Let’s face the fact: everyone can write but not everyone’s a writer. No matter what kind of freelancer or entrepreneur you are or how big or small your business is, chances are that you do a fair bit of online writing for your business.
At the heart of it, writing is communicating, and the key to effective online communication is the presentation. To help you out, here are some useful tips so you can start writing for your online audience. Once you get the hang of it, writing for the Web is a breeze!
Write in Active Voice
Writing in passive voice is a piece of cake to the point that most writers don’t even realize they’re already writing in that manner. Unfortunately, writing in a passive voice is murder for online writing. It just doesn’t speak to your readers.
On the other hand, writing in active voice creates that connection with your readers. Instead of referring to yourself or your audience in third person, write to them in first person instead. Just imagine yourself having a conversation with someone while writing. It’s really that simple.
In online writing, it’s considered an offense if the text isn’t formatted correctly. After all, long blocks of text is quite daunting. Your online audience doesn’t have the time to slow down and read. We all scan and skim online.
To solve this problem, write short sentences for better impact. Try limiting your sentence to only 15-20 words at maximum. Even one-word sentences and paragraphs will do. Next, break your text into shorter paragraphs. Three-sentence paragraphs are enough, although 5-sentence paragraphs are acceptable, too. Make sure you mix them up with long and short sentences, though.
If your text needs a lot of items that you separate with a comma, divide them into lists or bullet points. Use sub-headings to guide your readers through the text as they give readers the gist of the text at a glance. This helps your audience absorb more information faster.
Keep Things Flowing
One of the most popular and effective writing advice of all time is that the purpose of your first sentence is to encourage the reader to continue and read the second sentence, and so on.
While the quality of writing is essential, the flow and structure of said writing is just as important. If your writing isn’t well-structured and is displayed in a haphazard manner, your reader will wonder what message you’re trying to convey.
Organize your writing into a structure and make it flow logically. Of course, you need to begin with an introduction, then move down, stating all your points before summarizing them all in the conclusion.
Format your writing for the Web. Again, use short paragraphs and only explore one idea in it, use sub-headings, lists, etc. to make it comprehensible.
Establish a Call-to-Action
Writing for the Web is all about convincing your audience to take an action after reading your content. It could be something as simple as them leaving a comment or as complex as them trusting you enough to purchase something from you. So, if there’s no call-to-action in your writing, how will your readers know what you want them to do or why you’ve written the content?
You need to include a call-to-action at the end of your content. If you’re writing a blog post, ask your readers to share their thoughts so you’ll know if they agree or disagree or ask them to leave a comment outright.
Inviting your readers to share your content via social media is also considered a call-to-action. If you want them to buy something or sign up for a newsletter, let them know by adding a ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Sign Up Here’ call-to-action button.
Respect Your Readers
When writing for an online audience, it’s extremely important to respect your readers. Like in face-to-face conversations, we show our respect by being friendly, respectful, and not talking down to them. Remember, there’s a thin line between respecting your readers and insulting them. Sometimes, being overly helpful can backfire, too!
Take tutorials for example. If you simplify them too much and explain every single detail, you’re running the risk of undermining your readers’ skills. If you don’t, you risk alienating your readers who might find your tutorial useless.
To fix this problem, you need to know your target audience and write for them. Let’s take the tutorial example a little further. If your target reader is a beginner, detailed tutorials that explain every single thing might be more ideal. If your readers are well-versed, however, simply pointing them in the right direction will suffice.
For tutorials and all other types of online writing, make sure your writing comes across as friendly and wouldn’t make your readers feel like you’re talking down to them. Using “you” and “your” are excellent ways to make your readers feel like you’re talking specifically to them, but make sure you don’t get too condescending.