If your blog posts often look bedsheets the morning after—sprawled all over the place— no wonder you aren’t gaining any traction even after putting in consistent efforts.

Lack of structure is a gigantic roadblock you construct that prevents you from getting any new readers.

Here’s why.

People online have quite poor attention spans. In fact a goldfish could beat them. Add to that a confusing structure or its apparent lack thereof and you get super-distracted readers who have no clue what the post is about and even less of what they’re doing there.

If they’re struggling to get to the end or meaning of your verbal vomit you aren’t going to gain any new readers but lose existing ones.

Structure aids readability and makes it easy for anyone to understand what the post is about.. It’s supremely important when you write online.

Everybody makes these mistakes. I got my first break writing on IndiaStudyChannel. When I wrote my first article on IndiaStudyChannel it was a wall of text. Absolutely no paragraphs, spaces or line-breaks, an entire wall of text.

And I got an earful from the editor.

Well, I didn’t know the right way.

In order that you don’t make the same mistakes here’s a short introduction and review of how to write with a structure.

What’s the basic structure?

  • Introduction to the topic— Deal with the why and how
  • Sub-headlines that present different related ideas
  • Conclusion

Isn’t it simple?

How to write an intro?

Some begin by positing a question that immediately hooks them.

I begin a lot of my posts with questions.

An intro should be short and preferably introduce a problem.

You should then lead by saying that you would present a working solution.

Keep it short unless otherwise necessary. 100 to 200 words should do the trick. You can go into a more fleshed out intro if you so desire.

Here are a few tips to nail the introductory paragraph:

Include by introducing statistics

Make it a strong opening. I’ve found statistics and research-backed data to often lend a strong opening to a blog post. Such openings create trust and interest.

Share a story about the topic to hook in readers

It also puts you in their shoes. With this simple tactic you’re more approachable and convincing. This creates loyal readers who stick around.

In this post on what to do after getting the first freelance client, Carol Tice starts with a nice little story drawn from her own experience—

“I can still remember how excited I was to get my first freelance writing job. It was an essay for an alternative paper in Los Angeles that paid $200.

Over the moon! You know I ran right down to my nearest mini-mart, the hour those papers got delivered, to grab myself a few copies.

Then, I followed up on that by doing…nothing.” She follows that story up by sharing what needs to be done after you land the first gig—begin a collection of published work for later use.

I like her story because Carol uses it in the first few sentences. That draws readers in. There’s nothing as engaging as a good story. Also, being an authority figure in the freelance writing space both as a mentor to thousands of wannabe writers and a skilled Forbes published writer herself, her background and stories of stupid amateur mistakes resonates with the struggling, yet-to-get started freelance writers that forms her core audience and makes for a very lucrative mentoring career.

Present reader problems in a relatable way and posit solutions

Allow me to borrow once again from Carol. In another blog post, Carol shares the raw details about her life which most freelance writer otherwise envy.

She has the perfect career and is someone who most look up to, want to learn from and emulate.

But she says, “We see the public face of other peoples’ lives, and we think we know what it would be like to be them. But there is always more that’s hidden from sight.

It’s not exactly all happiness and rainbows. People shout at me and call me names. No one seems to appreciate what I have to say. In fact, they tell me I’m an idiot or call me a liar on a regular basis. “Mom, you don’t know what you’re talking about,” is a common refrain.”

A litany of problems:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Depression/anxiety
  • ADHD
  • Cancer
  • Addiction

The point of the story? Shun being jealous looking others’ lives. Be happy with what you have. This is followed by a nod to the readers’ to share their struggles and frustrations.

By doing so Carol gets a heartfelt message across and gets similar heartfelt litany of problems in return. As a mentor she can devise solutions, courses and articles based on the feedback.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t really know what you’re going to write about. Include a story that details your current progress on the subject matter expertise of what you’re writing about.

Why does this work?

Because there are many people who are in the same shoes as you’re and when you write about your own struggles they remember their own. It’s called the AIDA writing style where you describe the problem, agitate it and then present solutions.

That’s how interested are digital goldfishes.

Let’s move to sub-headlines.

Sub-headlines

You know those h2 and h3 tags that you hear a lot about.

Yes those are called sub-headlines and they add structure to your wall of text.

You should divide the entire article into easily digested blocks. Say you’re writing about tips on social media optimization.

After the intro what’s the first thing that comes to your mind?

Let’s say its images. That demands a whole new sub-headline. So it should go like this: How to optimize images for social media?

Next you want to write about tips that jell well with Facebook’s audience.

The next sub-headline: How to optimize posts for Facebook.

Perhaps you want to add a short note groups and pages. Fine use a h3 sub-headline.

And so on.

Till the very end.

See how I write here. I divide blocks of ideas into sub-headlines. I separate new thoughts with lines. I use very short paragraphs because I find it to be the best way to hold attention.

Top writers do the same thing. You will NOT see walls of text on any of the top writer’s blogs.

Other useful tips

I’ve been seeing more and more Click to Tweet Quotes. These encourage sharing and highlight important parts of your content.

Use graphics and call to action texts to get desired action from your readers.

Include white space, bulleted points, original images. People scan posts and doing this improves readability and improves their understanding of what you wrote.

Let your personality ooze out in whatever you write. Deliver helpful content, and provide solutions but it’s your personality that builds loyalty.

Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income attributes his success with the blog to his personality. He began sharing income reports back in October 2008, not as a way to get people to buy something or a space to post his product reviews but to give an honest, heartfelt account of his blogging endeavors. That coupled with honesty that drips from each of his posts, complete transparency in his day to day dealings is what set him apart from the rest of the bloggers blogging about blogging.

And in this age of so many bloggers and competitors who are growing by the day, loyalty engendering content is what makes people love, respect, adore and keep coming back to you.

Bottomline

A good structure is like a nice dress.

It immediately attracts attention. What keeps attention there is the content, the personality, follow-up and care that you provide later.

Without structure, you risk your readership. And without personality you risk continued readership.