Working at a digital agency, it’s easy to get bewitched by beautiful web design, and let quality writing go out the window. Luckily as a publishing-alum I’ve been able to adapt the strict writing rules I used, and transform them into an easy method for writing web content. Here are a few tips I picked up along the way:
Understand your audience
Always keep in mind that the reader is most likely skimming for content they’re interested in, and ignoring everything else. To do that, be sure to consider who you’re writing for before you even start. Are they pros in your field interested in reading your opinion, or novices hoping to learn a new skill? Are they mid-20s or over 60? By honing in on the reader you can determine your style, terminology, and content to properly hook them from the very first sentence.
Write drunk, edit sober
**No, I’m not suggesting that you down a bottle of wine while writing your blog post- although I’m certainly not discouraging it.
Despite the fact that it’s unverified, I choose to believe the internet rumor that this gem of a quotation came from legendary writer Ernest Hemingway. To put it in 21st century terms: sit down, type with reckless abandonment, disregarding formal structure, then go back and edit your work. This method helps one to keep his or her own voice in the writing, while still ending up with a polished result.
Verbs > Adjectives
Remember when your middle school English teacher wrote in huge letters on your essay: “SHOW, DON’T TELL!” Well, I hate to say it, but she had a point.
Online readers respond better to verbs than adjectives, and find actions to be more memorable than descriptions. Verbs are harder to ignore, and therefore more compelling in delivering the message to your audience.
Writing for e-commerce sites comes with a whole slew of separate elements that one must keep in mind in order to elicit sales. Here are a few to get you started:
- For luxury items that come with a big ticket price, target your content to attract big spenders. Highlight emotion over utility, stressing how the purchase will make them feel, rather than what it can offer them. Keep in mind that they’re going to spend the money either way, so it’s your job to direct their funds.
- For lower priced, everyday items, lay the groundwork to snag budget-conscious shoppers by highlighting utility and necessity whenever possible. Make them see why they need your product, and what it can give them in real terms. You can even take advice from those pesky infomercials that put “ONLY” or “JUST” in front of every number. You have to admit, “just $19.99 a month” sounds a lot better than “this sweater costs $100.”
- No matter what you’re selling, be sure to highlight the benefits, rather than the features. Benefit-centered content elicits an emotional response from the shopper, allowing them to better envision themselves in possession of the product or service. For example: “This down jacket will keep you toasty warm all winter long!” brings out more emotions than “This jacket uses insulation technology.”
As with all skills, becoming a better writer takes practice, and becoming a natural writer requires real dedication. Make a commitment to sit down and write every day, without any distractions. Start off with 15 minutes, and try to build up to an hour over time. Make sure to get a coworker or friend to keep you accountable to ensure that you meet your goals.
It takes 21-days to form a habit, so you better get writing!
Most importantly keep your online writing short and sweet– don’t let them get bored! So in keeping my own advice, I’ll simply direct you to the rest of my presentation for additional tips and tricks for creating web content: VIEW THE PDF