How to Generate Compelling Content as an Amateur Novelist: 7 Frameworks to Try

Just over a year ago, my business partner and I bet the future and success of our company on content marketing. We dismissed our sales squad and set all our efforts into SEO and content.

As an technologist, I get the technical aspects of this process. I can use SEO tools to identify opportunities, I understand why links are important, and I can follow the link build process. But Iam not a professional writer and no one else on our squad is either.

How were we going to create compelling content as a bunch of amateur novelists?

Luckily, we detected content frameworks.

What is a content framework?

A content framework is a basic system that guides you through the content creation process . It structures your article in a way that effectively presents your content’s insights.

Over the past year, we’ve investigated seven different content frameworks. During this time, weave skyrocketed our organic traffic by more than 1,000% and ranked on the first page of Google for a lot of highly competitive search terms.

In this article, Iall describe our experiences with each framework, the pros and cons of each one, my personal tips-off for success, and which frameworks ran best for us.

Letas dive in.

1) Standard List Post

Everyone loves a good listicle. A standard list post will usually contain a short introduction, the listing items, and finally a brief conclusion. The list parts will simply link to other sites or summarize the topic.


One of the biggest pros of a standard list post is that theyare easy to write. You donat need to be a gifted wordsmith to put together a great listicle.

For us, listicles and the expanded-list post( covered below) have been some of our most successful pieces of content.


If there are a lot of other listicles covering your topic, it may take some work( and time) for your list post to rise to the top of Google.

Pro Tip

Implement tactics like the Skyscraper Technique and Ego Bait in your list posts. If your list is longer, more comprehensive, and beautifully designed, it’ll overshadow all the other listings about your topic.

2) Expanded-List Post

The expanded-list post, coined by Brian Dean of Backlinko, is an adaption of the standard listing post. Like I mentioned before, thereas a ton of list posts on the web. How do you attain yours stand out from the crowd?

Instead of listing a bunch of topics or connects, the expanded-list post goes beyond a standard listing post and take a deep dive into each item.

In the eyes of Google and your readers, these lists are rich with insights.


This has definitely been our most successful content framework. Our expanded listing posts consistently rank on the first page of Google.

Expanded-list posts will usually be long-form content pieces, which Google prefers to show readers. Also, in comparison to vying list posts, the expanded-list post will be much more comprehensive, more value to your audience.


Producing a stellar expanded-list post requires a significant amount of work.

For example, it took us multiple weeks merely to collect the data for one of our posts about the best business apps.

It was worth it, though. Google ranks the post third or higher for number of competitive keywords.

Designing and coordinating expanded-list posts may require more time too. You might need to group components by category and offer jumping links to different sections of the content. This will stimulate your content more digestible.

Pro Tip

Similar to the Standard List Post pro tip, you want your article to be more in-depth and better than everyone else’s. So take your time when you design and organize the post. You need to make sure that your readers can easily find the information they’re looking for.

3) Go-to Guidebook

A Go-to Guidebook is a curated list of the top posts about a particular topic.

The biggest discrepancies between this content framework and the list-type frameworks is that a go-to guidebook is normally organized like a book, with brief introductions to each sub-topic and links to the best content available around those topics.


This is one of the easiest types of content to render. Even a complete amateur like myself can create a great go-to guidebook. You genuinely donat need to write that much.

Itas also a great way to re-purpose the best content that’s already available. All you have to do is source and organize the content.


Since youare promoting other people’s content with your go-to guidebook, the original authors should have an incentive to share and promote your piece. Unfortunately, they may not always care to promote it.

You also might have to curate content that isn’t fresh. We’ve managed to get posts in this style to rank, but it took a lot of research and work.

Pro Tip

Use graphics in your go-to guidebook to make it more visually appealing. The go-to guidebook consists of short paragraph, so adding vivid pictures can make it feel like a real book.

4) How-to Guide

A how-to guide is a content framework where you explain how to use a product or perform a task. Itas much more focused than a go-to guidebook, so you have to will vary depending on your own research or knowledge to make it.


Google generally loves it when your content can answer a question or solve a problem. And the how-to guide is a great way to provide value to your audience. So far, almost all our guidebooks receive consistent organic traffic without us having to build a ton of backlinks.

If you can effectively optimize for search engines, Google might highlight your guidebook in the featured snippet, like the screenshot below.

By optimizing our “How to Post a Job on Craigslist Guide” to rank for the snippet, Google ranked it first. And we didn’t even have to build a single backlink.


How-to guides require significant period and subject matter expertise to render. You’ll have to write more than you would for any other framework.


Clarify all of your guide’s takeaways. Even if itas an obvious step or detail, just spell it out and induce your content easy for people to understand. What is obvious to you might not be obvious to your audience.

5) Expert Roundup

An expert roundup is a collection of quotes or short interviews with influential people in your industry. You basically reach out to a bunch of experts, ask them specific questions, and compile their answers into an article.

To do this effectively, you’ll need to grasp a few nuances, but the great thing is that the experts you interview will write most of the content for you.


Once youave collected your experts’ reactions, you can easily make a really unique and great piece of long-form content.

Another big advantage of an expert roundup post is that your contributors will have an incentive to promote the article to their own audiences.

Our most successful roundup was about remote work. The article has over 100 backlinks, and most of the initial links came from the article’s contributors. This is something that helped us kind relationships with a lot of industry experts, made other blogging possibilities, and piqued the interest of mainstream writers in our stance on remote work.


While creating an expert round up post might not take much work, collecting your experts’ contact information and assembling their responses can be a handful, especially if it’s your first time doing it.

Your next roundups will be easier since you can interview some of the same experts again. But there will be a steep mound to climb during your first go-around.

Another significant con is that you’re depending on your influencers’ schedules to complete your piece. Compared to writing your own piece, you’ll definitely have less control over an expert roundup post’s production time.

Pro Tip

Take time to craft your questions because you’ll only have one shot to interview most experts. If your questions are clear and straightforward, they’ll be more likely to participate.

6) Interview-Style Post

With this framework, you simply interview an expert on the topic you want to cover and turn the interview into an article. This is more of a journalistic approach to content creation.


After you conduct the interview, the article doesnat require a lot of writing. The expert you interviewed can also potentially be asked to promote the article on their own social media channels and networks. And since you’re showing how an expert tackles a certain topic, your post is likely to be unique and compelling.

Interviews provide an opportunity to produce content across multiple media. For instance, we now interview small business owners and feature them in our podcast, our blog, and — down the road — in our own book.

An interview can be very insightful, so there’s a lot of opportunity for re-purposing it into multiple content formats.


When we first tried this approach, we ran into a lot of issues scheduling the interviews. We also struggled to convince the experts to promote our content to their fans.

After our initial attempts, we actually thought the time investment wasn’t worth it anymore, but we tried out the approach again and have ensure some success.

Pro Tip

Interview micro-influencers in the industry you’re covering. They’ll be more willing to promote your article, where a huge celebrity will have less of an incentive to help you out.

7) Infographics

Nowadays, infographics are very popular. They’re unique and engaging since they are visualize data sets to tell a compelling stories.


According to Massplanner, infographics are liked and shared on social media three times more than any other type of content. You can easily spread awareness for your infographics by sharing them on Pinterest,, and the Infographic Directory.

You can also reach out to the sources you cited in your infographic and ask them to promote it.


You’ll require some graphic design chops to craft a great infographic. Or you can pay someone to do it. Tools like Venngage can help you make your own infographic, but these tools’ capabilities are somewhat limited, so the graphic could appear a little generic.

The infographic marketplace is also over-saturated. There are some really great infographics out there, but thereas loadings of them that don’t do anything except collect internet dust.

Our track record with infographics hasnat been great. None of our infographics have ranked that well on Google.

In words of social shares, our Snapchat marketing infographic has performed the best, with over 800 pins on Pinterest. Its search value is still low, though

Pro Tip

When you generate your infographic, make sure to breakdown the graphic’s content in your introduction.

Google can’t crawl your graphic, so this is necessary text to explain your piece’s premise. This is the only way Google can truly know what your article is about.

Final Thoughts

As amateur novelists, we rely heavily on the structure of existing content frameworks. They help us efficiently create quality content and massively boost our search presence.

We’ve experienced consistent success with expanded-list posts, how-to guides, and expert roundups. Each of these frameworks assist us create rich pieces of long-form content that offer a lot of value to our readers.

For us, these three frameworks provide the most benefits relative to how long it takes to create them. You could experience differently depending on your skill set and industry.

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