A Crash Course on Creating Compelling Web Content
People are making thousands of dollars from their basement. Businesses are promoting their brands like never before. A cacophony of content permeates the Internet, leading many to wonder how they can get in on it.
There’s a lot to be said for crafting well-written blog posts and articles that make a nuanced appeal to your audience. But what if you don’t have time to consider all of that just yet? The truth is that the fundamentals of writing good web content are simple – so I’m going to tell you what they are.
Lead With Your Headline
Most people will never get beyond the headline of your article – they’ll simply read the title and move on with their day. It’s critical that you get the headline right because better headlines will see smaller numbers of people pass them by.
A good headline is clear and simple. Instead of wasting peoples’ time, it tells them what the article offers and hints at why visitors should take the time to read it. Take the title of this post, for instance: “A Crash Course on Creating Compelling Web Content.” I tell you very clearly what the post is going to be about: creating good content for the Internet. I also hint at what makes this piece unique, which in this case is its short length. It also has some pleasing alliteration, but perhaps only I like that.
Set Up a Sensible Structure
With the infinite number of potential distractions that abound online – from email to news sites to Facebook to Twitter – it’s essential that you keep readers engaged so that you can deliver on the promise that you made in your headline. You should follow two rules of thumb for this:
- Don’t be boring
- Don’t be confusing
As far as the first one goes, I simply want to stress the fact that you need to keep peoples’ attention. The quickest way to lose their focus is to drone on for too long. This doesn’t necessarily mean that long posts are categorically bad. On the contrary, long-form reads can be excellent offerings for dedicated readers.
What it does mean is that within each post, you need to keep things short. When it comes to writing online content, I keep things short: short paragraphs, short sentences, short words.
Huge, sprawling paragraphs that takes up much of the page are just too intimidating. Walls of text don’t encourage people to read your content – they make it look difficult. You should do what you can to make your readers’ time easier.
The second rule of thumb that I follow is to be clear. To avoid confusing your reader, I recommend that you stick with a simple post structure.
I open every article that I write with an introduction that lays out what I’m going to discuss. I follow that with short headings that divide each post into multiple sections that proceed in a logical order. This helps people follow along and understand my thought process.
Have a Conversation
Web writing is a world apart from most academic essays and much business communication. Blogs have no room for strict formality, because the medium is inherently personal. When people land on a blog, they don’t want to deal with stuffy, pretentious sentences. Instead, they want to catch a glimpse of the real person behind what they’re reading.
You should write in a way that’s similar to how you talk. If you write naturally, you’ll be more likeable.
Good web content leads with a solid headline that promises readers some sort of benefit in return for reading the post. It then delivers on that promise with engaging prose and sensible structure.
If you follow these simple steps and write in a natural, conversational matter, you’ll be ready to start writing web content. The basics really are that simple.
Image credit: Jacob Bøtter