Writing Articles For The Web Is Easy When You Know This
Writing articles for the web is a learned skill. And you can learn it. In fact, you can master it. Once a professional writer in the print publishing world, I had feature articles published by some well-known names (Woman's Day, The Washington Post, Family Circle, Christian Science Monitor and more). Fortunately, as a self-publisher online, I'm able to transfer some of my professional print writing skills to this form of online publishing. I don't struggle with writing articles. And that makes filling my websites with useful, well-written information a lot easier for me. But it's not so for everyone. Some people struggle with article writing. Maybe that's you.
Do you struggle with writing articles for your website readers? Do you want to write articles for other newsletters and websites that get free website traffic for you, or just more traffic to your website? If you struggle with article writing or if people don't read your articles, I may be able to help you. While writing content for the web and writing content for print publications is not exactly the same, there is some overlap. Here are some things I've learned about both content formats that might help you write better articles for both web publishers and for your websites.
Your article should have:
ORIGINAL CONTENT - The one word magazine writers hate to hear their editor say is "fresh". Editors frequently use the word as a reason to reject submissions as in "your tips are just not fresh enough". Editors want originality. Their publishers want originality. Readers want originality. Everyone is in agreement about wanting original article content.
But if something has been said or written about a thousand times before, you CAN still say it again. You just need to have your own original spin and be using your own words (that means no plagiarism too). You need to have your own writing style or personality (which you'll develop with time). My research tells me that originality is what both readers AND search engines want from online content. They want original content. The articles at your website need to be "fresh". The articles you submit to publishers need to be "fresh". With practice and persistence and a little bit of diligence thrown in you CAN write original articles for the web or for your website (to add diversity to all those reprint articles collecting on your site).
CATCHY TITLE - The online experts say you need key words in your online article titles or headlines to catch the attention of the search engines in the right way. That means you need to put the term or phrase you think people are searching for on your subject near the front of your article title (or at least somewhere in it). But you also have to remember that you're still writing for readers. So on top of making your article title work for search engine optimization, it still has to entice viewers to read it.
You don't necessarily need a clever article title, just one that appeals to your target audience and briefly describes the article topic. If I'm looking to lose weight quickly you can be certain "Weight Loss - 3 Easy Steps to Lose 10 Pounds in 10 Days at Home" will catch my attention. If I want to know what Britney Spears is doing (and by the way, I don't), a title like "Guess What Britney Spears Did Now" will catch my attention and make me read further. But if I'm trying to learn the difference between a flat panel monitor and a flat screen, I'm perfectly happy reading an article with a boring title such as "Flat Panel Monitors and Flat Screens Defined for the Home User". That title addresses my need at the time for specific information I'm seeking on the web. And it has your key phrase "flat panel monitors" right in front too.
GREAT LEAD - The best title in the world won't keep readers engrossed in your article, if the first paragraph stinks. In the print world, editors happily rewrite their writers' leading paragraphs to make the lead just so. There are MANY ways to write a leading paragraph. Just remember that your goal is to intrigue the reader while giving him a clear indication of what he's about to learn in your article. And the SEO experts say the first sentence, or near the beginning of your first paragraph, is a good place to put that key word or phrase once that you're focusing on for the search engines' sake.
GOOD GRAMMAR AND SPELLING - Sloppy writing affects your credibility and makes you look lazy. And it makes for a bad reader experience. If you want to keep readers coming back to your website for the content (or publishers coming back to article directories to use your content), get a grasp on your spelling and grammar. A dictionary and grammar book by your side while proofreading your article will be helpful.
CONCISE FLOW - In high school, many students fluffed up their articles with extra words when the teacher assigned them the task of writing a certain word count. That trick isn't useful after high school (if you ever considered it useful). Most likely you have plenty to say about your topic if you know it well or if you've researched it well. Tight concise writing is as appreciated in the online world as it is in the print publishing arena. Don't repeat yourself or use excessive words to make a point or statement. That will help keep your copy clean. And know that concise writing doesn't necessarily mean short articles. You don't have to write 300 word articles. You don't have to write 3,000 word articles. Just don't write a 1,200 word article that really can be written in 500 words.
It's these writing techniques that make you a professional writer and not a sloppy amateur whose writing for the web doesn't get read. And it's these techniques that will help you to add better content to your website and get your articles published by other websites and newsletters. And good article writing means more traffic for your website.