Whether you like it or not, writing makes up a large percentage of any online business owner’s job. For some people, writing is a small form of torture, but it’s worth figuring out how to improve your web writing or at the very least, increasing your understanding of the matter.
The written word is just one way that we communicate with our friends, family and our audience. Aside from verbal communication and body language, the written word was one of the first ways that humans communicated with one another. Think back to cave paintings and the Egyptians hieroglyphics — those are forms of the written word too.
While times have certainly changed, and we’re no longer doodling on cave walls, the written word still plays an all-important role in any online business. Yes — Instagram and Pinterest are killing at social media marketing because they’re visual — but they use captions and headlines too. On the images themselves as well and underneath. Being able to write compelling copy for these visual platforms will help you to up your game on social media.
Blog posts, sales funnels, your About page copy — everything relies on writing. Your copy needs to grab the attention of and engage your audience pretty quickly. And seeing as the average attention span is only eleven seconds, you need to keep them engaged throughout.
It’s all well and good me telling you just how important writing for the web is, but right now you’re probably wondering HOW exactly you can do this. Well, you’ll just have to keep reading to discover the 7 ways you can improve your web writing and better engage your audience.
1. Write to your audience
Speak your audience’s language. This is possibly the number one way to get better at web writing. If you’re writing for a technical audience, then you need to write using technical language. However, if you’re writing for a health and lifestyle audience, that same technical language is going to be highly inappropriate. By knowing your audience, you’ll become better at web writing almost overnight. Is your audience professional or casual? What’s their age range?
The more you know about your audience, the better you will be at writing to them. You’ll be able to use the language that they prefer and understand. You can add personality and humor that resonates. Your audience wants to know that you understand them and one way to do this is through your writing. If your audience can relate to your writing style then they’re going to keep reading and coming back for more.
2. Write better headlines
Headlines can make or break an article. With so much information available on the internet, you need to make your content stand out. What is going to make people stop and read your article? What is going to make people click on a link to your website? What is going to make people like and share on social media? You could have an awesome article or blog post, but if the headline isn’t enticing, then people are very unlikely to click through and read the amazing content you spent so much time writing.
The types of headline that typically work well are “How to…” headlines and list headlines like “Top 5 reasons…” or “3 steps to…” or “7 ways…”. These headlines are known as list headlines, and they work really well at getting a reader’s attention.
When writing a headline, think about the adjectives that you’re using. Does the headline create a sense of urgency? Does it use emotive and powerful words? You need all of these ingredients in the right quantities to make an amazing, enticing headline.
Now, it’s not easy writing headlines. It takes a lot of practice and experience. Even the most seasoned writers find it difficult to create good headlines first time around. Coschedule has this amazing headline analyzing tool. Just put your headline in and the tool will give you a score out of 100 and advise on how you can improve the headline. You might not get it spot on the first time, but soon enough you’ll know exactly how to create a compelling headline.
3. Make your content skimmable
Reading off of a screen isn’t easy — especially if it’s a long passage of text with sentences and paragraphs that go on and on for days. Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t write a long, informative, and detailed article. You absolutely should. You just need to be clever about how you do it.
Use short sentences and paragraphs to make it easy for others to skim. Often, good web writing comes down to formatting more than the actual language. When you format your blog posts and articles, make sure you do the following:
- Use subheadings (H2)
- Use images to break up the text
- Strategically place your Call To Actions (CTA’s) throughout the post/article to break up the content into smaller readable chunks
- Make sure the line height and letter spacing is correct
4. Write in a conversational (NOT academic) tone
People respond best to other people — not computers or machines, so try not to sound like one.
Inject your personality. You want to create a relationship and a bond with your audience through your writing. The best way to do that is to show your audience who you are through the way that you write. If you enjoy a joke and a laugh, show them. If you’re kind and sensitive, show them. Your audience needs to see you as human and be able to relate to you.
We don’t recommend using a raw, unedited transcript because let’s face it — verbal communication is less than perfect. We stutter, repeat ourselves, and I am particularly guilty of saying “UMM” way too much!
Abbreviations are a great way to get a conversational tone across to your reader — amiright? (See what I did there?) Show people that there’s a real-life human being behind the words on the screen.
5. End every piece of writing with a compelling call to action (CTA)
Your writing should compel readers to pick up the phone, schedule a consultation, take a test drive, whatever it is that you want them to do. Your writing should be persuasive and encourage your readers to take the action that you’re guiding them towards.
When you’re brainstorming ideas to write about always ask yourself “How does this relate to my business or one of my offers?” or “What offer can I create that relates to this article?”. It’s far easier to write around existing offers rather than create new ones all the time. But the point I’m trying to make is that you should be writing to persuade people to take an action or show them the value of one of your products or services.
For example, if you’re in the health and beauty industry and you’ve created an awesome new body scrub from Papayas you should write an article about the health benefits of papayas. It will make the CTA to purchase the new body scrub more compelling because you’ve informed your readers of the benefits rather than just saying “Here’s some body scrub — you should buy it”.
6. Learn from your competitors
Read the things your competition is writing. And ask yourself this:
“How are they presenting their product/service? How can I present mine differently so that I stand out from the crowd?”
Position yourself differently. Have opposing views and opinions. If your competitor is offering something very similar to you, find the one difference and exaggerate it. Show that difference as the one thing that makes your product or service that much more valuable.
Use their ideas (written on their blog or social media) to spark ideas for your writing. Disagree where necessary. Do NOT copy or plagiarize. Instead, use the free content your competitors are writing to learn how they’re positioning themselves, and build a style based on how you’d present similar topics.
7. Remember, copy is about the reader, not the writer
Always keep your readers at the forefront of your mind when you’re writing for the web. You are writing for them, not to satisfy yourself with some writing therapy. Remember who you’re writing for and why.
Tell your story. That’s an awesome way to create a relationship with your audience and get them to remember your articles. But remember why you’re really writing for them. You’re writing to present a solution to the problems your customers have. Always bring it back to the solutions, your products or services.
For example, you could tell a story about how you were in Bali and you got lost, but you couldn’t find anyone who spoke your language. Your phone had died. You didn’t have a map. You were stranded. That was the inspiration for creating product X which will help your nomadic traveling audience if they find themselves in a similar situation. Always bring the story back to the reader. Why is this relevant to them? Why will it help them? Why should they care?
All products and services are created to alleviate an audiences pain point. Use this to your advantage when writing for the web. Create stories and use emotive language that reminds people of the problem they’re facing and how you can help them to fix it.
There’s no magical secret to web writing. There is no one trick or formula that you can implement for instantly better results. The key is to think of your audience. They’re human beings with problems and you need to give them the solution to their problem. Play on that when writing articles and blog posts. Use emotive language. This is especially important with headlines. Headlines are often the only thing your audience will see. It needs to be eye-catching and make them want to consume the rest of the content.
Remember that people find it difficult to read from a screen. Use short sentences, short paragraphs and break the text into smaller chunks whenever possible. This will encourage people to keep reading instead of abandoning the article because their eyes are getting sore.
Use a conversational tone in your articles. Treat the reader as if they’re a good friend. This will help you to create a relationship with the reader and more importantly, it shows that you’re human. Your audience will have an easier time relating to you if you show some personality in your writing.
Don’t be afraid to be opinionated in your writing. Your opinions and perspectives are what will make you stand out from your competitors. They will make you memorable and help you to create a dedicated following.