When it comes to developing web content, knowing what to say is often easier than knowing what not to say. The stuff that you’d rather your freelance writers don’t cover will generally fall into one of these categories:
Want to know a great way to lose your reader’s interest? Lead with the details that just aren’t that important. Selling plastic ashtrays? Start with the history of the particular type of plastic you use. Go on and on about the manufacturing process. Don’t make any sort of attempt to dramatize any of this, just assume that your reader gives a hoot, and take up all of their time.
On the other hand, if you’d like your reader to read to the end, you could start with the effect. “Our ashtrays will not break.” is the kind of thing that might actually get a reader interested, they may even be interested in how your ashtrays are made. When possible, omit the details that just aren’t that interesting to the lay-person. When you feel that those details must be shared, then at least make sure to lead with a hook that will get the lay-person interested.
What if it’s just too much information to dump on your reader all at once? If your message is simply too complicated to put into words that are accessible and easy to understand, then you may need to reconsider your message.
Beside the Point
A tangent may be interesting, it may be funny, entertaining, weird or informative, but if it doesn’t help to get your message across, what good is it? If you want to tell jokes, sign up for open mic night at a comedy club. If you want to talk about the history of Ford Motors, there are message boards for that. Everything that is written must be in service of the point that you’re trying to get across to your reader.
Knowing what not to bother saying comes down to the question of what you want to help your reader accomplish, and how you want to help them. Whether they’re looking for a better screwdriver or trying to figure out how to do gradients in Photoshop, ask yourself: if I took this out, would the reader still get the message? If the answer is yes, take it out.
Writer Bio: Gilbert S is a writer and artist who lives with his wife and his dog, Sir Kay, in rural New Mexico.