Cut Your Blog Writing Time by 50% with a Blog Template
There are a lot of things that a business owner can do to help him or herself maintain a consistent level of blogging and content marketing. Brainstorming blog ideas, creating an editorial calendar, and consistently reading other blogs are just a few examples. If a business owner struggles with writing in general though, it's still going to be a challenge to blog, even if you know what you're supposed to write about and when to write it. A great solution for business bloggers is to create a Blog Template for themselves.
A Blog Template isn't a pre-written blog. Rather, it's a format for new blog posts that will help walk you through the writing and creative process. You don't have to use the format for every post, and you can set up your template in whatever format you wish, but having this tool in your pocket will help tremendously.
The Blog Template that I use a lot is an adaptation of the Five Paragraph Essay that Mr. Kagy taught me in 10th grade English. At the beginning of the school year, each student was required to start a new three-ring binder with a series of folders and pages. The folders and sections were designated for different kinds of assignments, and as the year progressed we filled the binder with essays, quizzes and other projects. We were graded not only on the essays, but how well we kept our binders organized as well. Through repetition, we learned to follow Mr. Kagy's essay structure, and continued to use it in subsequent English classes. The format consisted of an Introduction and Thesis, Three Supporting Points, and a Closing Paragraph.
Introduction and Thesis
The Introduction is your opportunity to present your blog topic and explain what you're writing about. After your Title, your Introduction is the most important part of your blog. You need to explain what you're writing about, and at the same time, increase the reader's interest level above where it already was after they saw your title. Typically, the paragraph will end with your Thesis statement. Simply put, your thesis is the idea or information you're presenting, followed by the three examples or references you're going to discuss to support your thesis.
Three Supporting Points
The idea behind three supporting points behind a thesis is that if you only have just one or two points, it's not as compelling or authoritative. If I tell you that you should include images in every blog post, and then give you three good reasons for why that's true, you're far more likely to heed my advice than if I had just told you to do it or only provided one reason.
If you follow the format exactly, each point should receive its own paragraph. If possible, each point should include two facts or statistics to support your point. For example, I might tell you that one reason for including an image in every blog post is that it increases social media engagement. I could then go on to provide statistics from Facebook and Hubspot that illustrate how much more effective social media posts are when they include an image. Statistics or quotes from people outside your organization are excellent ways to "prove" your point.
Once you've discussed your points and provided evidence to support those points, it's time to bring your argument to a close. You can restate your thesis and summarize your points, but it's better if you can be a bit more creative in your closure. One "rule" from Mr. Kagy was that you're not allowed to present a new point on your closure. Your closure should be where you tie everything back together.
One great technique that my pastor does exceedingly well is to tell a story early on, and then come back to that story in his closure. Everyone thought they understood the point of his story initially, but once he's gone through his supporting points and reminds you of that story, it has a whole new meaning.
Blog closures must also include a Call to Action of some kind. Whether it's to read something else, call you or simply leave a comment, always give your reader a "next step."
Now, when I'm blogging, I do not stick to the literal "5 paragraphs." I generally have an introduction, three points and a closure, but as you can see in this post I don't have any problem using multiple paragraphs as needed. Sometimes my points are in support of an argument, but a lot of my articles are guides like this one, so the sections tend to be more aspects of the topic rather than supporting points. Because of the nature of blogs and online readers, you're going to want to break up your posts into smaller paragraphs. Include bullet points and lists when possible, and use nice section headings to divide up your points.
After you've written a few blog posts of your own, you may see a format naturally evolving. You can use mine, or you can use one that's different that's a better fit to your writing style. Ether way, deciding on a Blog Template that you can rely on will help you be more efficient in your writing, and might save the time you spend writing by 50% or more for some posts.
Do you use a standard format already for your own blog posts? What do you think about mine? I wonder if Mr. Kagy knew that one or more of his students would be using his writing format decades later. Was there anyone in your early education who you think heavily influenced your current writing style? I'd love to hear your stories below. As always, thanks for reading!
Empty page image by jacqueline-w, Flickr.