Creating online content has become a valuable skill over the last decade or so. If you are a skilled writer, the good news is that you should have it made – because the demand for good quality articles is not going to let up anytime soon.
Notice I said “skilled” writer and “good” content? This means that it’s not required that you be born with an extraordinary skill to write. It means that writing is like any other skill; you can improve it with practice and experience.
Regardless of your background, if you are determined enough, you can become a good writer – certainly good enough to create great articles that people want to read and publishers want to pay you for.
The real key to writing well is to write often. Personally, I write every single day – and I have been for many years.
My daily goal is to write at least 2500 words, and I typically break that into 3-4 articles. I have several blogs for which I write these articles. I also hire other writers periodically when I need more content, but my main focus is consistency.
I could write more content, but I’ve discovered that my quality suffers.
To crank out articles every day, a robust method is needed. I start from my daily goal and work down from that.
Let’s give an example:
Suppose today I want to write three (3) articles of around 900 words each. This will meet my daily objective of at least 2500 words.
Every article needs to have these blocks of content:
- The main message of the article paragraph
- 3-5 points supporting the main message
Now let’s assign word counts to each of these blocks to reach 900 words:
- Introduction = 150 words
- Main message = 150 words
- Point 1 = 150 words
- Point 2 = 150 words
- Point 3 = 150 words
- Conclusion = 150 words
If you’ve done any writing at all, then you know already that 150 words aren’t very much at all. And this is the word count we have assigned to every block of content.
Now in the real world, we know that some of these paragraphs will have more than 150 words, and some will have less, but this gives you a blueprint to work from. And it gives you a way to track and reach your word count goal.
Handling the content blocks
Up to now, we have established a workable blueprint for our article of 900 words. We assigned 150 words to six different content blocks. Now let’s examine the purpose of each content block.
Introductory paragraph. This block of content is the second most crucial element in your entire article. (We’ll discuss the most critical element shortly). The words in this opening paragraph have only one goal – to keep the reader reading.
While all the words in your article are important, your very best effort should be placed on your opening paragraph. This is where you entertain the reader and use the most compelling aspects of your personality. To become proficient at writing introductory paragraphs, you must know your strengths because that’s what will work best here.
Main message. This block of content is where you tell the reader what your main message is about. They’ve already gotten a taste of this from your headline, so here you will elaborate more about your main message and why it is important.
For the most part, articles typically have one of three purposes: they entertain, inform, or persuade. Whenever we begin preparing an article, we need to understand which of these three categories best apply. For example, this article informs.
Main points. I’ve always looked at an article’s main points as having two purposes. The first is that they represent the meat of the entire article. It’s what the reader learns from reading the article.
Secondly, it’s what determines the girth – or the length of the article. I mentioned the article having 3-5 points, but that was somewhat arbitrary. Articles should have at least three points, but they can have as many as you desire. If my goal is to write a 2000 word article, I’ll probably use five or more main points.
Conclusion. This is where you sum the entire article. Public speakers like to organize their speeches by 1) tell them what you are going to them, 2) tell them, and 3) tell them what you told them. Your article’s conclusion is basically where you ‘tell them what you told them.’
I’ve handled conclusions in a variety of ways. Sometimes I’ll provide a detailed summary and even include the main points as bullets, and then there are times when I won’t even have a conclusion. If the word count is sufficient, then I sometimes leave it out altogether.
Most important element in your article
I promised you earlier that I’d discussed the vital part of your article, and here it is: it’s the headline!
I’m sorry if that was anti-climactic. The headline is hands-down the most important things about your writing.
Let me ask you this, how do you decide what to read when you are surfing online or scanning over a newspaper or magazine? I’m guessing it’s the headline because that’s what everyone else does.
The thing is that if your headline sucks, then it doesn’t matter how well your article has been written. No one is going to see it.
Your article’s headline is what will suck those readers into reading your piece. And after that, your introductory paragraph has to hold their attention. And then the rest of your article must fulfill the promise made by the headline. Otherwise, the reader will not have a good experience.
Writing a good headline
The fact is that most writers spend very little time on headlines; it’s often just an afterthought to them. Marketers and copywriters will tell you that they spend more time crafting a headline than writing the promotional piece behind it. This is because they understand the importance of them.
I recommend using a headline tool to help you craft better headlines. The one that I have been using can be found at https://coschedule.com/headline-analyzer.
When you go there, they’ll want you to create an account and try to upsell you. But the free service is all you’ll need. You simply type in a headline, and it gives you a score of its appeal.
I try to write one that scores in the 70s or more. Sometimes, I’ll go with one that scores in the mid-60s – depending on how many I’ve written.
Topics to write about
Many people worry about running out of things to write about. This shouldn’t be an issue if you manage it properly.
To begin with, you should have a place to collect writing ideas. For me, I use a spreadsheet. Any idea that pops into my head spontaneously gets entered into the spreadsheet. If I find a web page supporting the idea, I put the URL there beside the idea.
Next, I start looking for stories in my niche that have proven crowd appeal. This means they have lots of comments or lots of social media shares and likes.
I examine those articles and see if I can put some unique spin on the story. If the article is more than 3-4 years old, it can be essentially rewritten, but if you do this, it must be unique and not get flagged by a plagiarism filter.
Never forget that plagiarism will ruin your writing career, so don’t even think about copying someone else’s material. I use Grammarly for this purpose, many writers use Copyscape to check for plagiarism.
Another place to look for topics with buzz is in forums that are devoted to your niche. When you visit them, start looking for common questions and problems expressed by its members. You’ll especially want to check out the topics that are getting the most replies and activity.
Finally, most blogs today have a “most popular” link so that you can see which of their blog posts is attracting the most interest. I’ve used this feature with some success.
After you have been doing this for a few weeks, you’ll be amazed at how many ideas have been collected on your spreadsheet. Whenever I look back at my old ideas, I usually get even more new ideas – so I enter them into my spreadsheet.
Final tips for writing articles
In closing, I wanted to leave you with some helpful tips.
When you organize your article, be sure to use headings as appropriate to identify what a section is about.
There are two reasons for doing this. The first is that it makes the article easier to read. Secondly, today’s information age has created millions of “skimmers” who glance over content first and then decide what to read within them – I know because I am one of them.
Your headers should tell the story of your article in a few sentences. Whenever I see a piece with no headings, I move on to the next article – even if the headline was great.
Never have more than two or three sentences in any of your paragraphs. And never have more than 25 words or so in any sentence.
If you look back across this article, you’ll see that I’ve done this for the most part.
The reason is that breaking down the content makes it much easier to read. Just imagine if this article was one big clump of words – would you read it? I wouldn’t!!
Always use a good image that fits the story.
When posting articles online, images are a must. There’s just too much data out there that proves content with images gets far more engagement than those without images.
However, whenever you use an image, be sure that you have permission. The last thing you want is for one of your articles to get tied up in a legal problem. Make it easy on yourself and use photos that you can legally use.
Check out sites like Pixabay and Pexels. There have thousands of images that you are free to use. Go to their site, enter a keyword for your niche, and select an image that catches your eye. Most likely, if it caught your eye, it will appeal to others as well.
Don’t overdo it with images – only use one or two of them. And whenever you download images, change their filename to a keyword from your niche. After they’ve been renamed, then upload them to your article.
Start with a reasonable writing goal that you can reach.
My daily goal is to write at least 2500 words every day. If you’re starting out, this might not be plausible for you. I’ve been writing for almost 30 years, so my metrics are different. Or you might be able to write 4000 words daily.
The point is that we are all different. If you genuinely want to write, then you must start. The objective needs to be attainable in your mind – that’s very important. As your skills improve, you can modify your goal accordingly.
Also, remember that this is not an exact science either. Sometimes I write only 2340 words in a day, but I’m okay with that – especially if I got three articles from that effort.
I promise you that if you keep pushing and keep writing, you’ll become a writer of great content. A writer that publishers would love to have on their staff!