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.
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:
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 check this out: 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.
Update: Content Blocks
Since this post was published, we have added the Content Block feature to Thrive Architect. With this feature, you can now drop ready-made content patterns into your blog posts to make the process even faster!
Read more about this new feature in this post.
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!