One of the things I train people to do is write for the internet. Print journalists probably have the best foundation for this, but anyone can learn how to do it. Like most things I teach, good online writing is subjective– the quality of the writing is partially determined by how well it serves the goals and audience the content is intended for.
There are a few aspects of good online writing that are universal, and here are three:
- Be as concise and succinct as possible. This is a basic element of journalistic writing: remove superfluous words, and get to the point. It makes your text easier to read, cuts your total word count and it may help with Search Engine Optimization. Read through my blog archives, and you’ll see that I’m kind of hit and miss on this. It’s something that comes easier to me in the editing process than in the writing process, and something I’m getting active support for from Yoast’s SEO plugin.
- Proof read out loud before publishing. After I think I’ve written another masterpiece, I read it out loud to myself before publishing. This exercise helps me catch all the punctuation and word repetition errors that slipped through the cracks in my earlier proofs, and it can also help identify spots where the flow flags or the trajectory of the content goes askew. Skip this step at your own peril! (As I have learned the hard way…)
- Cater to your audience. This is where that subjectivity comes in. A piece written about augmented reality games for 13-year-olds should be phrased and packaged dramatically differently than a piece on the same topic written for marketing professionals. If you’re writing about anything without being actively aware of who will (hopefully) be reading it, you’ve missed the mark from step one.
There are a million ways writing for the internet intersects with and diverges from writing for print or any other medium, and my three tips today won’t solve every problem you may have. The best place to start refining your skills as an online writer is by becoming an active online reader. If you feel like you could use additional help, you know where to find me!