Writing Online: Remember Your Reader

© 2017 Gaye Clark

Hundreds of media outlets lure writers online to get their work “out there,” with a promise of reaching millions of readers. Facebook users alone share 2,460,00 articles, blogs, and news stories (to say nothing of cat videos and family pictures) every single day. Although there are some key differences to writing online as opposed to the printed page, one golden rule will serve you well—remember the reader. Here are a few reminders concerning the online reader.

Online readers are scanners. They don’t sit by the fire savoring your every word. Get to the point quickly, preferably using less than 1000 words. Bold subtitles catch a reader’s eye and lure him in. Use a journalistic approach and start with the most important information first to encourage a reader to keep reading.

Online readers desire conversation, not an essay. While there are a few exceptions, most readers of online content prefer an informal tone. C. S. Lewis has good advice: “Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.” It’s also a good idea to solicit feedback from your readers.

Online readers want the truth. Readers share online content repeatedly, so double check your references. Offer links in your post to confirm your statements and be certain those links work.

Online readers are actively looking for you. Don’t make them work hard. Utilize tools like Hootsuite to share your work at peak times so more readers find you. But don’t be overly discouraged that a great piece does not receive the attention you hoped. One of my least shared articles helped a reader reconsider suicide and opt for counseling instead. Keep your hand to the keyboard and consistently deliver truthful, tightly written pieces. Nothing is wasted.

Samuel Johnson said, “”What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.” In the fast-paced world of online writing, take the time to be certain every piece which bears your name is your best work.
Gaye Clark works as a cardiac nurse and a correspondent for WORLD digital on health and human trafficking. She volunteers with iCare, a faith based organization that serves survivors of sex trafficking. She writes and speaks in her spare time. Gaye has two adult children: Anna, 23, and Nathan, 21. You can follow Gaye on Twitter or Facebook.

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