Emily Aborn Content Copywriting and Consulting Services

Four Content Structures to Try!

HOW DOES CONTENT STRUCTURE HELP?

If you know me at all, you know I’m a little bit heart and a little bit science. A little bit country, and a little bit rock n’ roll if you will… 

I believe in creating your content in a way that’s distinctly YOU, infused with your personality, individuality, creativity, and all that makes you who you are. 

I also believe that sometimes having a content structure (or outline/framework) in place can help us to: 

  • Stay on track 
  • Avoid distractions in our content 
  • Gain momentum by having a starting point for idea generation 
  • Go deeper on topics vs. wider 
  • Keep our listeners, readers, and audience members engaged and listening! 

Content structures can be a great thing for you, as the creator, as well as those you’re sharing with. 

This blog will map out four content structures to consider implementing and trying right away, the potential pro’s and cons of each, and how to get started! 

Lastly, before we dive in. Because I’m a hefty dose of heart and soul when creating… keep in mind:

There’s no right or wrong way to create content. There’s only the way that works for you. If you’re anything like me, you love the journey of learning, experimenting, failing, trying again, and trying something new. Take what you like in this blog and leave what’s not for you. 

These four structures are ideas for you to try and apply to something you’re creating. They’re not, in any way, shape, or form the end-all-be-all of content structures and content creation.

Problem | Solution | Benefit

Perhaps one of the more prevalent marketing/content structures out there. You could also call this Pain, Solution, Transformation. 

The structure:

I. Introduce an issue, pain point, challenge.

II. Offer the solution

III. End with how it will benefit them or transform their life in some way. 

 

A woman sitting at her computer, clearly in distress because she has a problem

The Pros

  • Easy to implement
  • Your audience is familiar with this cadence (often used in the marketing space) 
  • Effective when done right and can lead to conversions and action

The Cons

  • Because it’s easy to apply, it means a lot of people do it. Making it harder to stand out in your content
  • Start off by bringing them down, drawing attention to a pain, lack, or deficit. 
  • Can be used nefariously

To implement it for yourself: Soak up the pros of this common content structure and avoid the cons by presenting problems and pain points a little more gracefully. Examples: “I see this a lot in my line of work”, or “This is normal to experience, but it’s actually an issue or problem”, or “So many I talk to experience this kind of pain”. I would also approach this with empathy and compassion and end with a message that empowers them when sharing the benefits. Give them hope as you inspire them to take action, transform, choose a different path for themselves.

You’re the guide. Invite them to take your hand and do this together. Lastly, place the emphasis more on solution and transformation or benefits, rather than the pain or problem. 

Will you try the Pain | Solution | Benefit Content Structure!? Let me know! 

A woman comparing and contrasting two photos
Compare | Contrast | Opinion or Solution

Remember compare and contrast in school?

I used to love those… I liked finding the hidden patterns and differences between concepts.

The structure:

I. Set up two or three ideas

II. Make a comparison: show similarities

III. Contrast: show differences

IV. Offer a conclusion, opinion, or solution. 

Pros:

  • It’s really fun! 
  • Offers different sides of the coin for your audience to consider
  • Helps them self-identify and relate to / see themselves in concepts as you go
  • Shows your expertise

Cons: 

  • Hard to do with many options (the fewer, the better)
  • More challenging with short-form content 
  • Can become overwhelming quickly 
  • You may not want to give one clear opinion, solution, or conclusion 

To implement it for yourself: Practice comparing, contrasting, and coming to a conclusion with two topics you’re familiar with in your area of expertise. (Example: Podcast vs. Blog). When you feel ready, see if it makes a good fit for your next blog, podcast, or workshop.

Report back if you try the Compare | Contrast | Opinion content structure! 

Situation| Need | Action | Result

A great content structure for case studies, client stories, and when you have the opportunity to show examples of your work or how you work!

The structure:

I. Describe the before: what had happened

II. Discuss what needs to happen to overcome the issue(s)

III. Talk about the actions you took (or would take) to solve the problem 

IV. Share the result.  

Pros:

  • Great way to show the before and after

  • Demonstrates your expertise

  • Shows how you listened to their specific needs, took time to understand, and found a unique solution

  • Very specific, helping you hone in on niches and issues 

Cons: 

  • Maybe harder to apply this content structure in some long-form content (ie. speaking/podcasting) 
  • Need to avoid it just being one big commercial and more storytelling
  • Specificity might lead to less engagement
  • Tends to be best as self-promotional

To implement: Choose a past client success story and practice telling the story of before, during, and after the transformation. Address obstacles or unique needs you had to overcome and make sure to highlight the result! This content structure gives your audience a really clear look at what you do and how you help/work. It also helps them identify their problems and relate. Show them that you’re the one they can TRUST to find the solution for them!

Let me know if you try Situation | Need | Action | Result and how it goes for you! 

A teacher pointing at a chalkboard
Point | Reason | Example

Very straightforward and just like it sounds! You make your point, provide a reason to back it up, and offer examples. 

The structure: 

I. Layout the main idea/point

II. Provide reason(s) to back up your idea/point

III. Offer examples that back up your reasoning

IV. Summarizing by revisiting main point 

Pros:

  • Easy, clear, and trackable for many brains and personalities
  • Gives different ways for content to land
  • Builds your case and shows your expertise 
  • Helps the ideation process 
  • Lends itself to visual, audio, and written content

Cons: 

  • Might be harder to do with short-form content

  • Can be hard to go deep into one area, add layers of nuance, what if’s, etc. 

  • More challenging for multifaceted, in-depth topics

There are obviously many more content structures than just these four. But, start here and see which ones you might be inclined to try!

Depending on what you’re sharing, I think they can all work and be effective in the content creation process. And sometimes, there’s even room for merging two (or more) together. You know, if you’re feeling wild!

How I implement these Content Structures for myself: 

  1. In my Content with Character podcast episodes, I typically use Compare, Contrast, Opinion and Point, Evidence, Example
  2. When I’m sharing about a website copywriting project I did, I often do situation, need, action, result.
  3. When I’m writing website copy for clients, I often apply problem solution, benefit. 

So, there you have it! Now all YOU have to do is give em’ a whirl, and see what works for you! Don’t forget to let me know. 🙂