Write for the reader, not for your Kindsize
It’s easy to just write, or blog, with no particular reader in mind. The problem with this sort of writing is that nobody reads it. Always keep the reader in mind when writing. Think of them as busy, impatient people who are on the Web to find out something they need and give it to them short and sweet.
One of the characteristics of bad writing is its overuse of adjectives and adverbs. They add to the length of an article and also tend to slow its pace. When you look at them a second time, you often find they are disguising weak nouns and verbs. Think about the sentence, “He hit it really hard,” then compare it with “He clobbered it.”
“Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” Web readers would be eternally grateful if web writers always followed that piece of advice.
But all too often, as any frustrated web reader knows, writers do nothing of the kind. Instead of beginning an article about growing potatoes with a clear statement telling you what you can expect to read (such as: “The best way to grow potatoes is … “) they will either begin with an anecdote (“It was a hot summer day when I first visited the sun-drenched fields of … “), or with a barrage of information tangential to the main topic (“The soil in the Red River Valley of the north is known for its fertility— second, some of the locals say, only to the steppes of Russia … “), blah blah blah, or, perhaps most common on the Web, with personal superfluous information (“My name is Ed, I’ve been an amateur gardener for three years, and I created this page because I know HOW to grow potatoes on STEROIDS! …”)
Such indirect beginnings for articles are fine for certain kinds of writing. The anecdotal introduction, for instance, is a storyteller’s staple and can be very effective in novels. But in most web writing— especially business writing—the best way to begin is with the shortest and clearest statement you can make about your topic.
People on the Web are usually looking for information, and if you make it easy to find, they will thank you. If you make it hard to find by burying what you actually want to communicate in the second or third paragraph, no one may read your article at all: Research shows that web readers scan pages before they read anything, meaning they may scan right past your article if it doesn’t have a straightforward heading or introduction that includes key words about your topic.
Writers often opt for indirect introductions because of their own insecurity. They fear that what they have to say will be so unexciting that potential readers will be turned off, so they try to find an indirect but more interesting way to draw the reader in. But doing this actually makes things worse. If you’re writing about potatoes, and the reader isn’t interested in potatoes, it’s better to get it over with fast. Readers who’ve had to wade through several paragraphs before finding out there in the wrong place will be all the more annoyed.
So be courageous when you sit down to write, and don’t blame yourself if it takes a while to come up with an introduction that works. As anyone who’s tried to write knows, beginning is often the most difficult part of the writing process. The blank sheet of paper is so anxiety-inducing that it’s become a metaphor for writer’s block. Writing for the Web is even worse: Not only is the screen blank, but there in the upper-left-hand corner is the cursor, blinking away as if to mock your inability to get started!
Web headings that work
On the Web, you live or die by your headings (or headlines as they are called in newspapers and magazines). A good one makes it easier for readers to find your article, and much more likely that they will read what you have written. A bad heading ensures that few, if any, readers will find your text at all, and that those who do will be unlikely to read further.
People don’t begin to read your web article by accident. First they have to find it. Potential readers will usually come to your article either from a crowded webpage— where your article is just one of several clickable elements—or worse still, from a page full of search engine results. In either case, all the reader sees is the heading and the first sentence or so from the article (if they’re lucky). If your heading doesn’t grab them, you lose them—probably forever.
Writing headings for web articles is a pure craft. Sometimes it almost seems to be an art form. To learn from examples of heading writing at its best, look at top quality advertising campaigns, front-page headlines in tabloid newspapers, and the cover lines of successful magazines. Think of Nike’s “Just Do It” line!
Editors of tabloid newspapers are among the best of all heading writers, since they know that nothing will do a better job of selling their papers than a short, compelling, sometimes controversial headline in big type.
Here are a few good headlines at least I think…
ADVICE TO WIVES WHO’S HUSBANDS DON’T SAVE MONEY — BY A WIFE
The headline strength of the word “advice” has often been proven. Most people want it, regardless of whether or not they follow it. And the particular “ailment” referred to is common enough to interest a lot of readers. Even a subtitle would draw your reader in MORE like the “it happened to me” tag line, “by a wife,” increases the desire to read the copy.
WHY SOME PEOPLE ALMOST ALWAYS MAKE MONEY IN THE STOCK MARKET
Important key words: “make money” and what made this more credible is “why” “some” and “almost” — which makes the entire headline credible.
DOCTORS PROVE 2 OUT OF 3 WOMEN CAN HAVE MORE BEAUTIFUL SKIN IN 14 DAYS
Women want it. “Why two out of three? Am I one of the two? How have doctors proven it? Quick results are what I want….Only fourteen days!”
Ok, what women would not want to read this!??!!?
The bottom line here, your Headline is the only way to bring in your readers! So write like a King or Queen…