From time to time I get the opportunity to help out a few newbies by reviewing an article or two and offering advice. I preface this by saying that I’m no expert when it comes to writing on the web. It’s just that I’ve been around the block a time or two so I get a chance to share what I’ve learned.
When it comes to writing for the web, I find new writers are often concerned about their lack of SEO knowledge or their discomfort in using keywords repeatedly. Knowing SEO and utilizing keywords is very important in web writing, but I think there are a few other things that are just as important, such as:
Staying True to the Article Title
Writing about what you say you’re going to write about is pretty basic, but sometimes writers come up with a title and then write on a topic adjacent to the title. They sort of beat around the bush and get real close to discussing the topic as advertised, but don’t truly deliver.
A subset of staying true to the article title is…
Staying True to the Sub Headings
Sub headings work not only for SEO, but they also help the reader scan through the article to the section that advertises the information the reader is looking for. The subheading is sort of a landmark to let the reader know they’re very close to finding their answer.
If the information under the subheading doesn’t deliver, the reader becomes frustrated, clicks away and performs yet another Google search to find the answer. You want readers to stay on your articles as long as possible (possibly clicking on one of your ads or affiliate links).
Too Much Fluff
There are fluff pieces and then there are fluff pieces. In my world, a fluff piece is an entertaining, interesting and somewhat amusing article that keeps the reader interested, but doesn’t offer a lot of hard hitting information. If you look through NJFM, you’ll find quite a few fluff pieces.
There’s nothing wrong with fluff pieces as long as you appropriately title your fluff and the reader isn’t blindsided with fluff when she is expecting something else.
A fluff piece that is supposed to be informative and filled with meat is a horse of a different color. Advertising an article about “How to Get Rid of Basement Mold” and providing a fluff piece on what mold looks like, how ugly it is, why it’s not good for you and why it’s difficult to sell a house with a mold problem does not answer the question of how to get rid of it.
I often find fluff pieces from new writers who have hands on experience on the subject matter but prefer to write off the cuff rather than providing a few cold, hard facts. Sometimes new writers get sidetracked by trying to “sound like a writer” that they often lose focus and end up with a wordy fluff piece.
Readers like their fluff articles fluffy and their meat articles meaty. Making the mistake of adding meat to fluff isn’t so bad, but replacing meat with fluff is a big no-no.
The Law of Giving (“…for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Galatians 6:7)
The majority of us want to make money online. We write articles that are surrounded by AdSense ads, sponsor banners and affiliate links in an attempt to earn residual income from our writing. Some topics receive more page views while others have more lucrative ads. As time goes on, writers learn which subjects are money makers and which ones are popular.
That said, as an online writer what you give comes back to you several fold. When you provide an informative or entertaining reader-focused piece (reader-focused is the operative word here), you get something in return. What do you get in return? Well, it could be job offers, writing assignments, reader loyalty. You could get ad clicks and residual income. You could even get Stumbled, Tweeted or Facebooked.
My Online Writing Philosophy
Send your reader away with something; it could be information, a laugh or a thought. If you have children and have either attended or thrown a party for your child, you know that every kiddie party has the obligatory goodie bags. No child can leave a party without one.
As a writer, never let your reader leave without a goodie bag.