I expect you already know the basic structure of a blog post: introduction, main body, and conclusion.
With these three key elements in place, you’ve got the bare bones of a well-structured piece, whether it’s a short news article, an in-depth essay, or a breezy “top tips” post.
Sometimes, though, you want to do something a little different on your blog. Perhaps you’ve written a lot of “10 Ways to …” posts recently and you’d like to mix things up a bit.
A great way to deepen your understanding of structure—and to write posts that your readers will love—is to study a blog post that you enjoyed reading. Perhaps it’s a post that helped you think in a new way about something, or even a post you re-read, again and again.
I’m going to take three great Craft Your Content posts and pull them apart so you can see their structure.
But before you go through my thoughts on each post, I’d encourage you to read each one on your own and think a bit about the structure. How is the post put together? Why do you think the writer made those choices? Could you use an element of that post’s structure to write better posts for your own blog?
The posts we’ll look at are:
Once we’ve gone through these examples, look out for other posts that you could deconstruct and learn from yourself.
Let’s take a look at the structure of this post, element by element:
The title of the post is split into two parts (using a colon). The first part (“The Art of Giving Up”) sounds quite literary—you can imagine it being used for a novel, or perhaps a memoir. The second part (“When to Walk Away From a Writing Project”) is more prosaic, but very clear as to what the post is about. Put together, they suggest a thoughtful but practical post.
Use it: Could you use a similar title structure for one of your own posts? For another example of a title using this structure, look at Example 2 on our list—When Life Happens: A Totally Doable Morning Routine for Writers.
Guarino starts off the post by asking a question (“What was the most recent thing you’ve wanted to achieve really, really badly in your writing career?”) then goes into some details about her own experience.
She follows this with more questions: “How do you know when a project is good—that a project is worth pursuing?” and then takes a look at conventional advice—“Don’t give up!”— before making it clear that her post is going to go far beyond platitudes, taking a look at the hard truth that sometimes, it is best to walk away.
Use it: A question is a great way to kick off almost any post, and following it up with your own experience helps with credibility. Presenting a common but wrong (or at least limited) perspective first can also help to frame your argument or position.
Guarino’s post is split into three key sections, with these three subheadings:
- If Your Project Doesn’t Have a Purpose
- If You Don’t Feel Joy
- If You’re Clinging Too Tightly
Each of these sections is structured in a similar way:
- The subheading for each begins with “If You …,” “If Your,” or “If You’re …” so that each one answers the question “When should you walk away?”
- Each section has a photo immediately beneath the subheading (note that the photos are the same height and width, and that each involves a person).
- The content of the section follows the photo, broken into short paragraphs (some a single sentence long).
The structure works well because of the consistency: The reader knows what to expect with each section, and it creates the clear impression that the writer put thought and care into their post. (You don’t want your posts to come across as slapdash, after all.)
Use it: You might want to modify this structure to suit you—but make sure you do so consistently. For instance, you might choose to have subheadings that all match one another, and content that’s broken into similarly short paragraphs in each section, but no images.
The final part of this post begins at the subheading “Walking Away Is OK.” (Note that we can tell this subheading is not about to start a new main body section, as it doesn’t have the “If You …” structure, and there’s no photo immediately beneath it.)
At the start of the conclusion, Guarino draws a comparison between a project and a relationship, helping the reader to see that though a project might be a nice one, it isn’t necessarily the project for them. She recaps the importance of feeling purpose and joy, and finishes the conclusion with some concrete suggestions—“Take a step back” and “Give your project—and yourself—space to breathe.”
Use it: Guarino’s use of an analogy at the start of the conclusion gives a slightly different perspective, perhaps helping to drive home her point for the reader. You could do the same by looking for an analogy that fits the topic of your blog post.
Again, we’ll go through the structure of this post. (I won’t cover the title because it’s so similar in structure to the title of the first example.)
Hudson begins her post by acknowledging that the reader has probably read many similarly titled articles before. This is important, in case the reader has reservations about the post covering the same ground as other posts they’ve read in the past.
She goes on to explain the problems with those other articles—“they assume a lot”—and acknowledges the challenges typically facing writers. Then she highlights how her post is going to be different, and in doing so, lets us know what to expect from the structure—“for each piece of advice, I’m going to give you a variation that’s faster, easier, and much more realistic.”
Use it: Your blog posts don’t have to be wildly original in order to be successful. Even well-worn themes—like “morning routines”—can make for great subject matter if, like Hudson, you can bring a new angle to them. But if you’re tackling a very common topic, acknowledge what’s already out there, explain its limitations, and clarify how your post will be different.
The main part of Hudson’s post is structured like this:
“Realistic Ways to Establish a Morning Routine”—this section essentially follows on from the introduction and offers suggestions on how to use the post (“As you figure out the habits you’d like to cultivate in the morning …”)
The remaining four key sections have the following subheadings:
- Get up Early
- Unplug—even From Email—and Be Creative
- Get Moving
- Plan out Your Day
Each of these sections has several paragraphs of text, followed by a “When Life Happens” sub-subheading and some caveats for that, before moving to the next section.
Use it: I really like the way that Hudson includes the “When Life Happens” tips for each part of the post. The structure works because it’s consistent and regular. If, as a reader, you’re thinking, “well, that’s all very well in an ideal world …” during the first part of each section, you know that the “when life happens” advice is coming along to help you with times that might not be ideal.
You could include your own subsections within a post to give the reader a sense of consistency, to help break up your post for easy reading, and to add extra information or material that goes slightly beyond what you’ve already covered—or tackles it from a different angle. I’ve often used “Further Reading” or “Top Tip” in this way, for instance. In the next example, we’ll look at (What Classic Monsters Can Teach Writers About Monster Clients), you’ll see “Bonus Lesson” used for each section in this way.
Hudson has a short conclusion here, which works fine. She very briefly recaps her key “when life happens” suggestion and reinforces her key point that you “can still have a morning that will get your day off on the right foot.”
Use it: You may feel that your post is straightforward enough that it doesn’t need much recapping; like Hudson does, though, you’ll probably want to at least quickly recap. A short conclusion is infinitely better than no conclusion at all (and also better than a conclusion that drags on and on).
This final example is a really fun post—and a little different in terms of structure. Again, we’ll go through it step by step.
This title follows a classic format: “What [X] Can Teach [Someone] About [Y].” It’s a great title because it immediately raises questions for the reader—like “what do monsters have to do with clients?” and “what classic monsters will this post cover?”—and it hooks into two different potential interests: client management and horror tropes.
Use it: There are loads of variations you could come up with, such as:
- What Game of Thrones Can Teach Freelancers About Networking
- What Raising 5 Kids Taught Me About Writing
- What Kindergarten Can Teach You About Healthy Productivity
If you look at the publication date, you’ll see that this post came out on Oct. 30, 2017—a day before Halloween. Tying in a blog post to something timely (a holiday, a big sporting event, etc.) can help you get creative, making your post more interesting for both you and your readers.
Stein kicks off the post by drawing us straight into an imagined story: “The night is dark. Your lights flicker—and then go out.” It’s a fun and attention-grabbing way to begin.
After that, Stein segues into the main point of the post with “It’s your client.” She acknowledges that sometimes, the client relationship is great—but that it can also be “a horror show.” (Note how the monster/horror motif is used consistently.)
The final line of the introduction kicks off the post in a straightforward way: “For a closer look at [post topic], read on …”
Use it: While starting with a story like this won’t always work, it can be a great way to have fun with your blogging and to offer readers something a bit different. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a dramatic story (e.g., this post could have started with something like, “You see the name pop up in your inbox and your heart sinks.”).
The post has sections for seven classic monsters:
- Dr. Frankenstein
- The Bride of Frankenstein
- The Wolf Man
Each of these sections begins with a custom image (all drawn in the same style, with the same font for the header) and three large bullet points summing up that particular monster. The rest of the section gives more details, explaining how this particular type of “monster client” behaves.
At the end of each section, there’s a “Bonus Lesson” paragraph.
Use it: While you might not have the skill to create (or budget to pay for!) custom graphics, you could still use a site like Canva to create images to use within your post. With a long post like this, images help to break up the text—and the bullet points on them help the reader to skim the post to find the information that’s most relevant for them.
Stein’s conclusion starts with the subheading “Monsters Are Everywhere—Be Prepared.” The horror/monster theme is carried right through to the end. There’s a strong positive note in the penultimate and final paragraphs, too.
Use it: If your post uses an extended metaphor or a particular motif, keep it going right to the end, like Stein does—don’t suddenly drop it partway through. If your post has been a bit negative, you’ll probably also want to end with something positive to give the reader hope!
Whose Structure Will You Borrow for Your Next Post?
As you’re reading blog posts over the next few days, keep an eye out for any that have an unusual or particularly effective structure. You won’t want to copy the whole structure—your individual voice is part of what keeps readers coming back for your unique posts—but look for key elements that you would like to make use of. Think about:
The title: Why is it attention-grabbing? Could you create a title that has a similar structure?
The introduction: How has the blogger structured this section to draw the reader in? Look in particular at their first line, and at the segue from the introduction into the main body of the post.
The main body: How is this section put together? There’ll normally be subheadings—write these out to see how the post is structured.
The conclusion: How does this part bring the post to a close? Whether it’s short or long, is there something you could use for your own piece?
To get started, you might want to take a close look at these articles on Craft Your Content:
Good structure doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. It’s crafted and planned. By borrowing from other bloggers, you might just come up with a great way to put together a post that’s easy to write—and compelling to read.