Online writing tips help both beginners and professionals to captivate an online audience. The type of writing that attracts an online audience can be very different from what traditional publishing media is used to, which is why even very good writers sometimes have trouble holding on to their visitors. Understanding the psyche of the online visitor is very important.
Online Writing Tip-1: Don’t be a White Swan
There are billions of websites and blogs out there on the internet. Chances are, the broad topic that you wish to write about, still has millions of articles online. How are you different? Why should someone read what you write over the million other pages?
Bringing something unique to the table is universal in all forms of writing but is especially so for online writing. Whenever you sit down to write something, always think about how you can be different.
There are many ways in which you can distinguish your writing from others. One way is through personal stories, which is what blogs are for. Make sure to research well what you write, so that you not only know the facts right but also know the competition. Try to approach the same problem from a different angle and point of view. Be creative and think different.
Online Writing Tip-2: Don’t be Greedy
I am talking about links. Yes, it doesn’t cost you money to link to other, authoritative websites and you shouldn’t be greedy with respect to the links going out from your article. Many writers shy away from linking to others because they are afraid that they may lose readers to the other site. However, if you have a good collection of these links, chances are, your readers will come back just for your references! Also, it greatly improves your credibility online when you link to relevant articles and pages (think Wikipedia).
People are always looking to read a helpful article. If you are the one who leads them to discover another great website, they will remember you. Sharing is the key on the internet, so don’t be afraid to point your readers to good websites, even if sometimes these come in direct competition with your own writing.
Online Writing Tip-3: Bullets are Deadly
Chances are, you are skimming through this article and you just want to see what all I have to say. Great! Now you know why lists, like a list of N things is so effective online.
The attention span of an online reader is far less than that of the reader of say a book or a magazine offline. Breaking down the article into points helps the reader grasp what you are trying to say quickly and efficiently. There are some forms of writing, like essays, that can never be broken down into lists, which is good. However, whenever feasible, consider bullet points and lists. They also have a better chance of going viral.
Online Writing Tip-4: Know Thyself … and Thy Reader
This is oft repeated, but simply because it is so important. You should know what your audience wants. Sometimes, it is just a single piece of information (the score was 14-31). Sometimes they want the inner details. Sometimes they want an analysis. If you deliver what your audience is looking for, you should do great with your readers.
The same goes with blogging or having your own website. If you deviate too much away from your niche, you are only going to alienate your readers because they don’t want what you are writing. Personal stories are fine, but don’t go on about fitness and technology in a blog dedicated to pets. Be relevant.
Online Writing Tip-5: Speed Thrills but Kills
It is almost always a trade-off between covering something fast and covering something accurately. When a new piece of information arrives, everyone today has access to it at almost the same time. However, how you analyze and interpret it is going to be very different. You need to strike a balance between how fast you want to cover something and how detailed you want the analysis to be.
For example, lets say Google releases another change and modification to their algorithm. How is it going to affect bloggers? The actual algorithm change will probably be mentioned in Google’s blog but your thoughts on how it is going to impact bloggers is going to be an analysis. If you want too long, say a week or two, you can probably get more concrete data and make some fancy graphs. However, that is probably best done as a follow-up article.
It is important to be fast and accurate when you report something new.
Online Writing Tip-6: Read to Write
If you wish to really succeed at online writing, you should read a lot. The reason is simple – if you read, you are aware of a number of different things and you can connect different events and happenings. You can get the big picture which your competitors can miss. You can connect social memes and write a comprehensive report on a given topic. In addition, reading more helps you get more ideas for whatever it is that you wish to write.
Online Writing Tip-7: Creatively Different
Always look to hold your reader’s attention with stories, personal accounts, case studies, etc. Malcolm Gladwell does this well with most of his essays. He is a great storyteller, which makes him able to put his point across in a clear, strong manner, backing up his argument with his case studies. Writing online can be a creative challenge for writers, and that should be enough to motivate you to be different.
What are your online writing tips? Do share!