As a journalist and copywriter, I have been writing articles for decades.
The process of writing an article is something I take for granted. My husband, who is my proof-reader, often says ‘I don’t know how you do this so easily?’
With this in mind I thought jotting down a few points about article writing would be beneficial. If you are a business owner who wants to try your hand (or typing fingers) to writing articles, this one is for you.
Where to start when writing an article
NOTE: articles can be for print or publishing online as an article or blog.
Be clear about what you want to say
Start by having your idea and audience clear in your mind. Make sure you think about this carefully. Prepare an outline detailing what you plan to include, exclude and even write about another time.
Then identify the ‘hook’ or the information readers will want to know. This is what will grab their attention i.e. a new angle, perspective, breakthrough, new statistics etc.
Let your personality show
Write with a style that is unique to you. This may develop over time so play with it. Include your personality, humour and quirks. People will either respond or not and then you can take it from there.
When I write I focus on capturing and portray the personality of the person/business I’m writing about. I do this in quotes or how I describe the individual or group. If you find this difficult, start with simple words and use a thesaurus to expand your options and find something that fits.
Research your topic
The content of your article may be;
- your area of expertise
- based on a current trend
- an interview with an expert
- an event or
- your opinion
Make sure you research your topic, speak to and quote experts (with permission of course) and acknowledge where you obtained your information.
A rule when writing
A general rule worth remembering for content is the 5 W’s and H – who, what, when, where, why and how? Pretty simple really. Including this information means the important data is covered.
There is nothing worse than having an article published about a coming event and not including the date, time, address etc.
Proof read your copy
Make sure you read, edit and re-read your work to check for spelling, punctuation and grammar.
If you have been looking at it for too long ask someone else to have a look at it for you. A new set of eyes can make all the difference to ensure your article flows, makes sense and doesn’t have any errors.
Include photos or images
Depending on where you plan to submit or publish your article it may be appropriate to include some original images.
Photographs or images are great for highlighting your point and attracting reader’s attention.
Snap some with your phone or camera. Edit them if you have the time, patience and appropriate program.
Pitfalls to avoid when writing
- Rehashing something someone else has written. I’m sure you get as frustrated as I by the number of repetitive articles that appear in print, online, or via social media sites. Especially if there is nothing new or interesting added to the story.
- Too much info can become waffle and lose your readers, so keep it succinct.
- It’s important the article flows easily and logically. This highlights the need to have someone else proof read your work.
- A balanced article needs both sides of the story, argument or perspective. This creates credibility, interest and often feedback.
How to finish your article
Finish your article with a completion paragraph.
Here is where you summarise, pose questions and provide closure to your article.
NOTE: This is valid in a magazine article, blog post or online publication however when it comes to newspaper Editors remember they cut from the bottom!
What helps you when writing an article? What do you struggle with?
Any questions? Please contact me.