If the technology existed some 2,400 years ago, Aristotle probably would have written a killer blog. I’m not talking about his content (I assume a big-time Greek philosopher would have interesting things to write about) but rather, his blog structure.
You see, it was Aristotle who first conceived of how ideas should be efficiently presented, and anyone who ever took a writing or speech class can chant the mantra (now known as the Aristotelian Triptych): “Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them. Tell them what you told them.”
And so it goes with good blogs. Limited space and audience attention spans make the Aristotelian Triptych a structure staple, and a solid foundation for creating a template for blog writing. Here’s how.
Step 1: The Thesis Statement
"Tell them what you’re going to tell them."
A “thesis statement” sounds all scholarly, but it’s really just answering a simple question: What’s the big idea you’re tackling in the blog?
It’s tempting to respond with a broad topic like “laptops,” but a narrow focus is better. “Why a touchpad is better than a wireless mouse” gives you a clear writing direction and sets reader expectations about what they’ll learn. Trying to cover 20 different topics in one blog leaves readers confused – and dissatisfied. It’s kind of like listening to a storyteller who never gets to the point.
Step 2: The Supporting Points
Now you’re ready to inform readers all about your wonderful topic. Great! Remember: stay on point. Every witty anecdote, factoid or data point must relate back to and support the thesis. Otherwise, you’ll be that nattering storyteller again.
Don’t make readers search for supporting points. Call them out loud and proud:
- If you’re discussing a specific process, list and detail the steps.
- If you’re debating an issue, include arguments supporting your position and contrast them with opposing perspectives.
- If you’re presenting an educational or informative topic, emphasize key ideas.
- If you’re writing about a product or service you offer, give particulars about what it is and why it works.
The second step is your chance to share what you know. A little research and a lot of due diligence will go a long way toward credibility. Invest some time in the topic.
Step 3: The Conclusion
"Tell them what you told them."
Bring your conversation full circle with a quick callback of your thesis and main points. Give readers reasons to believe in – or at least consider – your point of view. If your blog is about a service or product you offer, reinforce why your company has the solution readers need, and make it easy to connect by including a call to action with your contact info.
Too good to be true?
A three-step blog template sounds a little too easy. It’s a common – and partially deserved – skepticism, because there is danger in simplicity. Using a template can cause blogs to sound formulaic and, yes, boring. Why? The template is often viewed as a substitute for interesting content.
If you’re not committed to fresh content, don’t blame the template. Use social media to find out what’s trending in your industry. Mix up the posts – educational one week, a debated issue the next. It’s even okay to occasionally color outside of the lines a little with infographics, videos or other visual aids as long as they make sense for your brand. Infuse your blog with personality and a little humor, if appropriate. Remember that a blog is approachable. It’s a conversation. Relate to readers.
Give Aristotle his due. Try the approach that’s survived two millennia and see where it takes your blog content.