Nerd Alert: Writing For Web

September 3, 2016

I recently decided to take a short course in writing for web via Open2Study, the free sister program of Open Universities. Seems pretty weird considering that I’ve been paid to write content for web contexts for almost a decade… but it was free, I haven’t actually studied writing/comms in a formal setting, and I am an ultimate nerd. (And yep, I passed.)

I  stumbled upon the course from a careers blog, and it definitely had immediate takeaways that I could apply to my current job in digital advertising. A lot of what I know about writing for online environments has been largely through experimenting, accidentally learning things on the go and seeing how other writers play with words (both good and bad). While I don’t think there was anything revolutionary in the course, it was a great way to turn my random hunches about web writing into a neat little list of best practices.

In terms of takeaways specific to music:

  • The end user and channel is pretty important, which is why a press release doesn’t need to be the same as a band bio. And should rarely be the same as social media content.
  • Context of use is often overlooked. Some of our festival clients have horrendous sites that make it hard for mobile users to purchase a ticket (i.e. try filling out 40 fields with an iPhone keyboard) even though most of their traffic is via mobile devices. Or I often see other advertisers push iTunes links to my Android device.
  • Copy needs to be relevant to the audience that is getting it. Half the time I get advertising for bands that I don’t follow with extremely basic copy (e.g. “NAME-OF-BAND-I’VE-NEVER-HEARD-OF’s new album out now on iTunes.”). This doesn’t sell the product to me because I have no idea what you’re about and there’s no story to entice me.
  • Consistency across channels is pretty important. I think many music brands (e.g. festivals, bands, labels) are great at being consistent across one channel (e.g. just Facebook, just Instagram, just their blog) but not so much between channels (i.e. is the tone of voice the same between their EDM, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Triple J Unearthed profile?). Big brands have style guides and a developed TOV, but most music brands don’t because the content is much more organic and/or channels may be split up between band members.

There was also a heap of content more focused around blogs and websites too, so here’s the course in case any of you want to ride nerdy with me.

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