Here’s my personal list of what I believe to be important in creating content for online reading.
1. Quality: This is hard to define, actually, there is a series slowly being posted here in which I discuss it a bit. I personally find this to be the above-all most important aspect of content creation.
2. Composition: This I use as a term for everything from well-organized rhetoric to using headers, bullet points, lists, readable paragraphs.
3. Objectives: Ask yourself why you are writing what you are writing. What is your motivation for writing the piece? Be clear to yourself with the objectives and you will find yourself more easily reaching them.
4. Grammar and spelling and the like: Don’t have to explain that one (or shouldn’t have to to writers!)
5. Identify your target audience: Knowing who you expect to read your material will become the filter that will determine what type of vocabulary you will use, sentence length, calls to action, sales talk, etc. Each audience will require a particular set of “rules” for writing to ensure engagement and that you reach your objectives in writing in the first place.
6. Watch out for pat advice (like this that I am currently giving! ha): Don’t believe everything you’re told about content writing.
- “Write at an 8th grade level”
- “Always add a pertinent photo or image”
- “Sentences should be seven words long or less”
- “Don’t use jargon”
- “Always include four incoming and four outgoing links”
While these tips are useful to keep in mind, depending on the other aspects I’ve mentioned, I’ve all-too-often seen them spat out by writing gurus as if they were the end-all of how to be a successful content creator, and that’s just not so.
They can become horribly restrictive to novel writers and a frustrating pain in the you-can-guess-where for those of us who learned to write long before Internet became the place where everyone writes and reads. Dump a goodly pinch of salt on any “advice” that you’ve seen repeated over and over again.
7. Protect and practice your craft: The words you write are yours and will be judged by those who read them. And those that read them may end up judging you as well. Always practice to become a better content creator, always put your best work online and you should be fine.
8. Ignore Google: That’s a dangerous piece of advice, but I love to live dangerously. Google tweaks its algorithm often, and it’s just silly trying to out-guess Google. Just ignore Google. Use Google, it’s there and powerful; on the other hand, please, please don’t write just to please Google. There are so many other ways to create an audience for your writing, an audience who will appreciate your craft and not just because it’s on the first page of hits because it has the best key word available.