How to structure your posts so your audience follows you

How can you structure your blog posts so you lead your reader through the post? Why is it important to have a good structure to your posts?

As a blog writer, it’s your job to lead your reader through your post. I’ve talked before about how you need to catch your reader’s attention with a good lead, and how you need to organize and develop your blog posts.

But how can you structure your posts so your reader follows your thoughts? Your reader might be interested in your idea, but if you don’t show them the connections between one point and the next, they’re not going to be able to follow you. And they might leave your post unread.

This post kicks off a three-part series about different ways you can structure your blog posts. In this first part, I’ll talk about some structures for informative blog posts.

Some of the general advice that makes blog writing different from other forms of writing is to use short paragraphs, lots of numbered or bulleted lists and frequent subheads to break up the text on the screen.

Those still apply, but let’s get into some more specific structures you can use.

Basic Structures

Some structures are pretty basic and apply to all forms of writing. Let’s look at five of them quickly:

  1. A chronological structure tells the story from beginning to end. It often uses flashbacks and flash-forwards. This would be good for a travel narrative or personal anecdote post.
  2. The least-to-most important structure is the opposite of a news story. News stories begin with the most important information, but you can reverse that. Instead, move your topic from the simple to the complex.
  3. The problem-and-solution structure is a common one. It presents a problem or asks a question, analyzes it and gives examples, then presents the solution. This might be good if you’re examining an issue.
  4. The catalog structure presents a list of people, places and events, and then explains them.
  5. The repetitive structure introduces a concept and reinforces it with quotations and anecdotes until the point is made. This would work for a persuasive blog post.

Journalistic Structures

Bloggers function like journalists in many ways and can draw many lessBlog-Post-Structure-1ons from journalists. Journalists use several story structures to organize their stories. These structures work well for blog posts.

You may have heard of the most common journalistic story structure: the inverted pyramid used for hard news stories. However, an opposite structure that’s good for short posts when you want to build to a climax is the upright pyramid. This structure lures the reader in with a lead, then builds to a climactic ending that leaves a lingering impression on the reader.

For longer blog posts, try using the peaks and valleys story structure. Like the upright Blog-Post-Structure-2pyramid, it lures the reader in with an interesting lead. But where the upright pyramid builds up to a stunning conclusion, the peaks and valleys structure develops in waves that slowly pull the reader along through the story, exposing the information slowly. Think of a flower slowly blooming, revealing its beauty petal by petal. It ends with a
conclusion that should tie up the story neatly.Blog-Post-Structures-3

Another structure is the martini glass. This is an alternative to the basic chronological structure described above. It also works for posts that need a chronology of events. It begins with a lead, then uses a small inverted pyramid to give some key facts. Then, it moves to a chronology of events and ends with a kicker that ties back to the lead.

The kabob is a good structure for trend stories or posts that focus on the people involved. It begins with an anecdote, then explains the main point of the story in a Blog-Post-Structures-4nutshell paragraph. Then it adds several paragraphs of meaty facts and ends with
another anecdote, or the conclusion to the beginning anecdote that ties the story together.

A combination of these structures can work for your posts. You don’t have to stick to just one structure per post. Writers draw from a variety of methods and inspirations, and that’s okay. Just make sure the post is well organized and develops logically for your reader’s sake.

If you’re always thinking about how you can do your job of pulling the reader through your post, they’ll follow your thoughts all the way to the end.

Readers, what are your favorite structures for your blog posts? Do you use some more often than others? Let us know in the comments!

Comments

How to structure your posts so your audience follows you — 20 Comments

  1. Great post Jen. I am always thinking about the flow in my posts, espcially the links as i mostly use stories to put something across. Stucture is definately a big issue in many of my posts. Thanks

  2. You make some valid points. When reading some blogs – I am amazed at their writing skills. Even some food bloggers have a way of hooking you into their recipe which is something I have not been able to do. The next Post I am going to follow some of your suggestions.

    • Hi Mina! I hope some of these suggestions help you. You could also borrow some techniques from the food bloggers you admire. Study what they do well that you like, then try to imitate it.

  3. I think I follow the kabob structure? I am pretty meat and potatoes when it comes to my post (just the facts, ma’am) I need to work on my voice so that my readers can identify with me a little more. I will have to give some of the other structures a try!

    • I encourage you to give them a try. There’s nothing wrong with sticking to what works for you, but you’ll grow as a writer if you try something different and add variety.

  4. My structure goes between all of these and more. But I think I favor the kabob. That is the format that is usually what I use in speaking engagements too. Hmm. Never thought about it that way.

    Thanks for the valuable ideas.

    Over from LinkedIn BHB

    • Most of my informative blog posts follow the kabob, too. But when I do feature writing, I follow either the upright pyramid or the peaks and valleys structure. I haven’t thought about applying these to speaking! Great point, Patricia!

  5. I like the kabob structure, but not sure I follow any structure. I kind of just start writing and see where it leads me. I have made a note of the kabob structure however and will try my next post using that method.
    Lenie

  6. Hi Jennifer. This post on structure is very well presented and worth the wait. I concur that different structures are appropriate to different purposes but am certainly guilty of poor choices on occasion, especially using an upright pyramid when the post is too long for it and would better suit a peaks and valleys structure

    • Paul, writing is all about improvement, so I hope these structures gave you something to help you make better choices in the future.

  7. I am pretty I sure the correct structure you point out for travel writers but it was good to see it in black and white and with graphics. Much appreciated.

  8. Great graphics! I’m a story teller, so I likely have used more than a few of these versions. But to see them graphically displayed is sort of eye-opening. Makes a lot of sense :)

    • Thanks, Jacqui! It’s the first time I’ve put four graphics on one post. The structures really don’t make sense without them.

  9. I’m not really sure which one I use. I like to start with a personal story, and weave it throughout my blogs. I don’t have a standard format other than catching the readers’ attention at the beginning, having a call to action at the end and great content in between!

    • I just read your last post, and I like the way you make your point first, then go into the story, then go back to your main point, then go back to the story at the end. It works because I know why I’m reading the story and how it relates to your topic. I read many entries that spend two or three long paragraphs telling a story that doesn’t seem to relate to the headline, and I wonder what the point is. Then, finally, several paragraphs in, they get to it. Your structure works, so stick with it!