When I was at school, I was told a number of rules on the etiquette of good writing. It now transpires that most of the things we have ever been taught about effective writing don’t actually apply to writing for the web, and updating our blogs.
It can be confusing knowing the best way to write to engage your readers. Do we opt for humour, to try and pull people in? Or will that alienate potential customers, making them think that we are not serious business practitioners? An example of this is the following, which I briefly considered – and discounted – before starting to write this blog post:
“If your writing has ever been described as looking like a spider has crawled across the page, then you’re probably an ideal candidate for producing web articles.”
See, it’s tough, right? That was lame. And yet, most of us default to some kind of cheesy tone when trying to write blog entries. To get over this hurdle and a few others, let’s look at the basic principles of effective writing for the web.
Keep it Short
It’s a given that readers these days are looking for the information they want, quickly.
People who surf the net are accustomed to getting facts quickly, and most readers only spend two or three minutes on any particular web page. This means we have to say what we need to say, quickly. Be concise and punchy, to retain your readership.
Regardless of the subject of your blog, whether you’re writing a hardcore tecchie journal or a guide to beekeeping, you need to steer clear of abbreviations and overly technical language.
You have nothing to prove on your blog, so don’t try to blind your readers with industry-specific language – you’ll probably end up alienating them.
OK, maybe not like the example above, but humour helps to engage your readers and keep them entertained while they absorb the information you are offering them. Light-hearted comments can make your writing much more interesting, meaning your readers will probably bookmark you and come back again.
If people want to read serious subjects, they’ll stick to the BBC news site!
Be Personal – But Not Too Personal
There’s a fine line between giving your readers enough information about yourself to let them feel as if they have rapport, and telling them your inside leg measurement.
Divulge just enough about yourself so that your readers can identify with you, but not so much that they could turn up at your parents and make out that they are a long-lost friend of yours.
Link and Refer
Remember to add links to any sources you are referencing, and substantiate any claims you make. It’s simple to send people on to other sites when they’ve read a subject in your blog.
Plus add some internal links to your other blog posts. An advantage of this is that you enhance your Search Engine Optimisation, increasing potential traffic to your site.
Use Open Questions
There is no better way to engage your audience and elicit feedback than asking open questions. You can find out what people feel about your post, ask for alternative opinions, or even ask questions in the hope of finding out more information about what you are writing.
Comments are one of the most positive elements of your blog, so keep them coming.
What do you think of this? Have I left anything out? Let me know!