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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.