We all know that achieving great writing takes time and practice. In your journey as an online writer, you will learn time-tested principles and practices that make for quality content. In this article, we’re going to look at six commandments every writer has to live by in order to ensure reader engagement.
Thou Shalt Write Terrific Headlines And Subheads
Before you can get an online visitor to read your content, first you need to grab her attention with a catchy headline. There are many ways to write an effective headline: you can announce a solution to a problem, make an intriguing statement, etc.
That said, be sure to deliver the great content that your headline promises. Don’t underestimate your readers’ intelligence by making blatantly exaggerated statements.
Once you have your headline nailed, it’s time to write the subheads. While a strong headline prompts the visitor to click on your content, crisp and informative subheads will convince her to commit to reading it.
In less than ten seconds, the visitor is going to decide if the content she stumbled upon is worth her time. Remember that while browsing the internet, we have multiple tabs competing for our attention. By spreading subheads that sum up the key points of your text, you allow the reader to quickly gauge the value you are providing.
Thou Shalt Keep Your Writing Lean And To The Point
It’s a well-known fact that people nowadays have a short attention span. Because of that, you need to get your point across in a clear and concise manner. Don’t go off on tangents and keep as well as a cohesive flow of ideas. Write in a fun, conversational style that directly addresses the reader.
Presentation plays a key role in whether people will read your content or not. Get your formatting right and divide your text into bite-sized paragraphs. These are much more approachable and likely to be read than a daunting wall of text.
After you finish your first draft, take a break and come back later with a fresh perspective; you’ll find yourself cutting a good amount of unnecessary words and sentences. Good online writing allows effortless reading.
Thou Shalt Ramp Up Your SEO skills
Surely you have heard about the importance of Search Engine Optimization for online writing. Knowing the basics of SEO is now mandatory for writing content that people will actually find. Keywords, Meta descriptions, bounce rate, time on site, outbound links… these are only a few of the concepts and practices you should take the time to learn. Thankfully, online resources abound and a quick search will provide you with the knowledge and tools necessary to keep up with the game of online relevancy.
Implementing SEO practices may not yield immediate results but in the long run, it can make the difference between drowning in online obscurity and blasting out of it.
Keep in mind that you have to write for people first, and search engines second. Engage readers with quality content and they will happily share it with others, thus propelling you higher up in search results.
Thou Shalt Cut Out Online Distractions
We are all guilty of allowing distractions to eat up our working hours. It’s easy to fall into the habit of checking our emails or Twitter every ten minutes. We trick ourselves to think that we deserve a small break, but these small interruptions quickly add up to take away hours of productivity.
If you feel you lack the self-discipline required to stay focused, there are several tools available to help you ruthlessly block online distractions. For instance, you can try Freedom to temporarily block sites and apps you’re addicted to.
Thou Shalt Always Proofread Your Text
You would be amazed at how many spelling errors can be left unchecked after finishing a piece. A single typo can be forgiven, but having dozens of mistakes all over the text will ruin the reading experience and your image as a professional writer. When in doubt, do your research and you’ll quickly find the correct way to spell a word or use an expression.
Thou Shalt Read The Writing Of Others
A great writer is a great reader first. There is a lot to learn from the writing of others: structure, tone, choice of words, common mistakes… chances are you are already dedicating a portion of your time to reading online content that is relevant to your interests.
Read through a writer’s lens to analyze what makes a piece enjoyable and pinpoint what can be improved. That way you get a feel for what resonates with readers and what doesn’t. You may even get inspiration for future content!
These commandments are not meant to be exhaustive, but following them will get you on the track to become a skilled writer, capable of crafting valuable pieces that engage their audience.
If you feel ready to put your writing skills to good use, why not drop us a line? We’re looking for writers willing to lend their voice.