Why a structure adds much more value to what you write?
Making ground for thoughts with shallow depth
It’s so obvious for many of us to find ourselves swimming in a pool of thoughts and ideas while we write. We wait for an amazing into to hit our mind,
to begin with. Most of the time without knowing the direction and the destination.
Now imagine yourself as a sailor without a map and a compass.
How will you know where and how you need to go?
Being a beginner in strategic content development for almost two years now,
I have been engaging myself in various practices and processes to strategise and create better content that works well for the brands and the readers.
Among so many methods and practices that I have learnt by now and adopted into my regular routine of content creation, what I find most basic yet extremely helpful is structure. It lays the basis for having a clear direction and sight of the destination. Organising thoughts and research in a structure before you start drafting the actual content of the article allows you to check where you are leading and how does it end. Most of us might see it as another time-consuming task but once you begin inculcating it into your process,
you will realise that it makes you much more organised and productive.
Here’s how a structure has been helping me so far to accelerate speed and productivity in work and focus on qualitative content.
Structuring keeps the content relevant for the target readers
You cannot master the art of anatomy without studying the skeletal.
If you have a good understanding and clarity about the purpose of your blog or publication, digging out for relevant topics to address your target readers’ pain points and helping them with actionable solutions won’t be that difficult.
The structure is a tool that works as a compass to check whether you are sailing towards the right direction while doing all this. Creating a structure of your article allows you to take a wider and zoomed out look at your content while organising it. It makes you ensure that the overall article is relevant for the readers after deciding what the underlying content under each section would be. Perfecting this outer layer helps you in coming up with a strong foundation that will support and align your content well with your objectives before you actually start working on anything.
Strategic management of the flow of content becomes easy through structuring
A cat playing with a ball of yarn that has a start and an end but all jumbled up in between. That’s how an article would probably end up looking without a defined structure. (Apologies for the cat and yarn :/ Still thinking of a better one to replace it.)
Every time you jump onto the actual work, it’s always beneficial to consider simplifying it by breaking it into tiny milestones. In the case of blogs, this is quite easy to achieve. You just need to organise your research and thoughts in a structure by breaking it down into sub-heads and roughly jotting down points or keywords that you need to include under each of them.
Once you have done this, you get to see how the entire article would look and whether the flow of content is making sense or not. You can easily shuffle up the paragraphs and sections to manage the flow. A good flow of content is strategically designed to spark the readers’ imagination and enable critical thinking by taking them through a good reading experience.
It helps you hold more control over the message, tone of voice and engagement of the content
Many writers among us keep themselves busy with glamorising the vocabulary and overloading the article with content which they think will appeal to the readers most.
In my experience of writing, two vital qualities that I believe capture the mindshare and interest of the readers are:
- Relevance — which provides value by addressing the readers’ pain points or discusses issues they can relate to and provide them with actionable solutions.
- Voice — that creates a unique image and personality through language, tone and character and further provides a basis for retention.
Maintaining cohesiveness and consistency in the brand voice is as essential as maintaining the relevance and quality of the content. Once, the relevance is taken care of while creating a structure, it becomes easy for you to focus on the brand voice by leveraging the tone, personality and character through the language.
It’s easier for the readers to quickly skim through and absorb your content
Imagine yourself randomly moving around a bookstore without any idea of what you want to buy. If you had to make a purchase without the prior knowledge about any book, wouldn’t it be based on the content that lies on the cover?
Just like the content on the book cover says a lot, readers will dig deeper into your content only if they find it useful and interesting at the surface. And what actually surfaces your article is:
1. the header image, the title and the meta-description on its first layer,
2. and the subheads on the second layer when the reader quickly scrolls through the article before beginning to read it.
Just as user research is important before designing a product or service, knowing your readers is important before writing for them. Flooded with extensive online content on a regular basis, even a fond reader might fail to absorb every bit of it. A well-designed structure helps you to highlight the core subject, address the problem and present the solution in a way that it’s easy to grasp even when the readers are just briefly scanning through.
It levels up your productivity extensively and helps you save a lot of time
For every minute spent organising, an hour is earned. — Benjamin Franklin
Organising is the key to effectivity and better time management. Many writers work based on a pre-designed template. A fixed template not only ensures consistency but also saves time while you create a structure of an article before drafting it. All you need to do is segregate your research and thoughts into sub-heads and points and place it in the template.
Over time, you get used to this process which gives you a direction before you start drafting and makes you more productive by saving your time for other articles.
Structure assists you to build good content while you focus on building a purposeful blog or publication with a well-defined reading experience.
The structure of the content is a practice as essential as a wire-frame is for website or application design. It provides you with the scope of improvement at an early stage of content development and keeps you away from messing up with the content while drafting it. It makes editing, prioritisation and refinement quite manageable and pre-ensures that you create useful and targeted content for your audience. This liberates your mind from getting trapped into extraneous thoughts while writing and focus more on enhancing the personality attributes of the content and bettering up the experience of the readers.