I started writing in high school, and I am still working professionally as a writer 25 years later. Working as a writer after the invention of the internet has certainly had its disadvantages. For example, you had to wait up to six weeks for a copy of an academic journal article to be sent to you instead of searching JSTOR and printing it out. The extreme exceptions aside, working as a writer has not changed much since my pre-internet days. Despite this, there are four big lessons I have learned from writing for the web.
Use transitional words and phrases
When you write for a newspaper or create material for an academic setting, you have a particular audience. Online, your audience is not necessarily someone with a college education. Instead, you are often asked by websites to write on a 10th grade reading level. This means that you need to simplify what you are saying and use somewhat of a conversational tone. To help break up my writing so it could be easily absorbed by the casual reader, I started using transitional verbs. It brought the reading level of my writing to blog-reading speed, and made my search engine-dependent online writing clients much happier.
Get used to the lack of professional feedback
One of the biggest surprises I have experienced is the lack of editing in online writing. Before the internet existed, I was writing almost as much as I do now. However, when I was working with professors as an academic journal article assistant or with newspapers and magazines, there was always an editor to check my work. These experiences with an editor helped me to grow as a writer. Although most online publications hire writers that do not need an editor in the first place, it is still nice to work with ones that give you professional feedback on your writing.
College style guides do not always apply
Despite everything you learned in college about using a style guidebook like the AP or Strunk and White, this does not usually apply to online writing. Instead, each website will have their own style guidelines in place that you must learn first. Generally speaking, these are easy to follow, but if you mix up formats on a website, it could mean your work is taken down. Most of the time, the websites make it easy to remember their style guidelines by giving rewards for taking their online classes.
Get a Paypal debit card
In most cases, websites will pay you twice a week, once a week, or once a month on a specified date. Despite this, you can forget getting a paycheck because most websites will pay you with PayPal or another online banking form. I have not heard a consensus from other writers, but I know that my PayPal debit card has been a lifesaver. As soon as I get paid, I can use the money whichever way I choose. You will still need a real bank account to get one, and the process does take at least a week. Once you have your card, you are on your way to being a well-paid online writer.