SURFIN U.S.A!

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Topic of the week #4

We have often heard the phrase, “surf the web,” but what does that mean to you? To me it means to travel from site to site with speed and intensity. Any real surfer knows that in order to surf, you’ve got to stay moving and looking for new waves to catch!

Photo Credit: Erin Bowman

It’s in this simple phrase that I find the difference between writing for online reading and analog reading.  It’s the amount of time spent and how information is received.

Think of it like this: When you pick up a 300 page book on the history of WWI, you know you’re in for some heavy-duty reading but when you type in history of WWI in google, you expect to be connected to a site that will give you quick and immediate answers.

I can’t count the times that I have passed up a website because the information I was looking for was TOO long! If I wanted to read a book about a subject, I would have gone to the library…

You see, online readers want the main points of what they are searching for and analog readers want lots of details. It’s all about time and efficiency.

Most of us know how to write for print because we grew up writing papers and reports. Often times, we fall into the trap of thinking we can do the exact same method for online writing which is a quick way to get you ZERO readers.

Here are 10 tips to keep in mind for ONLINE writing:

1. PEOPLE LOVE TO SURF

It’s not about how much information you can pack into a post. It’s about writing the main points and getting to the points quickly. If you don’t write what people want to know in a way that they can easily read it, they will find another wave (website) to surf.

2. TODAY YOUR A JOURNALIST

In journalism there is little something called the “Inverted Pyramid.” This method of writing contains the 5 W’s: who, what, when, where, and why. All of these should be addressed in your writing in a concise manner. Background information and in-depth details should be moved to the end of your writing.

3. LINK IT

Instead of trying to back up everything you say with information, provide a link that provides evidence of your claims. This keeps your post clean and to the point while allowing your readers to learn more if they want to read further.

4. SKINNY PARAGRAPHS ARE HOT!

There is nothing that turns off people more while reading when they see a FAT paragraph. Don’t try to fit multiple ideas into one paragraph but keep them short. 2-3 sentences for a paragraph is guaranteed to catch some eyes!

5. DON’T LOOK DUMB!

After you’re done writing make sure you spell-check. You don’t want people to think you are really a 10-year-old behind a computer screen trying to be an adult.

6. A PICTURE IS WORTH A MILLION WORDS

Adding an image to go along with your writing is a way to grab a reader’s attention. If you have an interesting, funny, or emotional picture that can tie in with the content, use it!

7. 2 WAY CONVERSATION

Let people know that you would love their feedback. This opens up doors for you to communicate with readers and possibly get ideas for future writing.

8. OKAY, YOUR THE VOCAB KING…. WE GET IT.

Online writing is not the time to impress people with your extensive vocabulary. Try and keep your audience in mind. If you’re using words that the average reader doesn’t understand, your writing above your readers heads.

9. YOUR HEADLINE IS A MAKE OR BREAK!

The headline of your post is the first thing people will read when they come across your writing. You want to be creative  enough to gain their attention but not too creative that they don’t understand what your article is about.

10. LOCK & LOAD.

When writing, don’t hesitate on using bullet points instead of paragraphs. The more you use bullet points to get your message across the more likely you are to have people read what you write!

If you have any tips you would like add to my list, please leave a comment! I would love to hear from you!

-Sarah Rose

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2 responses »

  1. Hey Sarah,
    I really liked the way you went about presenting this information, it was very creative! I like the analogy of surfing and then bringing it into how analog reading was different from digital reading. Also, your tip headings are really witty! Great post!
    Oh, also i noticed for number 8 you accidentally wrote “your the vocab king” instead of you’re. Make sure you get all your points for grammar 😉

  2. Pingback: Comment Posts « Tiana Holding

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