In my previous post on writing for the online audience, I talked about key words (making sure you have direct, relevant words in your titles and subheads), making your article easy to read (by using bullets, italics, or bolding to capture attention), and using effective formatting (making sure there’s plenty of white space and short paragraphs).
Today, I’d like to add 3 more tips that will help strengthen your online style and effectiveness:
1. Be direct and brief. Leave the storytelling effects to the print media, because with online writing, readers want their articles quick and to the point. In fact, it’s been found that most readers don’t spend much time actually reading online articles at all. They simply scan and skim them to see if what they need is there. If not, they’ll move on.
This has 2 implications for you as a writer: (1) make sure your important points are easy to find in your article, and (2) don’t let your article get bogged down with unnecessary verbiage.
Think action-oriented when writing online. Get the info into the readers’ hands as quickly as possible, lead them to act on it (if you’re driving them to your website or to a P.O. S.), then get them out! They’ll be forever thankful!
2. Break some grammar rules. Just like you need to leave your flowery prose in your poetry book when you step into the Web, you can also afford to leave behind some grammar rules you’ve learned along the way for the sake of your readers. For example, it’s OK to allow the occasional sentence fragment, if it means it’s helping you be brief and make your point quicker.
I would still suggest using strong verbs instead of passive ones, and writing in understandable sentences, but it’s OK if you end your sentences with a preposition and use “who” instead of “whom” from time to time!
3. Focus on your readers’ needs at all times. Sometimes when we write, it can easily end up being more about us if we’re not careful. Everyone has a story they just have to tell or information they want to get out. That’s fine…for print. But online, it’s all about the reader. What types of searches are your readers’ doing to find you? What information are they looking for? Make sure you’re delivering what they came to your article to find. That’s one sure way to make certain they come back!
Thanks for joining me for learning about online writing. If anyone has other tips that have worked for you, please leave a comment and share!