Would you like to hear a joke? OK, well, I can’t remember how it starts, but the punchline is “he eats chutes and leaves.”
Much like my terrible joke, your blog post won’t live up to its potential if it’s missing critical elements. It doesn’t matter how well you write, how awesome your editing skills are, how careful you are when proofreading or how mind-blowing your blog topic is, if your blog post is unorganized and lacking important aspects, it will have trouble meeting the objectives you have set out to achieve.
Fortunately, when we take time to organize our thoughts before writing, the likelihood that a crucial component is missing is greatly reduced. Consider the fact that 55 percent of visitors scan a blog post for 15 seconds or less before moving on. Having a well-organized post allows readers to determine whether its information is relevant during a quick scan, increasing the chance they stick around and actually read your post.
In my previous post, I discussed the importance of establishing a structure and set of rules to follow in order to write an effective blog post. While every writer’s blogging process differs, almost every blog post that is effective in achieving its goals includes the same critical elements of organization.
From headlines to a call to action, blog posts typically have a number of components that makes following along easier and aids in the comprehension of a post. With any piece of written communication, your goal should be to make that text as easy for your reader to follow as possible. If readers need to re-read your post to gather the main points, the blog post will have less of an impact.
In addition to helping guide readers, organization can also help alert Google and other search engines to critical topics in longer posts, which is better for search engine optimization (SEO). Now that you know why organization is important, the rest of this post will discuss how to organize an effective blog post.
Planning Your Blog Post
By spending just a few minutes to plan out your post ahead of drafting, you often save even more time during the editing process. Remember one of those outlines you created in high school English class? Think about the clearest way to structure your post in order to convey the information you’re trying to get across.
A solid plan allows your post to stay on topic. When your post strays away from the point and doesn’t deliver on what was promised in the headline or introduction, readers will become upset and may not finish reading. Additionally, if it’s clear during the planning stage that your post won’t be effective, you can switch gears before you start writing, which will save a lot of time, effort and headache down the road.
Planning can also help flesh out additional ideas. Take this blog post as an example. I began writing down my ideas for a blog post about blogging, and when I was organizing them into a structure, I realized my two main points — the blogging process and blog post organization — could be their own separate posts.
While some bloggers find planning to be cumbersome or feel that planning kills their train of thought, I find it much easier to write when all of the elements of my post are already laid out in front of me.
One of the most important elements of a blog post is the title. How often do you read a blog post if the title doesn’t entice you? Advertising icon David Ogilvy once famously said, “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” If the title of your post isn’t compelling, it’s unlikely anyone will continue reading what you have to say.
This element is crucial. In order to make your post stand out, one of the best things you can do is to hook your reader early on. The first sentence of your introduction provides the first chance to capture your reader’s attention. Much like a fisherman’s hook aims to attract fish, this sentence strives to hook your reader, grabbing their attention. There are a number of ways to grab the attention of readers, from jarring facts to interesting anecdotes, heck, even terrible jokes can introduce your topic before gradually leading your reader towards the main point.
Body Copy with Subheads
The body copy is what your blog post is about. Everything before it has been an introduction, and the body of your blog post should deliver on what was promised in the headline and/or the introductory paragraph. Body copy can be written in paragraphs, with bullet points, numbered lists, multiple subheadings or through a combination of any of these elements. Using disparate elements like subheads or bullets helps to segment the copy, making it more interesting and easier to consume in addition to helping with SEO and making the web page easier to scan.
You should know by now that your title needs to be catchy and that the first sentence of your introductory paragraph needs to hook your reader, grabbing their attention. While the beginning of your blog post is crucially important, so is the end. In fact, without a powerful conclusion, all of the work that you put in beforehand goes to waste. In the concluding paragraph, you ought to summarize your key point and encourage your reader to take action (more on that in a moment) as it’s the end of your post that keeps readers coming back for more.
Call to Action
While many blog posts contain excellent advice, that advice is less often put into practice. Readers love practicality, and if you can persuade them to take action — and reap the rewards of their decision to take action — they are much more likely to return to your blog. A call to action (CTA) is usually a question or action you want your audience to take. For most company blogs, that action is buying your company’s products or services.
Whether your goal is to sell your product or service, facilitate comments, spark debates, gain customers or have your readers learn more, blogging is a highly effective medium for reaching a broad range of marketing goals. Organizing your blog post ensures the post is more readable, helps the post rank higher in search engine results pages and it can make the post appear as more attractive as well. When your organizational skills are lacking, your blog post will be far less effective. While every blog post is different, organizing your post to include the elements discussed above will allow you to draft effective blog posts that meet all of your organization’s goals. What are you waiting for? Get blogging!