A “virtual” friend of mine, Brad, has decided to take the blogging plunge and started up his own blog at EnemyofDebt.com (that’s right, the enemy of my enemy is my friend). He recently asked for some advice on writing for the web and I asked him if I could answer here to share some ideas with my readers, since many of you also write online. I hope you will take some time to visit Brad and say hello after reading today’s post. Without further ado, here are my suggestions on how to produce better copy when writing online.
Use Headings Wisely
One of the toughest things to do when writing is to separate ideas into logical groups. In books, or other forms of offline media, these logical groupings easily become separate paragraphs, sections, or entire chapters. As an online writer you don’t have the luxury of breaking up thoughts into separate “chapters,” so the best way to group different sets of ideas is to use headings. A header wrapped inside an “h3″ HTML tag works well in terms of size and search engine compatibility, but any font/size combination that separates your normal text will work.
Online readers have short attention spans. Are you still with me? Good. Highlight important thoughts, or main topics in each paragraph with a bold phrase or sentence. Readers should be able to scan only your bold text and get a pretty good idea what your post is about, without having to read each line, word for word.
Use Lists to Avoid Large Blocks of Text
My list posts have been some of the most popular ones here at Frugal Dad. People like lists, especially people reading online blogs in your niche. Lists are easy to digest, and easy to refer back to later. Of course, there is no way to track such statistics, but I would guess list posts get printed to hardcopy, and emailed around to friends, more than any other type of online article. I’ll pause here while you print this one. On second thought, just bookmark it and save a tree (after all, this is the Frugal Dad).
photo by: DeclanTM
Graphics Help Draw Attention
How does that saying go? A picture is worth a thousand visitors. I think I may be a little off, but you get the idea. Studies have shown that appealing graphics draw attention from readers’ eyes, so use them to your advantage. I frequently use horizontal pictures near the top of my posts to separate individual postings when listed together on the blog’s home page. Other bloggers do a great job of using graphics throughout the post to pull reader’s eyes down through the article (My Super-Charged Life is one of the better examples I’ve seen). Flickr’s creative commons section is a great resource for web graphics. Be sure to give a proper attribution/credit for the photo used, in accordance with Flickr’s policy.
Throw in the Occasional Series
Building anticipation is great for building readership as people are more likely to subscribe with the promise of something to look forward to. I probably don’t write in series often enough here at Frugal Dad, but plan to introduce a couple new series in the near future. Series posts are fun for readers to follow, and make topic generation an easier task for bloggers in the short term.
K.I.S.S Principle – Keep It Short, Stupid
I admit that I occasionally fire up my RSS reader and visit a blog to find a 2,000 word post with no headings, graphics, or bold sections and simply move on. Sorry. I just simply don’t have the time to read these types of daily masterpieces that I cannot easily scan. Stick to your main points and move through them efficiently to attract the most readers. On that note, this post is looking a little long, so until next time.