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Developing Focal Points in Blog Posts

Focal-Points-2One of the principles that I drum into my DPS readers that their photos need to have a point of interest or some sort of focal point that draws viewers into the image and holds their interest. I suggest that before photographers hit the shutter button that they as:

“What is the Focal Point in this Picture?”

Without a point of interest a viewer of an image will run their eye over it without letting it rest anywhere. Once they’ve done this they’ll quickly move on to looking at something else.

As I was scrolling through my bloglines RSS reader earlier today, letting my eyes run over hundreds of blog posts, it struck me that good blog posts needs a point of interest (or a focal point) also (in fact they might need more than one).

Without a point of interest your readers will simply move onto the next blog and won’t actually engage with what you’ve written.

Focal Points

As I’ve pondered this over the last few hours a number of types of points of interest (or focal points) come to mind:

1. Attention Grabbers – particularly as I scrolled through my bloglines I was struck by how uninteresting most of what I was viewing seemed. I estimate that I got further than the title of about 5% of posts in the feeds I follow. It’s not many – and the reason for it was quite simply because most of them seemed uninteresting to me. To shake me out of the zombie like scrolling a post had to hit the spot and do something to make me take notice.

2. Topical Interest – of the 5% of posts that I read beyond the title on I didn’t get past the first paragraph on quite a few simply because I quickly discovered that the topic didn’t interest me. Choosing good, meaningful, interesting and relevant topics is an art form. The topic itself can often be the point of interest – particularly when it has the potential to impact my life in some way.

3. Visual Points of Interest - once someone actually starts reading a post there are a variety of visual elements that you can use to draw them further into what you’re writing. Using images in your posts, bolding key words, using sub headings, avoiding long unbroken paragraphs, including bullet points and other visual elements help to draw your readers beyond your first paragraph.

4. Personality and Sensuality – I’m drawn to blogs that engage me beyond my brain and that make an emotional connection with me. Bloggers that inject personality into their writing, that engage my senses, that use story and that trigger my emotions are much more likely to hold my interest in what they’re writing.

5. Voice – as I think about some of the bloggers that draw me into almost every post I realize that they often have something about the way in which they are written that is intriguing. It’s not just about the blogger injecting their personality – it’s got more to do with the voice and style that they use. It’s one of those things that is difficult to put your finger on but over time and out of experience some bloggers develop a style all of their own that is in itself very interesting and intriguing. It’s not something you can just decide to do or have – rather it’s something that comes with time.

What other types of focal points or points of interest can a blog post have?

Can a Post Have Too Many Focal Points?

Sometimes I get sent images from readers asking for critique and one of the common problems is too many focal points. Their images end up looking quite cluttered and busy – to the point that anyone looking at the shots will feel overwhelmed.

Blog posts can also get a little like this. Try to cover too much ground in the one post and you run the risk of overwhelming your readers. While there’s nothing wrong with having multiple points in a post – I generally try to keep them to one larger idea per post.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. One of the reasons I decided to use my cartoons to illustrate my blog and to use humor (where appropriate) was because I found that most business blogs were so boring. By using that as a focal point, I hope to inject my own style into a sometime dry subject.

    I’ve been reading blogs for about 5 years and those that continue to hold my interest always seemed to reflect the personality of the writer. Of course, the topic had to interest me as well. I hope that I am able to engage readers and have them continue to come back, but my ultimate goal is to provide good info to parents who want to work from home to be with their families, and to do it in a fun way. Even if I don’t interest everyone, if I do reach my desired audience, then to me it’s working.

    Then again, I’m just starting to build a readership (well, trying to any way) so I expect things will evolve as I go forward.

  2. Skept1C says:

    Very informative indeed. I spend so much time thinking of what to even blog about, and then not really putting time or thought into how im putting a message across. Lots of great reading and applying to do here.

  3. Socialitis says:

    I think something that can happen is you will begin writing a post with one idea and one focal point in your mind but then alter your stream of consciousness for one reason or another. Perhaps you think another idea would be more interesting to your readers so you choose to take that path instead of the thought you originally had. Then, because you still want to get that first idea in there (because it was what inspired you in the first place), you don’t really want to take it out even if it doesn’t connect with the second idea.

    I find myself sorting through ideas even during a post, and while this can actually work for some, for most (including myself) it may just come across as scattered. Thoughtful post.

  4. Socialitis: I think a good practise in the situation that you mentioned would be to note the idea down seperately and continue writing with your initial focus in mind. You can then address your additional idea in a seperate post as a Part 2, or a “related post”. This keeps your content more focused, less scattered and your focused treatment of the second idea seperately will probably result in more content that is clearer for your readers.

  5. Personally, I like to write the main points of my new post then I write the subordinate points to write on all of them. This make the writing process so easy.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] I’m very impressed by Problogger.net – and this guy behind the PR7 blog is Darren Rowse, a full time blogger and photo fanatic (which I happen to be too, except that I do not have the resources yet ;P) Anyway, in his blog, he also shared about developing a focal point in blog posts. He shares: Try to cover too much ground in the one post and you run the risk of overwhelming your readers. While there’s nothing wrong with having multiple points in a post – I generally try to keep them to one larger idea per post. [...]