You’ve gotten compliments on your writing your whole life. You know it’s something you’re good at, and you’ve decided it’s time to try to make a living at it. Yet if your goal is to become a freelance writer, being good at writing is just one part of the job.
You also need to figure out how to do the kind of writing that pays. One of the most profitable areas for freelance writers is writing for the web.
Whether you’re writing for a media property, a business blog, or a website, writing for the web is a little different than other types of writing you may be familiar with. If most of the writing you’ve done so far was for school, interoffice communications or your own fiction, then you’ll have to figure out how to switch from a writing style you’re comfortable with to what works best online.
We’ve collected some of the best free resources as a primer for learning how to write for the web.
Writing for the Way People Read Online
The way someone reads a novel is different from the way they read an article online. For all the work you put into writing, very few of the people that look at your blog post or article will actually read the whole thing. Studies have found that people only read about 20% of the text on a page.
Whatever you may think about that, writing for the web means writing in a way that is optimized for skimmers. That means using simple language, breaking up your writing using formatting so it’s easy for people to jump to the parts they want, and including a lot of white space.
To get a better feel for how to write for the way people read online, check out these articles:
- Nielsen Norman Group – How Users Read on the Web
- Search Engine Journal – The Checklist: How to Write and Format Web Content
- ProtoFuse – How to Write and Format Website Content for the Dual Readership Path
- Gather Content – 10 Plain English Principles for Writing Better Web Content
How to Optimize Your Writing for SEO
How easy your content is to read won’t matter much if people can’t find it. A basic knowledge of SEO is one of the most important skills a freelance writer who creates content for the web needs.
A lot of the clients interested in hiring freelance writers are doing so, at least in part, out of a desire to improve their website’s SEO. Knowing how to write content that’s optimized for search engines makes you much more valuable to potential clients.
Learn the basics of SEO with these resources:
- Moz – Beginner’s Guide to SEO
- Yoast – Ultimate Guide to SEO Copywriting
- Neil Patel – How to Write Content for People and Optimize for Google
What You Need to Know About Content Marketing
The rise of content marketing has been good for freelance writers. Businesses that commit to content marketing continually need lots of content. Learning the ins and outs is another way to increase your value.
Good places to start learning about the wide world of content marketing are:
- Copyblogger – Content Marketing: How to Build an Audience That Builds Your Business
- Copypress – Content Marketing 101: How to Create Content that Matters
- HootSuite – Content Marketing 101 Guide
The Basics of Online Copywriting
Copywriting is another big earning opportunity for freelance writers (one that overlaps with content marketing). The goal of copywriting is to create content that helps businesses sell a product or an idea. It’s a skill in its own right and useful for any freelance writer venturing into the world of marketing.
Good resources for learning the basics of copywriting include:
- CopyHackers – Conversion Copywriting 101
- Copyblogger – Copywriting 101
- HubSpot – Copywriting 101: The Principles of Irresistible Content
Going through these resources won’t make you 100% ready to be a perfect writer for the web – they’ll make you realize how much more there is to know. But they’re a good start to building the basic skills you need to impress clients and create the kind of content online readers like.
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