Web Writing for Beginners Part 1 of 3

Web Writing for Beginners Part 1 of 3

Flashback! We’re giving this post, the first of a three-part series from about five years ago, a new coat of paint! It’s solid advice for anyone looking to get a start as a writer on the web, so give it a read and stay tuned for the rest of the series in the days to come!

So, You Want to Write for the Web

Good idea! The thing is, web writing involves much more than just writing.

In this series I will address some web basics and you will:

  • Learn what to do before you write
  • Gain tips for being a better web writer and
  • Find out some secrets about how to promote the work you’ve written

Before you write:

  • Understand the Basics of Values-based Marketing
  • Decide why you are writing
  • Get to know your audience
  • Have a website and blog in place
  • Decide which social channels you will use
  • Do keyword research
  • Implement analytics on your site
  • Create a production process

Now let’s take each of these points and go a little deeper.

Understand the Basics of Values-based Marketing

Here’s a quick recap of our post on values-based marketing:

Content marketing is all about creating a body of work that increases your web visibility while providing real value for your audience and potential customers. That means understanding who they are and giving them content that matters. It should solve a problem, or give them a new understanding of a topic, or it should at least be a pleasure to read.

Values-based marketing is content marketing + ethics. This means that the work you do is helping the world (online and off) be a beautiful and functional space.

It’s important to understand that values-based marketing takes time to show results. For one thing, you have to create a body of work. For another, you have to learn to connect with your audience and to grow your audience.

Accept that patience and persistence will be part of the game, and you’ll be halfway there.

Decide Why You Are Writing

If you are new to web writing, chances are you are starting a new business or project. This means you are probably writing in order to build an audience, establish trust, and eventually sell products or services.

Whatever your goals, make sure that your writing supports those goals.

Get to Know Your Audience

Web writing is about breaking through all the noise on the web and touching people directly. We’ve written a great deal about creating a persona, so take a moment to review creating personas and then make one who reflects your own ideal customers or clients.

When you write for the web, don’t make the mistake of writing for the masses. Get to know your persona’s character and develop your content appropriately.

If you are just getting started, your only audience may be you (or your mother). Or maybe you already have a client or two. That’s okay. As you continue to write, you will get a larger audience and you will earn more about them. You’ll improve as you go.

Have a Website And Blog in Place

A misconception about social media is that you can be successful just by using social channels such as Facebook. Social media is a helpful tool, but it’s definitely not enough on its own, any more than you could build a house with just a stud-finder.

In order to have a web presence that is truly yours, you must have your own website and blog. Make sure they are attractive, professional and easy to navigate.

Decide Which Social Channels You Will Use

That said, social channels such as Facebook are great for promotion and sharing content. Based on the research you did, choose the places your persona already hangs out on the web (such as LinkedIn) and then hang out there, too.

Do Key Word Research

As part of creating a web presence, you have to find out what people are searching for when they try to find you and you have to be findable.

Key word research is an ongoing process and we’re not going to kid you: it’s not that easy. In fact, some people base entire careers around it and there are many services online devoted solely to keyword optimization.

Don’t get scared. As a beginner, it’s your job to start learning. Even if you outsource this part of the process, it is important to understand it.

Here’s what we recommend: set up a Google AdWords account and use their keyword search tool. Start experimenting. Don’t get worked up about it; just start playing with it and see what sorts of data you can generate.

Put Analytics in Place on Your Site

This may not be something you do yourself, but it is very important. If you need help, get it.

Google can help you here as well. Get a Google Analytics account and get a bit of code to add to each page of your website. For people who are in the know, this is a snap. If you don’t know much–or anything–about programming, this might be a little advanced. So don’t be afraid to get help.

If you have a WordPress site, this process is easier because you can use plugins and WordPress tutorials. However, it still could be tricky and you still might need some guidance or some help troubleshooting.

Let us be clear about this: It’s okay to reach out for help.

Once your analytics are in place, start exploring your data set. Google offers tutorials as well, so just start the learning process. Don’t stress. Familiarizing yourself with these systems is an ongoing process — there’s no finish line in digital marketing.

What you will notice as you continue writing is that your numbers are growing. In the beginning, especially if you’re not a techie type, this will be enough.

Create a Production Process

Get organized before you write. This will make the whole process easier and more effective and whole lot more fun.

Here’s what to do:

  • Create an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar is a list of topics with the dates you will publish on your blog. It can also include things you need and may not have, such as photos and images. It’s also a good idea to establish when you will update your website. Quarterly is standard because, on the web, the only constant is change.
  • Decide who will do what. If you are a solopreneur, you get to do everything! If you have staff, assign tasks. Who is the writer? Who takes the photos? Who promotes? Decide in advance who updates the site and how.
  • Plan a promotion schedule. Make a list of where and when you will promote your writing.

Great! Now you know what you need to do before you get crackin’ on the writing. In our next post in this series, we’ll give you some tips on how to write for the web.

Now it’s your turn — find us on Facebook or Twitter and let us know if you have any tips or suggestions for aspiring web-writers!

Colibri Digital Marketing

We’re the digital marketing agency San Francisco trusts to focus on the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit. Based in the Bay Area, close to Silicon Valley, we’re the team with the sneak-peek into the future of digital marketing. If you’re ready to work with San Francisco’s first and only full-service B Corp-Certified digital marketing agency, drop us a line or click below to schedule a free digital marketing strategy session!


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Anna Colibri

Anna Colibri

Anna Colibri owns the eponymous Anna Colibri, a mompreneurial marketing solutions company providing teaching, writing & digital strategy for small businesses and solopreneurs. When she's not working she's momming, meditating or iPhonographing the streets of San Francisco.
Anna Colibri

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