Blogging Hacks: How to Swipe Any Blog Post Structure and Make it Your Own

by 8 11/16/2013

Are you ever stuck for blogging inspiration? Perhaps you can turn out a great list post, but you feel like your readers are hungry for something different.

One of the best ways to come up with new ideas and structures for your blogging is to build on what others have done. This means looking closely at the structure of their post—the framework holding it up.

building blocks

Image from Flickr by andresmh

I’ll take you through two in-depth examples, and then explain how you can easily create your own structures from the posts that you read.

Starting With the Basics: Blog Post Titles

You may well have come across the “borrowing” principle before: a lot of bloggers and copywriters advise basing your titles on tried and tested ones.

I’ll run through a couple of quick examples of how you can grab a blog title and adapt it to suit your own niche.

7 Conversion Optimization Tests That Win EVERY Time

can be adapted to…

7 Landing Page Must-Dos That Win EVERY Time

7 Household Products that Win EVERY Time

Or

The Business Blogger’s Guide to Dealing with Content Theft

can be adapted to…

The Business Owner’s Guide to Dealing with Late-Paying Clients

The Single Parent’s Guide to Dealing with Tantrums

(If you want more examples, take a look at Attention Grabbing Titles.)

As you can see, you keep some basic elements, and switch around the rest of the title to suit you.

It’s just the same process when you break down a blog post—and here’s how it looks.

Worked Example #1

Writing a Guarantee That Converts (Christina Gillick)

Note: I recommend you read or at least skim Christina’s post at this point, so you can understand how I break it down below.

Every blog post can be divided into three key parts:

  • Introduction
  • Main body
  • Conclusion

Unless the post is very short, the main body can be broken down further, into sections: Subheadings are a great clue to where these start and end. It’s often possible to break down the introduction too, and for very in-depth posts, you might find that the conclusion involves several elements.

Christina’s post breaks down like this:

Introduction:

  • Starts with a bold statement: “Regardless of what many businesses believe, a guarantee is more than a promise to return the prospect’s money.”
  • Explains the importance of the right guarantee.
  • Gives an example of a good guarantee.

Main Body:

  • “What Can You Guarantee?” (First subheading)

Product

Service

Results

  • “Writing a Guarantee”

#1: Statement of belief in product.

#2: Long trial period.

#3: Remedy if customer is unhappy.

#4: Key elements: honesty and transparency.

Example of what NOT to do.

  • “Can’t a Guarantee Put My Company at Risk?” (This is the readers’ most likely objection.)

Conclusion: Call to action asking for comments.

If this looks rather like a post outline… that’s because it is! By switching around some of the words (as we did for borrowed post titles), you could turn it into an outline for one of your own posts.

Of course, structure isn’t the only thing you might decide to use. Something that struck me about this post is that the topic covered is a fairly narrow one: writing a guarantee—which means Christina has room to cover it in lots of detail, giving examples and templates along the way.

Bonus Tip: If you chose to write a post based on this example, you don’t have to use every single element. Depending on your topic, you might not need a “combating the likely objection” section, for instance, or you might decide to start with a question rather than a provocative statement.

Worked Example #2

Run A Better Guest Blogging Campaign: 7 Things NOT to Do (Sharon Hurley Hall) 

This post has quite a conventional structure (it’s essentially a list). It has some interesting features, though, that mean it’s useful to dig a little deeper.

Introduction: Starts with a question: Is guest blogging still a good marketing tactic?

Main body: Seven-point structure. Each section follows this format:

  • Number and subheading.
  • Explanation of the common mistake.
  • “The Fix” (bold subheading) then what to do differently.

Conclusion: Call to action asking readers to comment.

Each subsection of this post is structured in the same way, offering consistency and making it easy to read. (Using a focused structure like this might initially seem limiting, but it actually makes writing a post far easier.)

The “mistake…fix it” format is a great one to use. No one likes making mistakes, and readers may worry that they’re getting things wrong without knowing it… but simply explaining the mistake isn’t enough. Letting readers know how to fix the problem is where the real value of this post comes in.

Bonus Tip: When you’re pulling a post apart, think about anything you might do differently or even improve on. I loved Sharon’s post, but the way she started the first two sections with eye-catching images made me think that it could be really effective to have an image for every section.

How to Dissect ANY Blog Post

legos

 Image from Flickr by oskay

You might like to use one of the above examples—but if not, how about taking apart one of your favorite blog posts?

Here’s how:

Step #1: Choose a Well-Structured Post

Turn to the blogs you normally read, and select a recent post that’s got a great structure. Usually, a post is well-structured if:

  • It holds your attention from start to end.
  • The ordering of information seems logical.
  • There are subheadings.

Make it easy: Use posts from well-respected blogs (like The Daily Egg, Copyblogger, or ProBlogger)—these normally have a very solid structure.

Step #2: Take the Post Apart

Once you’ve chosen a post, break it down into these major sections:

  • Introduction
  • Main Body
  • Conclusion

You may also want to note any key features (e.g. maybe the post begins with a question, or ends with a call to action).

Make it easy: Print the post out so you can circle different sections, underline parts of particular interest, and/or write notes in the margin.

Step #3: Break Down Each Section

Sometimes, you can’t break down the introduction and conclusion any further—but you can often identify key parts (e.g. the introduction will likely begin with a hook, add some explanation, then have a linking sentence or two to lead into the main body of the post).

Pay attention to how each section is structured. Look for sub-subheadings, or words in bold. If it’s a list post, you may well find that each section is structured in the same way; other posts will probably have different types of section to suit different purposes.

Make it easy: If you’re struggling to see the structure, try writing a brief summary of each section.

Step #4: Look at Other Elements of the Post

You’ll likely have noticed some of these things while reading the post, but now’s a great time to examine them in more depth. Think about:

The use of formatting features like bold text and bullet points. Sometimes, these will be used in a specific, systematic way (e.g. the first line of each subsection will be in bold and each subsection will end with two “learning point” bullets).

The writing style. Are there any features of this you could borrow? Perhaps the author makes use of quotes from others, bolstering their expertise, or maybe they’re great at giving brief explanations of technical terms.

Make it easy: Choose one particular aspect to focus on: maybe an area you’re trying to improve in your own writing (like “calls to action” or “transitions between sections”).

Remember: you don’t have to use everything all at once.

You might find that one idea is enough to enhance your next post—for instance, perhaps you love the way an author has introduced a post with a question and explicitly answered that question in the conclusion.

If you’ve never tried this before, give it a go for your next blog post… and let us know in the comments how you get on!

About 

Ali Luke is a writer and blogger, and Head of Content at Zen Optimise. For lots of explanations and examples of great posts formats, check out her post 8 Under-Used Blog Post Structures to Try Today ‒ and 24 Inspiring Examples.

Get our Daily Newsletter

Get conversion optimization, design and copywriting articles delivered to your inbox FREE

8 COMMENTS

Sharon Hurley Hall

How wonderful that you included my post, Ali; thanks. I’d add to your comment that adding images to each section not only grabs attention, but increases the chances of the post being pinned on Pinterest. I’ve seen some people do this effectively by editing an image to include the section title or main point.

November 16, 2013 Reply

    Ali Luke

    Great point, Sharon — thanks for adding that. :-) And I was delighted to include your post — I wish every would-be guest blogger would read it!

    November 16, 2013 Reply

Christina Gillick

Great post! Thank you for featuring my article! I’m flattered! :)

November 16, 2013 Reply

    Ali Luke

    And thank you for the great post, Christina — I’d never really thought much about how to write guarantees before (though all my products have one) so I picked up plenty of new tips. :-)

    November 16, 2013 Reply

Sunny

Very good article, Ali. It comes very handy because lots of people have no problems with writing their blog posts, but they do have a problem with getting the right headline and right struture. For such people, this article is a must-read. Not only can they learn from other successful blog posts, but they can actually get similar results, if done right. Talk about “hacking done right”, :)

I found this shared on the Internet marketing social bookmarking and networking site, Kingged.com, and I “kingged” it and left this comment.

November 16, 2013 Reply

    Ali Luke

    Thanks, Sunny. I think structure can be a real struggle for many bloggers, and as you say, you can have a well-written post without having a well structured one!

    November 17, 2013 Reply

mariel

Thanks for the post, this is really helpful to me, as I am required to blog each week and sometimes get a bit lost for topics to write about!
This is super helpful. :)

November 18, 2013 Reply

    Ali Luke

    Thanks Mariel, so glad this was helpful! Keeping up the momentum week after week can be tough.

    November 20, 2013 Reply


Leave comment

Some HTML allowed

Get conversion optimization & A/B testing articles FREE >>>