In one of the previous posts on how long does it take me to write a typical blog post, I had revealed that structuring a blog post should take about 5-10 minutes. In this post, I will share how you can convert your thoughts into words and bring a structure to them once they're on paper (or in a word file).
Blog Post Structure
In general, blog posts follow this structure:
The main body of a post is further segregated basis what the blog post is about. In general, it has the following components:
For now, we will leave Ads aside because they are a part of Ad Placement and not really the structure of a blog post. The other points shall be taken up ahead.
Rules to Structure Blog Posts
These rules are not hard and fast but I've placed them as a mental note for myself and they help me structure my thoughts better. I'm sharing them in the hope that they'd help you too -
Don't Structure First - When brainstorming on a blog post topic, don't think in a structured way. That is because you'll limit your ideas this way. Let the ideas flow, pen them all down and think about structuring once all your ideas are in place.
Be Flexible with Additions/Subtractions - Sometimes, we come up with more ideas after structuring a blog post on paper. You should always feel comfortable making impromptu changes to your structure by adding/deleting ideas in the final draft.
Re-read as a Reader - After you've brought a structure to your content, read the content once again and see if the flow is right from the point of view of a user. Remove all biases and prejudices you may have. For example, you might be assuming that the reader already knows something which he doesn't.
Understand User Intent - Anyone who clicks on your post, be it from Google or Social Media, is coming with a set of expectations after reading the heading and description of your blog post, so make sure you meet those expectations and fulfill the user's need/intent.
Generic Data First - So, for instance in this post, I'm trying to move from generic to specific details. First, I shared the basic structure for anyone who might be looking for just that. Next, I shared some rules and finally I'll be sharing a process to structure ideas. Go from generic to specific.
The Process to Structure Ideas
The precursor to this step is that you have already brainstormed on the topic you're going to write about. My advice to you would be to pen those thoughts down. It is often easier to structure ideas when they are in front of you.
Once you've all your ideas in place on a piece of paper or a word document - use your native language to think of the user intent. Yes, this is pretty intriguing but works very well for me.
My native language is Hindi, so if I try structuring my blog post ideas in Hindi by asking questions to myself like, "Okay, so when a reader starts reading the blog, what would he or she expect to see first?", I get a better response than if I do the same with English.
I'm not sure why this happens, maybe because you essentially eliminate a step to translate your thoughts, but it definitely helps. It fastens the process of structuring and even improves the quality of your structure.
Another element of the structuring process is to give sub-headings to each thought. So, you might be thinking of points without being sure which paragraph they'd fit into eventually. And, that's okay - that's actually how it should be done.
But, once you have all your thoughts on paper, it is important for you to give each thought a sub-heading. If two or more thoughts fall under the same sub-heading, they can be clubbed and included into separate paragraphs under the sub-heading.
This process calls for numbering your sub-headings once all your thoughts have been labelled under sub-heads. The objective of this step should be to re-order the sub-headings in the order they should appear in the blog post.
This step should not take a lot of time if you keep the user intent in mind. Just think of what the user would expect to see first.
Another thing to keep in mind at this point is the generic to specific rule. You must re-order your sub-headings accordingly. That'll improve the flow of your sub-headings.
Precursors & Followers
Some points cannot come before others. For example, the point about numbering sub-headings couldn't have preceded the point about giving sub-headings. So, use that precursor-follower relationship between your thoughts to determine the overall flow of your blog post.
Links and Images
While thinking about the structure, you might come across ways to put across your point better using images and internal/external links. You can include these in your blog post at the structuring step itself.
Repeat Flow Verbally
After you've taken the above steps, one last thing to do is to repeat the entire flow verbally. This would help you see if you missed out on any key ingredient and help you cover the blog topic holistically. This is where the rule regarding addition/deletion comes into play.
Hopefully, this process would help you structure your thoughts better and bring a natural flow to your writing. This should significantly improve your upcoming blog posts. Try it out :)
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