7 top tips for article writing
Engaging articles delight customers, prospects and internet search engines alike. Based on many years of article writing, here are 7 pro-tips to help you when you decide to have a go at article writing yourself. It really isn't as hard to create valuable content and engage with your audience as you might imagine.
- Remember the inverted pyramid. Load your contact so the Who, What, Why, Where, Which, When and How of the piece are included in the first paragraphs. Journalists call it the 'inverted pyramid' because it puts the substance of the story at the top. Online, it is important because 'front loading' catches your reader's attention quickly and appears 'above the fold' on the first screen of an online page. In print it is equally important.
- Scatter quotes through the article, not just at the end of the piece. If possible, work testimonials and commentary into the body of the piece to add extra credibility.
- Use a powerful headline to catch readers' attention and tickle their interest. Break your article up with subheadings and judiciously inserted bulleted lists (between two and seven items). As well as helping skim readers (in print as well as online), subheads (more correctly called cross heads), telegraph what's coming in the next paragraph(s) and help draw the reader through your article.
- Improve the coherence of your article by using proven linking techniques (we're not talking hyperlinking here). For example, pronouns, demonstratives, definite articles and comparative words are important. Use words that are lexically related too – in Writing Feature Articles, author Brendan Hennessy uses the word group 'scandal', 'discredit', ridicule', 'mockery', 'greed' and other related words to show how word choice can give a piece coherence. And then there are miscellaneous connectives, words such as 'contrast', 'but' and 'for example'. Used appropriately, they all work together to give that reassuring coherence for your reader. One last point: make sure your links are unobtrusive and not too predictable.
- Avoid article killers such as irrelevance to your reader, corporate puffery, being too short (or too long and waffle packed), and poor grammar, spelling and writing style.
- Check it, check it again in hard copy, then get someone else to check your article. Nothing spoils an article like elementary mistakes. Read a printout of the article from back to front, do it first thing in the morning when you are fresh. And don't rely on MS Word's spell checker to get everything perfect.
- Above all, make sure you have something worthwhile to tell your audience. Whether you are writing for print or the internet, readers will overlook the occasional flaw elsewhere if a piece engages them and draws them in from the start. Which brings us back to Point 1 above...
Give article writing a whirl and see how you get on. With current and prospective customers, and search engines such as Google, crying out for relevant, interesting, useful information, there's never been a better time to write engaging articles print or internet articles.
And if you struggle (article writing isn't everyone's thing) or find you don't have the time, please remember that a skilled article writer can help you. I write five, six or seven days a week and have lost count of how many pieces I've written for trade magazines, the internet and newsletters. I specialise in getting articles off to-do lists for people like you and organisations like yours.
For more information, please call 01242 520 573 or email me
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