How to structure a helpful article, blog post, or story.
“Hi Alex! I’m a fundraiser and I want to write articles to help other fundraisers. But I’m having trouble ‘starting’ and ‘structuring’ my articles. Do you have any tips?” –Laura
I sure do!
If you can’t figure out how to “start” or “structure” a piece of writing, I’ve got an exercise for you to try out. I call it…
— THE IMAGINARY EMAIL EXERCISE —
Here’s how it works:
Let’s take Laura, for example. Laura, imagine that you just got an email from a friend or colleague — a fellow fundraiser, just like you. This person needs some help. This person says to you…
“Hi Laura! I’m trying to raise $10,000 for my organization but I have no idea how to get started. I feel totally overwhelmed. I know you’ve been fundraising for many, many years. So I’m wondering… do you have any advice for me?”
Then, pretend you’re writing an email back to that person. What would you say to them? Probably, you’d say something like this…
“Raising $10,000 is a big goal! It’s understandable that you’re feeling overwhelmed. But you can do this. Here are 3 pieces of advice to get you started…”
Then you’d give your advice. Maybe you’d share a story or an anecdote from your career. Maybe you’d include a resource or two.
Then you’d probably wrap up your email by saying something encouraging, like…
“I hope those tips are helpful! Try them out, and feel free to let me know what happens!”
Done! So simple!
Just like that, you’ve got a lovely piece of writing that you could post on your blog, send out as a newsletter, submit to a magazine, or whatever you want.
However you would write an email for “just one person” to read… that’s exactly the way you can write an article for “lots of people” to read, too.
You can do this exercise with any kind of imaginary question.
Pretend someone just emailed you and said:
“I’ve got a huge job interview tomorrow and I’m panicking. Any advice for me?”
“I think my child might be transgender. I have no clue what to do. Any advice, guidance, or resources I should I know about?”
“My marriage of 23 years just ended. I’m devastated. I can’t imagine what my life is going to look like from now on. Have you ever experienced anything like this? What happened? How did you get through it? I’d love to hear someone’s story, because I feel so alone.”
(Or any type of “question” or “scenario” that you’d like to write about.)
If you got an email like that, what would you say to that person? What advice would you share? What words of comfort or encouragement would you give? What do you want that person to know?
Write your response, just like you’re writing a personal email responding to a friend, family member, colleague, or client. Don’t overthink it. Just write from the “hut” (heart + gut). Then post your response publicly. Boom! Victory! You’ve got a beautiful article, blog post, or story that lots of actual — not imaginary — people will love to read.
Was this helpful? If so… I’ve got a brand new writing class full of videos, workbooks, checklists, and fun writing prompts — just like the one in this article. You can sign up and start anytime. Check it out!