is still important when you start with a type of post in mind. Boring but well structured content is still boring.

In the sections that follow I’m going to highlight examples of each style – with a quick review of the aspects that work well (and not so well).

Nine styles of blog post to consider for your CEO blog

Style 1: Industry Trends

An industry trends piece is an opinionated overview of what’s really happening in your industry.

Writing on industry trends post is typically one of the easiest styles for a CEO to deliver, because it’s simply a written recap of discussions that you have every day.

You’re covering current developments in the industry, for the benefit of your customers, employees and partners.

An example of this style is the 2015 Top 10 List created by George Colony of Forrester Research for his Counterintuitive CEO blog.

George Colony’s 2015 Top 10 List

Style 2: Best Practices  

A major reason why people read CEO blogs is to pick the brain of an expert in the industry.

Providing detailed coverage of your opinions on best practices is one of the best ways to establish yourself as an authority figure.

As we’ve talked about previously, these posts need to be differentiated from the opinions of your peers if you want to position as an industry leader. For this reason, it’s much better to write about your views on best practices (than simply recapping on widely held industry views).

Style 3: Content curation

One of the best ways to get people to come back to a blog is to provide useful information about the industry from a range of sources.

By helping your customers to understand what’s relevant to them, you can quickly highlight your expertise, opinions and industry coverage.

An example is Saatchi & Saatchi CEO Kevin Roberts’ review of a book called Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed.

Black box thinking

Kevin Roberts’ review of Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed.

Style 4: Guest Post

Letting somebody else take over your blog can be a great way to highlight the broader strength of your business.

Specifically, we’d recommend this be done through inviting selected employees and customers to contribute to the CEO blog.

Guest posting is a great way to show off the success and capability of your employees and customers. It can also add variety to your material and deepen the relationship readers have with your organisation. 

Style 5: Question & Answer (Q&A)  

A question and answer post is perhaps the easiest post style to get started. You ask an expert questions, and post their responses.

There are two basic variations on the Q&A style:

  • Ask one expert a set of deeper questions (the interview)
  • Ask multiple experts the same question, and post the set of replies

Whilst a Q&A style can be particularly effective when used sporadically, every CEO blog needs personal thought leadership – that only comes from a core of well-developed opinion pieces.

(See also: more about developing a core list of strong opinions as a foundation for thought leadership).

Style 6: Excerpts

An excerpt post typically has a range of short soundbytes woven together around a central theme.

One of the most effective yet least used blogging styles is to post excerpts from useful materials, such as books, columns, articles, white papers, etc. This helps you avoid reinventing the wheel or regurgitating others’ ideas, and shows your willingness to learn from other experts in the industry.

A good example of this style is What Is Thought Leadership from Thought Leadership Partners.

Style 7: How-to post  

Many entrepreneurs and other leaders turn to resources such as CEO blogs to learn how to perform new or unfamiliar tasks. This includes everything not taught in business school and areas outside of a person’s expertise.

A common mistake with how to pieces is to pick topics that are too simple. The topic needs to be deeply aligned to your experience and a lesson that only you could give.

A well-written how-to article, such as Penny Herscher’s How to Run a Board Meeting, can establish credibility as a leader and attract many new followers.

A example of a CEO how to piece: Penny Hercher’s How to run a board meeting

Style 8: Comprehensive Guides

The comprehensive guide is simply a how-to post, delivered at 5-10 times the normal length and level of detail of a blog on the topic. The aim of a comprehensive guide is to provide so many resources that the post becomes the ‘bible’ on the topic.

Style 9: Roundups of Information

Some of the most effective blogs around, such as The Huffington Post and Mashable, are really roundups of information or news stories that the blogger finds interesting, entertaining, or useful. The basic idea here is to provide references to a variety of useful information readers might not be aware of.

An example of this style is The Forrester Book Club on George Colony’s The Counterintuitive CEO, where he simply asked his executives what they were reading.

In conclusion: There’s no right style of article, but there is a right result

The key to success in CEO blogging is to be creative and to be on the lookout for new types of blog articles, new topics or new spins on old topics – all with the aim of achieving a deeper level of engagement with your customers and prospects.

Remember that If it’s done well, CEO blogging should be a substitute for sales meetings. Does the content you’re producing mean that you’re deeper in the sales process, generating more new leads, seeing more opportunities, and ensuring that your current clients understand the breadth of your sales offer?

There’s no right style or way to get started – just a process that delivers great results for you and your business.