Structuring a blog that gets you neatly from your opening point to your conclusion isn’t always easy. Extra ideas crop up during the writing process and have a habit of derailing your train of thought. Before you know it, you’re on an unexpected tangent with no clear route back to your original point. As the writer, this is frustrating. As a reader, this is confusing.
Blogs are designed to help you clearly communicate with your audience and position you as an authority. Publishing posts that are difficult to read because ideas and points jump all over the place aren’t going to help you achieve either of those things.
If you’re DIY-ing your content writing and find it difficult getting smoothly from the opening sentence to closing remarks, I’m going to suggest a really simple blog structure framework. Follow these steps and you’ll save time, keep your writing focussed and have readers who stick around to enjoy your posts.
Well-structured blogs have a single, focussed idea
Trying to cram too much information into a single post causes a blog’s structure to go wayward. So, when you have an idea for an article don’t launch straight into writing. Instead, take the time to get clear on the single idea you’re writing about. Staying focussed helps avoid the risk of tangents which can really mess with the structure and flow of your writing.
A fail-safe way to structure your blog post
Now you’ve got your idea, it’s time to start planning the post itself. What follows are the steps I take when piecing together a blog for my clients or my own site. Going through this may take me 10 minutes or an hour. But planning properly makes the article easier to write, saving me time in the long run. More importantly, a clear blog structure stops my ideas jumping around and helps me move from one point to the next.
Step 1. Write a very rough headline
As in so rough, it does what it says on the tin. Sometimes it’s as basic as ‘How to + keyword’. There’s time later (during editing) to jazz it up but when getting started having the main idea and those specific keywords at the top of the page keep the topic front of mind.
Step 2. Put down rough subheads
Subheadings split up your copy making it easier for readers to digest. They’re also very useful when it comes to helping to plan what you’re going to discuss in your post.
Hopefully, you already know the three or four points you want your article to make. For now, give each of these points a subhead. Under each subhead make dot points with a word or two that references what you’re going to talk about. This will become your body copy.
Now you’re building a clear picture of what information is going where. Can you see a clear path of how it will all link together? How about any points that are missing? Add them as dot points under the relevant subheading.
Step 3. The introduction
A good intro needs to check several boxes. It should:
- keep the reader hooked and lead them into the main body
- let the reader know they’re in the right place
- briefly introduce the main topics and points you’ll discuss in your article
- tell readers what they’ll get out of it
- ideally, be no more than 250 words.
If you’re thinking this sounds like a lot to squeeze into a small number of words, you’re right. Fortunately, there’s a relatively simple writing formula that makes introduction writing a doddle.
I like following the PAS copywriting formula for intros. This stands for pain, agitation and solution. If you’ve not heard of it before here’s a quick rundown…
Pain means identifying your audiences main pain point. (What’s brought them to this article?)
Agitation is rubbing a bit of salt into the wound. (What’s the worst that can happen if they don’t address this issue)
Solution is reassuring them you have the answer. (The solution is within the paragraphs to follow)
PAS works really well for blog intros for three reasons.
- Identifying a pain is your chance to introduce your topic.
- There’s space to empathise with your reader.
- You can easily explain what’s in this blog and why it’s the solution.
Here are a couple of examples from my previous posts that show this in action.
Step 4. Main body
This is the meaty part of your article where you give your reader the information they’ve been searching for. The good news is you already have an idea of how the main body will read. You tackled this when you roughed out your subheadings and dot points. Writing the body copy is padding each dot point out into full sentences and paragraphs.
Where most folks get stuck is moving from one paragraph to another. If this is you, first look again at the points you’ve made under each subheading. Now imagine having to turn those points into a conversation with someone. What do you need to tell them first so they’re able to understand the next bit? And how about the bit after that? Hopefully you’ll see a route for your ideas to naturally flow into each other. If not, jiggle your dot points into a more logical order.
Oh, and remember to use transitions and linking words for new paragraph. If you find your writing and ideas jump around it’s usually because you haven’t moved smoothly enough from one paragraph to another. Start a bank of linking words and phrases you can call on to make this easier. Some of my favourites include:
- That said
- On the other hand
- As this shows/As we’ve seen
- In short
- In contrast/In addition
- Given this/the
And just so you know where I stand on starting paragraphs with ‘and’ or ‘but’, I’m one of those writers who says it’s totally fine.
Step 5. Conclusion
Keep this simple. Recap and summarise what’s in the main body. This is especially important if the post you’re working on is really long. Readers appreciate a reminder of what they’ve read/learnt and any steps you’ve suggested they take rather than having to scroll all the way back up.
Step 6. Call to action
It’s important to give readers a clear sign post of where they need to go or what action you want them to take once they’ve finished reading. Don’t leave your audience guessing. Skip this and they’ll likely bounce off your site.
Calls to action could ask people to learn more about a service you offer that’s relevant to the subject of your article. It could be a link to another article (‘If you enjoyed this, you’ll love this’) or it could be a form they need to fill out to get in touch or leave a comment.
The BTS for this article
Here’s how this article looked for me when planning the structure.
As you get used to writing blogs you may find you don’t have to plan as often. You’ll start visualising it in your head. But when starting out, or for really complex articles, this works.
Check your flow
Before hitting publish check the structure of your blog post. Do this by giving it a thorough edit. Read it through at least once, more if possible. And read it aloud. Reading out loud highlights stumbling points. If, when you’re reading, you trip over what you’re saying and find it hard to follow, your audience will feel the same. Mark it up on your draft and change it.
A little structure keeps life simple
For both the reader and you. Following a plan makes sure your writing stays on track, doesn’t jump around and clearly communicates your ideas. As I said earlier, structuring blog articles can take a little practise but physically writing (or typing) out your plan is a great way to stay on track.
Written something already but hesitating on pressing publish? Why not drop me a line to ask about my copy review and editing service which is perfect for when you’d rather DIY your marketing, but fancy a bit of extra guidance from an experienced writer.