I asked six leading bloggers what the most important things to consider are, when writing an article. These are the top ten points they came up with . . . plus four more of my own:
1. Know your audience
If you don’t know your audience, you will never be able to engage with them in a meaningful way.
2. Follow the 80:20 rule; 80% Preparation: 20% Writing
You should set how much time you are going to spend on each of your articles. 80% of the allocated time should be spent on planning, research and structure. The remaining 20% should be spent writing. Inexperienced writers do it the other way round.
3. Remember the 4 W’s and an H
When planning the content of an article you should always ask yourself:
And I usually add:
4. Great start, great finish . . . close together
A really good article will tell people what they are about to find out and finish with telling them what they have learned. The middle bit should explain the facts. The start and finish should be as close together as possible.
5. Be ruthless with your editing
Finishing the first version of an article is just the end of the beginning. Then the work starts to make it a really good article. Be ruthless with your editing. Cut any words that are not essential. You must give as much useful information with as few words as possible.
6. Create gripping headings
The heading is the most important five to ten words you will write for each article. If the headline doesn’t grab the reader’s attention, they will never get as far as the first line.
7. Use sub-headings, short sentences, short paragraphs
People scan read articles when they are using a monitor. Sub-headings, short sentences and short paragraphs will get more of your article read.
8. Use bullet points
People tend to read bullet points because they can be scanned, they stand out within an article and usually convey a lot of information in a precise way.
9. Inject opinion and personality
Develop a writing style and voice, which makes your articles stand out from the crowd. Use humor, personal experiences and quotes to engage with your audience. Express your opinion, even if you know some of your readers will disagree with you.
10. Quality is critical
Above all else you must write articles that follow the HEART rule if you want to build a following:
And four final points to bear in mind . . .
11. Keywords are important
Always write articles for your readers and not for the search engines.
BUT as you are planning an article always think about the most important keywords. These are the words that your target audience will type into Google to find an article like the one you are writing. Make sure you include these keywords.
12. Link, Link, Link
An article increases in value if it links to supporting articles, websites and information. The same applies if other websites link back to your article (which they will if it’s valuable). Think links.
13. Point to related articles
Once you get someone onto your website, you want them to stay and look around. Engagement, leads to a relationship, and a relationship leads to loyalty. At the end of every article link to related content on your site.