Whether you’re a content editor or a full-time copywriter or if your work involves only occasionally writing online articles, you had to have asked yourself, at least once, what makes us read a text and ignore another on blogs, niche websites, Facebook pages or online publications.
In a previous piece, I shared some basic principles for article writing. This time, however, I thought we could get more in-depth on the topic and discover exactly what makes an article convincing and what are some tips&tricks to use to attract readers.
Have you ever wondered what were some behind-the-scenes secrets, what editors or content creators know and ordinary people don’t about drawing and maintaining reader attention? Do you want some insider insight (see what I did there?) without paying a single dime? Well, you’ve come to the right place, because I’m about to answer all of your questions without trying to sell you any expensive guide/course or force you to download other external resources (pdf-s, presentations) that will only give you unnecessary headaches.
I created this blog specifically to offer more or less valuable information (it’s up to you to decide) for free. I only accept coffees as payment if you see me walking down the street.
Here are some of the secrets people with online jobs involving writing in some way, shape of form have and here are some of mine. More accurately, here are the steps you can follow to write better and convince people through words, without bullshit or aggressive advertising starting today. Without further ado, let’s begin...
How to write impactful online articles
#1 The Introduction
It is, without a doubt, the most important part of an article. The introduction is not only the reader’s first contact with the topic but also with you, as an author. It can make you or break you, as the English would say. Think of the introduction as the opening act of a concert – if the opening band sucks, would you stick around to listen to the rest of the performers?
What makes an introduction persuasive? Some of my favorite tricks are:
- Creating a connection with the reader from the first words – when you write an article, you’re not writing in the void, remember that. Avoid a pretentious and detached tone, same for excessive neologisms and specialist jargon. It doesn’t impress anyone that you can use big and fancy words, so rather keep that arrogance for your English class or impressing your boss. Instead, when writing, try to be as open and as „approachable” as possible, to build a connection to your reader using language he can resonate with.
How do you do that? By including one or more target audiences within the same form of address and using phrases such as: “whether you’re a marketer or an advertiser”, or “if you’re feeling even more burned-out than a corporate worker.” Always address the reader directly – that applies to both non-formal and formal texts.
- Problem – solution – it is a trick most commonly used by copywriters everywhere, which is why we can find the problem-solution pattern widely spread in marketing and advertising. What does that mean, exactly? Basically the reader who finds your website does so because they have a problem or a dilemma – you article should promise, from the introduction, that it will provide the answers the reader’s looking for.
A practical example would be: „We all deal with prolonged fatigue, especially if our job involves a lot of stress and overtime.” (the problem) followed by „We can’t always ditch responsibilities, but there are steps we can take to counteract the negative effects of stress.” (the solution or, in this case, the promise of receiving the solution by the end of the article).
- Call-to-action – it is, to my mind, the most important element of an article introduction that truly catches the eye of the reader. A call-to-action is a sentence, usually an imperative one that urges the reader to do something (to keep on reading, to subscribe to a newsletter etc.).
A call-to-action can be included in the introduction and the conclusion as well. Here’s an example: „I invite you to join me as we discover how to get over stressful times more easily.”
- Language tips&tricks – rhetorical questions, jokes, analogies, comparing and contrasting, symbolism, creating mental images for the reader etc. All of the above give life to an otherwise dull piece of writing because they create a connection to the reader whilst simplifying a complex topic.
An example here would be – „You know you’re a content writer when there’s more month at the end of your money than money at the end of your month and too many words yet to be written as the deadline approaches.”
#2 The middle section
What’s important to remember here is that, you could start off strong with a kickass introduction and lose your initial momentum. To avoid that and maintain your reader’s interest consistently, the middle section of your article should have at least one of the following elements (non-negociable):
- Valuable information – don’t you just hate it when you click on a new article and it turns out to be either boring or just plain ol’ copy paste from other sources you’ve already read? Well, your readers hate that, too. Which is why you should always present new information, valuable one, offer a tangible benefit to your readers, a new perspective, an unexpected, even controversial opinion
- Fixed data (statistics, research, studies) – such information increases the credibility of an article, it shows that you’re a serious writer who researched the topic or, in other words, that you’ve done your homework. A well-documented article has higher value, it shows that you’re not only passing around your opinion as fact, which pretty much anyone can do. Research is what makes the difference between an amateur writer and a professional, regardless of the field
- Testimonials – if you write a product review, for example, client testimonials from those who already tried them are very important. Of course, if you want to be taken seriously, by all means, don’t make them up, please just ask people what they really think about product X. Don’t forget that testimonials aren’t important just for reviews, but also for your website in general – client testimonials can increase the trust vote people give to your brand and they can positively impact your reputation on the market, too.
#3 The closing remarks
The introduction and the conclusion in a convincing article should always be symmetrical and strengthen each other. If you’ve started by pointing out a problem, by the end you should rehash the solution. If you’ve written an informative piece, by the end you should rehash the most important points in your analysis.
Here are some elements that increase the degree of persuasion of your closing remarks:
- Addressing the reader directly (again) – by doing this, you show that you haven’t forgotten who you’re speaking to, that same person who just took 5-10 minutes out of their precious time to read what you have to say...validate that person!
- Going over the most valuable information/novelties again in a shorter, more concise manner – it’s important especially for those who don’t read an article word by word but who skim the information (there’s many such readers online)
- Thank the reader for the attention, for following your train of thought
- Call-to-action – it can be an invitation to interact with your text via sharing or commenting, an invitation to read a follow-up on a past article, maybe even a closing joke, followed by a rhetorical question. For example: „I don’t know about you guys, but so much writing about smoothie recipes made me so thirsty and now I’m craving one. What can I get you?”
What else should anyone who writes online articles pay attention to?
Readability. If you like to write, it’s paramount that you don’t neglect it – readability makes the difference between an article that gets read all the way through and one that gets abandoned halfway, regardless of the intrinsic value of the content itself. Whatever article you write, don’t forget about:
- Ellipsis when necessary
- Bullet or numbered lists
- Adequate paragraph separation
I hope my advice and practical examples have helped you, whether you’re one of the privileged ones (or unlucky, depending your perspective) whose talent won’t let them breathe and who decided to write online articles for fame and fortune, or if you’re in charge of the many online jobs that also involve a little bit of writing (marketer, social media manager etc.)
Good luck and may your texts always be inspired! For any further questions, as always, I invite you to leave a comment down below or contact me directly anytime!
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