Many of my readers are planning to write a book and are developing a writing style that fits their personality. And with the emergence of Internet Writing, styles are more relaxed than ever before. But it’s still important to maintain a professional quality to your work.
When it comes to writing online (blogs and social media), many writers have to learn how to balance between the informal style of Social Media Writing such as smileys and LOL, while still coming across as expert. Not to mention the short attention span of the average online reader. Studies show that you have 10 seconds to retain a reader’s attention otherwise they will take their business elsewhere. Just think about how many times you visited a website or started reading a Facebook post before you mentally screamed “Next!” and moved on to something else.
So what’s the best way to write online while still coming across as an expert in your niche and retain your readers’ attention?
1. No Fluff
Cut out all the fluff and padding of your work. This advice applies to any style of writing, but in particular when writing online. Readers don’t appreciate their time being wasted so if you can say what you have to say in 300 words vs. 500 words, do it! Don’t feel like you have to write a long post in order for it to be creditable.
2. Grammar Police
Again, this rule applies across the board to all writing styles but when you’re writing online, your errors can seem more glaring. It only takes a moment for someone to screenshot your tweet and share it on Reddit lambasting how badly you spelled a word or used There instead of Their. My advice: Use an Online grammar checker like Grammarly prior to posting your blog or long posts online.
3. Smileys are fun, but…
Smileys are great but don’t overuse them. If you have more smileys in a sentence than words, you may have a problem. Using them in a Facebook post or Twitter is fine (to a point) but including them liberally in a blog post is overkill. Your job is to find a balance between showcasing your personality while still not coming across as a douchebag.
4. To LOL or not LOL, that is the question
I use slang and internet acronyms in my online writing a lot. Mainly in a tongue in cheek sorta way. But I wouldn’t use a WTF or LMAO while writing a book. Again, the Internet offers writers more informality so the decision to use slang in your Online Writing is up to you. My advice is to use it when it fits the contents and only if it fits your personality. If Bill o’Riley wrote an article with the headlines ‘Obama throws Shade at Boehner’, it comes across as trying way to hard to be relevant to a younger audience. But if Wendy Williams used the same headline, no one would think twice about it.
5. Cite your Source
You may not be a journalist, but you still have a responsibility to your readers. Don’t fabricate a story or use misleading headlines to draw more people to your blog. Once readers catch on to what you’re doing, they will quickly turn against you and you’ll have a hard time rebuilding your brand. If you get the information from another website, share the link in your blog post. Don’t try to make it seem like you are the originator of the content because not only is it unethical, your readers will stop trusting your work.
Because Online writing is more relaxed than traditional writing, it’s okay to break the rules now and again. For instance, you may have noticed a lot of sentences online start with the words ‘and’ which is something my English Teachers drummed in me not to do. And yet, here I’m am starting a sentence with ‘and’. I’m a rebel. A rebel with a pen and a smiley 🙂
What are some traditional writings rules you break online?