writing tips

The pen may be mightier than the sword, the keyboard knocked it out in one

Smart-phones, tablets and desktop computers are changing the way we read. Many of us are no longer spending long time soaking in the morning papers, or reading a print out of a report. The vast majority of what we read is on the web. Most news or marketing material is now received or requested is digital form, whether its someone who is searching for news, brands, businesses, non-profits, or like many people I connect with, those checking out churches.

The vast majority of us never have never written with a gorgeous fountain pen like the one above. If you are like me, the only constant is the click of the keyboard, not the sound of the nib on paper.

If the truth be told, I’m not a natural writer. I am however a natural at anything visually creative. But I have learnt through persistent blogging and through my job, what does and doesn’t work. Here are some tips from what I’ve learnt over the last few years:

1. Begin with the end in mind

The way we read has changed. We skim and skip, rather than absorb ever word. Keep the information you REALLY want your reader to know upfront.Let them know they are in the right place, right away. Identify where they are. Then have a very short and sweet summary of where you will take the reader through the page.

2. Be brief

Tell the reader what they want to know and no more. People scan the web rather than read and will automatically skim over important content if you have too much fluff in your content.

3. Say it quick. Say it REALLY well

It’s not enough to be brief. Your words need to pack a punch. Surprise the reader. Think about tone and attitude. People now have no patience and will click away very quickly if you are not engaging, or if you have typo’s or bad grammar.

4. Have fast loading times for your website

Believe it or not, this is a massive turnoff for people.

32% of consumers will leave a site if it is slow to load. A one second delay will mean 11% of your readers will leave your page.

We live in an age of instant gratification and we want to get where we are going straight away. No flash. Please. No introduction pages. PLEASE. We no longer want to wait for that crafted animation. We want our information instantly.

5. Use bullet-points and subheads

Bullet-points and subheads will break up the information into bite size chunks that is easily digestible. And present the information in a logical and presentable pattern.

6. Mix your media to maximise your message

Consider pictures, video, audio, graphs and charts as an alternative way to engage if it will improve the cut-through, clarity and brevity of your message. The saying ‘A picture says a thousand words’ is true for a reason.

7. Learn from others

I’m not an expert, but I know someone who is. Check out these priceless tips on how not to suck at copywriting from a real writer.

Your turn

Are you a writer? Or someone like me who has learnt from experience. What advice would you give for someone writing for the web? Please comment below. 

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