Content Patterns: How to Create Better Content, Faster

What if there was a magic formula that could help you write blog posts faster than ever before? And what if this formula also made your content clearer, easier to follow and more engaging for your readers?

If only, right?

I don't have a magic formula for you, but I've got something just as good: content patterns.

In this post, you'll discover how to use content patterns to create blog posts in a structured way, beat writer's block and cut hours from your usual content creation process.

More...

The Basic Structure of a Blog Post

A universally useful structure for any piece of content you create looks like this:

The intro always explains what your post is about, whom it's for and why it's worth paying attention to. The intro explains how the reader will benefit from continuing to read.​

The content pattern is where you explain your core ideas, list your products, provide your step-by-step recipe or outline your strategies.​

The call to action closes off your post. This is where you tell your readers what to do next, whether that's leaving a comment, checking out another, related post, signing up to your newsletter or anything else that's important to your business.​

Even if you do nothing else, you'll already benefit greatly from creating a "scaffold" for each blog post, with these thee building blocks.

In today's post, we're mainly concerned with that middle section of the basic layout: the content pattern.

What is a Content Pattern?

A content pattern is a layout that repeats several times throughout a post. A typical example is a list post: every item in the list has an image, a title and some text. For each item in the list, these same elements are repeated in the same order, using the same formatting. The structure of the content ends up looking like this:

One of the advantages of this is that you only have to think about the formatting and layout once and then you simply repeat that pattern for every list item.

This content pattern makes up the majority of a blog post. Use it well and you can easily create beautifully formatted, content rich posts.

Below are specific examples of how you can construct content patterns and what they might look like in practice:


CONTENT PATTERN 1:

What, Why, How

The headline is a summary of what this section of the pattern is about. This can be a product you're reviewing, a step in a multi-step process or recipe, a core idea you want to convey.

The first text section ('what') elaborates on what it is that you're describing in this section. Think: objective, factual description.

The second text section ('why') describes why it matters. Why are you mentioning this core idea? Why is this step in the process important?

The third text section ('how') describes how to make use of this new information. How to put this core idea into action. How to perform this step in the process or recipe.​

Example: Blog Post About Healthy Habits

Here's what one loop of the "what, why, how" content pattern could look like on a health blog:


CONTENT PATTERN 2:

Person, Problem, Solution

​The first part describes a person or a story. It sets the scene and helps readers relate.

The second part describes a problem this person has. An obstacle they face, a challenge they must overcome.

The third part describes the solution our protagonist put into place.

You can think of this as a storytelling format for providing actionable information with a personal touch. You'll find this type of pattern applied in almost every bestselling non-fiction book.

Example: Ways to Eliminate Stress for Every Personality Type

Here's what this content pattern could look like on a lifestyle blog:


CONTENT PATTERN 3:

Pros, Cons, Action​

The first part is about the pros. The good stuff. What you like about a product, what a case study object does well.

The second part is about the cons. What​ you don't like about the product. Where the case study object has room for improvement.

The third part is a summary of what we can learn from these pros and cons. What action we should take next. How we can decide whether or not to use this product.​

Example: Which Flagship Smartphone is Right for You?

This content pattern is very well suited for product reviews and list posts. Here's an example of how it could be used on a tech blog:


CONTENT PATTERN 4:

Facts, Opinion

This is a pattern that's very well suited for curated content or any kind of content where you pull in various facts and stats to make your point. The pattern is simple: in the first part, introduce the facts. In the second part, provide your personal opinion. The second part is also where you can provide context and write about what the facts mean, combined with all the other facts you list in your post.​

Example: Scientifically Proven Study Hacks

Here's an example of how this pattern could be used in a blog post about effective learning:


Using Images to Upgrade Your Content Patterns

In the examples in the video (and all over this blog), you can see that I also like to incorporate images in my content.

Images add to the visual structure of your content and make it look more professional. And in many cases, you can use screenshots and illustrations to better get your points across.

A simple way to add images to your content patterns is to use "chapter images". These are images that go along with each main heading in your content pattern.

To find the right images to use, we've got two free resources for you:

  1. ​25 Free Design Resources
  2. How to Craft a Visual Identity for Your Website

Using Content Patterns as a Tool

Initially, it will take some effort to think about content patterns and figure out how to use them in your posts. It may even feel a bit uncomfortable, at first.

But stick with it. The payoff comes once you get accustomed to the basics of using content patterns. Did you notice that the examples in the video are more complex than the pattern examples in the post? Notice how in the posts I create, there's often more than one pattern or more than one loop of patterns?

This isn't the result of intricate or time intensive planning. Using content patterns to structure content has become second nature.

The more you get used to content patterns, the more ways of using them open up. They become a way to add structure and flow even to the most complex topics and the most epic posts.

Over to You

I hope this post inspires you to try content patterns and I'd love to know how this approach works for you. If you have any questions or you encounter difficulties when trying to implement this strategy, let me know by leaving a comment!

Shane

Author: Shane Melaugh

Shane Melaugh is one of the co-founders of Thrive Themes and in charge of marketing, content and product strategy. When he isn't plotting new ways to create awesome WordPress themes & plugins, he likes to geek out about camera equipment and medieval swords. He also writes about startups and marketing here.

68Comments

Edson Reply

Excellent as always! Thanks for that!

It’d be great to have a .pdf of the different content patterns ;-) just saying! This is super helpful btw! Thank you!

    Shane Melaugh Reply

    Thanks for your comment, Brittany! Looks like I missed an opportunity for a content upgrade, here. :)

mike m Reply

Thanks
Quite valuable content for me! I know I have been posting walls of text and trying numerous methods to make long post more interesting.

I seem to know the advantages of an outline, but have never been able to adequately make use of outlines. So I merely labor to stay on point while writing.

I am sure that using these content patterns along with what I might create for myself will make my post much easier to write, more readable, and maybe even more shareable after all.

    Shane Melaugh Reply

    That’s exactly my experience, yes. And if you find it difficult to stay on point while writing, I think using content patterns has a great long term benefit: it trains your mind to think in a structured way.

Javier E Reply

I’m curious to know your opinion about recycling your old blog posts. Let’s say that you published a great blog post last year, but you would like to recycle it, change something here and there, and publish it again, maybe with another title. Is this something that can be done, or is it a no-no?

    Shane Melaugh Reply

    Hello Javier,

    What you describe is what I would call “evergreen content”, where you have a piece of content that you keep up to date and periodically bump back to the top of your blog. I think this is a great strategy. Also, we’ve got this post here about dos and don’ts of content recycling.

Lamont P Reply

Excellent post. I’m glad that Thrive Themes team will be creating a Thrive template for this (hint hint, wink wink).

    Shane Melaugh Reply

    Thanks for your comment, Lamont!

    In-content templates will be a thing after our TCB 2.0 release. :)

Dave S Reply

Great value in this post! One of the best I have seen when it comes to writing a post of any kind. Thank you!

Thanks, Shane. This is an awesome idea. As I was watching the video, I started thinking how I could implement this. My thought was to create content pattern templates that I could add to to some “post templates” plugin that lets me choose a template at writing time, and then drops the template into my editing area. I think I’m going to pursue that.

    Shane Melaugh Reply

    That could help, yes. We also aim to provide in-content templates in TCB 2.0, which could include content pattern templates.

    However, I’d also caution against overly automating this. To me, the main benefit of using content patterns is in how it trains your mind to think in a structured way. And the better you get at it, the more you can “freestyle” and break out of strict patterns, while still delivering content with clarity.

I just noticed that I’ve actually been doing this without even realizing it. This post will be very helpful moving forward. Thanks!

    Shane Melaugh Reply

    It was similar for me. I only noticed that this is what I was doing when I had to explain to someone how I write content. :)

Super helpful! Thanks for sharing. :)

Daria S Reply

Hello Shane,
Thanks for the post. I love everything you do and it helps me a lot with my website. You have made so many things clear to me, you can’t imagine.
I support the idea of having a PDF of those patterns to use a guide every time you start writing a post.
But I also have a question. I am an English teacher. I often write study guides for my students like: ‘How to use this grammar item’ where I give rules, instructions and practice activities. This type of posts are highly valued by students but they tend to become monotonous. I really don’t want them to look like a textbook or a grammar reference. What kind of content pattern could work for me and could make these posts more ‘alive’, from your point of view? I am looking at the ones you’ve suggested and can’t quite find a way to apply them to my content.
Thanks a lot in advance!

    Shane Melaugh Reply

    Hello Daria,

    Thank you for your comment!

    The first thing that comes to my mind, regarding your question, is that examples would be really important. If you can list good, interesting and entertaining examples of how a grammar element is used, that makes a post more interesting. It would also infuse the content with purpose and inspiration. Hopefully changing perspective from “here’s some boring grammar stuff I have to adhere to” to “these authors make amazing use of language and I see how grammar makes sense”.

    As for content patterns: I would say that each example is one loop in your pattern. Along with each example, you could describe how common mistakes would change the example sentence and why the grammar rule applies in the context of the example.

Thanks, Shane. Having a post pattern can really help produce better content and also present it to our visitors in best way. So far I was using thrive page builder just for building sales / opt in / thank you pages. But I think I should use it for regular post formatting as well. Specially when I am writing longer post.

    Shane Melaugh Reply

    Thank you for your comment, Nahid! I think good content formatting is very important and I love including things content boxes, to make a post easier to read. TCB makes this a lot easier then the default WP editor. We also have a case study here that shows content formatting can be good for traffic and conversions.

Thank you for the good strategies. I´ll start using them as “recipes” to write my own blog posts.

Karsten W Reply

Great post, we will definitely find our pattern soon and explain it to our copywriters :-)

We have produced more than 700 blog posts without a pattern idea, but I like the system!

Greetings from Canada
Karsten

    Shane Melaugh Reply

    Thank you for your comment, Karsten!

    That’s an impressive amount of content! Are you sure that there aren’t some hidden patterns in there? I ask because for me, I didn’t start with the idea of content patterns, I started just creating lots of content and later realized that I was applying these patterns to almost all my posts.

      Karsten W Reply

      Thank you, Shane! Yes, I think you are right!

      By the way, I think we had contact years ago when I used to work for 100partnerprogramme.de and you worked with Sam Hänni ;-)

Hi Shane, very helpful, especially now that I’m writing some content. Do you mind to share the information about which font are you using for your blog posts ? They look great.

    Shane Melaugh Reply

    On this site, we’re using Open Sans. Nothing exciting, but it’s a very clean and readable font. :)

This couldn’t have come at a better time Shane! I’m going to apply this straight away and make some pre-formatted content pages. Love it, thank you!

    Shane Melaugh Reply

    That’s great! I always love to know that there are people who put things into action, right away. :)

Kas R Reply

Extremely valuable post, picked up some great ideas, Many thanks

Now that is very helpful. Great value. Thanx

James N Reply

Great Article, Shane. Do you have any advice for publishing efficiently with thrive?

This is a really useful post with many elements that are easy to use and remember. This will stop me rambling on and sticking to the point.

    Shane Melaugh Reply

    That’s one of the great advantages of content patterns, indeed. I’m happy to know this post resonated with you, Rob!

Thanks Shane, I was stuck on my financial blog more than 30 days already. Not sure where to start. With your post, you just made my blogging journey easy… Thanks so much

Awesome post, Shane! Being someone who writes 3-6 posts per week, I can attest that having a pattern like this makes a huge difference.

Formatting your posts and making them look great is half the battle to get shares and backlinks. If you already have a system for that it goes much smoother.

    Shane Melaugh Reply

    Absolutely, yes! Thanks for confirming that this is a method that works for high-volume post output. :)

I recently started writing for my blog and I had the feeling that all my articles were the same, very technical, boring and uninteresting. I will rewrite them with different patterns so the blog looks like it contains some variety.

It’s a great article, thank you.

    Shane Melaugh Reply

    Sounds like a good plan. Let me know how the content pattern makeover goes for you, Joaquin!

heleen Reply

Thank you, Your post came just at the right time for me :-)

Janeen T Reply

Thank you so much for this article, Shane! I feel like I finally have the tools to get started with a blog. I’ve been wanting to start a blog for a long time, but really didn’t know how to structure the content I want to produce. Many thanks for this invaluable information.

    Shane Melaugh Reply

    I’m very happy to know this created a lightbulb moment for you, Janeen. And I’m sure you have all you need to get started with your blog.

This post is crystal-clear and of course a very good example to follow. I’ll apply that to my blog . Thank you!

maxtuerlings Reply

Nice!

Ken Taylor Reply

Shane, you folks are amazing! You just keep on inspiring. Can’t wait to write my next post. Ha! Normally I’d want to put off writing. Not anymore! :)

By the way, I try to spend 50-minutes a day reading and absorbing one aspect of Thrive Themes site and/or content. Thank you!

    Shane Melaugh Reply

    That’s great to hear. Thank you, Ken!

    I’m very happy to know that this inspired you and I’m sure you’ll find creating posts a breeze, once you get used to using content patterns.

sabina s Reply

Awesome, as always. Many, many thanks

honestlykechi Reply

Great Post Shane!

This came in handy as am planning to write a blog post right this minute. I will be implementing content pattern strategy.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

Much blessings,
Kechi.

    Shane Melaugh Reply

    That’s great to hear! I hope this strategy will serve you well.

Deborah Cannizzo Reply

Thank you very much!!! You always provide value content to us.

Super useful framework. Thanks, Shane.

Great value in this post! One of the best I have seen when it comes to writing a post of any kind. Congratulations

Nikki L Reply

Bravo once again!

Mega helpful post. Well laid out. Having read it, I realised that I was using some of these patterns on my blog already. Now that you’ve made it more clear, I will duplicate these patterns for faster and quicker blogging. Thank you for sharing.

Excellent information. Muchas Gracias

Owen A Reply

Thank you. Excellent blog Shane.
Any updates on when you’ll be releasing new wp themes?