Today, as a digital content creator, I'm surprised at how little adjustment I've had to make in writing/creating digital content for clients. Good writing today isn’t so radically different from good writing in 1994 when I began. The big differences? The way good writing is distributed through countless digital platforms and consumed over a breathtaking array of devices. I've remained a writer for over two decades because the work always rewards curiosity and hard work, values that remain ever-relevant.
No matter the technological advances or the times, readers want good writing that engages. Whether writing for a company website/blog or a print magazine in 1994, writing is about doing the research and assembling the details in order to understand what you're writing about, and doing that against deadline. I love to learn new things and explain what I've learned through writing. As both a print journalist in bygone days and a digital content provider now, my work has explored the intersection of business and psychology, a space that endlessly fascinates me. My clients let me write about employee motivation, management styles, communication within the organization, hiring and developing talent, leadership, and much more.
In addition, I’ve learned to develop a social media strategy for everything I write, and I do it from the moment I get the assignment. Social media isn't an add-on or an afterthought today -- it needs to be integrated in all that writers do, and from the inception of the content to its distribution and everywhere in between.
I've changed as a writer in this last regard. Like so many print journalists, I began by bemoaning social media as eroding the quality of journalism. Print meant quality; digital was the wild west. Like so many veteran print journalists, I once chose to keep my head buried in the sand, to ignore the massive media shifts. But three years ago, feeling less relevant each day, I decided to start using social media as part of my work, and it has changed everything for me. I no longer feel like a slow-moving dinosaur roaming lost in the media landscape, but I’m learning new things every day.
Overall, the adjustments between traditional journalism and writing digital content have been few. I use my journalism skills to research, interview people, dig deep into stories, and organize all the material I've collected. Good writing takes a lot of things -- curiosity first, but also commitment to finding answers, sharing what you’ve learned with readers, and doing it professionally and with clarity. Good writers need to be collaborative too, both in listening to editorial feedback and facilitating sharing via social media.
I've been lucky to have come out of the "old world" of traditional print journalism. I'd already developed reporting skills and collaborative skills, which I use all the time now for my clients too. Also, I approach the work with a process that I've already established and a professional attitude of wanting to deliver quality consistently to my readers. Those motivations should go into everything a writer does, and for every single client. That was true in 1994 and it remains equally true in today’s digital-savvy world. Sometimes, although the music might have changed, even dinosaurs can learn to dance.