Everything I Need to Know About Blogging
I Learned in High School

High School Locker

It’s true. I’m not saying that blogging is like high school (although some might disagree at times), but you might have learned a few things about effective blogging while you were there, no matter how long ago it was.

In the old days of functional writing tests, high school teachers would teach students to consider the FAT-P before they sat down to write. FAT-P stands for:

  • Form
  • Audience
  • Topic
  • Purpose

Although basic, it’s something you should consider every time you sit down to write a blog post. Let’s take a look at exactly how FAT-P applies to blogging.

Form

The form of any written communication can have a big impact on the message conveyed. Obviously, the form of a text message requires different demands and stylistic rules than a business report. Likewise, the form of a blog post has its own unique set of requirements.

First and foremost, a blog should be physically easy to read. Your audience is looking at a computer screen which is much different (and more demanding) than reading a book. Use whitespace (the space without words) and text spacing to your advantage. A simple line space between paragraphs can have a big impact on the success of a blog post.

It is also a good idea to keep paragraphs short. This is not the place for long, verbose paragraphs. Shorter paragraphs are easier to read and they help make better use of whitespace. While there are exceptions to every rule, five lines or so seems to be a good, easy to read length.

Likewise, try to write tight sentences that are to the point. Think like Hemmingway and get rid of words you don’t need. I find myself constantly revising as I write, usually looking for a more direct way to convey my message. Unfortunately, the typical blog audience has a fairly short attention span and wordy text will drive them away.

There is a reason bullet points are so popular in blogs. They are a quick and easy way to disseminate information.

Audience

Who will be reading your blog? Will they stumble upon your blog through a Google search? Are they experts in a certain field? Do you get a lot of return readers that understand your tone and voice? You want to capture an audience that keeps coming back. Although it sounds obvious, every word you write should be directed toward the audience you want to capture.

When a reader searches Google, he/she is usually looking for specific information. Make it easy for them. If your blog provides the answer, chances are they will be back. Likewise, if your site is easy to navigate, and related topics and posts are easy to find, the reader might just stay and look around.

As you build your audience, consider your analytics when writing posts. Does your audience respond well to particular topics? Which posts generate the most comments or drive traffic? Build upon the successful posts even if they take your blog in a different direction then you originally intended.

Remember, your audience is key to the success of a blog. Write for them, not you.

Topic

This seems obvious, but what is your post about? Stay on topic. If you find yourself moving to another topic, save it for another post. Most readers would rather read a number of short posts on individual topics than a long post that wanders all over the place.

A concise post will also do better with the search engines. In a well written post, the topic is clear and keywords stand out.

Don’t forget the headline or post title. In a well written headline the topic of the post is clear. Many readers find blog posts through feed readers, social media sites such as Digg or through search engine results. These readers will usually decide what to read based on little more than a headline. A well written headline identifies the topic and generates enough interest for readers to click through to the entire post.

Purpose

Why are you writing this post? Is it to provide information? Is it to entertain? Is it to build a community? Usually a good blog post does all of these things. However, when you sit down to write, consider exactly what you want to accomplish and what information you want to convey with your post. As you write, check to see if you are fulfilling that purpose. You may find that the purpose has changed. Fine, revise to meet the new purpose.

When you have a defined purpose in mind, writing a clear, interesting blog post becomes much easier. Seems easy enough doesn’t it?

However, in a world where online audiences are bombarded with information, this simple concept is often forgotten. Sometimes a little FAT-P can go a long way.

About the Author: Jim Lodico is a freelance copywriter and public relations/business communications consultant. He just started a new blog exploring the business side of social marketing.

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Comments

  1. This is such great information to bring back to our own blogs, I seem to get stuck writing blog posts, or sometimes go off subject a bit, this post should keep me on track;).

  2. I think one of the links in the author section is broken.

  3. Man I knew I should have paid attention in High School! Excuse me can you tell me where the gym is I have to report for practice?

  4. I enjoyed your comments on the purpose of the post. I find right now most of my posts have the intent of educating or raising awareness. They aren’t necessarily entertaining or good at fostering a community. This is a shortfall I need to work on as a growing community is essential to my blogs growth.

  5. I’m with you on tight writing, although…

    Think like Hemmingway and get rid of words you don’t need. I find myself constantly revising as I write, usually looking for a more direct way to convey my message. Unfortunately, the typical blog audience has a fairly short attention span and wordy text will drive them away.

    Why not change the above to:

    Think like Hemmingway and remove words you don’t need. I constantly revise while writing, seeking a more direct way to convey my message. Unfortunately, the typical blog audience has a short attention span and wordy text will drive them away.

    Something here, something there. Great advice all around!

  6. The basic structure of writing was not just learned in HS, but years before it growing up. Everything we learned from our past has helped us today. The structure from the english classes we took have a huge impact on how we write now. I still use tips I learned from my writing teacher.

    Craig
    http://www.budgetpulse.com

  7. Great advice. My fav piece of advice is to make sure that the content actually fulfills the purpose we need it to fulfill.

    So often it’s tempting to write what comes out. But we need to remember that content with purpose packs power.

    Best Regards,

    Latarsha

  8. I tutor two boys in middle school reading and writing, so when I blog I try to remember what I’ve taught.

    Great post with excellent back to basics information………….:)

  9. It’s GAP in the UK, or sometimes TAP. The purpose tends to be a bit more general than the examples you give: to persuade, inform, recount, analyse etc.

    I used to be an English teacher, and we talk about this in my new job (content editor). The organisation I work for often confuses the purpose of its writing: it tries to persuade when it should be informing, or it tries to entertain when it should be recounting. Probably because it doesn’t leave the writing to the professionals ;)

  10. I always write with FAT-P in mind though I have never heard of the FAT-P method before. I always write with my audience in mind, I try to stick to topic, and I try to make sure that my blog posts collectively add to the lives of my readers.
    Great post and great way to remember how to write well.

  11. I really think you have a good point here. Much of what I learned in high school was from Honor’s English Class. Of course, write something controvertial on your blog, and it brings back the drama of high school. :)

  12. Wow. I never thought so many lessons could be learnt from what was taught (suffered through) at highschool.

    Off to drag out some of my old text books….kidding.

    I will add this blog post/article writing format to my ‘ideas wall’ for use when I write my next collection of web site content.

    Fiona Fell – The Profit Maximising Web Geek
    http://www.FionaFell.com.au

  13. I know what you are saying – it’s just like using your common sense. We can do things a lot better if we would apply our common sense. Regrettably, most of us don’t.

  14. Hi Jim — thanks for much-needed fundamental lesson in blog writing. I especially liked your last section on Purpose — I totally agree that a blog should offer information, entertainment and/or community.

    I think that determining purpose and direction of one’s blog is not really a writer’s job, per se, but an editor’s. Since so many of us are running one-person blogs, we need to assume the duties of an editor as well.

    Lastly, I see that you’re fairly new to blogging. So am I — good on you for getting this guest post. Maybe I’ll try to do the same!

    Charles

  15. Good post. Short sentences are critical.

    One sentence and even one word paragraphs also work.

    See?

    However, I couldn’t help but be a little distracted by something…

    Why would a Copywriter title this article with ‘I’ rather than “You’? (sincere question)

    JK

  16. Good question Jude. My first thought would be that the use of the first person would be due to the “form” of a blog post which are traditionally personal and conversational. However, I suppose you could accomplish the same with the second person “you.”

    It seems a little awkward though to assume what “you” learned in high school. If my “purpose” was to persuade however…

  17. You’re right.

    But in such cases, ‘probably’ is your friend ;)

    JK

  18. Your blog is excellent. So many great tips. I’m going to add it to my blog list, though I do seem to be getting it regularly. Thanks for all your good advice.

  19. Fantastic points! I’d never heard of FAT-P before. I suppose that could be a failing education system at work or my own schooling apathy. I’m finding connecting with my audience challenging at the moment. It’s not always easy to get into their heads.

  20. Great points! My favorite was knowing your purpose. Keeping your audience in mind helps you to stay on topic, be concise, and informative.

  21. I’m a reporter and the first thing you are taught is know who your reader is. You can write something worthy of the Noble Prize for Literature but if you’re not writing for your particular audience they’ll just pass it by.

  22. Topic, Form, and Audience are the most crucial part you can’t avoid. Purpose are just an ‘accessories’ to make your blog more look even better. Because Without that, you don know what to post and you don know what kinda blog would you like to make

  23. It has been over 40 years, since I was in high school. I started blogging a couple of years ago, and had to pretty much learn these things all over.

    I still have tendency to write long paragraphs, but working on shortening them up a bit. Good tips to follow.