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Au’Guest’ Blog Post – Writing in the digital age

Written by Matt Long, a Senior Content Specialist at Fresh Egg as part of the Wired Sussex guest blog month

Who’d be a wordsmith in the era of digital? It wouldn’t surprise me if more words were published on the internet yesterday than the whole of the human race had ever produced before the web exploded into our lives.

I found these figures with a quick search, (and they are probably out of date by now):

  • 140 million tweets every day
  • 150 million facebook posts every day
  • 1.6 million blog posts written every day

If you add to that number the new pages produced every day, then that’s an awful lot of sentences written, ideas expressed, and words misspelt.

And when you think that mechanical printing has only been around in Europe for a few hundred years – when Johannes Gutenberg started working on his moveable-type press in around 1436  – that’s quite some journey the written word has been on.

So, with these head-spinning facts in mind, and moving right back to the present, how on earth do you write something that’s fresh, interesting and meets the various demands placed upon the digital writer, from commerciality to virality?

Opportunity or threat?

It’s often said that where there’s a threat, there’s an opportunity – and this is certainly true in the case of writing for the web. The simple fact is that it has never been easier to produce quality content:

  • There has never been more information readily available for research.
  • There have never been more examples of great (and awful) writing.
  • Promotion of content is almost totally in the creator’s hands.
  • The internet is awash with best practice advice.
  • Writers have never had so much feedback to work with.

And for marketers, the news is even better: the latest strategic vision of online selling – inbound marketing – puts storytelling and community building squarely at the heart of marketing strategy. Any straightjacket around commercial writing (if there ever was one) is being loosened.

Writing and marketing on the web is coming full circle… providing value, telling stories, being creative, has never been more important.

Think of the web as evolutionary ecosystem of writers… if you entertain, inform, inspire, are funny, get people thinking and feeling, then your writing will engage, and you will get an audience.

And getting to the top of this evolutionary tree has never been a more democratic process. If you research and write well, market your writing in the available channels, you have a better-than-ever chance of getting the rewards your efforts deserve.

If you add into this melting pot the fact that Google is positioning search to encourage quality and not quantity – rel=author and rel=publisher being among the latest implementations of this ethos – then it is arguable there has never been a better time to be a writer.

The web is a democratic ecosystem of words, images and stories. This is a threat to the traditional silos of the publishing world precisely because it is a huge opportunity for anyone to publish, and be published.

And that is why there has never been a better time to be a writer – as long as you are willing to learn your craft, understand digital – and take some flak.

As well as being the Senior Content Specialist at Fresh Egg, Matt's other career highlights include being a sub editor for the Daily Mirror, Night Editor of the The Argus, editor of Woodworking Plans & Projects magazine and Content and Social Media Manager for UKTV. He’s also the proud dad of toddler Max, a longboarder – and a not-very-good student of yoga.

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