Writing for the Web: Keep It Casual

Jennifer ApplinBy Jennifer Applin

In last month’s column, I discussed the importance of considering your audience when it comes to writing for the web. This also plays a role in determining your writing style. In general, using a casual, conversational style is best for online writing. This isn’t the time to wow your audience with your extensive vocabulary or poetic descriptions. Typical web readers are seeking specific information and won’t hesitate to move onto another site if they can’t quickly find what they are looking for. Focusing on a casual style will also help keep your writing short and tight, which is generally better for the web.

Although a casual style is generally best, try to avoid sloppy writing. Your readers may consider this an indication that the web content is not accurate or trustworthy. In addition, your online writing samples are a reflection of your capabilities and will be floating around in cyberspace for an indefinite future. So keep the style casual and conversational, but make sure it’s worthy of a byline.

Money Making Tip
When I first considered freelance writing I was disappointed to find assignments that paid only a few dollars per article. I was even more discouraged when I realized writers were competing for these assignments. I must admit that I’m not a fast writer, but even if I were, I don’t see how this could be a good use of my time. As a busy mom, my limited writing time has to pack a big punch, and $5 per article just won’t cut it.

Now I’m not suggesting that writer mamas only accept $2 per word articles either. The key is to establish a fair hourly rate and use that as your guide for evaluating potential assignments (more on this next month). If you’re just starting out you may have to “pay your dues.” This means taking assignments on the lower end of the average range for freelance writers, but this will certainly be a lot more than a few dollars per article. So when it comes to $5 articles, I say forget it! Hold out for better paying assignments and help keep the standards of the writing profession high.


Jennifer Applin is a freelance writer living in Ohio with her husband and four young children. Aside from writing for many regional publications, she is regular contributor to eLearners.com and Projectworkingmom.com. She spends her days cooking, cleaning and caring for little ones; and her nights writing about pregnancy, parenting and the quest for peace (as in peace and quiet). You can also find her at Managing the MotherLoad.

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