Constructing a Blog Post: Work from the Bottom Up

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Constructing a blog post - work with the end in mindWhen I teach blog writing classes, one of the first questions my students always ask is: what's the best way to compose an effective blog post?

Anyone here ever read a newspaper, I ask? Well that’s not how you write for a blog. I go on to explain - when you read an article in a newspaper, you’ll find that it uses the inverted triangle approach. That means as much relevant information is packed into the top of the story, trailing off with the sort of “nice to knows” at the end. This is done so that if the editor runs out of space for the story, she can lop off the last one or two paragraphs of a submitted article and not lose the important information.

A newspaper article does and should not end on a strong note. That’s just not how they are read. It’s not what we expect to see.

A blog post, however, is written for a different reason and, as such, works under different operating instructions. Posts are short articles meant to impart information or experience and the real differentiator is that they are designed to get attention and interest in your product or services. And, unlike a news article, you are free to write in your own voice.

You can even using sentence fragments. If you want. As long as you keep it engaging. Pretty much anything goes, except for the overall structure.

With a blog post, the last thought is often the most important part. Knowing this, you should always compose your post from the bottom up. To do this, think of the message you want your readers to keep with them after reading the post and then find some examples or stories that demonstrate your point.

For example, do you want your readers to comment on the newest software release, a piece of hardware, or the manner in which they would like to see services provided? Do this by choosing your final action first and then working backward to document what supports your message. The blog post: Why the iPad2 isn’t long for this world” does a good job at leading the reader to a conclusion with that final line filled with exasperation about the iPad naming convention. The author is frustrated and he
wants you to be able to recognize that.

The goal in a post is to lead your readers to the same conclusion you have. Sometimes the ending can be a lesson, sometimes it’s a humorous turn of phrase or a request for opinions, but always, you can bet, it’s been designed to be where it is. For an effective post, you should be aware of your ending before you even start.

Blog writing is a relatively new writing skill. It’s an art. And those who are very good at it are rewarded with a readership that grows and grows.

Next time you compose a post, turn it upside down and try starting with the end first. Come up with your final message – the point you want to make to your readers - and only then write your supporting text. You might discover that a backward approach gives your blog the momentum to go forward.

What types of final messages do you have that could serve as good endings for blog posts?