/ Internet Marketing
The Truth about Online Content: It's Time for Writer
Google.com, one of the web's hottest search engines, has indexed over
1,346,966,000 web pages to date. The World Wide Web is officially
gigantic, with hundreds of thousands of corporate, small business,
and ecommerce websites vying for something more than just
the "eyeballs" that web analysts hailed in the 1990's. In order to
create success, websites are now searching for a steady, interactive
audience. Why aren't they succeeding? Could it STILL have something
to do with the content?
Understanding The Content Buzz
About a year ago, the entire web was filled with a few wonderfully
hip,fatally cool clichés; "Content is King," "Your Website Needs
Stickiness," "CRM is key!" and new resources, allegedly customer-
oriented, began to explode across the internet. Syndicated web
content became a cool way to get free words to fill up space on a
website. Soon, companies such as moreover.com began create a content
overlap. Website competition may be presenting the exact same news
feed at the exact same time, with the exact same keyword-rich
Once again, the web industry began buzzing, "Learn How to Create
Unique Content for Your Website!" The HTML Writer's Guild began
offering classes in "Advanced Web Writing", EEI Communications began
offering corporate training courses in "Writing for the Web and New
Media", and universities across the country added web writing to
their technology-driven and webmaster-centered curriculum. Once
trained, web design companies began touting their new "writing
skills", offering a one-stop-solution to their new website customers.
The Buzzkill for Web-Based Business
Before you ask, "What does this have to do with me, as a writer?"
Answer this question: Did you just read ANYTHING about writers in the
last two paragraphs?
Of course you didn't. Writers, traditionally, have shied away from
web markets. Many writers simply think that their skills are not
meant for web-based work, resulting in a strange shortage of web
"Wait," the well-informed web surfer may say, "There are plenty of
writers on the web! In fact, there's enough quality writing online
that Salon.com can now charge for content!" While it's true that web-
based magazines that specialize in content attract professional
writers, it is not true that the average corporate website, ecommerce
outfit, or web-based business attract web-specific writers.
As an experiment, go to google.com and type in "content creation"
right now. How many writers are pulled up vs. web developers
offering content services alongside their website development and
design? Why do you think they do this?
Apparently, writers just aren't interested. At a recent Creative
Network gathering, a publisher told me that it is "Great" that I
write for the web. He employs over 60 writers at his consulting firm,
yet none of them are really interested in web writing. They do,
however, want to outsource work to me because their clients are
looking for this skill.
There is a common assumption that web-based solution providers (such
as web designers, programmers and developers) are experts in all
facets of web-based business. Alongside this assumption is
the "technophobia" that plagues many writers and prevents them from
offering their services to online markets. We think that we're
unwanted or unneeded, and our services will be rejected.
Where does this assumption come from? Perhaps it is because
the "techies" created and coined the word "content" when describing
the text on a website. Rather than a pretty word such as "prose" or a
practical word like "writing",the buzz about online content created a
bizarre rebellion against creativity and gave writers a strange
aversion to web-based work; how could a writer be needed for
something as dull as "content"? Isn't this something that web
The context of writing, when applied to online media, is perceived
somewhat differently. New web style guidelines, which helped people
read online without getting a headache, for a time became the sole
criteria for judging whether website content was up to standards.
Jakob Neilson, a famous industry analyst-turned-usability guru,
pigeonholed web writing and content alongside web design. Instead of
hailing "content" as a wonderful way to communicate with website
visitors, the term "concise, objective, and scannable" was born, and
web design and content became a means to the ultimate
goal; "usability." (Who can be creative when they're using words
like "usability" and "user interface", anyway?) Webmasters created
the web, coined new terms, and used new, techie language to describe
How many corporate websites out there actually make you want to work
for them? How many ecommerce websites sound excited and knowledgeable
about their product lines? How many email newsletters do you actually
find worth reading in a given week? Most likely, unless you're just
not very picky, you'll have trouble naming more than one or two
sources. Which means, that out of all the websites and newsletters
out there, there are only a handful that are getting what they want;
repeat, loyal visitors. This is where content creation as a writing
career becomes a reachable goal.
If corporate websites want web content that inspires, creates an
emotional response, or at least sparks a memory (tech
term: "branding"), it's time for them to go to the people who will
give articles and copy a chance in hell for success. That's us,
folks! While web writing does combine a unique set of skills, with a
little talent and the right training, a writer can easily transition
from print to web and fill this important writing niche.
It's time to claim our writing markets online and offer our skills to
the companies that need us most. Most of them are waiting for a
reliable source of content to come along.
We're the freelance writers. We're picky about the words we use, the
sources we quote, and voice and tone of the content we create. We get
to know an audience, not "users" or "eyeballs". And we pride
ourselves not only on aesthetically pleasing text, but creating prose
and copy that works. Not in a mechanical sense, but a human sense.
Freelance web writers are not simply riding the web industry buzz,
but we're busy carefully crafting words that say precisely what a web
company needs to say.
That's right; there are creative folks who make a living writing for
the web! In fact, we were writing for the web before it came along.
We've been writing "concise, (slightly) objective, and scannable"
documents since the middle ages.
Back then, we called it poetry. :-)
So, are you ready to write for the web?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Melissa Brewer is a full-time freelance writer and web content
consultant. Visit: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/webwritingbuzz
or send an email to: email@example.com
Article Source: http://www.redsofts.com/articles/
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