Platforms: Print and Digital Writing
Cincinnati, OH | Posted: 05/08/2016 | Author: April Koenig
To be successful as a freelance writer, finding the right voice is important. The author needs to find the voice of the reader, and tailor subject matter accordingly. It’s not always an easy task, especially when writing in different platforms. The difference between print and online writing can be tricky, with many factors to consider. It’s not a one-size-fits-all style, so contract writers can’t treat it as such. Consider the following differences when tackling projects that require a writer to find their voice for web and print.
Construct – One difference between print and digital is how an article is constructed. Online writing tends to want to grab a reader early. Attention spans online are decidedly shorter, so the author needs to quickly hook the reader. Knowing an infinite amount of different content is just a search away, the web writer must keep the reader interested. This can be accomplished by bullet points, related links, and other internet-related tools to maintain interest.
Contrast this with print writing, which hasn’t changed all that much in recent years. Those who would make the effort to pick up a magazine or newspaper are generally committing to paying closer attention. The author can build a story more deliberately, knowing they have a more captive audience.
Length – The length of an online piece is related to its construct in that most of the time a web piece contains far fewer words. Tailoring the subject often means one page or less, due to the wandering nature of the online reader. However, a feature article for print can much more easily translate to ‘longform’ journalism. Someone picking up a print publication has a much more reasonable expectation that in-depth measures are taken when writing a piece. Multi-page entries are much more the norm.
Feedback – Feedback and accountability are completely different, depending on the medium in which you write. Whereas print feedback is only as fast as the next published edition, online comments can be almost instantaneous. Engaging with a digital author, whether it’s praise or oversight and criticism, is conversational. Immediate feedback creates a curious relationship between reader and author, but one that acts to insure accountability.
Compensation – As one can probably assume, freelance online writers generally get paid less than those involved in print pieces. The length, construct, and background work make this apparent. However, the sheer volume of content needing to be generated online makes for steady web work. So hourly and project wage breakdown numbers often even out in the long run.