How many times have you sat down to write an article, only to be stumped by one of the common woes that afflict writers? There are so many potential blockers between getting an awesome idea for a blog post and actually hitting publish on that post that it’s a wonder we manage to write at all.
Luckily, the answer to all those woes is simple: a solid blog post structure.
For example, sometimes I type like a fiend and finally take a breather 1,000 words later, only to realize it’s just a stream of consciousness and not a good article at all. By using a blog post structure, I’m forced to shape my words around a sensible scaffold.
Occasionally I get stuck even earlier, staring at the screen and despairing of ever getting my awesome idea on paper. A blog post structure gives me a base to begin building around.
And sometimes I begin writing just fine but go back to edit and re-edit what I just wrote, instead of moving forward. A blog post structure can help me get my ideas down and move on instead of revisiting the same chunk over and over.
By committing to a blog post structure before you even start filling out the details, you can sidestep the majority of problems. Here is the blog post structure I use when I’m facing writers’ or editors’ block.
Start with the draft title
Sounds simple, right? But a lot of people get hung up on this before they even get into their blog post structure.
I’m going to give you permission right now to write a bad first title. That’s OK! That’s expected, even. Because there’s so little pressure and I know I’m going to go back to fix it, I don’t even call it a title at this stage. I label my blog post structure title a “draft title.”
You’ll have a much better idea of what your blog post is really about once you’ve given it a structure and filled out the details. Leave the title workshopping till the last moment. This is just to get the ball rolling.
At its core, what is your idea about? The draft title can be something as simple as “My thoughts on X, Y, and Z.” If you saw an inspiring quote, that can be your draft title. The only purpose of the draft title in your blog post structure is to remind yourself why you’re writing. What inspired you, and what is your article generally about?
Sketch out an introduction
Don’t write a full introduction right now. All you’re going to do is list three details:
- the problem
- the symptoms
- the solution
For example, perhaps my inspiration is about this neat guy I saw on Twitter who got famous for growing his vegetables (Gerald Stratford). Let’s break down what an introduction might look like for my blog post.
- Problem: Twitter is kind of a nasty, inauthentic place to be for many readers.
- Symptoms: People want to get famous on Twitter and feel like they can only go viral by doing and saying outrageous things for clicks. Twitter is an unpleasant place to spend time. Harassment, doxing and trolling frequently occur.
- Solution: follow people like Gerald — he is authentic, earnest, and unjaded.
The introduction blog post structure works really well. It’s engaging because stating the problem will resonate with a lot of people. Listing symptoms will build empathy — readers will feel like you get it, and get them. Finally, listing your solution will give people a reason to continue reading.
Many people worry about giving away the end of the story upfront. But we’re not writing a fiction book here — we’re trying to prove value to the reader. Convince them you know what you’re talking about by actually giving them the answer at the top. Then, promise to build on that later on in the post.
That’s it for now. You can add as many or as few details per section as you like, and you can always come back to remove or add more.
Build your main bullet points
It’s easy to get overwhelmed at this step because there are a lot of ways you could build your blog post structure from here. To sidestep that, I simply repeat my introduction bullet points.
Don’t worry about the repetition. The introduction structure works for a reason, and it won’t turn readers off to duplicate that. Simply expand on each of your three points. Don’t write the whole thing out — again, to move along the process, just list your main idea at the top and 3–4 bullet ideas beneath it.
The first body paragraph in your blog post structure will detail the problem you noticed. How did you notice it? What ramifications does it have? Who do you find it benefits most, and who is harmed?
For example, my blog post structure for my first body paragraph might look a little like this:
Problem: Twitter sucks
- Detail 1: Twitter is full of bots and trolls — a nasty place to be online.
- Detail 2: I noticed it because spending time there is irksome.
- Detail 3: This affects tweeters, who think they have to be awful in order to go viral, and also readers, who deal with seeing an overwhelming amount of that on their feed.
The second goes into symptoms. Here, you can list the many side-issues with the problem and get into how you can identify the problem.
Finally, go into the solution. Here, it’s worth pointing out why the problem persisted. You’re probably not the first to notice, so why does it still happen? How would you fix the problem? What does a world look like in which your solution has been enacted?
And within perhaps 12 lines, you’ve written a body structure for your blog post.
Conclude with a bang
Coming up with a conclusion can be the hardest part of the whole thing. For the purpose of this blog post structure, I normally try to answer this question: If my readers only remember one thing, what do I want that one thing to be?
That’s the conclusion header for my blog post structure. In the example of my Twitter idea, my conclusion might be this:
Twitter doesn’t have to be a bad place to read and scroll.
Then you simply pick and choose details from your previous sections in your blog post structure to bolster that conclusion. They can come from your introduction or your body, they just need to support your conclusion.
A good blog post structure will save your blog posts.
It’s hard to write. To take a vague idea from the mushy grey matter of your brain and transform it into a transcendent piece of writing that has the potential to touch someone else’s soul? It’s a big ask.
This blog post structure is a tool to help bridge the gap between awesome idea and awesome blog post. All that is left to do now is write your details into a blog post.
One of the best pieces of writing advice I ever got was that to write an essay, you tell the readers what you’re going to tell them. You tell them. And then you tell them what you’ve told them.
As a 15-year-old sophomore, I hated it because I thought it was boring and stupid. It is. But it helped me get some of my school essays moving. At its core, that’s all a good blog post structure does: it gives you a skeleton that you can build around. It prompts you to get moving. And it’s a great way to shift words from your brain onto paper.
So far, you’ve built a scaffold. Now, you have to build the home around it. Hopefully, you’ll find it much easier than simply piling bricks up and hoping they turn into a house.