Developing Quality Internet Content Writers
We get a great deal of applications at Content Customs from writers looking for freelance work. One of the first things that I look for when considering the application is the quality of their writing samples and how they would function in an online environment.
A good writer is not necessarily a good Internet writer. There are many qualities that a good content writer must have to successfully write in an online environment. While it is great to find writers that have these qualities right off the bat, good managers can also take good writers and develop them into quality Internet content writers.
Basic Content Writer Requirements and Skills
First, let's take a look at the basic qualities that a writer should have before they can write for the Internet. These qualities are:
- Ability to research with little direction or suggestions.
- Proper attention to spelling and grammar.
- Able to stay on subject and create editorial flow and pacing to everything they write.
- Attention to details.
- Honesty and reliability.
Obviously, the most valuable writers are the ones that can draft good content with minimal instructions. If you have to give extensive instructions or research credible web sites for the writer, you might as well write the content yourself. Granted, questions show that the writer cares enough about the subject to make sure that they do it correctly.
However, too many questions can be frustrating and time wasting. I have found that some of the best content is created when the writer is given the freedom to format and develop the content creatively.
One of the most important attributes of a writer (regardless of their chosen field) is honesty and reliability. Just like any other content company, Content Customs has a no tolerance plagiarism policy and requires that deadlines be met every time. Duplicate content is a constant struggle online as some freelance writers will often sell the same article to multiple clients.
If you are slow to post content on your website, you may find that 15 other websites have already published the content that you purchased fair and square when you do post. If you find that a writer needs to copy the work of others to create articles, they are not worth your time and will not make it far in a professional writing career.
Turning Good Writers into Good Internet Writers
For the most part, good writers will already have a strong foundation for Internet writing without even knowing it. However, the top 5 things that throw new Internet writers off when they first begin writing are:
- Passive vs. Active Voice
- Keyword Optimization
- Word Counts
Prepositions: From the time that you learn basic English grammar, you have probably had a basic concept drilled into your head - Never end a sentence with a preposition. However, this often changes online, especially in conversational writing. Always type as you would speak to a person. Speaking with proper grammar often sounds tense and unnatural. In conversational writing, this is much the same.
Passive vs. Active Voice: This is one of the hardest things to develop in an Internet content writer. This is usually because, for the most part, many people do not notice that it is a problem. A good rule of thumb is that the subject should always come before the object. This is especially a problem when writers attempt to use passive voice to beef up word counts without technically adding more information. Active voice is clean prose that is easy to read. One example I like to use with my writers is:
- Active/Correct - The frog jumped over the log.
- Passive/Incorrect - The log was jumped over by the frog.
Keyword Optimization: The foundation of good Internet writing is keyword optimization. Although there is a great deal involved with search engine optimization, content production essentially revolves around keyword saturation (not over-saturation) and placement. In general, the following rules can help with proper keyword optimization:
- Always include the title of the article in the first sentence.
- Use permutations of the title throughout the article.
- If the title is long, splitting into smaller sections is almost as valuable as using the entire title.
- Make a list of all the possible keywords in the title and use them throughout the article.
- Avoid just shoving keywords in wherever you can and try to find ways to place them naturally throughout the content.
Word Counts: When you write for school or create a work of fiction, word count is typically not your primary consideration. However, word count is a sizable factor in good Internet writing. For example, if a client requests a 400 word article, a good Internet writer should be able to estimate how big the article will be and plan ahead to be able to cover all of the information that the title requests in the given room. Consistently missing word counts can cause a variety of problems including unhappy clients, wasted time and unfocused writing.
Formats: Usually this is not as much of a problem as the other four common problems but is still something to consider. Most writers choose their favorite program (Microsoft Word, for example), and stick to it during their entire writing careers. They get used to having spell checking and auto formatting features backing them up and are shocked to find that most Internet writing is done in a plain text program such as Notepad. While there are advanced text editors that have some of these features, good Internet writers will need to learn how to be their own editor and properly format content with the use of HTML.
Learning to Write for the Internet
Above all, good Internet writers are created through experience. No amount of rules or guidelines can create a quality online writer. In the end, it takes years for a writer to be able to visually estimate word count without having to check and learn which writing techniques work and which ones do not.
Remember, give new writers time to develop into quality Internet content writers. With a good editor backing you up, making the investment in a skilled writer that may not have enough experience in online writing is always worth your time.