You worked hard to earn that creative writing degree. You held back tears as professors ripped into your best stories, and you somehow found something positive to say every time that guy in your workshop class turned in another three-page poem about smoking cigarettes. You even read The Waste Land – twice. If you made it through your university’s acclaimed creative writing program with flying colors, surely you can handle a little web writing, right? Right?
Slow your roll there, Dickens. This stuff is harder than it looks. Even if you were the darling of your university’s creative writing program, you’ll need to unlearn a lot of what you were taught before you can rule the world of content writing. To help you get started, here are three ways your online content strategy should differ from your creative writing strategy:
1. Clarity is King. “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter —to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning—So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
So ends F. Scott Fitzgerald’s beloved novel “The Great Gatsby.” It’s an ending that sticks with you, that asks more questions than it answers and that forces you to carry those questions with you long after you’ve finished reading. We think it’s pretty brilliant, but try to cop Fitzy’s style for your blog content and your clients will be less than impressed. Effective web writing is clear and concise, not serpentine and enigmatic. So save your nuanced allusions for your next short story and make sure your content strategy emphasizes clarity over all.
2. Screw Your Vision. In creative writing, it’s your vision that matters most, and you have the right to defend that vision to the death – even when an entire workshop of undergrad writers tries in vain to convince you that the sudden appearance of a dragon in the last paragraph of your short story is a bad narrative choice. That dragon is your vision. One day, those plebes will understand your brilliance.
But guess what? In the world of content writing, your vision takes a back seat to the client’s. If the client wants to scrap your witty metaphors and hard-sell the company’s products instead, you need to do it. At times, you may even have to scrap entire articles and start again from scratch. If you can’t slash and burn your writing without crying like a child, you’re not going to last long in the field of content writing.
3. This Isn’t Your Legacy. What do Kafka, Dickinson, and Poe all have in common? These authors achieved true fame only after their deaths. If you hope to leave a literary legacy behind you when you shuffle off this mortal coil, then it’s okay to create writing that people won’t necessarily appreciate right away. If you want to pursue a career in web writing, however, your writing needs to be relevant now.
You’ll need to plan ahead for seasonal stories and identify trends in esoteric fields like turnkey property management or medical ID bracelets. And no grant will fund a year at Walden Pond while you struggle to find your true voice. You’ll need to churn out work continuously, so brew another pot of coffee and pull yourself together.
So, what do you think? Do you feel confident in your ability to craft a page of text that doesn’t contain an embedded sestina or end in a hauntingly vague way? Are you capable of placing that captivating personality of yours on the back burner to focus on function and purpose instead? If so, maybe content writing is for you. If, however, you fear that separating yourself from your art would be like ripping your soul from your body, then maybe content writing isn’t your calling – and that’s okay. It’s not for everyone.
That’s why The Content Factory has a team of in-house writers dedicated to creating the high-quality content writing our clients need. We’ll keep developing content, you keep slaving away at that Great American Novel. We believe in you.
Are you a lady in SEO? We’ve got a killer Facebook group you’ll want to check out ASAP! You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers – with a lot of actionable advice and support from other women slaying it in the industry.