I talk in this other blog post about how not knowing what to write is a kind of writer’s block that can grind your blogging to a halt.
In this post, we’ll take a look at how not knowing how to write it can be another kind of writer’s block to plague your blogging efforts. Here’s how that works:
Step One: Sit at the computer knowing exactly what you want to write about.
Step Two: Sit there writing absolutely nothing, because you don’t know how exactly you’re going to structure and explore what you want to write about.
Step Three: Run out of time and write in a rush, or skip this blog entry entirely out of frustration.
You’re not alone. Luckily, there’s an easy solution. It even helps your blog perform better by making it easier for readers to navigate your blog. Here’s how it works.
Use a Blog Post Template
The basic idea is that you adopt a handful of basic structures for your blog posts.
As you plan how to write each individual post, select the structure that best serves it. Cycle through different structures week by week so you don’t get too repetitive, and branch into unique territory from time to time, but lean on the structures whenever nothing else jumps out as better.
This benefits you by making it easier to create outlines, organize your thoughts, and actually write each post. It benefits your readers by giving them something predictable to read. That predictability makes reading your posts easier, which makes the posts more enjoyable and shareable.
5 Types of Templates
Dozens of possible blog structures exist, but here are my five favorites.
1. The Listicle
- X Things that Y (You Won’t Believe Z!)
- Top X Things that Yed This Year
- My Favorite X Somethings
You know this one. You’ve seen it everywhere. You might even hate them by now, but there’s no denying they’re popular for a reason. The structure itself leads readers from one item to the next, which reduces bounce rate and keeps eyes on your work. It also makes outlining a cinch, since you just need to come up with X items, then add an intro and conclusion.
Killer App: Include at least one list item that people might not think belongs. It will poke at least one internet raconteur into commenting on or even sharing your work.
2. Dos and Don’ts/Pros and Cons
- Best Practices for X
- Do X, Don’t do Y For Success in Z
- X vs. Y: The Pros and Cons of Both
This is basically another kind of listicle, only instead of writing a numbered list, you alternate between Do items and Don’t items (or Pro items and Con items) until you hit your desired word count.
Like listicles, the structure draws the reader in. These articles also tend to have more directly useful information. Written well, they also foster a little engaged debate for people who agree (or disagree) strongly with one or another of your judgment calls.
Killer App: When sharing this one, ask specifically for new items to put on the list. People will provide them while engaging with your work. Use it to spark conversation, and to post revised articles that incorporate the best suggestions.
3. The How-To
- Build an X in Y Easy Steps
- How to Fix a Y in your Z
- How to Cook X
This is another article structure you’ve seen a lot (especially from 2009 to 2010 when eHow had things dialed in).
The structure is simple. Write a short introduction about why somebody would want to do the thing you’re describing. Then make a list of needed supplies, ingredients, and tools. Finish with a step-by-step listing of each action needed to complete the task.
The best how-to articles also put some closing paragraphs with important warnings or pro tips, which bring eyes all the way to the bottom of the article.
Killer App: Write several articles in a series and link in between them, so you can give instructions for simple tasks that are part of a larger and more complex project. This benefits from all kinds of search mojo, both in terms of engagement and back-end algorithms.
4. The Review
- What I Loved and Hated about X
- Review of Y from Opening the Box (aka, Unboxing)
- Z: A Paid but Honest Review
This format is a little harder to write because the structure is more open, but it tends to draw a lot of eyes if done right.
That’s especially true if you hit opening nights, release dates, and similar trending topics so you can be one of the first to post a good review of whatever it it you’re reviewing. Give your opinion either in chronological order, or order of importance, and put as much personality as you can into it.
Killer App: Share your article with somebody close to whatever you’re reviewing: the author, manufacturer, local retailer, whatever. They may engage with you about the good and the bad, and put your name in front of the people who follow them.
5. Compare and Contrast
- Should I Buy X or Y?
- Z vs X: Who Would Win in a Fight?
- The Differences between Y and Z
You might remember this format from English class, and this may be the only time I will ever tell you to follow your English teacher’s instructions while writing for the internet.
Comparing two items, people, products, or concepts to show how they are similar, how they are differ, and points at which one is superior or inferior to others, is a classic structure both for academic essays and popular blog posts. Like reviews, it’s more open to different formats, too.
Killer App: Combine this structure with a listicle, pro/con, or other blog post structure to get the benefits of both. Done right, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you write the article.
Ideal Blog Post Structure
Any time you’re stuck for how to structure a blog post, just jump into one of these and move forward. It’s not the only way to make your blogging easier, but it’s one of my personal go-tos over a decade in the business.
Need more tips on how to structure your writing and turn out some great content? We’ve got you covered!