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Writing for the web (or everyday writing)

Cindy Guthrie
Cindy Guthrie
Happy Tuesday! 
Today’s newsletter focuses on writing for the web.
Writing for the web involves:
  • Emails (1 on 1 or marketing emails)
  • Slack Messages
  • Social Media Posts
  • and Blog Posts
In other words, your everyday writing. 
Please note that I am not a professional copywriter. But, I’ve been writing marketing copy for 18 years, so I know a thing or two about what works. 
Moreover, this doesn’t only apply to marketing messages.
You can and should apply these principles in all aspects of online communication. 
Here’s how to write for the web: 
Organize your writing for easy skimming
via Spongebob on GIPHY
via Spongebob on GIPHY
When writing long-form content, it’s important to keep the content easy to skim. 
Here are some tips for making your content easy to skim: 
  • Whenever possible, use bullets
  • Use headings when you change topics
  • Include visuals whenever possible. Emojis and Giphy can be your best friends when you don’t have relevant graphics
Making your content skimmable will make it easier to read. 
For example, a long list of items separated by commas is super tricky to read! Here is a visual comparison:
All our blog posts will be repurposed for LinkedIn, Twitter, Medium, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube, and Quora. 
Vs.
All our blog posts will be repurposed for:
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Medium
  • Facebook
  • TikTok
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Snapchat
  • YouTube
  • Quora
As you can see, the bulleted version is easier to read. 
Keep paragraphs short
via Schitt's Creek on GIPHY
via Schitt's Creek on GIPHY
This stands against everything you learned in school.
Rather than making your paragraphs at least three sentences long, make them no longer than three lines (four on mobile.)
Some paragraphs will be one sentence. 
Some a few words.
I’ll give you an example by making this paragraph longer than all the others in this newsletter. You’re probably not even going to read this one because it’s so long and seems so overwhelming to read. But you’ll read the one, two, and three liners because they’re easier to read. This is not an English class! The top blogs in the world write in short paragraphs and so should you. Think about the last time someone sent you a long email without making it skimmable or using short paragraphs. You probably didn’t read the whole thing. And if you did, you probably had to read THE WHOLE PARAGRAPH more than once to get it. 
Okay, that paragraph was not fun to write. But I hope I got the point across - write short paragraphs unless you’re writing a paper for school. 
Write for a middle school audience
via Middle School Movie on GIPHY
via Middle School Movie on GIPHY
As smart as you are, unless you’re writing a paper for school (or a formal letter,) it’s best to keep your writing at a middle school reading level.
Besides appealing to a broader audience, it’s faster and easier for the rest of us to read. 
It takes much more brain power to read something with complicated words than it does to read a simpler version. 
The Hemingway Editor is a great free tool to help you simplify your content. 
Don’t write to meet a word count
When I consume content, it’s off-putting to read something full of unnecessary words that only exist to meet a word count.
Don’t write like you’re trying to hit a word quota unless you’re writing a book or research paper.
Make your point as brief as you can, and then make it shorter.
You can do this with the Hemingway Editor mentioned above as well. 
Furthermore, you don’t need to hit a certain word count for SEO as long as you cover a topic thoroughly.
Minimum word counts for SEO are suggestions not laws.
A blog post that is 875 words, but covers your topic thoroughly, will rank better than a 1006 word article with filler words that don’t cover the topic.
Conclusion
Every day, we write for the web. Following these tips will help you provide your readers with a better reading experience.
A better reading experience increases their likelihood of continuing to consume your content.
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Cindy Guthrie
Cindy Guthrie @thecindyguthrie

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