I wonder if article writing is what Bill Gates was referring to 20 years ago when he said that “content is king”?
Webcopy as a whole – articles, blog posts, homepages, about pages, landing pages, FAQs – all of it is king and with Google constantly shifting the goal posts, it’s hard to keep track of the “rules” that need to be followed in order to achieve the pinnacle first page ranking. So, to be honest, I try to steer clear of all the confusion and just write. Well, just write meaningful content.
So here are some article writing pointers, tips, notes of interest for any newbies out there, wondering how to get started.
First things, first – figuring out what your article will be about
What to actually write about is obviously key to getting your content written and it’s always a stumbling block for me when I set about to write an article (particularly for my blog, not for my clients).
It’s not that I don’t have much to say, I do, I’m a bit of a chatterbox – it’s just that I want to make sure that what I’m going to say is relevant to my audience. And I want to make sure that I follow some basic SEO concepts as well, let’s be honest.
So the first thing I tend to do when researching a blog post is go to Google Webmaster Tools. I suss out the latest search queries, impressions, and click-throughs to try and determine what seems to be the most popular information on my website. I then have a look at the keywords I’ve used recently and go from there.
At the end of the day, I really want to make sure that the article or post is interesting, relevant and Google-friendly.
For me, headlines are the hardest part of article writing
Look, I’m not sure why, but I cannot start actually writing an article without knowing my headline. It must be the perfectionist in me, or my methodical nature, but I honestly cannot move onto the introductory paragraph without perfecting my headline first. Ironically, I’m quite happy to write headlines for other people and have a Gig on Fiverr doing just that. This makes me laugh!
But back to the serious article writing tips – getting your headline perfected may not be imperative for you. A basic beginning, middle and end mapping of your article really should be part of your planning phase though, so start there if you’d rather keep your headline for the end of your writing process.
Use an article writing template – it will help keep your thoughts in order
I use the same tried and tested template when I go about writing an article. It has the typical sections broken down for me (the beginning, middle and end that I spoke of earlier) and it has some SEO-related reminders. However, the thing I like the best about my template is that the formatting and layouts are saved, so I don’t have to faff about worrying about headline text versus copy text. I don’t have resize text, bold text, or change line or paragraph spacing. I can just write. Huzzah!
I also like my template because it has comments in the margin that I update to ensure that I remember to “use my keyword at least once at the start of this paragraph”, “bold key points in the copy”, “end the blog post with a question” and so on. These little pointers mean that I don’t have to remember this every time and I can focus on the topic at hand and this works really well for my writing style.
If you’re looking for a good template, I recommend starting with this blog post copywriting template from Copywriting School.
A review process, and sometimes a rewrite, is a must
When people ask me what I do, I don’t say I’m a writer, I say I’m an editor and proofreader. Ironic, given this post is on writing. Ironic, given the majority of my clients at the time of writing are engaging me for my writing services. It’s not that I don’t enjoy writing; it’s just that I prefer reviewing. I love working with pre-written text and trying to make it a bit better – even just a bit is fine by me.
So I cannot recommend a review process enough. You’re not going to outsource reviewing your article or blog post, but you really should work with someone when it comes to longer pieces, especially if you plan on publishing or printing your writing. If you’re not sure why, I’ve got lots of reasons for working with an editor here and lots of other reasons for working with a proofreader here.
Over to you
I had originally planned this article to be about copywriting for SEO purposes, but given that Google update their algorithms so frequently, I would have to do quite a bit of research to be able to produce accurate content. So instead I thought I’d share some of the ways I go about writing an article for the plain purpose of producing content that I think is relevant and meaningful.
How do other writers approach their article writing?