I was a professional journalist for several years before I switched careers into the mental health field, so I was hyper aware of grammar, composition, story flow etc. It was how I was trained, and I was trained by some of the best (The New York Times, Gannet News Service). The internet is different though, and the rules are not the same when it comes to writing for the web.
I had a bit of a learning curve when it came to writing effective articles for the web. For instance, the most important lesson I’ve learned when it comes to writing compelling or interesting copy for the web is to “write like people speak”. Now that sounds simple enough, but it’s actually really hard for those of us who actually paid attention in English class, because a lot of web writing totally ignores a lot of the “writing rules” that we learned as students.
1. People do not run on and on.
2. People speak in chunks.
3. They take a breath.
4. Then they speak again.
5. People usually finish a thought and then go onto another thought – and then may tie the two together. But not 10 thoughts or ideas.
When people speak, sometimes they begin sentences with “and” or “but” — something you would never do when writing a term paper or a news article. But guess what? That is exactly how I write when I write articles, article-shorts, and small blog posts on the web. I write the way that I would speak. I write in a way that is conversational and comfortable for the reader — because statistics show that that is the format that converts best. Conversational.
So when you sit down to write your article for the day or for the week, don’t worry as much about getting the grammar just right — worry more that your content speaks to your readers.
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