The Web is growing more and more beautiful. As our understanding of it becomes clearer, we gradually realize that online presence is not a separate system from offline existence but a system within this system.
Step by step, our activities across web properties carve out spaces for better communication and collaboration. Text by text, we leave digital footprints on blogs, social media, emails and other pieces of written word thus weaving a gigantic textual grid.
To remain ignorant about the experiences and the activities web writing fosters is to slam the doors closed to multiple relationship opportunities. Those of us who want to grow their connections, be they personal or business ones, simply cannot afford this.
Be no stranger to the Web
The main reason for this post is an invitation. It is not an invitation for writing in particuliar though. “Don’t be a digital stranger” is rather a prompt for sharing your perspective on what you do, your thoughts on the things you work on, for mapping your insights and discoveries on the Web. Interacting on the Web, content writing included, helps create data density around you and the things that you do. It is useful to get into the habit of translating your offline activities into digital ones.
Being no stranger to digital life and especially starting to write on the web does take some time and effort. Most of all it takes courage and motivation, a new mindset to start exchanging thoughts and ideas, and putting your work out there in the open.
A basic question to ask yourself before publishing: why write?
To create content that matters, approach web writing through its main why.
Why is it that you write?
It’s simple. Not because you have a plan to stick to, not because the SEO told you that you just have to and definitely not because you want Google to “like” you. You write because you want the world to hear from you in the first place. At the same time, you don’t want to be like most of the “writers” – churning fluffy content for the sake of filling blogs and newsletters. You want to respect the reader and give them quality.
The thing is you cannot create high-quality, relevant content without high-quality, relevant thinking. It really is the thinking and the readiness to share meaningful things on the Web that matters.
Good web writing starts with vision, desire to connect and effort to relate. Your texts are to foster dialogue and bring change. They are to build infrastructures of understanding.
8 steps towards your text
Below I’ve outlined 8 steps for you to consider when setting off on a journey towards your text, that is towards your thinking and insights captured on paper/pixels.
Remember, it all starts with having something valuable to share. Then all else falls into into places.
Step 1: Focus
What do you want to share that is worth the time of the reader? Think of something that is really valuable and that deserves sharing. Write because you’ve found or know something and it would be great if more people knew about it.
Step 2: Define
Why do you think this is worth writing (and reading)? No need for fluff. Get straight to the point. People don’t need just words, they need clear and focused thinking from which they can learn.
Step 3: Target
When you think how to structure your thought and when you write, write to only one person. It’s useful to think who will benefit from reading your post – this is your ideal reader.
Step 4: Research
What others are saying on the subject matter? Go through several different perspectives. This will enrich your argument.
Step 5: Shoot
Get to writing. Just do it. Start with what you wrote (or thought) when going through step 1 and 2: What I want to say; Why I want to say it?
- Don’t think of anything else but how to explain what you know to your reader.
- Keep it simple. No fluff. Straight to the point.
- Don’t write anything that you wouldn’t say in person.
- If you feel lost, change the perspective. Radically. For example, think how would you explain the difference between X and Y to a taxi driver.
Step 6: Run
When you are done with sharing your thoughts, leave what you wrote. For a day or two. Leave time and space for an idea to mature.
Step 7: Come back and refine
When you are ready, get back to the post and start reading it. Aim for clarity, brevity and examples. Think of a real-life example that illustrates your point. Or just share your experience on the matter. Reading aloud helps you identify unclear parts of your writing.
Step 8: Get the draft done
Read one more time, think of what you can include. Write it down in comments and get your draft done.
And before you go and get to writing, my final advice
Please, forget whatever whoever told you about the “right” way to write. There’s no right way, there is your way. Nobody can tell you how to write. It doesn’t matter how you write. What matters is substance, clarity and sincerity. You are writing for a Web of People. Relax, get back to the spark that made you think of sharing your thoughts in written on the Web, return to your heart and start from there.
Don’t be a digital stranger, write and rewrite until it rings true. The Web of People is waiting for your thread to enrich its fabrics.
For more web writing inspiration (and perspiration prompts :)) check my tiny web writing guide or my course Content Writing in The Semantic Web. Thank you!