Guide #1 – Blog structure
Want to know how to get started with crafting beautiful blogs and marketing content for your business? Then you’re in the right place…
When we published our 5 tips for better blogs post we had no idea how successful it would be.
After crunching the numbers it’s turned out to be one of the most popular posts we’ve ever written, which is nice.
Since posting it, we’ve received some questions about how to structure a blog. Being the helpful sort of agency that we are, we thought we would start writing some simple free guides on marketing, content and of course, blogging.
Here’s Guide #1 – How to structure your blog. We hope you find it useful.
Why bother with a structure?
A blog serves many purposes for your business, brand or organisation. It’s a way for you to share your thoughts, views and opinions. It’s also a great place to discuss pertinent issues in your industry, or update people about major new developments.
A blog can also be a way to establish a strong personality for your business, communicating your brand values to potential customers and helping you stand out from the competition.
Not all blogs are created equal, however. A good blog requires a clear format; having a coherent structure reassures your reader. It makes them feel confident that you know what you’re doing. A well ordered blog shows you take pride in what you do. It also gives you a template to write from, which will make keeping on top of your blog and posting regularly a lot easier.
How to structure a blog
Now we’re getting to the meaty part of this blogging guide sandwich.
Your blog should be approached with a clear structure in mind. It needs to start by grabbing the attention of the reader with a headline. Your standfirst and intro set out the context of your blog, backing up the headline. The body of the blog is where you inform and (hopefully) inspire your readers. At the end, they know where to read on and what they need to do to get in contact with you.
There is no perfect way to structure content, but given that this is a guide, we’ve provided a sample structure that should work in most situations.
Here’s a helpful template we created for a client of ours who wanted to get their staff blogging and creating content. It’s a simple approach to structuring content, with some added hints and tips to help you get it right.
3 – 7 words
Make your headline short, snappy and enticing. Its job is to generate interest from the reader and get them to click on your post, but it also needs to tell a bit of the story.
We all struggle for inspiration sometimes, so if in doubt, read other blogs and see how they grab the attention of readers. We’ve written about the approach taken by publishers like Buzzfeed in the past, and while there’s some debate over ‘clickbait’ headlines that promise more than they deliver, offering an enticement up front is a proven method. The key is to make sure the headline matches the rest of the blog and that you offer some value to the reader.
10 – 15 words
This is a short snippet beneath the headline that explains what the blog is about and further entices the reader to continue scrolling. Try and make it interesting; you could phrase this as a question (which you will then answer in your post), or make a bold statement. Many (alright, most) people won’t read on unless this bit is interesting!
It’s also worth remembering that when your post goes live, this is the part that Google will display below your headline on the search page, so make sure it supports the headline and tells enough of the story to encourage people to click through.
Up to 50 words
This is the part where you establish what you’re talking about – the ‘who, what, where, why?’ of your blog post. What is your piece about and why should people be interested? This is your opportunity to engage the reader with your topic.
It’s a good idea to use facts and figures here, and include links across the net. It’s good for SEO but also backs up your point with some external validation.
250 – 400 words
This is the main event. You’ve got a solid number of words here to really get into the detail, so this is where you can add value, offering your opinions and expertise.
While it’s a good opportunity to dive into your topic in more depth, try to avoid publishing huge blocks of text. Most readers will skim over copy when browsing online and your point will likely be missed if its too verbose – especially where people are reading on smartphones and scrolling across your post. Where possible, break your copy up into sub sections that can be easily referenced.
Use links, make it interesting, exciting and relevant.
25 – 50 words
This is the part where you either sell or promote your organisation or encourage people to do something different. In other words, what do you want the reader to do now? If it’s to come and buy from you or get in touch, then say so – but don’t be too pushy; a relaxed reminder about who you are, what you do and why you’re a little bit different (and go on, a little bit better) than everyone else is all that’s needed here.
25 – 50 words
In some cases, including a short biography about the author at the end of the post can be a great way to personalise your blog and help readers put a face to a name. It can also emphasise your company’s expertise and show readers that you know what you’re talking about. It’s not required in every situation, but where you have an expert on a particular topic writing the post, it’s a place to show them off.
Hints and tips
Ready to start writing? Here are a few more nuggets of wisdom to get you started…
- Don’t try to be a writer: Blogs are supposed to be conversational, so don’t be afraid to show your personality, expertise and knowledge. It doesn’t have to be an essay – try to explain your argument as you would to a friend. Our simple rule is: if you wouldn’t say it, don’t write it!
- Leave comedy to the professionals: Including the odd joke can work in some situations but humour is difficult to communicate in writing. If in doubt, avoid trying to be funny and keep your blog simple and clear. What you find funny may not be shared by everyone, so its far better to stick to the topic at hand.
- Keep it simple: Remember that the audience may not have your level of expertise so where you can, break down complex topics into simple to understand chunks.
- Include facts and figures to back up your argument: Easy to digest stats and bullet point facts about your topic are a good way to reassure the reader that you know your stuff, and it also gives them an easy access point to understand what you’re talking about.
- Keep sentences short: Your reader doesn’t have all day!
- Keep paragraphs short, too: Long paragraphs don’t scroll well on smartphones, so when writing for the web, keep them brief.
- Include videos and other resources where appropriate.
Rules are meant to be broken…
While all of the above will give you an effective structure for your blog posts in general, there may be times when you need to diversify from that structure to make your point – and that’s ok.
A blog is about personality, so if you can say what you want in fewer words, or in a different way, then by all means try it. The great thing about writing for the web is that if it doesn’t work, you can easily amend it and share it again – nothing is set in stone. The best way to cultivate a successful blog is to experiment with different types of post and keep a close eye on your blog stats to see which ones perform the best.
42group is a leading Bristol communications and marketing agency that helps organisation to tell their stories. We also aren’t afraid to share our insights either.
We help our clients to help them develop, design and deliver marketing, communications and content campaigns that make a difference. If you’d like to chat about how we can help you tell your story, contact us today.