Web content is something most of us never think about. Yes, we like and share at will what we approve of and find useful. But, when have you thought about the format and set up of the text behind that which you like and share?
Before beginning this journey I hadn’t either. But if you’re like me and you want to earn your living doing this, it’s time to start.
Unlike some other forms of writing in which the author stretches their creative muscle, web content is written for the reader. It must be clear enough that it can be read on a phone screen. Learning the process of properly doing it requires research and practice.
It Starts With a Voice
Your writing voice changes depending on whom you speak to. The same is true with this. Articles and web content should be written so that they are effortlessly liked and understood.
An Effective Writing Voice
- Conversational: Write in a way similar to the way you speak.
- Authoritative: Avoid using a passive voice. Instead, tell your readers what steps to take.
- Personable: Talk to people and not at them
What is it about? And is it right for me?
Answer these questions right away. Make your reason or purpose clear and begin with it. Have something to say, a reason for writing. Don’t just write to write. This is especially true of you own blog entries. People will respond better when they can relate to or feel they are helped by your piece.
Not Too Long and Wordy
Lesson 8: 3+ Tips for Formatting a Post or Article of Gina Horkey’s, 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success, makes it clear that brevity will make your article easier to read. People have short attention spans. Gina says we should limit paragraphs to 2-5 sentences.
Lead each paragraph with the message. Then, limit the rest to one or two supportive ideas.
Sentences should be short and clear. Try not to be vague or too metaphorical. Leave nothing up for interpretation.
Use short words. Think of what someone would type into Google. The words someone would search for to find you are keywords. Even when writing about complex material, your readers will thank you for using simple terminology.
Sections, Headers, and Sub-Headers
Use the title case to include keywords in the names. Section key text into each header to break up the length of a paragraph. Make these easily digestible.
Gina uses this site to check her title case concerns when she isn’t sure.
Always use anchor text to link other websites to your post. Never use the link’s long form. Here is an example:
- This is Gina Horkey’s website. <—The correct use of anchor text to include a link
- This is Gina Horkey’s website: http://horkeyhandbook.com/freebie <— Incorrect
Using anchor text makes it easier for the reader to focus on what you’re saying. It helps to keep the page decluttered and full of only relevant information.
Grammar is essential. At first, someone new to writing could find a tool helpful. I tried Grammarly’s free version for a while. Ideally, you’ll use it less and less as you get better at writing.
Start with a voice, a smart, authoritative, but approachable voice. Talking to people, and not at them, helps. Have something meaningful or helpful to say. Don’t waste anyone’s time reading fluff.
Watch your brevity to be sensitive to the readers’ attention spans. Save supporting information for secondary positions, and lead with your main thought. Use headers to break up text. Sub-headers help too. Use them to delineate the start of a new thought.
Use proper grammar, and don’t forget to link up using anchor text.
The Yahoo! Style Guide is incredibly informative. It’s helped me get my bearings and understand this new language of online writing.
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