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Anatomy of a Blog Post

Remember when you were in high school, and your English teacher taught you the 5 Paragraph Essay? (I capitalize it because it’s like an entity, that 5 Paragraph Essay.) As I’ve progressed in my English teaching skills and pedagogy, I’ve learned that teaching that dreaded 5 Paragraph Essay can often become detrimental to student writing. Turns out that if you only ever write the 5 Paragraph Essay, you’re going to pigeon-hole yourself and your writing. So what in the heck are you supposed to do for a blog post? Have no fear. I’m going to give you the anatomy of a blog post and talk about how to make it the most effective for your readers.

The 5 Paragraph Essay is a good starting point. But it’s not the end-all-be-all. Your teacher likely told you that you needed a thesis. This is still true.

Do you remember the purpose of a thesis statement?

A thesis is basically the ultimate point of your paper/post/text/essay/whatever. It serves as a road map for your readers so that they know what in the world you’re going to talk about and how you’re going to organize.

In the world of high school (and even college), you probably were taught that your thesis statement should have three parts. These three parts coincided with the three body paragraphs you were expected to have.

That’s still technically true, too, but you’re an adult now and you can buck tradition. Just make sure that you have a clear statement of what in the heck your blog post is going to be about.

(For the record, if you look at the top of my post, my thesis is there. I’ll help you out: I’m going to give you the anatomy of a blog post and talk about how to make it the most effective for your readers.)

But that’s just one piece of the pie. Check out the rest below:

Catch the Readers’ Interest

To get your readers to read further than the first line, you need to catch their interest. You can do this with something called a “hook” — literally something that will stop them in their tracks and keep them on your page for longer than 5 seconds.

Many writers will offer an anecdote — a short and interesting story that gets the audience going, “Hmm, yes, I’ve experienced this!”

Similarly, some writers will ask a rhetorical question. These questions are meant to pique interest and cause the audience to think. If done well, they might even get the audience riled up enough to keep reading!

Perhaps you just need a witty first sentence. In that brief moment, you can get someone to stick around long enough to figure out why you said what you said! I’ve written about the importance of a good first sentence before, check it out!

Give ’em the Goods

Once you’ve caught your audience and have them reading, you need to provide the information. There are several ways that your blog post can be more successful for traffic and Google-juice purposes. Let’s look at those:

Use Headings

As weird as this might feel at first, the headings break up your material. Most readers are actually skimmers. This lets them read through your info quickly to find whatever golden nuggets they seek. It also helps if someone wants to come back quickly later and find the one bit of wisdom they had forgotten.

Break Up Paragraphs

In school, you were likely told that you had to have 5-7 sentences in order for your paragraph to be complete. If you didn’t do this, you might have lost points or been told to go back and add more. Well guess what?

You can break that rule now.

Breaking up paragraphs is helpful in the same way as using headers. Our eyes – especially in digital situations – need the breaks. We need to not see blocks and blocks of words and sentences. In fact, the long blocks could eventually lose your reader. I know that I’ve navigated away from a page because it was just too cumbersome to read.

Organize Your Info

Organizing what you’ve written will make the most sense if you go with your thesis statement. If you have that road map at the beginning of your blog post, it will help your readers know what to expect.

Similarly, how-to or informational posts lend themselves especially well to being organized in a linear fashion. Clearly we want to make sure that step one is explained before step seven. You get my point.

Regardless of what type of post you’ve written (there are three basic types; we’ll talk about those in a minute), there should be a clear organization to how it’s written. If your audience feels like you’re jumping all over the place, they’re probably going to jump, too — away from your page.

Make sure you have a clear beginning, middle and end. (That 5 paragraph essay was prepping you for this!)

What is Your Purpose?

In writing, there are three main purposes. We write to entertain, inform, or persuade.

This post is specifically informing you about blog posts and how to make them the most effective they can be. A post about whether or not children should remain rear-facing after two years old would fall under the persuade category. And a post about my dogs and how we came to adopt them would fall under entertain.

All of the purposes will help you determine your why and will offer different ways that you should address your audience.

Effective Closing

You probably remember this little line from some writing teacher you had: tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you told them. As simple as that is, it’s true. You should definitely have an ending that is effective.

So how do you know if the ending is effective?

It should basically wrap up what you’ve discussed in the post and then should provide a call to action. A call to action is literally a statement or question that provides a specific goal for your readers. Maybe you want them to share your post with their friends or answer a question in the comments. Perhaps you are asking them to sign up for your newsletter or join your online group.

Whatever your ending is, it shouldn’t make the reader feel like there’s more to come (unless, of course, you say, “More to come!”).

anatomy of blog post image

Anatomy of a Blog Post (click to open the image above)

Writing a blog post is pretty similar to writing an essay as you’re familiar with from school. But there are basic differences since it’s a new genre, or type of writing. Don’t worry about being perfect. You can experiment and try new methods each time you write until you find what works for you, your style, and your audience.

What questions do you have about blog posts and how to set one up?