With the recent Penguin and Panda updates leading to the downfall of sites that relied too heavily on spam, now is the ideal time to develop a real content-led approach to your web marketing strategy. Good writing should remain the centerpiece of any online campaign, but if you’re not sure about the particulars of the web, you might find it tough to get started. That’s why we got together with the guys at WebHostingBlueBook.com to bring you these tips on writing for the net.
Keep things concise
Whilst the days of 250 hastily bashed-out words are long behind us, there’s still a balance to be struck between content with more depth and genuine PhD level essays that not too many people are going to actually finish. Essentially, the best way to combat bloated, over-the-top text is to go through your copy and trim away anything that doesn’t help contribute to the overall purpose of the text (though if there’s a section of text you really like, you could save it, in case it works within another piece later on). If it doesn’t add to the central aim of your content, then it shouldn’t be there. Which leads us nicely onto…
Know what your aim is
One of the biggest reasons for web content failure is the lack of an end goal, or a total overall purpose. Anyone who studied for a higher education qualification will know the value of planning things out: it not only ensures that you don’t have to get stuck, but also stops you going off on 500 word tangents. Know what the purpose of the piece is (it could be anything from ‘to help first-time flyers deal with anxiety’ or ‘to help readers pick out the best new books this year’) and how many words it will be. This should stop you getting distracted.
Try and be entertaining
The best way to set yourself apart as a writer on the web is to not be afraid to take a risk or two. A lot of companies make the mistake of being so concerned with being seen as nice to the extent that they end up just sounding bland, and don’t separate themselves from all the other identikit firms that are also made out of ticky-tacky and all sound just the same. Renowned literary masters Christopher Hitchens and Martin Amis used to tear each other to pieces if they felt the other had resorted to cliché, and that attitude is a useful one to have. Read this list of Amis quotes for a lesson in unique phrasing.
Use other media
If you’re just getting started as a writer on the web, then you might not be aware of the value that using other media alongside your text can bring. The use of pictures and videos can help you to make your point, break up the text in a visual sense and help you to liven up what would otherwise be a relatively mundane sentence. If you want a lesson on this, read a few articles on Cracked.com, whose editing staff repeatedly use other media alongside their written content.
Try and cover new topics
It can be helpful, where possible, to go where other writers won’t in terms of subject matter. Many popular authors are ones whose first novels grabbed the attention in some way. The recently deceased Scottish legend Iain Banks caused absolute uproar with his debut novel the Wasp Factory, which covered such topics as murder, insanity, castration and animal abuse. Whilst we’re not suggesting you write articles on those topics (though any self respecting writer should certainly read the book), the lesson is that no topic should be ignored if it’s relevant to the industry.