Writing for the Web

In many ways writing for the web is different than for print publications. Over the past decade, magazines began creating websites and putting articles online. From there, webmasters created niche sites, people began social networking endeavors, and bloggers materialized out of the woodwork. Today, online writing is a multi-million dollar industry, with some of the top online writers earning high six-figure incomes every year.

Writing for the Internet is not like writing for print publications. Sure, the same information is needed, and at the end of the day, your audience is probably similar.

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However, if you want to write online, you have to consider the following issues:

  • People need to find you. The Internet is a big place. With print writing, magazines can simple sell issues at the newsstand, competing with, at most, a dozen similar publications. Online, there are hundreds of thousands of websites for every topic. Type any phrase into a search engine, and you’ll find tons of results. So, if you’re writing online for a client or yourself, you have to understand how others will find you. Good content isn’t enough – you also need to employ SEO rules and participate in social networking.
  • Text has to be easily skimmed. Have you noticed that this article includes bullet points? In magazines, you might find some numbered lists or headings, but you’ll rarely find bullet points, bold-faced text, and so forth. People buy a print publication because they want to read it. Online, readers jump from website to website very quickly. If your text isn’t easily skimmed, it only takes someone about six seconds to click the “back” button.
  • Links are important. Readers online expect that you’ll tell them where to find more information. It is common to see links directly in the text, but you can also find links on sidebars. As a writer, you should be conscious of how your words will be linked. Links don’t exist in the print world.

Writing for the web, in general, is just more fast-paced and the print world. Breaking news isn’t news that was announced in the past day or past hour – it was announced in the past minute. The longer it takes for your to jump on a news story, cash in on a popular topic, or otherwise load your content online, the more money you’re wasting – and the more money the client is wasting if you’re writing for someone else. You might have three weeks to write a story for a print publication, but online, you only have three days – and sometimes, only three hours.

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