10 Easy Steps To Maximise Your Online Writing Potential

Writing an informative, interesting and engaging article for an online audience is never easy.

Especially if you’re new to the online writing game.

So for all you newbies out there (and anyone looking to improve their online writing skills) here’s my ultimate guide for writing the best online content you possibly can:

Pick a subject

This is perhaps the most important rule and something you need to nail before your pen even touches the paper (or fingers hit the keyboard). Decide on a subject matter before you start, don’t go writing blind hoping for the best.

Consider who you are aiming the content at and why you are writing with them in mind; what are you offering them that is going to make them want to read on?

Once you’ve decided on a particular theme, you can then determine the tone and style of the piece. By all means be friendly, be witty, but only if it suits the context.

This may sound obvious, but trust me, it’s important.

Brain Dump

So you’ve got a really juicy topic and your head is swimming with ideas; you can’t wait to write them down – awesome.

So don’t waste it!

I’ve been in this situation countless times but ended up faffing around trying to write perfectly formed sentences, so by the time it comes to writing my ideas down, I’ve forgotten half of them (very frustrating).

Get all the ideas in your head written down (even if it’s just in note form). You can then go through and write the perfect article without forgetting anything.

Leave the opening until the end

This one isn’t definitive but it is something that I find helpful.

I often find that I’ll get halfway through a post and the context would have changed considerably. This could result in having to write out an entirely new opening paragraph – bummer. This is especially irritating if you’ve taken the time to write a really catchy opening.

So cut out the potential disappointment – if in doubt, leave it until the end.

Be Brief and Scannable

It’s no secret that the majority of online readers scan and skim content.

People don’t want to spend hours trawling through information hidden amongst massive paragraphs. So identify the points you are trying to make by being really obvious.

This doesn’t mean cut out all the good bits and you don’t have to write in only one-liners but keep your paragraphs short and your sentences shorter. Using subheadings is also a great way to divide your page so people can access the information they want quickly.

Cut the Punctuation

Remember English lessons at school?

Great – now forget them.

Stick two fingers up at your English teacher (metaphorically) and limit your use of punctuation. You’re not sitting your A-levels  – your purpose is to make your writing easy for people to read.

I’m breaking grammatical rules. And I don’t even care. Because it’s easier to read and digest.

If you find yourself writing sentences with lots of commas, chances are it’s too long and needs to be cut because people simply won’t read it. Instead consider using a list of bullet points to keep things short and to-the-point.

Replace exclamation marks with bold font.

Don’t be afraid to use brackets and dashes (to add little bits of extra information – in manageable chunks). This helps make your copy more conversational.

I’m not saying be a grammatical outlaw and banish it altogether but less is certainly more when you’re writing for the web.

Be Chatty, Be Yourself

You don’t have to be the world’s best writer to be engaging. The best way to entertain and influence your audience is to just be yourself, I know this isn’t easy.

The best way to go about doing this is to imagine you’re speaking to a person one-on-one, then write as you would speak.

When I’m reading something I picture the author in my head – what they look like, how they sound. If a piece of writing is a bit flat and lacking creativity, the voice in my head is dull and mono-tone. Yet, if the writing is interesting and engaging I imagine an upbeat and friendly voice.

Even the least inspiring subjects can be made engaging if written with a bit of personality. It goes without saying that humour and a friendly tone is perhaps inappropriate at times; however, when it does suit, be chatty, be witty, tell stories and even throw in the odd taboo if that’s your style.

Use Keywords

Okay, this one is important so listen up…

As an online writer it’s important to use keywords throughout your article, including the headline.
Why? Well it’s all to do with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and if you’re serious about your writing it is something you should take the time to understand and make the most of.

Obviously you want people to read your work and the best way to do this is to abide by all of the rules Google set and make your piece easy to find in search engines. To do this properly is a complicated process and something that can’t be fully covered in this one post, however…

Using keywords is a great way to start. Pick a few appropriate keywords for your subject, for example; if you’re writing a piece titled ‘How many species of Dinosaurs lived in the UK’, make sure you use the term Dinosaur, Species and UK (especially in the Headline). It should be obvious that your post is about that topic.

Use Awesome Headlines

There’s a lot of content out there. We all know how frustrating it can be to not be noticed – especially when you’ve worked so hard to write an amazing piece.

One way to help you stand out from the crowd is to take time when writing your headlines. Don’t be lazy and quickly make something up once you’ve finished an article… Take your time and give it some thought.

Use interesting adjectives and, again, express your personality to entice people into reading your piece.

Instead of saying – “5 tips to help your business grow”

Say – “5 extremely helpful ways to maxout your business growth” (you get the picture).

Read, Read, and then Re-read

The most obvious of all – proof read.

It is not enough to just spell check (yes I know you do it – you can’t fool me).

Instead read it through over and over again. Re-read it a few days later when your mind is fresh. Give it to a friend to read, then get them to pass it on to another friend. Just check and check again.

We all get drawn into our work so it will help just having someone else read it over. Whatever you do just make sure you take your time to check over your work before you publish it.

Whilst making a mistake is a bit amateur, don’t be too hard on yourself when you’re starting out – practise makes perfect.

Encourage Feedback

It’s scary I know; the idea of someone reading your work and letting you know their opinion.

But be brave.

We can all find ways to improve and the best way to do that is to let people give you feedback. Not everyone on the internet is a hateful troll, there’s lots of people out there willing to share their advice and constructively comment to help you out.

Leave a place for people to comment and encourage discussion. There are steps you can take to cut out the bad guys, so what’s to be afraid of? Let the feedback commence.

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