Tips and tricks for writing for the web
Anyone can write, but not everyone can do it well. It takes even more skill to get your writing right online. There are many steps to take into account, from making your piece search-friendly to enabling your piece to be easily consumed by people who, overwhelmed with the volume of online content, merely skim rather than read.
One of the major goals of any writer is to increase "likes" and "shares" of your article so your audience will grow. There is no secret formula that guarantees your content marketing efforts will be successful or your content will go viral. Anyone who advertises that they can create "viral" content is selling you a load of hoey.
At the same time, there are some things you can do in order to increase the chances that others will support and share your writing. The tips and tricks below will give you a good start.
Create a Compelling Introduction
Many people only read the opening paragraph of an article. They want to know if the piece is really relevant to them and sometimes they just don't have the bandwidth to devote more time to reading the rest of the piece. That's why it's critical to state what you're going to discuss up at the front of your piece.
The ideal response once someone reads your first paragraph is that they will then go on to read (or at least skim) the rest of your content. The further you draw people into your story, the more likely they will read your article to the end - and remember it.
That said, if you include your purpose at the beginning of the piece and people leave without reading the rest, it's not necessarily a bad thing. It may mean that your reader liked what you had to say but didn't feel they needed to read any more to understand the point of your piece. Maybe they only wanted to know if it would be worth sharing with their own audience, and the first paragraph was enough for them to make that decision. It also might mean that the person who clicked into the article isn't really your target audience.
Write a Story
If your reader continues on to the rest of the article, they're looking for you to take them through an engrossing story. They want an arc to occur within your article: a beginning, middle, and end. That's why your writing should read like a short story, leading your reader down a logical path that leads to an interesting conclusion and a valuable piece of learning.
Your article should draw your reader in like a good book
Note that "storytelling" in terms of an article doesn't have to mean that the content's tale is personal. For example, this piece tells the story of how to write an article. I may use some personal examples, but it's more about a process (creating a solid piece of content) than a person (me). That doesn't make it any less of a story.
I've written "stories" about technology, security, services, people, and more. The more you can get your audience involved in the story, the more likely they will take action at the end and remember it later.
Break Up Your Content
You've probably already noted in your own life that you are inundated with content and often skim articles. You're not alone! That's why a good online article uses certain tricks to make it easier for the skimmer to digest.
A few basic rules include:
Break up longer paragraphs into shorter ones of about three or four sentences
Include bullets, numbered lists, and multiple subheads
Include graphics, videos, images, and so forth between longer chunks of text
A word of caution: Don't make your content so broken up that it becomes difficult to follow. Just focus on giving the eye a break and providing cues for readers to easily pick out the most important concepts in your article.
Share Your Awesome Article
This is a KEY part of content marketing! If you write an article but you don't share it on your social channels, no one else will share it (or know about it) either. Don't feel embarrassed to let others know why they should check out your content.
What's more, you can share it several times on your channels. For example, share it once a day in your Twitter feed for a week or once every two weeks on your Facebook feed for two months. You most likely have different people following you on each channel, so they won't notice the overlap. Moreover, people check social media at different times of the day and most social media posts won't stay at the top of the stream for long. So go ahead and share your content multiple times!
Share your content multiple times via social media
Another cool content marketing tip is that when you post your links, you can tag people you really want to see your article. People pay attention when you call them out by name, especially if the content you're sharing with them is relevant to their interests and valuable to their jobs or lives.
Think, for example, about LinkedIn. You've likely been connecting with people who are just the audience members you want to talk to (say people who you would like to be your customers). When you tag those people in your posts, you're getting exactly the audience you want - and maybe they'll even share your article with other people in their company. Now that's winning!
Don't Forget Your Metrics And Goals
Following the tips in this article will help you improve your writing in general, making you look more intelligent and credible, which is never a bad thing. At the same time, it is important to remember that likes and shares aren't the only goals of publishing online.
Your metric for success might be something more along the lines of:
Convincing your audience to take an action like investing in a product or service
Building your brand voice
Driving your audience to attend an event
Yet likes and shares aren't entirely vanity metrics either. Increasing your likes and shares helps you broaden your audience, which, in turn, helps you achieve the goals mentioned above.
All in all, the more eyes you can get on your content, the better off you'll be.
About Holly Chessman
Named one of New England’s Top 40 Influencers in Content and Digital Marketing, I fully understand the power of online engagement. As an active advocate of women in business, I am passionate about helping women develop online and offline skills to develop and grow their careers. I have been a leader in B2B tech for close to 20 years and am currently the Principal at Holly Chessman Marketing, growing businesses revenue through content and digital marketing initiatives. A public speaker, I have been quoted in a variety of major publications and am a regular contributor to Forbes, Maximize Social Business, Business2Community, and VentureFizz. I'm also not afraid to embrace my nerdy side (as evidenced by my love of Neil Gaiman and my “talking” TARDIS).
Want to hire me? Contact me today: firstname.lastname@example.org.