Writing for the Web-Getting Started

I'm back with a vengeance! Sorry for the lack of posts recently. But don't fear, a steady stream is coming your way! Tomorrow I'm presenting a webinar about writing for the web and wanted to talk briefly about getting started with web writing.

Writing for the web is easier said than done. It’s easy to extol the virtues of great copy, but that much harder to get right down to business. See, writing is something that everyone knows how to do, but everyone doesn’t know how to do it well. So what are some first steps for sitting down and getting it done?

1. Know your Limitations

If you are in charge of writing the web copy, ask yourself this: Are you up to the task? It’s nothing shameful if you aren’t. It’s more important to assess your writing capabilities and determine they aren’t up to snuff then not and go ahead with the writing anyway. Maybe you are good at one type of writing but not the other. Perhaps you can write the technical side of the issue, but not the emotional side? Whatever the case, know your limitations.

2. Secure your Environment

By this I mean, determine which is the ideal environment for creative juices to flow and make sure you have it. If you don’t wish to be disturbed, shut your office door or go somewhere else entirely. If you are interrupted during writing it can break your whole train of thought and leave you frustrated. Then assess what you do as you write. For me, I like to stand up and pace, running my thoughts through my head before I write them on the page. Some people like to listen to music, others like complete silence. Some like to eat as they write, others don’t. Whatever your perfect environment is for writing, try to replicate it.

3. Spit it Out

Staring at a blank piece of paper or a blank computer screen can be daunting. It’s important to get words, any words at all down on paper/computer just to start you off. It doesn’t matter if its gibberish, you just need to start writing to get into the flow. And then the real words will come. I promise!

4. Get an Editor

Get an editor. A good one. One that will show no mercy on your copy. Yes, sometimes it can sting when you receive back a piece of writing with track changes or red lines all over it, but ultimately this will help you create a better piece of content. It’s important to put your ego aside and at least consider the editor’s suggestions, even if you don’t accept them all.
So there are a few tips for getting started. And remember, writing good copy takes time so don’t frustrated if it doesn’t come to you in the first minute. Or hour. Or even day.

Personal Versus Professional

When it comes to social media, a bit of personality goes a long way. When you reveal some details about your life, it allows your audience to be drawn in. However how much is too much?

Balance is the key. Only sharing news/advertising etc doesn't show off your personality or your organization's personality. People give to people not to organizations. So share some news about your personal life or what's going on in the office.

HOWEVER.....

Too much personal information can definitely be a bad thing. I've seen people do things on social media that instantly change my opinion about who they are, from drunken pictures on Facebook to snarky remarks on Twitter.

Remember, that if something is on the 'net, it will remain there for a long time. Perhaps even forever. Let's say you post something but then decide to take it down. What if someone captured a screenshot of that post? Then it's around permanently.

Also, remember that with most social media, everyone can see what you are doing. Yes, there may be privacy measures in place, but don't use them as a crutch. If you don't think it should be posted, don't post it.

Here's an example of a good thing your organization can post:

Had another b-day celebration in the office. Happy 40th to @fakename! She definitely liked all the gag gifts we got her.

And an example of a bad thing:

Just had a bad quarter and lost money. Might have to cut programs now.

Okay, so that is an obvious example of something you don't want to post but there are more subtle versions of this which find its way into social media all the time.

Just like the adage 'Think Before You Speak" you should "Think Before You Type."

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