How to write an article - the no bullshit recipe

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At a quick Google search, you’ll find a ton of sources that promise the perfect recipe for article writing for any niche. If you’re here, however, I’m actually going to tell you the truth, my truth, after nearly 3 years of freelance writing and reading all niche blogs and literature that I could get my hands on – that recipe does not exist.

I repeat, it does not exist, and whoever tells you that it does wants to take your money or take you for a fool...or both. There are mere steps you can take in certain cases to reach specific marketing goals – boosting the number of readers or subscribers, improving click-rates or achieving a better position in search engine results (here we’re thinking classic SEO articles), building a community around a specific topic etc.

Every piece of writing is different. Therefore, logic dictates that the steps you need to follow when writing an article, a review or a convincing product description are different also. Which is why, I won’t promise you that my advice will work 100% of the time, but I will provide some basic principles for article writing so that you’ll write texts more easily and not lose the reader’s interest after the first 10 lines.

My advice is based on personal experience, but also some of the literature I’ve read throughout my career – on that note, I highly recommend „Principles of Persuasion” by Cialdini and everything you can find by Ogilvy if you’re passionate about copywriting/content writing. Without further ado, let's get started....

Basic principles for article writing

#1 Start with the main ideas

A big mistake that I see many content writers make or writing enthusiasts in general is focusing too much on their idea of the perfect article, therefore getting lost in unnecessary details or failing to write altogether because of the pressure to succeed. Instead, I recommend that you start by writing down the main ideas on a sheet of paper or in a Word document– what you want the reader to gather from your article, what is the added value that you seek to bring to the table, what is the unique perspective that you’re offering etc.

An article is a lot more valuable if it’s original, not if you rehash and recycle everything that everyone else has already said about a topic. Don’t be afraid to come up with a new viewpoint. The introduction and the conclusion in an article should always be symmetrical and strengthen each other, you want the reader to pose a question alongside you and, by the time you both reach the conclusion, you discover the answer together. A good article should also contain lists and subheadings – readability is paramount, so don’t neglect this aspect, either.

#2 Research

When we talk about basic principles for article writing, it is necessary to also discuss the research phase. I know, we hate it, we’re lazy, we’re not in school anymore but hear me out – any person who writes about something, whatever that is, should use more than what they already know or heard in passing.

No one says you can’t come up with your own opinions, too, but quality content should be backed by a few minutes’ worth (in the best case scenario) up to a few hours of research, if you want to be taken seriously. There’s a lot of misinformation spreading around the internet like wildfire, which is why it’s crucial to choose your sources wisely – pick trustworthy websites, well-known publications, verified scientific sources. You’ll achieve a higher degree of credibility and your readers will appreciate that.

#3 Don’t claim that you know everything and don’t tell the reader what to think

A good article doesn’t tell you want to think, instead it presents all the facts and sides of a topic, leaving it up to the reader to adopt a particular stance in regards to a subject – of agreement or disagreement. Especially if you write journalistic texts, it’s important to try to be as impartial as possible and bring as many arguments to support both sides.

If a text is rather personal, you can allow your writing to suggest that you’re leaning more towards one side, but never tell the reader what to think – convince him through words. If your viewpoint is strong enough, you’ll get his approval. Don’t ever resort to manipulation or other unethical tactics that don’t make you look good as a blogger/content writer/online writer.

#4 Don’t pretend to be an undisputed authority in a field just because you have a blog

Perhaps the most important aspect that any blogger or writer should remember. Just because you’re savy in one field or have a certain degree of knowledge, that doesn’t automatically make you an influencer or some unquestionable authority, no matter how many fans you have, how many awards you won or how much money you make out of website traffic on a monthly basis.

Always leave room for people to challenge you via arguments or even teach you one or two things about your own niche and be open to critique. When you write an article, your voice should never exude arrogance or an all-knowing undertone, instead it should subtly say – „These are my conclusions/arguments that I’ve gathered from my experience in field X, I challenge you to prove me otherwise.” And if someone does, appreciate them, there’s something to be learned there.

#5 Be coherent

A good article should have coherency, the ideas should follow a logical sequence and be supported by arguments so that you don’t lose your readers or bore them to death along the way. I highly recommend using comparing and contrasting, analogies or even jokes to keep their interest alive. Even more so in the case of complex topics, a simple analogy can help the reader understand your point better, especially if they don’t have technical knowledge about the topic in question. An example here would be: „Online marketing is like walking through a marketplace – everyone’s trying to sell you something.”

#6 Always leave room for communication and open discussion

It is important that in the middle, but especially towards the end of any article to include open questions such as – „What do you think/Has this happened to you? What are your experiences?” These questions encourage conversation and build communities around your article and your niche, respectively.

These are just some basic principles for article writing that I follow. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to follow all of these steps at the same time. The type of writing determines what is allowed and what is not. Experiment constantly, keep writing and let people tell you when you get it wrong. You’ll become a lot better that way.

How do you write an article? :)

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