Like any writing, web writing has its visible, quantifiable and relatively easy to categorize and assess part. This part is formed of blog posts, website copy, newsletters, various chunks of text for social media shares, infographics, presentations, product descriptions.
Underneath this visible part lies another one, hidden from the surface. This intangible part cannot be observed directly and consists of people, ideas, processes. The building blocks of web writing and at the same time the reasons it exists.
A force named desire
What holds these blocks together is a force that does not easily fall into the category “what gets measured gets managed” and therefore is very often underestimated, if estimated at all. This force makes for an inviting edifice of written content. It’s name is desire. Desire to connect, to enter a dialogue, to communicate new insights, to share unique points of view, to tell the world something important.
Your biggest content asset is intangible (and invincible)
the important thing is the obvious thing that nobody is saying
No matter the number of how-to guides, 4-best-techniques articles and the-most-efficient-ways-of-making-pancakes infographics we plan to churn out, none will serve any good purpose if these are not created for the reader’s sake and born out of the desire to connect and help.
It is the desire to add value with your writing that will serve you as perpetuum mobile for crafting content and it is desire that will:
- add an idiosyncratic taste to your web presence
- make people pay attention and truly connect to what you create
- turn your web writing into something bigger than the sum of its elements.
Desire is what can make your content fly farther across the web.
The question is Can desire find its way in the organization’s processes and workflows?
It should be able to. Only if you choose to open the doors for it.
Staying safe or breaking through to the other side?
When choosing how to tackle web writing, you can certainly opt for mapped roads and proven techniques and methods, instead of bothering to implement something as intangible and as unmeasurable as desire into your plans and processes.
Automated social media activities, writing for the sake of writing and aiming for eyeballs and traffic rather than for readership and engagement, can well be a choice. Many businesses are not ready to turn the workflows in their organization upside down and embrace the opportunity (and the challenge) of a more open and organic approach towards content writing.
At the end of the day, you determine how to appear on the web and in the noosphere of your audience.
Breaking through to the other side
The Web, the way we organize our societies and do business are changing. I believe playing safe is choosing to close your eyes before these huge transformations and thus losing your edge.
On the flying carpet of integrity
When you think about web writing in terms of processes, meaning and making the web a better place, your plans for creating content stand on a solid ground.
When you focus on metrics, automatization and results only, you get to mimick web writing, rather than experiencing it. And you forget about the importance of processes.
The thing is content writing is not cookie cutting. What really adds value (and becomes a competitive advantage) is the authentic desire to take the leap.
In for a flight? Here are several essentials you will need
Content writing is not some activity you outsource and forget about. It is your time to research, think and connect with awareness. It is your opportunity to grow and add new dimensions to the processes of creating and serving better.
The above is easier said than done, especially when it comes to creating flows in a company. Such flows that are able to channel and sustain desire as a fuel for web writing.
Here are several starting points.
Recognize your story
Focusing on the end result instead of focusing on the process not only will frustrate your team but will deteriorate your copy. Readers don’t need yet another list that has been created for the sake of meeting a target of 6 content pieces per month. They need substance, and it is you and your story that are the substance.
- Recognize your story and make it work for you. Work on a content marketing strategy (here’s an awesome checklist ) and set the architecture of your future content, perceiving it as a twofold process: 1. a process of introducing your story (and how it relates to your audience) and 2. a process of adding value and connecting through the writing that organically grows out of your story and activities.
Put in time and consideration
The next thing to do is to get used to the idea that good content takes time and consideration. Money won’t buy you excellent web content. Time and devotion will. Think about your content. Feel it. Live it. And … set the right processes for it.
- Decide on who is going to write content, who is responsible for ideas generating and/or for making your dormant internal content assets available on the web. If necessary, create templates for various types of content that will make it easier for everyone to share what they do, think and feel in written. Documented content creation processes will make it easier and even urge everybody in the organization to contribute (here’s another awesome link about documenting a content creation process).
If you want your web writing to fly, get ready to face the splendid reality of the never-ending conversations on the web. Being useful and relevant is not enough for excellent content. It also needs to be innovative, to truly care about its readers and to be courageous enough to enter a dialogue, while perceiving itself as yet another perspective.
After all, what do you have to lose? Nothing, except a handful of boring, stay-on-the-safe side texts.
- When writing don’t project your own understanding of what is useful for the audience, rather listen to what people really need. Don’t try to make people fit in your story, be flexible enough to fit into their stories. Dare to invent web writing, rather than to replicate old models in a brand new environment where anything is possible and … hyperlinked (the awesome link this time refers to quite a deep read on “hypertext systems that empower users ”).
Make the web a better text
This is the stage where through meaningful web writing you choose to be a good netizen, to respect the other web users and to care about the web environment we all shape and are shaped by.
- Care about and nurture readership. Relationships are paths, not goals. Put content on the web that will help adding even more useful information in this endless, interconnected library. Aspire to make the web a better text by weaving your writings in it with elaborate care (and joy).
This is where the real flying on the wings of desire starts.