Want to make your small business blogging both more effective and less arduous? The way you structure your articles can make all the difference.
Without structure, writing can come across as rambling, and sometimes even pointless.
But put a framework in place and you gain the opportunity to lead your reader where you want them to go, while also giving yourself the opportunity to clarify your thinking and streamline your writing process.
To help you get started, I’ve purposely structured this article in a way that enables you to use it as a template for developing your own blog structure.
Create a powerful introduction
Use an initial bolded or highlighted paragraph of text to quickly tell readers why they should read on. This intro paragraph is called a ‘standfirst’ and its goal is to provide readers with a snapshot of why they should read on.
To figure out what to put in your standfirst, ask yourself what you’re promising to deliver to people who invest the time in reading your article. For example, if you cast your eye back to the top of this page, you’ll see that my standfirst promises that reading this post will show you an easy way to structure your blog posts for optimal readability and to encourage your readers to take action.
Your standfirst should be as punchy and powerful as you can make it.
Typically, you’ll want to follow that with a more conversational paragraph or two that then lead your reader into the main body of your article.
To understand the difference, contrast the brevity of this article’s hard-hitting standfirst with the more empathic and chatty opening paragraphs beneath it.
Make sure your headline is clear
Your business blog is not the place to use clever or jokey headlines.
Instead, you want a strong, clear headline that gives the reader clarity about the content of your article without forcing them to think.
In an ideal world, your headline will match the exact term your desired audience might enter into Google. (I thought about calling this post The anatomy of the perfect blog post, but people don’t really talk, think or search the web like that, so instead I’ve gone with How to structure your blog posts).
Use lots of subheadings
Readers on the web tend to scan text quickly, often because they’re trying to determine whether Google has brought them to a page that’s relevant to what they’re looking for. Help them out by including lots of subheadings.
By doing so, you’ll help yourself out too. The creative process is often shorter when you assemble your list of subheadings before you start writing the article itself, then put them in a logical order and use them to help you guide your writing.
As with your headline, make sure your subheadings provide clarity about the text beneath them.
TIP: You’ll know you’ve got this right when you can run your eye down the subheadings on the page and get a clear idea about the content of the article, just as though you were reading a bullet-pointed list. Give it a go with this article to see how it works.
Keep paragraphs short
Short paragraphs are easier to read. Don’t waffle.
But vary the article length as required
In contrast, there’s no fixed rule when it comes to how long your article should be.
The optimal length for each individual piece of content should be considered from two perspectives:
- How much time is the reader you’re targeting likely to devote to your piece?
- How much information do you need to include in order to provide a high-quality resource for them?
By the way, while it’s true that readers online tend to be looking for short, sharp answers to their questions, web stats also show that in-depth, long-form writing often attracts more eyeballs. When it’s warranted, don’t be afraid to spend extra time creating lengthier high-quality content that’s going to have a beneficial impact on your business.
Bullet points enhance readability
Why use bullet points in your blog posts?
- They’re easy to scan
- They force you to be brief
- They allow you to convey multiple ideas or pieces of information under a single subheading
- And, as an added bonus, they’re quick to write!
Use design to highlight a key point
Many website templates give you the option of highlighting a section of text in a graphical way to draw the reader’s eye to it, which is called a ‘pullpoint’.
Choose the most compelling sentence on the page to be your pullpoint.
Next, team it with a great graphic or two, because web stats also show that articles with images are more widely read than those without.
With this one step, you’ll improve the attractiveness and readability of your article while also arming yourself with imagery and text you can post on social media to alert people to your article and get them to your site to actually read it.
Close with a call-to-action
What do you want your reader to do when they finish reading your blog post?
Make it as easy as possible for them by providing a link to the relevant web page or form, repeating your phone number and telling them to phone it, or including whatever other information they information they need in order to take the next step.
Try writing or editing an article of your own using this page as the basis of its structure. Then comment below to let us know how it worked for you and share the link with us so we can all check it out.