What do you believe when it comes to writing content for the web and building a successful business online?
Some things we believe are myths that keep us from reaching our goals and make it harder for us to fulfill our dream of online success. Thankfully, many of these myths are false and you can break free of them. Here are some of the most common myths and beliefs about web writing and entrepreneurship you should bust today and move past if you want to succeed online.
Many aspiring writers don't write at all or write but fear asking for monetary compensation for their work because they think they are not "good" enough. This belief that you have to be "good" first before you write and share your work is like saying you must be a good swimmer first before you get into the swimming pool. How can you be a good swimmer if you won't get into the water? You don’t need to be that good or perfect before you write. Writing is a learned skill. You learn it through practice and improve on your craft on the go – not beforehand. Just write, write and write. Read and study other writers, then write some more. That is how to become a professional writer and keep moving from strength to strength in this profession.
This belief is somewhat true. You do need some basic technical knowledge to write online, most of which you already have, such as how to research through search engines, network through social media sites and use e-mail. You don’t, however, necessarily need in depth tech know-how like high-end skills on web design and coding to write online. Oftentimes, you can simply write your text in a word processor, copy/paste the text onto a web platform or e-mail and hit submit or send to publish. However, growing your tech skills and know-how never hurts. It's actually encouraged. Learn a bit of code, practice basic search engine optimization (SEO) and familiarize yourself with specific content management systems (CMS) like WordPress to increase your marketability and make your work online easier.
This one goes something like this: “I need a spare room before I start to set up my home office, otherwise no one will take me seriously. My PC is too old—I need to buy a new MacBook Air first. I haven’t got a proper desk to work from. I need that first.” Blah, blah, blah. "A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work,” says E.B. White, “will die without putting a word on paper.” If you think that having the perfect work station and equipment from the outset will guarantee success, think again. Few writers, when just starting out (or ever), have ideal working conditions. Many endure crammed coffee shops and libraries as work stations every day. If you can arrange the perfect writing place and afford your dream equipment, go for it. But don’t kid yourself that you need these things in order to write. What you need is the right attitude and fortitude to work with what you have.
This one might surprise you, but writing unique text does not necessarily equate to writing high quality content. Break free from the belief that your writing needs to be ‘unique’ each time. Unique text is not always the best piece of writing. If unique text was the best piece of writing, don’t you think we would all be using article-spinning software on autopilot to churn out words that have never been put in that particular order before? Stop trying to be too clever or 'unique.' Instead, focus on sharing valuable, relevant ideas in your own voice, whether the ideas are your own or someone else’s. Make sure you always credit your sources, deliver real value and stay true to your natural writing style.
The only thing that content needs to do is educate readers, right? Wrong! Sometimes readers want to read content that informs them about what is happening or what happened. Other times they simply want content that entertains or makes them laugh. Research actually shows that when people read a piece of content for pleasure, also known as "ludic reading," they read it more willingly and thoroughly even when it is on a computer screen. Be flexible and give your readers options. Vary your writing and incorporate different types of web content aside from educational content. This can add an element of freshness to your own writing process and help you avoid monotony.
You don’t need to wait for inspiration to write well. Creativity flows through the act of writing. That is not to say inspiration doesn’t help. Inspiration helps a lot. It makes you feel naturally energized and pumped up to write. But, you should not wait for inspiration to write. If you wait for inspiration, you might never write anything. Inspiration comes and goes and you have no say in that. The best writings in history were not written by writers who waited for inspiration, but by writers who sat down and put in the hard labor to produce the work. You must sit down and write, whether you feel inspired or not. That is how to get ahead as a professional writer.
Knowing “somebody online” or the so called “A-list” writers, bloggers and marketers doesn’t hurt. It actually helps a lot. Many writers and bloggers became popular because they knew and enlisted the help and support of influential people. However, in any conspicuous success, something that is often overlooked is that enough people need to fall in love with your work before they can support it. Inside connections might get your work seen by more people, but won’t get your work vouched for unless it is good and doesn’t jeopardize other people’s reputation. It's not always about who you know. It is more about the quality and value you offer. All the connections in the world cannot guarantee you will succeed if your work is substandard. Do your part really well and then enlist the support of influential people.
You may not have thousands of dollars to spend on your business marketing and advertising like the big players in your niche, but who says you can’t make it anyway? In fact, who says you should be competing with anyone at all? The advent of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have leveled the playing field to a great degree. Now you can instantly connect with thousands of potential readers and customers on a global scale through the platforms just like the "Big Boys" at little or no cost. Quit trying to beat everyone. Competing too much only makes things harder for you. Focus instead on doing your part to grow your business and brand online. Besides, there is plenty of fish in the sea. As Ayn Rand says, “A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others."
Oftentimes, the most successful people are not the most brilliant. It’s ironic, but you won’t make it just because you are brilliant at the writing thing or find it easy to string words together. Your brilliant piece of written genius won’t sell or reach the audience you want it to if you don’t promote and sell it vigorously. Success doesn’t just happen. Pitch your work and market it like crazy if you want to succeed. Be ready to suffer setbacks and knock-backs because querying and marketing online is not easy. It requires thick skin, mad skill and strong resolve to pull off successfully.
The Internet is a casual environment for writing. Different writing formats and styles are accepted and encouraged. However, this does not mean you should eschew basic rules of grammar and punctuation when writing for the web. People don’t trust a website when it's content is littered with mistakes. Watch your spelling and grammar and use proper punctuation. In particular, pay attention to things like your use of their/there/they’re when writing online. Doing this will give your writing credibility and ensure you appear as educated and knowledgeable as you are.
This is another abiding myth of web content writing, and it’s just plain wrong. Those who propagate this belief are likely those who have tried to launch a content writing career, hit bidding sites and promptly quit because they discover they cannot find jobs that pay more than $1, $2 or $3 an article on the sites. However, if you broaden your line of view, write well, market your skills effectively and persevere, you should be able to earn a decent living writing content on the web. Many online media companies and content sites pay writers and journalists well and you don’t have to look too far to find prolific content creators who write well and charge accordingly. It’s more about where you seek to apply your trade and how well you actually apply it that counts.
This is perhaps the biggest fear many content writers and entrepreneurs have when starting out. It’s a legitimate concern, considering the rampant copyright infringement cases online. But, you shouldn’t let this overprotective thinking stop you from sharing your ideas or launching your products online. If you fail to share your idea or launch a product because you think others will steal it, you may just wake up one day and find someone else has shared the idea and gone on to make a fortune out of it. Just do it. It is better to try and fail than fail to try. Besides, a lot is said for being the first one on something. Think of all the burger chains out there. If someone asked you which was the first, I bet you’d only need one guess!
Read Also: 3 Anchor Rules of Web Writing to Obey Today
Image credit: Tax Credits/flickr
Spotlight book of the month
by Daymond John
If you are a fan of great stories about how entrepreneurs have risen from humble beginnings to start successful businesses from scratch, The Power of Broke is a must read.
Shark Tank star and Fubu Founder, Daymond John embodies this in true form through his origin story and inspiring rise to fame narrated within The Power of Broke.
This motivating business book will give you a boost, and help you scrape, hustle and dream your way to the top.
Have something to say about this article? Share it with us in the comments section below.