Anyone can transmit a message on a fence website. A pro makes your sure the message is received. A star makes sure it elicits a response.

If you want to be effective at writing online, you need to take into consideration that you have to write differently for different media. Some people say you use a different style. That’s not strong enough to make the point. I say you literally need to use a different language online.

Writing for a newspaper is very different than writing for broadcast. You can write a sentence in a newspaper that’s an entire paragraph long. You can’t do that in broadcasting because the broadcaster at some point he needs to breathe. The worst writing in media is whatever you were taught in the English Department. Writing and journalism is very different from what you were taught by your English teacher. Advertising is different still.

I look at the writing for different media not as different styles but almost as if they are different languages. Related, but still different. Think of the Romance languages that are all based on Latin. That includes Spanish Portuguese French Italian and — the one everyone forgets — Romanian. When I write for a newspaper, I think as if I’m writing in French. When I write for radio, I think it’s Italian, and TV is Portuguese. … You get the point.

Writing for the internet is more like broadcast. It’s more succinct. You use a lot of the active voice and make it conversational. If your English teacher looks at it and gasps, you’re probably doing the right thing. You still want to use good grammar. And if that’s not your bag, you want to hire somebody who does.

Fence Website Must-Haves

I usually try and write for a website to get the message through four ways

  1. The images. These are the aesthetic that makes people want to do business with you. They should draw prospects in. They should give them that “aha” moment. You do not want “the most creative website.” The creativity and aesthetics should come from great photography. A creative website will get in the way of navigation so people do not find what they want fast enough or what you want them to find fast enough. 
  2. The headlines and the sub-headlines. They will draw people in and get them to read, but they need to stand on their own and make the point for the person that doesn’t read all of your website.
  3. The actual text of the website. You want to make your website communicate as much as possible with as few words as possible. Use simple language. Don’t use words people don’t understand. Be succinct. I understand, it’s hard to write less. Some say great writing really comes from constantly editing.
  4. Lists and bullet points. Use lists and bullet points liberally.

Your website is being written for three kinds of readers. The first is the analytical person who is going to research everything before they take a decision. That means they’re going to read everything on your website, some things twice. At the other end of the spectrum is the skimmer. They are going to browse over your website and read very little or just read some things. It’s as important for the skimmer that all the content is there as it is for the analytical person. They need to know it’s there even if they don’t read it all. The third person you’re writing for it somewhere in the middle. That’s why it’s important to use great photography, strong headlines and sub-headlines, succinct text, and a liberal use of lists and bullet points on your fence website.

Now the best way to write well for the internet is to hire someone who’s really good at that and spend your time at what you do best, which is running your business and hopefully having enough time left over for things you like, like spending time with your family fishing or golf.