Writing for the web is not the same as writing that high school essay for your English class. Of course you need strong sentence structure and reliable sources, but the layout, content, and tone are completely different. Writing for the internet takes practice and, when done correctly, adds great value to your business and even personal life. A strong blog and well crafted tweets lead to a larger audience and new leads. Plus, feeling proud of what you write is an instant pick me up.
Web Writing Style Guide
Preparing to Write
Before putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, you need a clear sense of what you will say and what type of resource you are providing your readers. Are you giving them a guide to posting on Twitter, a more educational resource, or the story behind your brand, a more friendly and entertaining resource?
Once your goals are clear, it’s time to start doing your research. Find as many reputable sources as you can and keep track of them in a spreadsheet or in a document. Asking colleagues for ideas and advice is always a great way to get more ideas. A lot of writers like to make an outline before they begin writing. For writing a blog, this is essential. Your ideas need to be written in a logical way in order for your readers to understand. Keep in mind that you are writing for an audience, not just yourself.
Putting Pen to Paper
Now it’s time to get those ideas on paper. Once you begin to write, make sure to keep your goal in mind. Let’s look at the most important things to remember when writing for the internet.
Align Your Tone with Your Audience and Brand. Tone is one of the most important aspects of writing for the internet, and often the hardest to get right. Some tone options include formal, informal, intimate, solemn, ironic, playful, etc. Writing about workers rights laws, requires a more formal tone to speak to your audience to make you sound credible. Writing about lessons you have learned from failure may work best with a more informal and playful tone.
Consistency is also important. Every blog you write is unique but needs a consistent tone that speaks to your audience. You must use a consistent tone for captions on social media, newsletters, and blogs.
A great way to find your tone is to look at your brand voice and echo that in your tone. Every good web writer aims to write how they speak, that’s the goal of finding your tone. Remember, you are trying to speak to your audience so let your tone draw your target audience closer to you. For the most part, a friendly tone is best because it will create a connection with your audience.
Leverage Third Party Data and Expand on It. Third-party data, meaning data from blogs, online publications, videos, ebooks, etc., is a great source for inspiration. Instead of copying and pasting,expand on the data and ideas you find. Put it onto your own words. When using third-party data in your content, you may need to cite your sources, such as linking to a study, so make sure to do so when appropriate. Try to use statistics and interesting facts because they will draw readers in.
Third-party data is also helpful for deciding what to write about. Content from some of your favorite bloggers can help you come up with ideas for future blogs. Remember, you are writing for an audience, so when you choose what to write about you have to consider how helpful it will be for your audience.
Integrate User Feedback. Collecting data about what your audience likes will ensure that your post relevant content. To collect feedback you can survey your audience, check user activity or install feedback boxes and form. Any method works if you remember that you are trying to find helpful feedback from people who read your blog. The easiest way to write what your audience wants to hear is to ask them. You can do a poll on social media or ask your readers what they want to learn about the end of a blog. This is the simplest way to find topics and will also help you create a connection with your audience.
Create Structure. Think about how you read articles on the internet. Probably you start with a quick skim to see if the article has what you are looking for. If it seems like it does, you may read the whole thing or skip to the sections that answer your question. Maybe someone who clicked on this blog already has a strong prewriting process so they skip that part of the blog and go straight to the writing tips section. Using descriptive headings will draw readers in and help them find what they are looking for.
Use Visual Assets. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. For web writing this is definitely true. Instead of over explaining, use a picture to support what you’re saying.
If you write a guide about going live on Instagram, a picture will help your audience know what to do and get more out of your writing. Here’s what I mean:
Use a Captivating Opening Sentence. This is similar to high school essay writing. You want to engage your reader in the opening sentence. Try out a few different openers and choose the one that is the most interesting and relevant.
The Art of Storytelling. People love stories. They fire our imagination and inspire our minds. Telling a story is a great way to keep the reader’s interest. In addition, stories help us to draw conclusions. They lead your readers in the right direction, so lean into the art of storytelling.
Consider Current Events and Trends. Writing about a current trend may not bring in a lot of readers because chances are they have already read about that topic. When writing about a current trend, you want to add your own spin and new angle to it. Keeping your content relevant is the key to success. If there is big news circulating the web, referencing it in your blog will increase the relevancy of your writing.
Edit, Edit, Edit. Posting a blog with spelling mistakes makes you look less credible. To make sure you fix any errors, edit your blog once, and then do it again after taking some time away from it in order to look at it with fresh eyes. If possible, have someone else edit it. This will ensure there are no mistakes as well as confirm that your article makes sense to readers.
Incorporate SEO. Optimizing your blogs for search engines will make it so you can reach your audience. We have a whole blog on optimizing a blog for SEO. It has helpful tips for writing headlines, choosing images, incorporating keywords and more. Follow this link to learn how to incorporate SEO into your blog.
Have Fun! Most likely you are writing because you like it and know it is helpful to your business. Don’t let it become a big stresser. Have fun with it!
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you are writing for an audience. You need to provide people with the information they expect from you. As you write, ask yourself, “does this content answer my question or complete my task?” The answer needs to be yes for a successful blog. I know there are a lot of things to remember when writing for the internet, so if you feel overwhelmed, remind yourself that writing for the internet takes practice. Try to set up a writing scheduling to sharpen your skills. Now go give it a try!
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