Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Writing for the Web

By Elaine Hirsch

Thanks to the Internet, writers have had more opportunities open to them. Before the Internet, a writer would have to either work with a publisher or write a book on their own book or apply for various writing jobs. A degree in journalism or English would often be required to be qualified for any writing job.

Today, writers can literally work from home by writing for clients and magazines. Other opportunities may come through copywriting, ghost writing, or just general content writing for a variety of online outlets. However, writing trends have changed thanks to the convenience of the Internet. If you plan to write for the Web, there are some key things you need to know.


If you are a creative writer or a fiction writer, then writing for the Web may not truly be for you. Yes, there is a place for fiction on the Web, but the audience for Internet fiction stories is small, as well. People usually read online content to find answers or information for popular niches, such as technology, love, travel and health. If you want to reach an audience, you must create content that they will want to read. According to MBA Online, understanding your market and gauging interest through social media is just as important today as the content you write. Regardless of pursuing a fictional or current events niche, you will need to connect with your readers and gauge interest through social media outlets. After doing so, you'll have conducted the adequate research to write targeted content for your audience.

Short articles

When people search for content on the Web, they are often looking for a quick answer; hey don't want to read an online masterpiece. Typically, content that is between 300-500 words is optimal for a single article or blog post. Content that is below or above this word count will usually be considered too long or too short for most people. Since article length is tailored to engage readers, having an optimal length will give people reason to share the article through their networks.

Additionally, even major search engines rank sites based on average word count. Google has much data on user behavior. It knows what people want to read and how they want to read it. Therefore, it ranks sites based off user behavior. If you want Google to rank your blog or site, you need to keep your posts at an optimal length, as well as incorporate other SEO ranking factors.

This is especially true among social network users. Twitter posts are never more than 140 characters. Even text messages only allow for so many words.

Style guidelines

If you wish to work for agency sites, you will need to learn a specific style, most often AP style. AP style (Associated Press) is the journalistic style of writing, designed to help save paper space. Most journalistic freelance writing sites require writers to abide by that style. Although many freelancers covet the ability to set up their own work schedules, motivating themselves to write consistently is one of the toughest parts of the job.


Take these points to heart and you will be a fine Web writer. Writing online is completely different from writing for yourself. However, with a little work, you can make the transition.

Elaine Hirsch is kind of a jack-of-all-interests, from education to technology to public policy, so she is currently working as a writer for various education-related sites and writing about all these things instead.

1 comment:

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