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!

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Whether you write website or blog material, online articles, or have an online business, writing for an online audience is its own kind of animal. Many of the classic writing rules get tossed aside once you enter the world of the Internet.

Let’s talk about a few tips that will help make your online writing more effective:

1. Think bite-sized. You may have noticed that print magazines all seem to be going the way of the USA Today newspaper, with short paragraphs, text boxes, and bullets. In fact, I recently heard that USA Today is the country’s top newspaper–and I believe their format is the reason why.

People don’t want to spend a long time on any one article, and if there’s too much solid text, they’ll forgo reading it altogether. While you’re starting to see this more and more with print media, this has always been the case with electronic material, and if you want your writing to grab an online audience, you must follow suit.

In particular, keep your paragraphs very short–2-4 sentences tops. And skip a line space in between your paragraphs to increase the amount of visible white space in your article. This keeps your readers from feeling too overwhelmed when they first size up your article to determine if they want to dive in.

Break up your text even more by adding italics, bolding, and numbered or bulleted lists. And, if you have a lot to say, you may want to consider breaking your blog or article into several installments, if that’s possible.

If you’re writing website material, don’t overload each page with too much information. Try to keep each page focused on one aspect of your site. Have one page for your services or products, another for contact information, another that discusses your company’s history, and so forth.  I’ve been to some sites that are so cluttered you can’t find anything. I get very frustrated with such sites and typically leave without getting the information I need.

Also, for websites, make your site visually appealing by having ample white space, very short paragraphs, and lots of  quick snippets here and there that will keep your readers’ attention. No one wants to scroll through line after line of learning how you started your company in your garage and then went bankrupt five times before having the awesome company you have now. Less = more!

2. Pay attention to your key words and titles. Because search engines track down titles and headings more than what’s in the body of your text, be careful how you title your articles and what words you use in your headings. Coming up with clever titles for your work can be fun, but if it’s not drawing search engines to your site, those titles are useless. For online work,  be direct in your titling, and leave the cutesy titles for print media.

This strategy also holds true for any website or blog site. Make sure you’re using plenty of key words that will help promote your product or service on each page. Don’t bury your product descriptions and key words in the body of your text somewhere. Make sure the key words for your products are in your titles and headings as much as possible without looking ridiculous.

One more tip about titles: Studies have proven that articles on “How to _____” (anything) or “Ways to _______ ” (anything) are some of the most popular for online searches. So if you want to write about writing for children, your title should read, “How to Write for Children,” or some variation thereof. You can always conduct a search yourself for your own product or service and see what titles and keywords show up the most.

That’s it for now. Stop back later this week to learn more tips for writing for the online audience.

In today’s tough job market, having a top-notch resume is more important than ever. But as society moves into a “Twittering” world, some of the rules for resume writing have changed. Let’s look at 5 notable trends in designing resumes:

1. Pump up the white space. Think of writing your resume as you would write your blog–short sections with plenty of white space surrounding each chunk. Gone are the days of 8-point font and .25″ margins just to squeeze  30 years of experience onto one page. Employers want to quickly skim your resume to see if they should actually read it. White space helps them do this.

2.  Keep it short. Along these same lines, less is more. While I don’t agree that resumes must always, under every circumstance, be limited to one page, I do think they should be limited to two. And, if they go over one page, there better be a very good reason for it. Make sure that only your most relevant experience makes it onto your resume. Each position should generally have no more than 5 or 6 bullet points. Speaking of bullets…

3. Use bullets, not paragraphs. Bullets help aid employers with their quick scanning. Even if you only have a couple of sentences to share about a position, break them into short, bulleted phrases instead of long sentences built into a paragraph. This increases your white space and makes for a quicker read.

4. Have a targeted approach. With today’s market, every resume you send out must be customized to the job you are targeting. It used to be you could have 2 or 3 different resumes  with slight variations and then blanket the world with them. Now, it’s not unusual for every job you approach to have its own resume. Use the job description to tailor your resume to it, complete with key words, even phrases, used in the description. More about key words…

5. Be conscious of key words. As you prepare your resume, think about the key words offered in the job description  to which you are gearing your resume–then use them often. (Again, think blogging.) It can be  helpful, especially if you’re in a technical field, to have a Key Word section at the top of your resume. Most resumes are electronically scanned as a screening method, and having key words pop up that the employer is interested in will help get your resume in front of a real person.

For a FREE resume consultation or evaluation,  or with resume design help, contact me at waywords@earthlink.net.