The Perfect Anatomy of a Modern Web Writer [Infographic]


by  DEMIAN FARNWORTH High school was an era of my life I never really want to repeat. Not because it was a nightmare. Yes, there was a...


High school was an era of my life I never really want to repeat. Not because it was a nightmare. Yes, there was a little turbulence, but mostly bewilderment and embarrassment.
  • Why do I have to read The Old Man and the Sea while my gym teacher sleeps behind a newspaper?
  • Why do I have to stand in the cold with other lackluster teenagers waiting for a bell to ring?
  • And why am I wearing a white leather jacket with padded shoulders?
To this day, I have no clue why they gave me a diploma:
Me: Did I do something to earn this?
High School: No. Just leave, please.
Hey, not a problem. Happy to oblige. Yet, there was at least one high point during my dim career in secondary school.
Biology class. Specifically, the anatomy portion of biology class.
Let’s be honest, the dissection portion of our anatomy lesson was all I really cared about — laying open a stiff, smelly bullfrog is a fundamental American teenager rite of passage.
Fortunately, that’s not the type of anatomy lesson we are about to indulge in today.
Instead, we’re going to do something less messy. We are going to look at the essential traits that make up a modern web writer.

So, who should care?

There are two types of people who should read this article:
  • Anyone who wants to become a web writer
  • Anyone who wants to hire a web writer
If you want to become web writer, make your way through this list and get to work because there is ample evidence that your future will be long and busy.
If you want to hire a web writer, use this list as a filter as you evaluate potential candidates. Because you will be hiring web writers.
Following your anatomy lesson, make sure to scroll down, check out, and share our infographic: The Perfect Anatomy of a Modern Web Writer.

Average understanding of SEO

This is the foundation of your web knowledge, the feet upon which you stand. But why only an average understanding?
Because most SEO work is now done for you (listen to How Much Does the Modern Content Marketer Need to Know About SEO? to learn what I mean).
You need to understand how search engines work, why quality content is important, and the value of a strong headline.
First, review this blog post from Google about what makes content great.
Then, work your way through these resources:
If you want to hire a web writer, you should ask:
  • Does the web writer rank for any keywords?
  • Can you find his or her website through search?

Average understanding of usability

According to Wikipedia, “Usability is the ease of use and learnability of a human-made object. The object of use can be a software application, website, book, tool, machine, process, or anything a human interacts with.”
While this discipline mainly involves designers and engineers, writers can learn a lot from the study of usability. Usability includes white space, readability, subheads, and paragraph and sentence length.
When I write articles, I use the Preview feature in WordPress to see how the post will look when it’s published. Since I see the words on the screen as an element of design, I adapt the content as needed.
Humans interact with web content, and it’s important to understand how they interact with it and why.
Where web writers should start:
If you want to hire a web writer, you should ask:
  • Is the web writer’s site clean?
  • Does he or she use short words, sentences, and paragraphs?
  • Does he or she use subheadlines?

Above average understanding of social media

Social media has changed how we write online. Particularly, it influences the way we write headlines.
In fact, in some ways, it’s the reason we no longer think of search as the dominant form of discovery. Research has been mounting that suggests we find most of the content we consume from the recommendations we see from friends across our social media networks.
This is why I recommend at least briefly experimenting with new social media networks and having some sort of social presence. You can choose the best ones for you.
Where web writers should start:
If you want to hire a web writer, you should ask:
  • Does the web writer have an active social media presence?
  • Can he or she refer you to his or her experiments with or reviews about social media platforms?
  • Has he or she managed social media accounts for a company or institution?

Outstanding understanding of copywriting

The art of salesmanship in print is essential to successful web writers because it trains you to ask your reader to take some form of action. This could be as simple as asking your audience to share your infographic or persuading them to join your membership community.
Copywriting begins with empathy for your customer. You need to know your customer’s hopes and fears, her principles and problems — and then figure out how to help her achieve her goals and ease her pains.
Even if you’re not strictly writing to sell a product or service, copywriting is also essential for selling ideas.
Where web writers should start:
If you want to hire a web writer, you should ask:
  • Is the web writer’s copy compelling? Does he or she emphasize benefits?
  • Has he or she created compelling copy for a landing page?
  • Does the web writer understand the hopes and fears of his or her audience?
  • Does the web writer use emotional appeals?
  • Can the web writer name at least five copywriting books he or she loves?

Above average understanding of storytelling

Stories run the world. Origin stories. Tragic stories. Rebirth stories. Rags-to-riches stories. Comic stories. Everywhere you look, there is a story. Or, at least, a story waiting to be told.
They even exist in the business world. Storytelling marries all of the components we’ve been talking about into a narrative arc that spellbinds people. There’s no debate: the best web writers are also the best storytellers.
Where web writers should start:
If you want to hire a web writer, you should ask:
  • Does the web writer tell good stories?
  • Do you find yourself getting pulled in by these stories?
  • Can he or she make up a story on the spot?

Average research skills

The Internet is the research bootlegger’s dream come true.
Access to academic papers were once limited to those inside an Ivy League school. Consumer behavior surveys from giant research institutions were once limited to those with deep pockets. Now, the data and tools are in the average man’s hands.
Need a perspective from a native advertising wonk? Email her. Want to know what your readers think about your content? Listen to their conversations on social media.
Where web writers should start:
If you want to hire a web writer, you should ask:
  • Did the web writer research you or your company before your interview?
  • Can he or she research a little-known person or topic? Give an assignment and evaluate how much information he or she presents.

Average caffeine appreciation

Whether you like to pop kola nuts, sip oolong tea from a goblet, or single-handedly keep Starbucks afloat with your coffee habit, the world’s most widely-used psychoactive drug — one that is both legal and unregulated — is, no surprise, the web writer’s best friend when you need to get stuff done.
Coffee is the second-most traded commodity (oil is the first). It fires up initiative, boosts commitment, and eradicates self-doubt. Eighty percent of success is showing up.
This stimulant perks up the brain and aids in cranking out that story as that midnight deadline looms.
Besides, it makes you feel happy. It turns off the body’s brakes.
Where web writers should start:
If you want to hire a web writer, you should ask:
  • Does the web writer accept your offer for a cup of coffee (if you are meeting in person)?
  • Is he or she slurping on occasion during the interview (if the interview is over the phone)?
  • Does the web writer prefer his or her coffee black?

Above average combative work ethic

Ultimately, the “magic” of a world-class content creator rests not in his muse but in his work ethic, which is usually simple and aggressive. Almost unforgivable.
He doesn’t mind, since the reward is the sweet satisfaction of something original. But it starts with kicking in the door, planting his tush on the seat, and getting the work done.
And if his productivity and moxie wanes? See the section above.
Where web writers should start:
If you want to hire a web writer, you should ask:
  • Has the web writer completed side projects?
  • How big is his or her portfolio?
  • Did he or she request a deadline?
Now let’s look at the perfect anatomy of a modern web writer …

The Perfect Anatomy of a Modern Web Writer [Infographic]

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Your turn

So, what are you waiting for?
You read the article. Now is the time to go kick ass.



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#DIGITAL: The Perfect Anatomy of a Modern Web Writer [Infographic]
The Perfect Anatomy of a Modern Web Writer [Infographic]
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