By Alysen Painter-Johnson, AAE of Ellensburg Downtown Association
If you are like me, after starting a blog you may be asking yourself “how long should my blog posts be?” Well if you’re thinking “I’ll put like some information and some pictures,” this blog post should make it a little easier to put your thoughts down.
Most millennials in college right now will remember the dreaded five paragraph essay of standardized testing. This is a good starting point for a blog considering we’ve been writing them since fourth grade. We all hate it but it is structured for a writer to support a claim or argument. Does that sound vaguely familiar, like a blog post per say?
Short refresher on THE FIVE PARAGRAPH ESSAY
Five paragraphs (crazy, right): Introduction paragraph, three supporting paragraphs, and a conclusion paragraph.
- The introduction includes a hook, background information, your topic, and the claim you will support
- The supporting paragraphs include an idea and evidence to support your claim
- The conclusion includes a a restatement of the topic, your claim, and the support you gave but also a call to action
Yay, that’s over with.
“But the blogs I see aren’t five paragraph essays” Or are they?
A blog is a place to make a claim and then support it. So yeah, it kind of is. You may add more than three ideas to support a claim but it’s still basically the same concept. So why get worried about writing one? This is easy!
Blogs look different because we structure them like a news journal article also known as inverted pyramid form. Essentially, take your five paragraph essay and turn it upside down.
An essay builds to the end, leaving the best for last. Do not write a post this way. People are lazy. When was the last time you actually read to the end of an article or blog post? How often do you only read a headline and not even the actual article?
Start with the most important information in the heading. Such as “ACCIDENT ON FREEWAY. TRAFFIC FOR MILES.” catches attention more than “A DRIVER SPILLED COFFEE”……….. “and it caused an accident with traffic for miles.”
Then after hooking readers with a good headline, hit them with the claim about the topic and a call to action (or all the information normally put in the conclusion).
It’s the opening statement. You’re saying I want you to believe what I believe, this is what you should do with this information, and this is why!
After that you can support the claim, linking to evidence, adding funny pictures, or whatever you like.
Finally end with, you guessed it, background information! Like the kind put in an opening paragraph of an essay. That cool quote or general statement that relates to the topic? Put it here where a few people might read it and think “hmm, that was mildly interesting.”
After all this work, people will read some to most of your argument, get bored, and move on to the next article. Yay! Isn’t writing fun?
- Remember, people are lazy and don’t care about something until they see what’s in it for them. Having a realistic topic people are drawn to is a good start.
- Keep readers interested with bullet points or lists. Why read a bunch of filler when you can just skim for key information?
- Separate ideas with headers for faster skimming. People look for the information they want, not read everything that’s there.
- Pictures and jokes keep readers entertained and more likely to keep reading.