As our world moves online following the COVID-19 pandemic, writing has never been a more important form of self-expression and communication. With more time for reflection and self-growth on our hands, we find ourselves looking to writing to challenge ourselves and connect with others.
Likewise, businesses have turned to blogs to generate innovative and creative content that “quarantiners” worldwide can enjoy online.
It’s exciting to see so many people putting their fingers to the keyboard to share their wisdom and explore their imagination, however, the frenzy to release blogs and upload digital content has frankly been, well, overwhelming.
We will show you how to produce, present and perfect content readers will want to engage with. Writing is an art, and we have called in George Chilton, the Creative Director from Hubbub Labs, to share his wisdom on how to master creative writing online.
Hubbub Labs is a content marketing agency based in Barcelona. They work with multinational education companies, publishers and startups to provide personalised marketing solutions, content creation and digital marketing. When it comes to writing blogs, press releases and pitches their expertise has no end!
(Note: This blog is based on advice by Hubbub Labs but is written by OneCoWork SLU Global.)
7 Top Tips for writing online
Want to skip ahead? Here’s an overview of what’s coming up.
Structure your Writing: Article Skeletons
Know the Topic Inside-Out: Research
Direct your Readers: Signposting
Make your Writing Fun to Read
Easy on the Eye: From Formatting to Graphics
SEO Your Writing
Writing Tech Tools
1. Structure your Writing: Article Skeletons
First thing’s first, your writing needs to have structure so that your valuable content shines through.
You don’t want to bore your audience before they get into the meaty content. It would be a shame if your audience got bored and stopped reading before they read what you actually want them to. Making your readers bored because of long-winded, strewn-out, incoherent, boring rambling is a big shame because the hardest part is getting them to your site.
Wait a second - don’t go!!! See what I did there?
If you don’t plan ahead and structure your writing it will lose meaning, purpose, even entertainment quality. Avoid rambling and repetition by building an Article Skeleton, the bare bones of an article.
How to build an Article Skeleton:
Set aside some time (about 5-10 minutes) to collect ideas. Any idea is a good idea, just get it down on paper and work on the wording later. By taking the pressure off, you will find that your writing improves along with your creativity.
Organise your ideas thematically so that you can already start to see the outline of paragraphs forming.
Build a title and subtitles for your paragraphs. Don’t worry you can always edit them later, this will ensure that your writing has purpose and stays on topic.
Use your ideas to bullet point an introduction and conclusion. Even if it’s vague, this will help you make sure every sentence backs up your argument and gives your writing meaning.
Articles also get written so much faster when you don’t have to deal with the “How should I start writing this article?” feeling. If you can get in the habit of building Article Skeletons, the burden of writing will be relieved and you will find the whole experience much more enjoyable.
2. Know the Topic Inside-Out: Research
First research, then writing. That advice might seem painfully obvious, but many writers still seem to ignore this until they get a writer’s block.
Writers tend to think that because they write what they know, they know what they are writing. This is definitely a false friend. When you are comfortable in the material you are unable to see it from an outsider’s perspective. You may overlook definitions that seem obvious to you, or be unaware of updated facts and information about the topic.
Research, research, research! This doesn’t have to take too long if it's a topic you are already familiar with, but you do need to search for reliable sources to support your arguments before starting to write.
When researching, remember to stay open-minded. Let the research guide the writing, not the other way around. You may even uncover innovative and fresh perspectives you haven’t heard before.
3. Direct your Readers: Signposting
If you don’t say where your story is going, how do you expect your readers to know? They aren’t mind readers after all!
Signposting is a technique which makes your writing accessible and successful. To take the “signpost” metaphor very literally, you don’t want your readers to get “lost” in your writing. Using signposts will guide the reader and direct them to the content that they are looking for.
This makes it a more pleasant reading experience as they will arrive at their final destination satisfied, (hopefully) with the information that they came searching for.
Remember earlier when we told you to build subtitles for your paragraphs in the Article Skeleton? Well now is the time to sharpen them up and make them stand out as signposts to the content.
Present the main point of your writing with a clear and straightforward introduction outlining the content coming up. Think of it as a trailer for a movie, just enough to draw the audience in and get them excited but without giving away the spoilers which they have to read on for.
At the end of the introduction you have an opportunity to give a small Table of Contents. This provides them with the tools to jump forward to the information that interests them, instead of overwhelming them with endless pages of content. This is essential for today’s audience, whose attention span has reduced from 12 seconds to 8 seconds over the last 18 years (Adlibweb, 2020).
So for an audience with an attention span lower than a goldfish, allowing them to tailor their reading experience by skipping ahead will definitely improve their reading experience.
4. Make your Writing Fun to Read
A dynamic piece of writing is crucial to catch the interest of the reader. Varied sentence length, structure and rhythm will keep readers engaged and excited to find out more.
The beauty of blogging is that it’s informal, so your personality, quirks and opinions can shine through. This will make your writing fun to read, but is also an opportunity to discover your writing style and establish your tone as an author.
“The road to hell is paved with adverbs” - Stephen King
Every writer has their style, and American author Stephen King argues that adverbs are unforgivable. Just because he sold over 350 million paperbacks worldwide, by no means makes him right. Writing is an objective art and your style might be littered with adverbs. There is definitely no right answer.
In fact, we encourage you to think creatively about how to spice up your writing. If all content went straight to the point, you wouldn’t be able to build an image for your readers, would you?
Princess survives attempted poisoning, marries Prince Charming.
All good stories, have a beginning, middle and end. Whilst that headline is certainly informative, without added detail you will never be able to draw readers in and build a full picture in their imaginations. Poor Snow White, she would be devastated to hear her dramatic love story told in such a monotonous way.
If you’re looking for a tool to help you diversify your vocabulary and dramatise your writing, Thesaurus.com is your friend. Replacing the dreaded and overused adjectives like ‘nice’ will help take your writing to a 10/10.
That doesn’t mean you should pick the most complicated words in the Thesaurus, even if ‘cordial’ or ‘winsome’ really are synonyms of nice, pick the words which are accessible, relatable and maintain your tone.
5. Easy on the Eye: From Formatting to Graphics
So we’ve told you how to make your writing an entertaining read, but that means nothing if it isn’t well presented. Aesthetic, clean and colourful blogs will transform your readers’ experience and will give you a piece you can be proud to put your name on.
The tips don’t need much explanation, so below is a checklist that you should refer to every time you publish content online.
OneCoWork’s Guide to Blog Formatting and Presentation
Make paragraphs approximately 50 words. Divide long sentences so that they’re easy to digest.
Use the same font and font size throughout, however, use a different size consistently to differentiate subtitles.
Put key statistics or quotes in bold to make them stand out.
Use pictures to break up long topics, for reference try to use one for every subtitle.
Provide graphics or screenshots where possible to accompany your writing.
It would be a shame if your fantastic writing went to waste due to lack of presentation, use these tips to ensure your blogs are aesthetically pleasing every single time.
6. SEO Your Writing
So with over 2 million blog posts written daily, what can you do to give your page the boost to number one? Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is what will make sure your blog is seen in the first place.
When you optimize your web pages, including your blog posts, you're making your website more visible to people who are entering keywords associated with your product or service via search engines like Google.
If you are totally new to SEO, I suggest checking out this blog which will give you an extensive explanation on the DO’s and the DON'Ts of SEO blogging.
Unfortunately, as such an expansive topic, it would not do SEO justice to sum it up with just a few tips here. However, we definitely suggest downloading the Google Docs Add-on tool: GDOC SEO Assistant which will help you optimize your content for a specific keyword and help you put in the finishing touches.
7. Writing Tech Tools
Of course, the 6 tips above will ensure you produce a top-quality piece of work, but there are some tech tools that will help make your writing process smoother. Below is a list of both OneCoWork and Hubbub Labs’ top tech tools when writing not just blogs, but press releases and articles too.
Buzzsumo - Generate ideas, create high-performing content, monitor your performance and identify influencers.
Now we hope that you have everything you need to write online like a pro! Remember to get a second (and third) opinion before you publish. Constructive criticism can only make your writing more refined and dynamic.
Good luck, we look forward to spotting your blog on the Horizon!