Before the invention of the World Wide Web, there was only one kind of writing: print writing. All the writing that was done had been done on paper and its alternatives. But the computer changed that, and now we have two types of writing: web writing vs. print writing.
That is all fine, but the question that comes to our mind is: which of them is better, and which should I target?
As with all writing answers, the answer to the first question is: “there is no such thing as ‘better’ in most situations.”
And the answer to the second is: “it depends.”
Now, before you throw something at me, let me elaborate. (That’s what we do here, after all).
Print writing is the older form of writing. It isn’t an interactive form of writing (means there are no links, no multimedia, no multilayer form of interaction). Print writing is typically longer and more formal than web writing (once again, the word “typically” implies not always the case). And there’s one very important point…
Most of your written works will not be published in print.
What does this mean? It means that even you are outstandingly good, it’s very difficult to break the mold and get published, whether with a publisher (you know, the old fashioned ones), a magazine, newspaper etc. You could write a 1000 works of art and have only 10 published, and that’s a fact.
Whereas in web writing… an average guy could still publish his works online (e.g. at his own blog, feature an article at an high trafficked site, online magazine etc). It makes a big difference whether your work is published or not, and if you’re only trying print writing, you’ll have to come to terms with the fact that like it or not, most of your writings will not be published.
So for whom is print writing suitable?
Writers who are good. Writers who do not fear from facing criticism. Writers who are patient. Writers who write something which is suitable for everyone, i.e., publisher, reader, themselves etc. And most importantly… writers who want to improve their writing.
It’s also no secret that print writing is more profitable per word, but unless you’re Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, you’ll most likely to work hard and wait for a lot of time to see your work in print. It isn’t even remotely easy.
For good to great writers who don’t want to wait so much, there’s a good alternative. Guess what, it is web writing (alternatively called internet writing). Is it suitable? Read on…
You might not think that the Internet is a market for readers, but you’d be wrong. In fact, for several writers the Internet is a better market than print because of a variety of reasons such as stability, less learning curve and a whole lot more. (Note that I didn’t say “most” instead of “several.” As is the common advice – the whole theme of what we teach here on Writers’ Treasure – what works for one writer may not work for you, and so on.)
But let’s backtrack. What is web writing?
The answer: it’s simply writing which is published on the World Wide Web. As mentioned earlier, it could be on a blog or a website of your own, as a guest post or featured article on a popular website or a magazine, etc.
The great thing about web writing is that you don’t have to wait for a year or two to get published. You can simply open up a blog and publish your articles, essays, stories, whatever you like. There isn’t a specific time given for your works to be published. (E.g. Even if you get your novel published, you’re still given a period of nearly two years to wait to see it in the shelves).
Okay, so that’s one benefit. What about others? The one I really like (and I think that you will too) is that there is a lesser learning curve. Learning curve is a thing you’re most likely aware about and dislike. To every software there is a learning curve. To every market. For the print, the learning curve stretches to years and years. And what about the Internet?
You only need to understand some things which have a minimal learning curve (writing software, web publishing models, getting your article featured on websites, guidelines and more).
While I’m not saying by any means that they are easy steps to master (if you want to know, even I haven’t fully mastered them yet) but certainly they’re easier than the steps to master if you want to succeed in print writing. For more, read this excellent internet writing post by Writing Journey.
One more thing: when you write for the Web there are different things you should keep in mind. Web readers don’t read. They skim, read headlines, and then look around if you’ve got anything interesting. If you haven’t, your place is as silent as a mountain. So if you haven’t yet… make your content better.
So which is better? Which do I need to target?
Ah, the inevitable question. As I said at the beginning, there’s no right answer. Only you can answer that question. Take away the basic points of both and analyze them for your situation. If you feel that print writing is more better for you, go for it. And vice versa for web writing: go for it.
Why am I not giving a better answer? Because there are too many variables involved. Both are hard and both are easy. It depends on you, the writer. Your niche, your expertise, your gut instinct. The final takeaway: Research, analyze, and then choose which of them you should target. If you do the research and the analyzing well enough, you should have an answer.
What’s coming up next?
We haven’t scratched the surface when it comes to web writing, but to give your scroll bar a rest, that’s all for today. But wait… there’s a notice.
This post is the first of the Writing for the Web 101 series. Stay tuned for more, and if you want to keep updated, subscribe for free by email or RSS. You might even want to leave a comment… but only if you want to. 😉