With one of our recent blog postings, about the benefits of having a blog, we got to thinking - how DO you go about writing an article that your readers will love, and want to share with others?
Having a website is one thing, but generating content that will entice your readers to want more, and willing to share with others is a whole other ball game. In order to have a site be effective and serve its overarching purpose, having regular, up to date content is key. So this brings us back to our question - how do you go about creating articles people will find useful, interesting, and get visitors engaged?
Without getting everyone’s feather’s ruffled, we decided at the nest, we would let you in on a few key secrets to creating and writing article postings that everyone will enjoy, find useful, and will add value to your site.
Step 1: Formulate an Idea & Research
First things first, in order to get your audience engaged in what you’re saying, you’re going to have to have something to say! It’s as simple as that. Ideas help to formulate what it is you are trying to say, and give your article a clear foundation. To better generate ideas for your article try to determine what it is your audience would even like to read, or would connect to. For instance, if you are a computer engineering company, you probably don’t want to blog about the latest episode of Ghost Hunters. However, maybe you created some new software that their team used for one of their investigations - that would be something interesting, or unique to your company that your target audience would be interested in.
To better generate ideas, come up with a list of ideas (whether written out somewhere, or in your noggin). These ideas could be new products coming out, services, or current projects, etc. Something relevant to your company, or your industry. Visit forums, use the all-powerful google, go to related websites, and read other articles. You never know what is going to pop out at you! Inspiration for a blog posting can be found all over the place. There’s a good chance that once your find a couple related sites in your industry, you’ll be able to generate plenty of ideas to draw from. We suggest you create a list somewhere of ideas, so you have some to fall back on for upcoming posts.
Step 2: Brainstorm Away!
Got your idea? Good, now here comes the fun. Take some time to further stew on your idea(s), and come up with a way to gather your thoughts. I’m sure you remember from good ol’ high school, brainstorming is a way to get those creative juices flowing. Start listing every thought regarding your idea that pops into your head. Don’t throw any of those ideas away either! You never know if they could have some value later on. Allow yourself about five to ten minutes to just write, and let your thoughts flow freely, even if some of them don’t make sense. The point of brainstorming isn’t perfection, it’s to get your thoughts down in one place.
Step 3: Create an Outline
Once you have your brainstorming done, and a clear idea of what you want your article to be about, it’s time to create an outline. Sure, your article is slowly starting to take form, but for the most part, it’s mumbo-jumbo. An outline is a detailed overview on what you want to say, and the information you want to present to your audience. This structure will help you to formulate the rest of your writing. Think of it as a map, giving you clear and concise directions on what you should write.
A good outline for an article should start with a title, an introduction, subheadings with supporting ideas, and of course, a conclusion. Writing an outline is possibly one of the most valuable steps throughout the whole article writing process. It helps to further focus your thoughts, in a structured way, and will take the guesswork out when you start writing.
Step 4: Research (Again)
Yup, you read that right. Research again! Once you have an outline in place, you should take the time better research every topic (and subtopic) you have laid out. It’s good to have at least two - four reliable sources for each main point. This will help you have more information to fall back on when you start writing. It will also give you credibility to back up everything you are saying.
Step 5: Write Your Heart Out
If you followed steps one through four (or at least followed for the most part), then you should have a solid foundation to start writing. So go ahead! Pour it all out onto paper (err.. most likely computer screen.. honestly, who uses paper anymore?). Tackle your writing by following your outline, and don’t give a second thought to your spelling and grammar mistakes. The jist is to get your ideas out there, writing as much as you can about your topics you listed out.
To keep people from falling asleep, we suggest writing as if you were talking to someone one on one. Avoid using technical gobbly-gook, and don’t try to impress your readers using excessive big words - you don’t want someone having to use a dictionary when trying to read your post. Using everyday language that everyone can understand is a sure way to keep readers interested and alert.
Step 6: Edit, Edit, Edit.
Let us say that again for emphasis: edit, edit, edit. There’s nothing worse than trying to read an article posting with blatant spelling and grammar errors. Not only does it make you look silly, but it could also make you lose credibility. This is an important step in the writing process that should not be skipped over. You want to make sure you review every single sentence to ensure your thoughts are cohesive, there aren’t any spelling errors, punctuation errors, or even repetitive words.
Re-reading your article a couple times, and having someone else look at it is sure way to make sure you catch any mistakes before hitting the publish button. You may even feel a bit ridiculous, but read it outloud. Sometimes hearing what your wrote will make you aware of errors, or spark an idea if you’re hung up on how to make something sound better.
Overall, if you follow the six steps listed above, you should be on the right track for having some helpful and quality written articles that everyone will love and want to share. Just remember, the more articles you write, the easier it gets to create them. Not to mention all of the great SEO benefits and user experience brownie points you get for having a blog on your site.
Having trouble starting a blog, or want to know more about what it takes to get a blog started on your site? Contact us to find out more!