Lesson Three: Avoiding Common Mistakes

If you are like most online writers, writing comes naturally to you. Maybe your favorite high school teacher even told you that you have natural talent and always gave you an A. But when you tried your hand at online writing, you soon discovered that without readers, it doesn't matter how brilliant your prose is. Don't blame your teacher. He really was telling you the truth. But writing essays for English class isn't the same as writing for an online audience

In Lesson Two, we covered the basics of finding keywords and looking for words that people actually search for. Now, it's time to put your research to work and use the keywords you discovered with Google's Adword Keyword Tool. But before you start writing there are a few things you should know.

When I first started writing online, I didn't know anything about SEO, keywords or how to reach an audience. I jumped right in and wrote about the things I had passion for. Unfortunately many of them never saw the light of day and readers never got to read my awe-inspiring articles because I was functioning from some not-so-obvious misconceptions.

Poor Language Choice
Many online writers become so involved in their own writing that they forget that readers may not understand the terminology they use. Instead of writing to the general reader who is not likely to understand professional jargon, they write to the experts in their field. Keep in mind you are not writing in a professional journal and are not sharing your insightful views with your professional peers. There are other outlets for that. If you are writing online and depending on general readers for your audience, keep jargon and  professional terminology to a minimum--or take the time to define it properly.

Your job as an online writer is to write clearly and concisely in language nearly anyone would understand. Using "big" words to impress other writers or to impress the experts in your field, when more common language will do, simply turns readers away.

Failure to Identify the Audience
Online writers often overlook who their real audience is and fail to write to that audience. Once you have selected your topic, take the time to consider your audience. Who needs the information you are providing? How will they search for it? Reaching your intended audience requires thinking like the reader and providing what they need. You aren't writing for your college professor any more, if you want to be a successful online writer, knowing your audience and providing what they need is vital to your success as a writer.

Using Clever Titles
Many new online writers make the mistake of writing creative and catchy titles that simply don't reflect the content of the article, and as result do not attract readers. To be successful your title must contain the keywords your reader will search to find the information. Think like your readers and use words they are likely to type into Google to search for your article. (See Lesson Two for more info on choosing keywords that are highly searched.) Test your success after publishing by doing your own searches. Pretend you are looking for the information your article or blog contains and do your own search. If you find yourself typing in words or phrases that differ from the keywords or title you used, you haven't used the right keywords.

Writing on Hot Topics
As an online writer it may be tempting to write about the current hot topics. You may assume that because "everyone" is talking about a topic that you will have an unlimited supply of readers for your blog or article. Maybe you would, if they could find your work. Hot topics typically flood the Internet giving you fierce competition. Unless you are a seasoned online writer, your chances of ranking well with search engines for hot topics is slim. You may, however, find success in writing a tightly focused article or blog post about a related topic with a narrow focus. Gardening may be a hot topic in spring and summer, but you aren't likely to do well with a general topic such as "Gardening" due to high competition. However, "How to Grow Sweet Peas in Maine" may be successful.

Unrealistic Beliefs
Many online writers suffer from the illusion that if their work is well-crafted and insightful that it will draw readers. This may be true of writing for print publications that already have a captive audience, but when it comes to online writing--it simply isn't true. To be found by readers, you need to create a path for them to follow by using the appropriate keywords and optimizing your work.

Unrealistic Expectations
As an online writer you may find yourself lamenting the fact that those with less skill and writing experience are more successful in drawing in readers, while your work languishes without readers. Get over it. Online writing is not a showcase for literary genius. If you thought you would be discovered by writing online, you were probably mistaken. If you want to earn money writing online then you are on the right track.