Writing for the Web

How to write a blog or an article; a practical guide to web writing.

A publishing professional tells you about the differences between writing print articles or books and writing for a web site.

The Internet is the largest market for your freelance writing, with your potential readership surpassing that of any of the print media. As a bonus, your words will probably exist in cyberspace forever.

But writing successful web content, the kind that attracts a large following, requires a different approach than writing articles or books. Why?

Web readers are impatient. Few surfers read material word for word; instead, they skim it.

If viewers see dense, wordy text, they’ll leave your content unread, no matter how well it matches their interests and needs.

Avoid dense text by freely using these easy tools:

* Bolded subheadings jump out at the eye, helping the reader identify useful information.

* Bulleted or numbered lists condense wordy paragraphs into easily digestible phrases or sentences.

* Empty space gives the reader’s eyes a rest, allowing the words to stand out. Freely use double-spacing between bullet points, paragraphs, headings and text. Allow for margins all around.

Not only with your text look more appealing on the page, people will read your content.

For web-writing success beyond your dreams, follow these tips:

* Put your important information first. Do not spend much time leading up to your point, jump right on it. Your readers will not tolerate fluff.

Our key message here is to motivate web writers to use bolded headings and bulleted lists and to understand why this is crucial.  The impatient reader will quickly get your important information, even if they don’t scroll down to the rest of your article or read every word.

Have a professional mind-set. Take your web writing as seriously as if you were writing for the magazine, book or other print markets.

Clearly understand the purpose for each piece of your content, whether article or blog. Have something worthwhile to say, offering new information and fresh ideas. What is your point? Address it with every word.

* Write short sentences and paragraphs. Limit sentences to 25 words and paragraphs to three sentences. (This is a guideline, not a rigid rule.)

* Good writing is tight writing. Each paragraph should have a main point, and each sentence should pertain to that point. Every word, sentence and paragraph should do important work, otherwise prune without hesitation or regret.

* Think brevity. Online articles should be shorter than the comparable print version; blogs should be shorter still. Both must convey an important message in the fewest possible words.

* Have fun! When you enjoy your writing, your readers will, too. They’ll become your fans, eagerly anticipating your upcoming content. And providing outstanding content to attract a large readership is what it’s all about.

Copyright 2006 by Barbara Doyen. All rights reserved.

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