Unlearning ‘Sticky’ Essay Style Writing: What You Need to Know to Switch Gears to Online Writing (Video Recap)

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Julia McCoy

Creator and Co-founder

how to know online writing

Imagine this.

You’ve always loved writing.

…After you graduate college, you immediately set out to take the world of online writing by storm.

You craft a beautiful, in-depth piece that would do your professor proud, confidently thinking of all those A’s you got on your writing assignments in college.

You polish that piece until it shines.

You publish it on your brand-new site. Then, you wait confidently for the legion of readers who will like, comment on, and share it.

No one comes.

You wait a day, a week, a month.

But even the readers who do land on your site bounce the minute they see your content.

You decide to try applying for a writing job…

And after the tenth position, you realize there’s a pattern.

Your potential writing clients have stopped emailing you back after they saw your writing samples. 😲

Radio silence.

What’s going on? Didn’t you rock college writing back in the day?

Well, here’s the thing.

Being a rockstar college essay writer and being a rockstar online writer are two COMPLETELY different things.

In this blog and YouTube video, I’ll teach you how to “unlearn” the essay writing style that’s driving your readers away, and then learn the online writing standards that will earn real results.

Want in-depth help unlearning sticky, bad writing habits, and learning online writing skills that work? After a successful beta launch, my Unlearn Essay Writing program is now open and enrolling. 🎉

The Online Writing Standards You Need to Know (Video)

7 Rules for Online Writing that Pulls in an Audience

Follow these rules, and you’ll never again scare your online audience away.

1. Stick to Typo-Free, Well-Polished, High-Quality Online Writing

Online writing doesn’t mean sloppy writing.

Before you publish, make sure to go over your content with a fine-toothed comb. Get rid of typos and grammar mistakes.

Remember, you want to gain your audience’s trust and it’s impossible to achieve this with careless writing. 

2. Throw Out the Styling Nuances Your Professor Taught You in College: They Don’t Work in Online Writing

We all know what a college essay looks like. Wordy, stuffy writing that will put the stoutest reader to sleep.

Here’s an example of the essay style vs. what good online writing should look like.

On the left, we have heavy paragraphs and big words. Imagine your distracted, time-pursued online readers. Would they stick around to wade through all that text? You got it: nope.

On the right, we have shorter paragraphs. The sentences are direct, the words simple, and the content broken up by subheadings. The flow is easier on the eyes, and you can imagine online readers sticking around for this one. (I bet you would too. 🎯)

3. Never Double Space Between Paragraphs in Online Writing

If your college professor taught you to hit that enter button twice between paragraphs, you need to unlearn that formatting habit and stick to single spacing. Always.

4. Keep Your Online Writing Paragraphs and Sentences Short

An online reader is different from your typical reader.  

She doesn’t have a quiet corner, a cup of tea, and hours of time to dive into beautiful, spellbinding literature.

Instead, she’s inundated with distractions. There are pop-up ads. Social media notifications. Demanding emails from her boss. Instant messages from friends. 

To keep her attention, you need to be as brief as possible. Cut the fluff and tell her immediately what she needs to hear. And then stop.

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5. Stay Updated on Changing Internet Grammar Rules for Accurate Online Writing

The scary part is internet grammar is always changing. For example, did you know that the word “internet” was once capitalized?

To maintain authority online, you need to walk the thin line between uneducated and outdated in your writing.

One way to achieve this is to grab great resources that deal with writing and grammar rules.

Here are three I recommend.

#1. How to Write Copy That Sells: The Step-By-Step System for More Sales, to More Customers, More Often, by Ray Edwards

This book highlights the use of bullet points in your content, capital case for email subject lines, and a host of useful tips for strong online writing.

#2. The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr.  (Author), E. B. White (Author)

This book dives deep into the details of good grammar in a simple, readable way. While some of the rules don’t apply to online writing, you can find a ton of great advice to help you shape powerful, engaging, readable content. (For example, they’re pro Oxford comma.)

#3. Grammar Girl’s Podcast and Resources

Grammar Girl has been around for a while, and her resources are top-notch. Plus, she’s always sharing new info to help you stay on top of current trends.

6. Unlearn the Habit of Writing Sticky Sentences

A sticky sentence has bloated, useless, meaningless words. If you stuff your writing with these sentences, your reader will feel exhausted simply trying to get what you’re saying.

Here’s an example of a sticky sentence (and how I rewrote it to be better).

Follow these four steps to quit writing sticky sentences once and for all.

#1. Read Your Content Aloud

Does it sound natural? Does it flow well? Do you feel like you’re talking to a friend?

If not, there’s something wrong with it. 

#2. Go over each paragraph 3x

That’s right! Three whole times. You’ll be surprised to find how much you can improve even after two rounds of serious edits.

#3. Cut Icky Words and Phrases Relentlessly

Scrutinize each word or phrase and ask yourself, “Is this crucial to the meaning of my sentence?”

If it’s not, cut it.

#4. Rewrite Your Sentences to Flow Better

Once you’ve removed the fluff from your writing, rewrite your sentences so they flow smoothly into each other.

7. Stick to the Right POV

In online content, the second person point of view is the most important. This is because you want to connect with your readers and make them feel like they’re the heroes of the story.

How to Wow Your Audience with Your Online Writing

Sadly, being a rock star college writer does nothing to prepare you for the world of online writing.

The good news?

Where you are is a great place to start.

You already have a passion for writing. You know the basics of good grammar.

Now, all you need to do is “unlearn” the sticky styling nuances of essay writing…and absorb the standards of online writing.

Soon enough, you’ll have your own legion of fans.

If you want to truly go in-depth on “unlearning” the bad habits of essay writing (and learning how to craft content your audience will devour), check out my course, Unlearn Essay Writing.

Enroll now in the new online writing course

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