There are many styles of writing which can be found on the internet. An article on CNN about a conflict in Libya will have a different style than a blog of a new mom talking about her infant's drool. The style a pastor uses to update his parishioners on a church fund will be different than the style a rock band manager uses to update his fans about an upcoming concert date. It is quite normal and fine that different sites use different styles.
Here at BellaOnline we have a specific style of writing which we are teaching our community of writers. Here are some of the characteristics of our style!
One of our most critical traits here at BellaOnline is our honesty and credibility. We do not alter or change content because an outside person asks us to. We do not post press releases for products. We do not give a favorable review to a product because the product's manager hounded us to. We give fully authentic, accurate informaton on locations and items. We always include the bad and the good. There are enough press release sites and promotional sites out there already. If someone wants to know how beautiful the beaches at Bermuda are, they can find 100 sites to tell them that. The readers come to us to find out what to avoid and what to be aware of. We are their trusted friend.
A critical skill we are teaching at BellaOnline is how to write timeless content. We want to make sure the efforts you put into writing your content are rewarding both this week and ten years from now. Content needs to be written in a way that's eternally useful. Rather than talking about "this week ..." the article should talk about "On January 12, 2010, a massive earthquake struck Haiti." That information is useful the week it's posted, and it's also useful ten years from when it's posted.
BellaOnline has millions of readers from all corners of the globe. These readers all use and enjoy our site. Measurements should be given in miles and km, in inches and centimeters. References to the United States government should be explicit about "The US Government" rather than vague as in "our government."
Many of our readers are on computers that have filters installed. Certain topics would cause the site to be banned so they could not read our content any more. Also many of our readers are in countries where it is taboo to discuss certain topics, such as adult intimacy. We need to be sensitive of these issues. Phrase discussions in a way that can be understood but does not prevent readers from being able to read our content.
We have many sites which come at topics from different points of view. We have a Moms site all about the joys of being a mother. Then we have a Married-No-Kids site about the struggles a person faces when they have chosen (or had chosen for them by biology) not to have children. We have a Christianity site and a Pagan site. We have a Democrat site and a Republican site. Each of these sites needs to be able to support their own readers without denigrating or bashing the people who feel a different way. Yes, there are sites out there who take great pleasure in the bashing types of behavior, but at BellaOnline our aim is to help all readers appreciate all points of view and at the same time learn how to thrive within their own chosen path.
Many blogs and websites are all about the author. The author goes on for pages about their own relationship problems. They ponder at length about their issues. BellaOnline is not a diary site. We are not a blog that focuses on the author. Rather, we are a how-to site that focuses on how the reader can improve her life. The main focus of the article needs to be about the reader, a problem she faces, and how she can surmount it.
This is the hard balance to maintain, and we realize it! That balance is part of what we help editors learn over time. Studies show that articles and content are considered more credible if they have a personal touch to them, compared with an article that is raw numbers. On the other hand, readers want the articles to help THEM, rather than reading someone's diary entry. So it is an important balance to achieve. The article needs a small amount of personal information in it to demonstrate that the author knows what she's talking about. An article on Alzheimer's that mentions that the author's mother suffered from Alzheimers helps the readers think, "OK I can trust this person, she's gone through what I'm going through." However if the entire article is solely about the author and her woes, the reader hasn't gained much. They want to learn how THEY can deal with their specific issue. A good balance provides enough personal touch to prove to the reader that the author is authentic, and then the balance of the article should be practical how-to advice so that the reader can improve their lot in life.
Here is a powerful example from Christine Phillips, our Child Loss editor, which demonstrates a perfect balance of personal detail and practical how-to advice.
Loss Of A Child - The First Week