Writing Articles for the Web can be Fun and Financially Rewarding.
There are four important factors when writing articles for the web:
- Knowing your audience
- Accepting rejection without taking it personally
- Spellchecking and proofreading
- Enjoying what you do
There are a lot of web-based magazines and blog sites that pay very well for writing articles for the web. Although most do not pay very well, content mills such as, textbroker.com, guru.com, Elance, and oDesk, which combined to make Upwork.com and Fiverr.com can provide you with immediate income to start your website or blog. Many “experts” will advise against using content mills; however, sometimes it may come down to a choice between eating or listening to the experts.
Always keep your eyes open for new opportunities by subscribing to other freelance writer’s blogs. Read eBooks by freelance writers to avoid making the same mistakes they made.
1. Knowing your online audience
When writing articles for the web, knowing your audience is crucial in that it will point toward which format to use. Most web-based magazines and technical sites expect formal voice when writing their articles, whereas blogs accept friendly, less formal voice.
In the words of Dale Carnegie, “Your purpose is to make your audience see what you saw, hear what you heard, feel what you felt. Relevant detail, couched in concrete, colorful language, is the best way to recreate the incident as it happened and to picture it for the audience.”
Quotes taken from the web must include a source, either as an embedded hyperlink or at the end of the article. I always to add a quote that is relevant to the subject and three or four relevant external links, which I hyperlink. Moz.com has an excellent article on the use of external links, how to hyperlink, and how those affect search engine optimization (SEO). Also, use an internal link to your About and Portfolio page, so readers can get to know you.
Web users do not read the same way as print media. They typically scan the article to see if it is of interest to them, so put the most important things up front. Be brief and concise. Use short sentences and only one concept per paragraph. Additionally, I use H2 subheaders to break up the text so the reader can find items of interest more quickly.
I like to include at least one optimized image, such as a photo, graph, chart, or infographic. Infographics have become very popular recently, but many times those are overused. If you do not have at least five to seven points to make, it is probably not enough to make an interesting infographic.
2. Accepting rejection without taking it personally
Learning to accept rejection is as important in writing as accepting a check. It is said, “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.” Even the perfectly written material may not be the right fit for some websites, which could go back to knowing your audience.
Never give up on an article you feel strongly about. An article that is not right for one forum may be perfect for another. Double-check and refine the article, if necessary.
I was totally shocked and a little upset when I experienced my first article rejection. One editor said to keep my writing light because their readers were not technical; another editor rejected my article because it was not technical enough. I wound up selling it a few days later for twice what they had offered to pay me.
3. Spellchecking and proofreading are essential
No one should minimize the importance of spell checking and proofreading. A practice I always use is to put my article aside after it is complete and I have done my first spellcheck. I will come back to it after a few hours and reread it. Another good practice is to have someone else proofread it.
Remember spelling and grammar checks do not catch everything. Consider buying a subscription to Grammarly, Whitesmoke, or Ginger. My favorite is Grammarly. Although some of these grammar checkers claim to be free, it is much better to buy the subscription. Much like a mechanic with a toolbox, the more tools you have, the easier the job becomes. Grammarly basic will, for instance, tell you there are 13 errors, but without the upgrade, it will not tell you what every mistake in your writing is. Many times, it is just passive voice, which very rarely fits the situation, try to avoid it. Get Grammarly and get better grammar and accuracy. It is recommended not to use more than ten percent passive voice in your writing. Some editors insist on NO passive voice.
In Word, if you choose File, then Options, Proofing, and then Settings you can choose how autocorrections will appear or how Word will notify you of supposed mistakes.
4. Enjoying what you do!
Maybe I should list this as the most important lesson learned about writing articles for the web. If you write about something that you have a passion for, your passion will naturally show in your words.
Whether you are writing for the Web or a medical journal, know your audience, become your own best critic, and have fun with it.