Sorry, Mrs. McGowan.
It’s not that your year 6 lessons on the 5 paragraph essay were bad. I enjoyed them at the time.
But that was then.
And now I must put those lessons in the bin.
And set them on fire.
Your teacher taught you to write, but not for online
Whether you are writing for your website, a landing page, a blog, on a social media platform or just about anywhere else on the wide world of the internet, there is one simple truth you must remember:
Good online content would drive your old English teachers crazy.
In fact, if your primary school teacher reads your online copy and gives you full marks, you’ve done something horribly wrong. Actually, you’ve probably done at least 3 things wrong. And without even looking, I know what they are:
- Your paragraphs are too long.
- Your sentences are too long.
- Your language is boring the pants off your reader.
How do I know?
If you showed your teacher an essay with the two paragraphs you just read in it, she’d tell you to start again.
Write more ‘paragraphs’ but with fewer words
If we agree that a paragraph is all the words between one hit of the ‘return’ key and the next (in other words between line-breaks), then this article is now on its 17th paragraph. And that’s not counting the sub-headers.
In the world of ‘essay’ formatting, that’s a LOT of paragraphs.
But in the world on online content, it’s totally normal. Because online, your ‘paragraph’ might only be one sentence long. And that sentence might only be one-word long.
You get the picture.
The five paragraph essay is dead. Long live the 20 paragraph blog!
Look, a lot of what you learned in school still stands in online writing. Just like in your old 5 paragraph essays:
- you need to transition your reader from topic to topic (but do it with quick, clever language),
- you need to warm them into it with some sort of introduction (but make it interesting or they won’t stick around), and
- you need to wrap it all up with a conclusion (but let’s call it a call to action).
And you still need to hit the old carriage return.
Just do it a lot.
Think your online content is more essay than blog? Get help with your online content writing from the team at Baker Marketing!