How to Write Better Blog Posts with a Simple Template

January 22, 2018  •  Writing & Productivity

After years of blogging, I know how the hamster wheel of content production can ruin all the fun of creating. Filling up your content calendar can be a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be.

One of the best-kept secrets of blogging might just be this: Most bloggers use a template.

And I’m one of them. I don’t follow it slavishly, but I always start with it. It includes all the elements that I have learned make for an effective post. It also helps me write faster because it provides me with a track to run on.

Adobe stock photo caption Image courtesy of Adobe Stock Photos

My blog post template consists of six components:

  1. Compelling Title. Advertising legend David Ogilvy once 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.” This is also true with blogging. Your post title should pique interest and create a question in your reader’s mind. It’s possible to create a title so compelling, they just have to click through to read it.
  2. Lead Paragraph. This is key. If you take too long on the wind-up, you will lose readers. You have to get into the premise of the post and make it relevant to your readers. Address the problem they are interested in solving, right out of the gate. After the title, the lead paragraph is the second most important component of your post.
  3. Relevant Image. I use images for the same reasons magazines do: I want to pull my readers into the post itself. Pictures do that. I often get mine from Adobe Stock. Occasionally, I use a screenshot or an embedded video or slideshow when it’s a key part of the post. 

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  4. Personal Experience. I always try to share my personal experience. Why? Because readers connect with stories. The more honest and transparent I can be, the better. In fact, my most popular posts generally come out of some failure on my part. Readers resonate with vulnerability!
  5. Main Body. Everything to this point has been an introduction. I always try to make my main content scannable. I use bullets, numbered lists—and often both—much like this post! This makes the content more accessible to readers and sharable via Twitter and Facebook.
  6. Discussion Question. Posing a question to your readers is a great way to get your audience involved. Your posts shouldn’t be a monologue. Instead, start a conversation. You can actually measure your effectiveness based on how many comments you get.

One of the best-kept secrets of blogging might just be this: Most bloggers use a template.

Michael Hyatt

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I also follow a few overall rules when writing my posts:

  • Make the posts short. This is my biggest personal challenge. I have a tendency to be too thorough. Consequently, I aim for 500 words. This usually means I have to write the post and then go back and tighten it up.
  • Use short paragraphs. I try to stick to 2-3 sentences. If it’s more than this, the content looks too dense. Readers will give up and move on. (Notice how newspapers usually follow this rule.)
  • Keep short sentences. As a general rule, I try to avoid compound sentences. A period gives the reader a natural stop—and a sense of progress as they pass one milestone after another. To quote a common copywriting axiom, short sentences make the copy read fast.
  • Use simple words. I love language, so I am often tempted to use big words. However, I have learned to avoid this. My goal is to communicate, not to impress my readers with my vocabulary.
  • Provide internal links. I can’t say everything in one post, so I link to other posts where I have developed a thought in more detail. This has the added vantage of increasing my page views and session times. I think it is also genuinely helpful to my readers.

While your template might be different, use mine as a starting point to develop your own as you hone your writing skills. In fact, we cover this template in more detail (with examples) in the new core curriculum for Platform University.

QUESTION: What does your blog post template look like? Let us know in the comment area below!

About Michael Hyatt

Michael is the founder of Platform University. As a leadership mentor, he helps overwhelmed high achievers win at work, succeed at life, and lead with confidence.