Thursday, July 30, 2015


My Four Keys for Online Writing

(Professional rules of thumb I've picked up while writing online content.

There are four main things I have learned while producing content online:

Know and respect your readers and their needs.  Readers searching your topic are interested in information - fast and palatable. They want concise, focused paragraphs, in your voice. They want enthusiasm, and basic hospitality: translate jargon, polish your manuscript (including glitches between word processing apps and online format), share related links, insert some humor, and share personal experience which establishes your credibility. I strive never to be a writer producing a few paragraphs to generate a paycheck; I have more respect and courtesy for my readers than that. 

Old school journalism techniques translate into online journalism techniques.  Above the fold (most important content of the article in the top portion of the newspaper) has become the Golden Triangle (most important content in the top left part of the online article field). The answers to the Five Ws (Who, What, Where, When, Why) become your keywords, and belong bolded in the Golden Triangle.

Every general topic encompasses dozens of subtopics and perspectives to be worked into stories. More than four or five subheadings in a story? That's when I break it into several separate articles, each riveted on a single aspect within the niche. In each of those articles, I can plant links that lead readers to all of my related material about the central theme. This gives my readers the benefit of all my knowledge and experience, and (bonus!) directs traffic to all my related articles.      

I learned to turn breaking news, trends, and even Facebook comment threads into evergreen articles. Evergreen means ever-relevant. An article about a mother drowning her five children is not evergreen.  An article about post-partum psychosis leading to infanticide is.  An article about mothers oppressed by religious dictates that trap them into traditional roles of women they resent is.  An article about mental health and treatment of post-natal psychotic women is. An article about how families cope with such a tragedy is. It's fun to take a current news headline and see how many evergreen related themes I can draw from it.  I've even turned Facebook comments into articles. To maintain my professional reputation and credibility, I fact check every word I publish online, including Facebook posts. It's a small step from posting an interesting factoid or bit of experience on Facebook, to expanding that information into an article, especially if the post falls into one of my niche categories.  Everything is article fodder!

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