Writing Process

A recent Vitamin entry 10 Things to Consider when Writing for the Web contains much of the same advice that I stress when people ask about creating or redesigning a website.  Know your audience, find your purpose, and develop a friendly voice or dialogue with visitors are a few things that need to be figured out before you start.  Then once you have a draft down there are the headlines, links, and style to polish.  Finally, refine the work by whittling it down to the right length, checking spelling and grammar.

Notice I said get a draft down or outline set before you start worry about your headlines or links.  Focusing too much on the ten tips you read and trying to make sure you follow them right from the start is a recipe for writer’s block.  Get ideas down on paper, in short and point form and work from there.  Once you have your vision forming, worry about the details like headlines and links.  An outline is a good place to start, but don’t think you will get it right in your first draft.  Your initial thoughts may take you somewhere completely different once you see it on paper, requiring major revisions.  It does get you to where you want to go, though.  Now get writing!

Content Mistakes

Kristina Halvorson lists three web content mistakes in an interview on ThinkVitamin.  While directed at larger organizations that employ copywriters and content professionals, I think the mistakes and solutions can be valuable for even small organizations to understand when creating or updating a site.

I’ve spoken about forgetting about the content in designing a site before, where the focus is on the visual look and splashiness of the site.  Kristina’s number one mistake talks about forgetting about the content after it is created.  She talks about a content life cycle that allows the content to remain it’s freshest.  There are also some great questions to ask when starting a project that will help define what needs to be done.

The second mistake is about the time needed to create the content.  I’ve talked about this before as well.  Good content doesn’t create itself, so get started early and don’t bite off more than you can chew.  Remember, more is not always better.  The third mistake goes with the second.  The project should often be defined by what you want to say, not the other way around.  Establishing the project around your goals and mission helps accomplish that and if you get off track, refer back to those to right yourself.

More Content Advice and Guidance

I am supposed to branch off into other topics yet I have not found time and motivation to write those articles yet.  I am still bookmarking web content and search articles that explain the critical value in creating content for a small site and I feel an obligation to continue to post these links with some comments.

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Understanding Web Marketing

It has been a while since I posted here and a few links have been building up in the wings.  A number of them are articles I have read from various sites on online marketing.  I thought it would be a good time to publish a post with these links with a few comments around them.

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Is Writing on the Web for Everyone?

Merlin Mann provides a definition of a what makes a good blog that, for me, describes the power and potential of blogs as well.  As for what is out there in terms of blogs, there probably is the 80/20 rule in effect.  80% of the blogs are not well done and not worth reading.  Inside of the 20% of good blogs, you are likely to find some gems on topics you are interested in.  If you can’t find anything on a particular topic, that is a hint there may be an opportunity there.

Exchanging real ideas and building relationships results in long term growth, careers even.  If you want the get rich quick scheme you can be like 80% of the people out there, throwing whatever they can at the Internet, hoping something will stick.  Rather than trying a million stupid ideas, hoping one will be the next pet rock, more can be made by focusing on something you enjoy and writing about it.

Not that type of person?  Don’t have any original ideas or anything to say?  No one said it was for everyone.