“Why did you write a paper about hamburgers for your computer class?” I heard the dad ask his daughter.
It was an excellent question.
Back when I was a high-school teacher by day, a grad-student by night, I got to experience what it’s like to have teenage sons and daughters. By this I mean I got to experience what it’s like to be dumbfounded on a daily basis.
One year, I assigned a research paper for extra credit. The rules for the paper were simple:
- The topic had to pertain to technology
- Students had to get my approval for their topic
- Under no circumstances would late papers be accepted
Seems pretty simple and straightforward, right?
Three days after the submission deadline came and went, I walked into my classroom and discovered a paper had been slid under the door.
Since I had made it painfully clear late papers would not receive credit, I wanted to read what kind of paper this student believed warranted my making an exception.
The title? “The History of Hamburgers and Ronald McDonald.”
Let that sink in for a moment.
I was a computer teacher. This paper was for computer class. It was supposed to be about technology.
Forget the fact the paper was late. Forget the fact topics were supposed to be approved by me in advance. Forget all that.
I was reading a paper about Big Macs, french fries, and hot apple pies.
Needless to say, the student didn’t receive extra credit.
Later in the day, I received a phone call from her father. He wanted to know why I didn’t accept his daughter’s paper, the paper she “worked really hard on.”
So, I told him.
His response was 20 seconds of silence, followed by the aforementioned question to his daughter.
The takeaway for bloggers (and anyone else for that matter)
Know your audience. Know what their expectations are for you.
If you’re a humor blogger or your blog is a personal one, congratulations! You can write about whatever you like. The world is your oyster!
The rest of us?
We need to be careful not to go off-topic too often.
If your blog is about blog tips, your readers expect to read posts about blog tips. If your blog is about music, your readers expect to read posts about music.
It doesn’t mean we can’t have fun, and it doesn’t mean we can’t mix things up from time to time. But it does mean our readers come to our blogs for a reason, and we need to always be mindful of the reason.
Now, is anyone else craving a cheeseburger?