Writing for the web and social media: What have I learned in my year at Sookio?

Our fabulous editorial assistant Jake Lowery is moving away to discover the joys of Midlands living. We wish him our very best for the future and have told him he'd better stay in touch, or else! Before he went, we asked him to share what he'd learnt during his time with the company.

After a year as editorial assistant at Sookio I’ve learnt a lot about writing for the web and social media. Here's what I think were the five most important lessons.

In a world of throwaway content, quality matters

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt at Sookio it’s that quality really matters, especially in the competitive world of web writing.

Around 2 million blog posts are written every day, enough to fill Time magazine for 770 years. With so much choice readers are constantly looking for the best of the best and whatever is left over simply won’t get read.

Spelling mistakes, poor research and formatting mishaps are all signs that you’ve not taken the time to read over what you’ve written, so why should your audience?

A picture can say a thousand words

Images are like the icing to the web writing cake. If they look sloppy then your audience won’t be tempted by your articles and social media presence.

The eye is naturally drawn to pictures rather than words because a picture can tell us everything we want to know in a matter of seconds. Using relevant, high-quality images on your blog posts will give your readers an instant impression of what the post is about and how good it will be.

Branded images with a consistent style and colour palette can give your social media presence a connected, well-structured appearance too. Remember to carefully choose which images your links pull through as well as your profile pictures and cover photos.

So get to grips with Photoshop and know your image dimensions if you really want to impress people. Just make sure you’re not stealing images accidentally first.

Don’t just click send! Check, check and check again

Some of the biggest (and most hilarious) mistakes I’ve noticed people making on the web have been in email campaigns.

Newsletters are tricky things because, unlike articles and updates, there’s no edit or delete button to save you from humiliation if you’ve made a gaffe.

To be extra certain that I’m not talking about the ‘whores of Mamara Sea’ or addressing the ‘man of the house’ in my newsletters I send drafts at least twice – usually thrice – to myself, checking the message is right, the spellings are correct and the links go to the right places.

Read: Newsletter gaffes: What do you do if you make a mistake?

From tweets to posts: Punctuation matters

It’s not just about what you say, it’s also about how you say it.

Line breaks, colons, dashes and other punctuation marks can make all the difference to your blog posts and social media updates – especially in meta descriptions and tweets where the character limit is minimal.

Adding a few marks in just the right place can make your writing more eye-catching and digestible. And whoever said you have to stick to rules? Get creative!

Fact finding missions are essential

Fact finding and research can go a long way, especially if you’re no expert on the subject you’re writing about.

From insurance to eye disease, celebrity news to local tourism, my time at Sookio has seen me writing about a huge range of topics (many of which I’ve known little about beforehand).

Regardless of how much background knowledge you have, giving twenty minutes to research can give your article that something extra and can help set it apart from the millions available around similar subjects.

One real benefit of fact finding is compiling a list of statistics and figures. These are fantastic tools for using on social media sites because people love numbers and they’re usually short enough to pop into a 140 character tweet.

At the end of the day it doesn’t hurt to learn something new – I can now effortlessly list animal eye facts, and isn’t that what it’s all about?