First, before you even start to type, you must envision your target audience. Think where the article is going to be published and what kind of readers will come across it. Articles are like a conversation with readers, so make sure to keep them interested from the very first sentence.
Next, think about the purpose of this specific article. Will it be describing something? Are you going to compare two different points of view? Maybe it will be a piece of advice? These are the simple things that a writer should know before starting.
Once you know who you will be writing for, where it will be published and why you are writing it, you can decide on the best way to do that, such as the style, tone, and language. Whether it’s formal, semi-formal, or informal is something that can only be determined after you work out who you’re writing for.
It’s okay – preferable even – to inject your own personality into your writing, but that doesn’t mean you should focus it all on yourself. Opinions matter but it’s important when writing that they can be justified.
What can you write about?
When it comes to choosing a topic for your article, go for something you care about, know about, and can provide a fresh take on. Take a look at things being published in your niche. Are there knowledge gaps that can be filled? Do you have a different take on the conventional wisdom? Is a particular topic being overlooked?
If you are still unsure where to start, conducting keyword research may help you with generating ideas. You can see what is popular in your market but also what may be easier to rank for on search engines. While doing this research you may get a spark of an idea.
One thing to try to avoid are topics that you get too emotional about. If you are too close to the subject it can have a negative impact on your piece. You may overlook some important information or end up ranting or, worse, rambling. Keeping an objective view when writing factual articles is important for your credibility.
The length of the article itself doesn’t really matter. You want to make sure you cover the topic appropriately. What’s the point of writing five pages when the same thing could be said in two? Keeping it short will not only save you some work, but it’ll also save readers’ time and make it more likely they will read the article to the end.
Do you know what does matter? Consistency! When writing, keep your language descriptive and to the point. Make sure to use vocabulary that suits the topic and is appropriate for the style you chose. Be sure to stay committed to it, as mixing styles is a common mistake among rookie writers. It lowers both the quality and readability of the text.
Also, remember to not get too personal. There is a line between giving your article a personal touch and taking pages directly out of your diary. Letting readers know that there is a living, breathing human being doing the writing is great – entering TMI territory is not. Let your experiences add color to the writing but not overwhelm it.
Now let’s take a look at structuring an article. Some people like to start off by creating the title to help them focus. Others like to save it for the end to make sure that it clearly reflects what the piece ended up being. The choice is up to you, but either way, your title needs to be eye-catching. This what will attract readers and will influence their decision to read.
Next, write an introduction. A good intro should do two things: pique your audience’s interest and preview what the piece is about. Creating a great hook to grab the reader’s attention can be tricky but rewarding when done well. And previewing your content has the added advantage of helping you organize your thoughts before getting into heavy lifting.
When laying out your ideas, always lead with the most important information. This makes it easier to get the gist of your article for people who quickly scan articles instead of reading every word (let’s face it – that’s most of us).
Remember to include linking words in your paragraphs and refer to things you described earlier in the text. Not only will this make your article more cohesive, but it will also encourage readers to devote a little more of their time and attention to reading it.
Moving on to the main body, make sure to follow the outline you provided in the introduction. It looks sloppy to have your points in a different order and you don’t want to come across as unorganized. Using subheadings and numbered lists (where appropriate) also keeps things looking good and clear for the reader.
Remember that paragraphs are a unit of thought. If you are talking about a different aspect of the topic, start a new paragraph.
When writing for the web, it’s a good idea to keep your paragraphs punchy. A wall of text has a way of deterring readers. Strong sentences, short paragraphs should be your mantra.
Finally, you want to sum up all the thoughts included in the piece. This is where you can make some personal comments and recommendations. Reach a conclusion, or make a call for action. Give the reader some closure!
So, that’s the secret sauce. Writing is not as easy as it may seem at first but it’s definitely something everyone can do with some effort. By following the suggestions in this article you can see the best way to get started and how to improve.
Be careful, it’s easy to get trapped by ambitions. Keep in mind that an article could be worked on endlessly – there will always be something you could rewrite or do differently. Learn when enough is enough and to let it out of the nest.
The final tip is to let someone you trust read your work before publishing it.
Don’t get offended if they recommend making changes or even rewriting the whole thing. They want to help you avoid posting a bad publication, under your name, for everyone to see.
Are you ready to take your writing to a new level? Good luck!