We are forever bound by our audience
Posted by Mike on September 1, 2006
I believe that general debates over whether good online articles are determined by length, or even by a web-specific writing style, is irrelevant when compared to what every form of writing is bound by: your audience.
This is especially true when it comes to online pieces. There are literally millions of authors, columnists and bloggers vying for your digital eyes on a daily basis. You must do something to cater to them and make them read. The manifestation of this is that the online reader can be a much different animal when compared to the print reader. The web has created a different animal, and thus different tastes to cater to.
Consider, for example, online viral video advertising versus the ads we see in mainstream media (TV, print, etc.). Web advertising must be more creative in this new medium for two reasons. First, viewing a video advertisement on the internet is exclusively a choice, whereas viewing certain commercials on TV or in print is almost inevitable. As a result, advertisers must find a way to make you want to see their commercial. Second, online advertisers have more freedom regarding what they can show in their ads, as the Web is a much less regulated medium compared to print and TV.
Now, what does have to do with writing online pieces? Absolutely everything! It is precisely this beast manifested by the Web that you as a blogger (or online columnist) must cater to. As Vonnegut warns us, “If you scribble your thoughts any which way, your readers will surely feel that you care nothing about them. They will mark you down as an egomaniac or a chowderhead–or worse, they will stop reading you.” Like online video advertising, you must make them want to place their eyes on your words, or you will be forever relegated to “cob website” status, with mice riverdancing in the crevices of your blogroll.
So, who is my intended audience (besides whoever is reading this piece at this very moment)? Tune in this weekend and find out…
See, that’s another thing. Cliffhangers don’t work quite as well on blogs. But it’s late (12:20 am EDT) and I’m tired.