My youngest daughter is new to writing. My oldest daughter will be starting college soon and must practice formal writing. I am practicing web writing. I find myself caught between three worlds of writing. In the first, I am exploring basic sentence structure. In the second, I find myself explaining why you cannot use slang, leetspeak, or "texting" language. While in the third, I am reasoning with myself as to why it is important to repeat brands and keyword phrases often.
My oldest daughter reads what I write for the web and tells me, "Mom, you write exactly opposite of what you say I should do." I tell her I am web writing so the rules vary. I can use a more relaxed personal approach. I want my reader to feel I am speaking to them directly. I have to use a lot of repetition so I can be found on the web. I tell her, "you are a student writing essays for teachers, soon to be Professors and Doctors; you are being graded for your work."
Then I thought, my reasoning not only applies to her work, it applies to my web writing. Each time I am lucky enough to have a visitor click on my reviews or articles, they are grading me. Some are there just to gain information. If my work does not provide information, or does not read well, they will not consider me credible. Some readers may be taking notes for something they may like to write themselves. On the other hand, they may be tearing my article apart so they can rank better than me later.
As I prepare to send my daughter off to college, I gathered a few tips that apply to any type of writing and may help us all.
Remember your audience
I always consider my audience. In web writing, do I really know who my audience is? Sure I do. My audience is the wise consumer looking to buy a product without being ripped off. Additionally, they are readers looking for information, insight, or a different viewpoint.
Read it aloud
Whenever I write, I always read my work aloud upon completion. This helps me to check for flow, agreement, inconsistencies, and over repetition. When you read you hear and see the words. If I can read my work aloud without stumbling, I feel better about publishing it. However, this method is not fool-proof. Every day I catch errors in my work after publication.
When all else fails, I re-write and edit my work several times. I have a tendency to leave an article in draft for at least a week before publishing, sometimes longer. I like to let an article rest and look it over after a day or two with fresh eyes. Doing this does not make my work error free but I have caught many huge errors that would have made me look silly had I published too quickly.