What is the first step you take as you begin writing a blog post? Lots of people just like to start from the beginning -- they stare down the blinking cursor until they're suddenly inspired to write a clever introduction.
But that's not always the best way to start a blog post. That cursor? It's daunting.
Instead, it can be much better to create the structure of the blog post before doing anything else. First, you write a few large headers as the main blog post sections and maybe add a few smaller tags as sub-sections. Then, all you've got to do is fill in the blanks!
Though counterintuitive, structure actually is better for both you and your readers. Here's why you should consider adopting it in your writing process.
The Benefits of Having Structure
You're More Productive
Even the most productive writers can get sabotaged by distractions ... but a disorganized writer begets a disorganized post. It's important to organize yourself if you want to create better content.
So before you begin writing, outline your blog post. This will make it much easier for you down the road -- these bullet points essentially outline the story of your blog post, and then all you have to do is fill in the blanks. Then, take those bullet points and format them the way you'd like them to appear in your final product -- add H2 HTML tags to make larger sections stand out, and bold and italicize as need. Then, it's time to focus on the content of your blog post.
By creating your blog post content in this order, you will actually be much more productive. If you try to focus on your content, structure, and formatting at the same time, it will be much harder to accomplish everything. If you're not focused, it's easy to get down the rabbit hole of formatting when you hit a rough patch in your writing. Suddenly, 20 minutes pass by and all you've accomplished is figuring out how to turn one word a lovely shade of purple. But by getting your outline out of the way first, then your structure and formatting, and then your content, you will be much more productive and efficient with what you are working on -- you can actually focus on the task at hand.
You Can Produce More Content
It takes a lot of time to format your post by adding H2 and H4 HTML tags, coming up with optimized headers, figuring out if you should have a numbered list versus a bulleted list, etc. But when the structure is set for you from the beginning, you can actually save a lot of time that would have otherwise been spent adjusting the format of your blog post, and use that time to create more content. By having a consistent format and structure for different types of blog posts, you will actually free yourself up to write more content in the future.
You Have More Freedom to be Creative
Once you have the structure out of the way, you can focus 100% of your time on the content. Believe it or not, you will actually have more freedom to be creative and strategy in what you write. You're not focusing on how to cram a ton of stuff into a blog post -- you're looking to make the most of whatever you've decided to be in there.
For example, if you're writing a list post about the best restaurants in Boston, you'd want to restrict yourself upfront to a certain number of restaurants -- otherwise the list could go on and on and on. You don't have time to boil the ocean. By outlining ahead of time, you give yourself some bounds to work within. Then, you can devote all of your energy to making the content within those bounds awesome.
It's Easier for Readers to Follow
When someone looks at a structured and properly formatted blog post, it is really easy to read. You know what the main points are -- they are identified by H2 HTML tags. You can pull out some of the points that expand on the main section through the sub-headers. And you can easily scan the blog post to understand the point the writer is trying to make. As much as we don't want to admit that our readers scan our content, they definitely do. And structure makes it easy for people to scan.
Help! I'm Not Sure How to Structure My Posts
If you want help structuring your blog posts, you're in luck.
If you're a HubSpot COS customer, beginning today, you will have access to blogging blueprints right within your account. Blogging Blueprints are templates that can be used to help customers create blog content. There are three types of blueprints: How-To, List-Based, and Visual. You can select a blank post or a blueprint when beginning to write a blog post. The blueprints will automatically load into the Content Editor allowing you to edit these templates directly from the editor.
If you do not have the HubSpot COS, we have five blog post templates that you can use to create blog content no matter what CMS you are using.
Regardless of what tools you use, structure can be important to creating awesome content. Though it seems counterintuitive, it actually helps you become a better writer -- and makes your readers happy.
Do you work off of an outline or are you a free-spirited writer?
Originally published Jun 26, 2014 2:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017