How to Write Fluently for the Web 3


Writing skill is made up of practice and self-confidence.

It’s time to abandon the press release.

Reporters rarely have time to read them, receive a tremendous number of them in their inbox every day, and your competition uses the same strategy to win attention. The traditional media is also becoming increasingly irrelevant for amplifying your message thanks to the spread of alternative channels.

What replaces it?

Writing for your customers and prospective customers.

News Isn’t Important

The fact that your company is doing something new isn’t relevant. Every company in the world does something new every day.

Explain why we should care about what your company is doing. Why is it worth spending time on? Are your customers doing exciting things with the product?

Use an Authentic Voice

Traditionally, the corporate voice has been staid, vacuous, and modeled after the speech patterns of politicians. Now that customers can respond to your words in real-time, you need to choose a voice that’s immediate.

Acknowledge major criticisms of the product. In the past, PR wizards could manage away almost any problem and suppress negative stories. No one has that ability today. An honest point of view is more compelling than a mix of sentiments that offend no one. The 37 Signals blog demonstrates this point well, yet few software companies risk copying them.

Sure, you’ll offend people. But so what? You’ll never be able to sell the entire world on your product, anyway. Alienating some people can win you more adoration from other segments of the market.

Practice

Few writers become skilled without thousands of hours of practice. Even the most expert writers need to spend more time re-writing their work than they do on the original creation.

It’s not shameful to be a weak writer. But there’s no reason to give up on the idea that you can ever write well merely because that’s true in the moment.

Work on a personal blog. Journal at home. Write on forums either anonymously or with your real name. Try out question and answer services like Quora. If you’re writing for your business, you need experience doing so for an audience.

Reach Out Beyond Your Blog

Write outside your own blog – in comments on other blogs, on forums, and elsewhere. It’s challenging to walk the line between sounding like a shill for your company and sounding like a real person. Avoid “drive-by” commenting. Become a real member of any community that you want to reach. That’s the only way that people will come to trust you. Bombarding the internet with low-trust messages is a low-reward strategy.

[Photo Credit: Bright Meadow, Flickr]


About JC Hewitt

JC Hewitt is an independent copywriter and marketing consultant based in New York City. He loves innovative companies of all sizes.