So you’ve decided you want to write for George Muller’s website. Whether you’re experienced or not, there’s some things you’ll need to know.
First off – every article is written by interviewing George. He’s the knowledgable expert here, and going to Wikipedia just isn’t going to cut it. George has all sorts of hidden gem anecdotes, stories, illustrations, and other ways to describe how mechanics work.
Your job as a writer is this: get those hidden gems out of George’s mind, and onto this website in an organized fashion.
The content on this website is extremely high quality. It has personality and panache. While I’m here to coach you and edit, it’s your job to listen to those criticisms and make sure you don’t make the same mistakes on your next article.
That being said, once you’ve written 5-6 articles for this site, your quality of writing will likely have increased quite a bit. You can expect a lot of feedback on your first article unless you’re already an experienced WEB writer.
That’s the next thing actually. Writing for the web is much different than academic writing or writing for a newspaper. It’s short, snappy, personable, and never corporate.
Use the following checklist to audit your articles before submission. If everything on this list is covered, it will greatly decrease the amount of feedback you receive from me.
Basic Web Writing Tips
- Use short paragraphs – 4 sentences max
- Use short sentences if possible. Multiple short sentences is better than 1 long sentence.
- Skip unnecessary words. Shorten your text. Avoid needless repetition
- Avoid technical jargon (explain each new word that a layman wouldn’t understand, even if it takes a bit).
- Avoid the passive tense
- Address your web visitors directly. Use the word you, as if you’re talking directly to someone in conversation.
- Write for a 6th grade level.
- put in a link to any resources or material that’s useful (open in a new window)
Write for scanners
- Use subheadings to outline the content. This also breaks up the content. Format: use a “Heading 2”.
- Use an inverted pyramid (put the most important information at the top of the page, and the least important near the bottom). This is how you prioritize which sections go where. You can do this at the end if necessary.
- Use images or GIFs to deliver a concept or joke. George can also take photos for you if necessary.
- Use bullet-points or numbered lists whenever possible to help break up the content. You want a piece of content to have a visual flow to it.
More Paragraph Tips
When writing for the web, chop it up. If you’re writing the next Great American Novel, it’s okay to end paragraphs when pauses seem natural. Writing for the web, however, is a whole different world. Attention spans online are a LOT shorter than they are in Oprah’s Book Club, and your paragraphs need to bear that in mind.
Put simply: keep it short! A five-line paragraph is great, but a three-line paragraph is even better. Some content kings like Derek Halpern even let single sentences fly solo. Don’t worry if an idea doesn’t seem to be fully “complete” before hitting that enter key. Err on the side of short paragraphs and chop it up!
Read These Articles
Please read EVERY article on the George Muller Auto website. This is especially important because there will be times that you need to link to one of these articles as a useful reference. For example, if I started talking to you about how to use a vehicle scanner, I might say something like “This article on how to use a code scanner shows you how to check codes on your own vehicle“.
- How to write great headlines. This is mostly sales-focused, but very useful for web content too. Most of what you’ll need to write good headlines. For your first few articles I’ll likely get you to write a few headlines so we can choose the best one.
- Types of headlines.
- Writing catchy headlines. This one is good but it borders on clickbait, so careful of that and the adjectives we use. Don’t write anything that would annoy you as a reader.
Who Is George Muller’s Audience
Right from the home page you can see what George is all about:
Chilliwack’s Friendliest Mechanic
The average person just wants a mechanic they can trust (go figure). While experience and rates are important (and we highlight them), what’s most important is that George is trustworthy (and we put this smack-dab in the middle of everything).
By focusing on the friendliness aspect (where other Mechanics tote their skills), we’re able to sideswipe the competition and win customers where their hearts are. Instead of trying to advertise MORE than the competition, we just have a more compelling message; people like to do business with people that they like and trust.
The goal with EVERY article that we write is to make people like George even more. We do this in multiple ways:
- having a friendly voice that matches George’s (corny dad jokes, references the movies he likes, etc.)
- providing answers to questions people want to know about
- making technical information easy to understand. When a customer is confused, the answer is always NO. So getting customers to feel not confused is important.
Have these 3 points in mind for every article that you write. I’ll try not to keep all this preparation too top heavy. It’s best just that you get started and then I can edit.
Use this checklist AFTER you’ve written the content as a litmus test to make sure you’ve done some basic formatting things correct:
Here’s The Final Checklist:
As you read over your content to edit, take these things into consideration. Once you’ve done this for 4-5 articles (while looking at the list), it will start to become second nature to you:
- Are there at least 4-5 subheadings in this post? Subheadings should be present every section (just like this article in itself has subheadings). Use sentences as subheadings to sound more “down to earth”. You’ll notice this technique on this exact sections: “Here’s The Final Checklist”.
- 1-4 lines per paragraph. Make a line break, even if you aren’t starting a new idea.
- check for any concepts that seem confusing. Can a 12 year old understand that? Make it simpler if they can’t.
- Are my sentences as succinct as they can be?
- Is it an inverted pyramid? (What is the most compelling/important section? Is it at the top?)
- Are there at least 2-3 images in the post?
- Have you answered every question that this post brings up? If not, have you linked to another article on the site that answers it?
Most importantly, just don’t fret about it all. This is a lot of information to process all at once, but view it as a “bootcamp” into web writing.
It’s as simple as this:
- read all the content on this page and the linked articles
- read the articles on George’s site
- meet with me
- setup a time to talk with George (604-845-1756)
- write your first article or two.
- I’ll leave feedback for you with the article, you fix the feedback and I take a look again.
- I’ll do a final edit on the article and publish it.
- Rinse and repeat.
Once you’ve done your first few articles it gets a lot easier:
- call/talk with George for content
- write a few articles
- get me to do a final proof on it and publish
Much easier at that point. Good luck!