Have you ever read an article and half-way through the article you wondered where the blogger was going? Sometimes, the author is back on track by the following paragraph and you mentally think to yourself, “That was weird, but ok” and go on with your reading.
There are times when this technique can be effective, especially with readers that want to figure out why the writer did what they did. And, in some cases the off-topic meanderings won’t impact other readers at all. And, for many of the readers, and especially the “skimmers,” it will just bounce off them, lost in the “skim excess” of unread material in the article.
Now, before I continue, I will make it clear that in my brain, a brain that pops from one thought to another like a monkey jumping branches, I am guilty of at least wanting to get “unfocused,” if not actually getting “unfocused” and off-topic. In my conversations, I interrupt myself to say, “Sidebar” before one of these moments. 🙂
Defining the Focus Zone
I watched a YouTube recently about 21 ways to do “xyz.” It was hilarious. However, about five of the suggestions were what I call a “yawn” and about five of them were what I would call “pushes-limits.” Don’t get me wrong, the “yawn” suggestions were okay, and the “pushes-limits” ideas were hilarious! However, with the remaining 10 suggestions fitting in what I would call “edgy” I was left with some confusion as to where they were going with the list. I guess it would be termed as “random entertainment.”
My suggestion for that post would be to make it three different posts, with your “yawn” suggestions in the first, “edgy” in the next day’s post, and finally, the “pushes-limits” as the grand finale. Why? First reason is to avoid confusion on the direction of the content. Ok, but why should I care? Because, the second reason is to create anticipation for the next post. The idea is, “If you think THIS is funny, read my post tomorrow” and so on. Get your readers to come back by “one-upping” yourself, and, at the same time, keeping your content focused.
Breaking the Rules
But, wait, before you become too much of a critic of your own work, make a decision. Like I mentioned above, there may be cases where you can go outside of your focus zone, intentionally. In other words, you may want to “break the rules.” You may want to appear a bit A.D.D. in your content approach. You may want your reader to walk around all day thinking, “What the…” Go for it! Break the rules! Just be sure to understand why you are breaking the rules and what you are accomplishing. By understanding this, it will help you to stay focused on the goal of the content, even if you choose not to have focused content.