It was a dark and dreary day. I sat at my desk, sullenly staring at my keys, trying to think of a good blog post topic.

“Oh! I know! A post about how inbound marketing is like ‘The Avengers!’ Or maybe just Hawkeye, because he’s the best, obviously! Ooh, or maybe something about how it’s like ‘Lord of the Rings.’ Marketers love ‘Lord of the Rings.’ Or tacos! Everyone loves tacos!”

My mind had gone to the places where light doesn’t shine and birds don’t sing. A choice had to be made. Would I go with the cheesy color-by-numbers blog post, or would I resist the temptation of the dark side (and their cookies!) and write about something meaningful?

Formulaic posts are great. They’re stupid easy to write, and they allow you to pump out a higher volume of content. Beyond that, people love them. They frequently get high page views and shares. And for some/many, that’s enough reason to keep them flowing.

Please, tell me again about how my job is like washing dishes. I’m dying to know.

On the other hand, they often fail to provide any value to a reader. The so-called tips are usually dull and don’t go beyond telling you to not email your contact list too often, or they’ll flag you as spam. If you’re trying to really create value, your first thought when starting a post should be “What can I do for readers?” Not “what gimmick can I recycle?”

Proper questions to ask before starting a post:

  • What do I have to offer readers?
  • What do I know that other people might not?
  • What can I research to add value to the community?
  • Who can I talk to for an interesting take on an issue?
  • What’s interesting or new that will get people talking?

Wrong questions to ask before starting a post:

  • Is there any way that my industry resembles Justin Bieber?
  • That post on my competitor’s blog did really well. Can I repackage it?
  • Has Lindsey Lohan done anything that I can repurpose into content?
  • I really like the Justice League. Can I fit them into a post?
  • Which hot Internet memes could I turn into a 500 word post?


Sometimes pop-culture posts, and other formulaic posts, can be pretty funny. Take, for example, Chad’s Chuck Norris post. Besides the slander against Superman (who, duh, could eat Chuck Norris for second breakfast if he were so inclined), it’s hilarious. It’s not the usual informational posts that we like to bring you, but it definitely made a lot of days brighter, which is a purpose in itself.

As long as content serves a purpose other than page views, there’s a good chance it will be well received and well worth your time. The gray area is remarkably tiny on this one, so you shouldn’t have an issue avoiding Darth Vader’s gingersnaps.

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