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How to Write for the Web (a guide for authors who learned on typewriters)

If you’ve been reading Author Tech Tips, you know the importance of having a successful web presence. Usually that means having a website. But a website alone is not enough.

As writers, we’re writing the web content ourselves, but writing web content is its own skill. In some ways writing for the web is very different than writing for print.

Here’s how to make your web content fit your work and the internet medium.

How the internet is the same as print.

Believe it or not, the web is not entirely different than paper.

Fit the theme of your book.

If you’re writing a business book, your content should be intelligent and professional. If you’re writing sci-fi, it should be creative and quasi-scientific. If you’re writing articles for men’s lifestyle magazines, make it masculine. Whatever kind of business you’re trying to attract, your website content needs to be, on page one, a demonstration of your ability to deliver that style.

Provide value.

A lot of author websites are completely self-serving: “Hey, this is me. This is more about me. This is my book. Click here to buy my book!”

People don’t want to read that.

Instead, include the key premise of your book right up front. Use the website as a platform to further the cause about which you’re writing. Maybe even give your book away. If it’s fiction, you might create an online community by writing blog posts as the novel’s characters.

As you weave your message/story into the website, you reinforce your brand.

How the net is different.

Here are some key points you must know if you are having a hard time attracting attention online.

Make your text skimmable.

Online, people avoid reading long paragraphs. They want quick nuggets of information. Make it easy for them to find what they’re looking for:

  • Edit ruthlessly. Say everything in fewer words.
  • Include headlines to introduce every topic.
  • Bold the important stuff.
  • Use lists (bullets/numbers) and paragraphs to break it up visually.

Make your writing searchable.

You want to rank high on google. If you don’t know how to write search engine friendly content, take a couple of hours to learn at least the basics. Although it’s not the most important factor in search engine optimization, your content is the foundation without which the rest is built.

  • Find your keywords and include them. Sometimes the wording will be awkward, but with practice you learn to rewrite your sentences to include keyword phrases.
  • Include your keywords in headlines and bolded phrases.
  • Hyperlinks should always include keywords. Never link something with the words “click here”.

Make your site shareable.

The magic behind the web is the ability for ideas to spread quickly. As Seth Godin says, “ideas that spread, win.” Blog posts that spread, win too.

You want to make it as easy as possible for people to share your writing with others. If you notice at the top of each post on Author Tech Tips we have a Retweet Button. At the bottom of each post we have links to share the post via Facebook, Email and Digg.

If this is your first time here, chances are you came because someone clicked one of these buttons and shared this article with you. If you are concerned about people stealing your work we encourage you to read our post: Authors: Piracy is Not Your Enemy.

About David Fried

David Kassin Fried is a writer, editor, and proofreader, and author of the book Ups & Downs. Facebook: Like DKF Writing Services Twitter: Follow @dkfwriting

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4 Responses to How to Write for the Web (a guide for authors who learned on typewriters)

  1. I think the key overall is to write with the reader in mind. Write for the reader and not the author and you will do well. Or put another way, "Write for others as you would have them write for you."

  2. Just launched my first blog and I did some things right, but already I am seeing a lot of mistakes. I haven't figure out how to bullet items, and I'm trying to get enough funds to buy some upgrades, but at least I've started. Thanks for all the tips, love the title and your reference to typewriters. Yea, that's where i began.

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