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Write RIGHT for the Web

Aug 2, 2008
The 4 writing myths that stand between you and your sales.

When writing for the Web, there's one hard and fast rule to remember...

Write how you talk.

Forget all the rules your English teacher taught you. End your sentences in a preposition... start them with "And" or "But." On the Web, people read differently.

Formal writing actually stops people from reading... and if they're not reading, they're not buying.

Let's look at four writing myths you can toss out the window...

Myth #1: Sentence structure must be sophisticated

Reality: Simple sentences are the rule online.

On the Web, people want information, and they want it now! And they don't want to have to work to understand it.

Keep sentences short. They're easier to read than longer ones. On the Web, "ing" words are the enemy!

Don't say, "By following this program carefully, taking supplements religiously, and drinking lots of water every day, you will lose weight."...

... say "Follow this program carefully. Take supplements religiously. And drink lots of water every day. You WILL lose weight."

Remember, you're writing to short attention spans.

Myth #2: Writing must be formal

Reality Check: Keep it real.

Readers respond best when they feel you're talking to them personally. So write as if you're talking to someone you really CARE about and...

Use a casual and friendly tone. Imagine that you're talking to a friend or family member. To help your readers identify with your words on a personal level, use "you" as often as possible.

Go ahead and write in sentence fragments. Feel free to start sentences with "and," "but," and "or." It's simply how we speak, whether Miss Manners approves or not.

Use contractions whenever possible. "It's" sounds way more natural and informal than "it is."

It's okay to use slang. Just make sure the slang you use is appropriate for YOUR target market.

Myth #3: Always Use proper punctuation

Reality Check: Use informal punctuation to mimic speech.

You know how your teachers always warned you against using dashes, ellipses, and bullet points, because they smacked of lazy writing?

When you write for the Web, you are writing for the LAZY READER. (Well, not so much "lazy" as "bombarded by a relentless onslaught of information, and constantly pressed for time.")

Make their job easy by breaking up long sentences. Dashes - like these - create white space between your phrases so each phrase stands out more.

Ellipses are a great for separating items in a list. Maybe you want to give the reader a set of options... Or create a sense of time passing within the sentence... Or build anticipation before getting to the "big reveal."

Use ALL CAPS to highlight the words you'd emphasize while speaking. Putting lists in bullet points so they're easy to read. Bullets say "Hey look, here?s a list!"

Myth #4: Readers read every word

Reality Check: People scan for the most important information.

Ever noticed how a single word can make your ears perk up when you're half listening to a conversation?

Certain words jump out at you to let you know when to pay closer attention. Format your text so your most important content leaps off your pages:

* Use "choppy" structures to mix up paragraphs of different lengths.

* Write your most dramatic ideas as stand-alone one-sentence paragraphs.

* Use subheads to pique curiosity and drive eyes down the page.

* Use bolding when highlighting important ideas.

* Try to place the MOST important idea at the beginning or end of the paragraph where they'll be noticed most.

Read your work out loud when you're done. Any stumbling blocks will become immediately obvious.

If you write the way you talk, your readers will listen.
About the Author
Derek Gehl, CEO of Internet Marketing Center, helps people create income online. You'll find more Internet marketing strategies on Derek's blog.
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