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Where does this assumption come from? Perhaps it is because "techies" created and coined word "content" when describing text on a website. Rather than a pretty word such as "prose" or a practical word like "writing",the buzz about online content created a bizarre rebellion against creativity and gave writers a strange aversion to web-based work; how could a writer be needed for something as dull as "content"? Isn't this something that web designers handle?
The context of writing, when applied to online media, is perceived somewhat differently. New web style guidelines, which helped people read online without getting a headache, for a time became sole criteria for judging whether website content was up to standards. Jakob Neilson, a famous industry analyst-turned-usability guru, pigeonholed web writing and content alongside web design. Instead of hailing "content" as a wonderful way to communicate with website visitors, term "concise, objective, and scannable" was born, and web design and content became a means to ultimate goal; "usability." (Who can be creative when they're using words like "usability" and "user interface", anyway?) Webmasters created web, coined new terms, and used new, techie language to describe old products.
The Results How many corporate websites out there actually make you want to work for them? How many ecommerce websites sound excited and knowledgeable about their product lines? How many email newsletters do you actually find worth reading in a given week? Most likely, unless you're just not very picky, you'll have trouble naming more than one or two sources. Which means, that out of all websites and newsletters out there, there are only a handful that are getting what they want; repeat, loyal visitors. This is where content creation as a writing career becomes a reachable goal.
If corporate websites want web content that inspires, creates an emotional response, or at least sparks a memory (tech term: "branding"), it's time for them to go to people who will give articles and copy a chance in hell for success. That's us, folks! While web writing does combine a unique set of skills, with a little talent and right training, a writer can easily transition from print to web and fill this important writing niche.
It's time to claim our writing markets online and offer our skills to companies that need us most. Most of them are waiting for a reliable source of content to come along.
We're freelance writers. We're picky about words we use, sources we quote, and voice and tone of content we create. We get to know an audience, not "users" or "eyeballs". And we pride ourselves not only on aesthetically pleasing text, but creating prose and copy that works. Not in a mechanical sense, but a human sense.
Freelance web writers are not simply riding web industry buzz, but we're busy carefully crafting words that say precisely what a web company needs to say.
That's right; there are creative folks who make a living writing for web! In fact, we were writing for web before it came along. We've been writing "concise, (slightly) objective, and scannable" documents since middle ages.
Back then, we called it poetry. :-)
So, are you ready to write for web?
Melissa Brewer is a full-time freelance writer and web content consultant. Visit: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/webwritingbuzz or send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org