Choosing Your Article Topics
What will you write about in your articles? That is the big questions most people who want to break into article writing have when they begin. The field is wide open when it comes to what information you offer on the Internet.
The first thing to consider is what you like to write about. All of us have hobbies and likes as well as dislikes. You can write about these things from your perspective. Write enough articles and you might qualify as an expert in your area within online communities.
The Reason for the Articles
Why are you writing the articles? If you are starting a blog and want to draw attention to your site, you’ll want to choose topics that will be interesting to fellow readers on the Internet. Surf the Web and research what topics are hot right now. Some topics that are always popular: fashion, celebrity news, new products and services and health issues. These categories will help you to generate a list of possible article topics.
When writing to draw traffic and attention to you, it is important to write articles about a topic that people are talking about. There may not be a lot of articles on the Internet about pygmy animals, but if there is not an interest in the subject, your articles will go belly up in no time.
Are You Creative?
There is very little that is new under the sun. You may have to write about topics that have been written before but put a new spin on it. Using your unique voice and basic examples, you can recycle a topic to your advantage.
Brainstorm your topics. Start by looking at your interests. Then, move on to your job for ideas. Finally, what is your family up to? All of these people and interests make a good base for your article writing.
What are you curious about? Maybe you wanted to know why the sky is blue. Take some time and look up information about the sky and its color on the Internet or at your local library. Now, you can write an article that people will want to read. Whatever fascinates you can turn into a new avenue to find article topics.
Use Your Experiences
Each life has a story to tell. Your stories may be interesting to others. Use both positive and negative situations as a tool create how-to articles and give advice on a variety of topics.
What are you going to write about in your articles? The possibilities are infinite if you keep an open mind and use all of the resources at your disposal.
Researching Your Article Topics
Before you can write you need to know something about your topic. Even if you have had some experience in the area, there is no harm in getting extra information from other sources to craft a well-written article. This is where research comes in.
Everybody doesn’t know how to conduct research. It is more than just typing a few words in the search engine of your choice. That is just the first step. Researching an article topic is like mining for a diamond in the rough. You may find a few on the surface, but the larger ones are found deeper in the earth.
Here are a few pointers to get you started:
1. Ask questions. Let’s say that the subject of your article is about making the perfect apple pie. You’ll want to know the ingredients. That’s simple. But what kinds of apples are good for making an apple pie? What’s the history of the apple pie? These questions lead you to more information for your articles.
2. Talk to others. People’s experiences lend credibility to your articles. Interview family, friends and professionals who know something about your article topic. If you are doing a series of articles on health-related topics, talk to your doctor and ask questions whose answers would interest your readers. Don’t forget to quote your source in the article.
3. Go to the library. While a lot of information can be found on the Internet, there is still no substitute for cracking open a book. Your local library has books on a variety of subjects as well as old newspapers, film reels, videos and more to help you research your topic.
4. Watch television. Too much television isn’t good for you but in this case it can help you out with your project. There are dozens of channels that show documentaries on everything from cooking to World War I to how the pyramids were built. With a documentary, all of the research has been done for you so all you have to do is sit comfortably and soak up the information they provide.
5. Look for other resources. Don’t limit yourself to one area of research for your article topics. Attend conferences that relate to the subject. Visit your local museum, zoo (if your topic is animals) or join a local group with interests related to your topic. All of these avenues can provide a rich cache of information to fill a ton of articles.
Before you sit down to write the article, you have to find information on your topic. One way to find information is the Internet. But, there is a whole world of other choices for research that you may not have considered.
Product Reviews: Blog and Make Money
When you want to buy a new product, it is logical to ask someone you trust what they know about the product. For the article writer, one way to get noticed and create traffic is to write product reviews for your products and others.
One key to successful affiliate marketing is to promote your products. As an affiliate, your job is to promote products that you believe in for someone else. You may have links on your site to these affiliate products but no one is going to click without further information about the products.
As a writer, you are a valuable part of this process. Product reviews are well read on the Internet. It is faster than phoning a friend sometimes and you can get opinions from several different people about their likes and dislikes. If you want to make money with your blog, this is one way to do it.
A snippet about this product or that won’t cut it. You need a structured article that answers all of the questions buyers like you might have. Here are a few pointers for writing eye-catching product reviews.
1. Mention the product in the title. Some people think of titles like, “The Last Mop you’ll ever need.” That’s great, but without pointing specifically to a brand of mop, this article will be passed over for one that does. Instead you can say, “Swiffer WetJet: The Last Mop you’ll ever need.” That mentions the product up front and a little extra to bait the hook.
2. Capture their attention in the first paragraph. What can you say about the Swiffer WetJet? Hit the high points in the first paragraph so your readers will know what will be discussed further down in the article. Mention the product again and what it has done for you.
3. List the pros and cons of the product. Readers can spot a sham product review in a minute. If it is just a glorified testimonial with no substance, you will lose readers for future product reviews. Be honest about the product. Some people may not consider the cons as important as the pros but they have the right to decide for themselves without you hedging your bets.
4. List tips for improved use of the product. Maybe you know that the Swiffer WetJet works best if the Swiffer Sweeper is used first to get up as much dirt and grime off the floor. Let readers know that. You could sell them on another product. The point here is that tips like this let the reader know that you have actually used the product and are familiar with it. A little snippet doesn’t show any of that.
Product reviews can make you money through affiliate programs or promoting your own products. For a dynamite review, include the information mentioned in the four pointers above.
The Opening Paragraph: Get Their Attention
You’ve just written a fantastic title. It reads like a hook that would get anyone interested in your article. Now that you have that title, the first paragraph has to be equally as dynamic to hold the reader’s attention.
The first paragraph of your article does many things. First of all it tells the reader what you will be talking about. Second, it tells the reader why they should be interested. Third, it does both of these things in such a way that the reader can’t help but keep their eyes glued to the screen until the last word is read.
We are assuming that your paragraph will contain at least three sentences. Three to four sentences is good for your opening paragraph. You don’t want to give away too much, but just enough to peak your reader’s interest.
What is your article about?
The first paragraph makes a statement. Let’s say that you were writing about the safety of airplanes. You have written a compelling title or headline for your article. Now, you have to say something that tells the reader where you are going with your title.
“You are ten times more likely to be involved in an automobile accident than in a plane crash.” That sounds like a good first sentence for your opening paragraph. This line conveys two things: 1) Planes do crash, and 2) Planes don’t crash as often as some would like you to believe. With one sentence, you have stated your position and what you are going to be talking about within the article.
Why should the reader care about what you have to say?
You are going to be talking about airplane crashes according to the above scenario. Well, we know that airplanes crash. Why is it such a big deal to your readers? That is what you are going to explain in the second sentence.
“Airline pilots go through extensive training to learn to fly a plane, while automobile drivers are not always as competent when they hit the road with a license.” Now, you have told people why they should be interested in the first sentence. Air travel has its issues but you can be assured of the training of your pilot. Other drivers on the road pose a bigger danger to you than the airplane.
The reason why the readers need to care is a thought-provoking point. You want to draw the reader into your way of thinking. With a compelling argument, even someone who doesn’t necessarily agree with your point will keep reading to find out what you have to say in support of your position.
Your opening paragraph is the introduction to your article. It needs to tell the reader everything they need to know about your article. How well you state this fact will determine if they continue reading or click on something else.
Write What You Know
You have a talent for the written word that you want to share with others through article writing. But, what can you write about that will interest others? Begin your writing journey where a lot of people begin: write what you know.
Have you ever been given a topic to write on that you knew little or nothing about? It was tough to put pen to paper or fingers to computer keys because you had no earthly idea what to write. If you want to write for a living and make good money at it, you don’t want to start out this way.
An easier start is to write about subjects that you are familiar with. Many online businesses rise out of hobbies and interests that people have a passion for. When you can write intelligently about a topic, readers are more likely to understand and accept what you are saying.
How do you know what you know? Start with a few questions:
- What do I like to do?
- What things don’t I like to do?
- What hobbies do I enjoy doing?
- What are my talents?
All of these questions lead to the formation of a list of topics that can begin your article writing career. You can write for others on assignment or you can strike out on your own and create a blog or online business using your list as a base.
What’s next? Now that you know what you like, find out all that you can about the topic. Become intimate with your topic. Readers are looking for writers who can be a resource for them. That is what you want also – to be their main “go to” person on a particular subject.
You might love making origami animals but what else do you know about origami? Readers who are interested in origami will want to know the history of the art, how to create various objects and where to purchase their products. It is your job as the writer to provide them with this information. The more that you know, the further you will go and the more money you can make with your chosen article topic.
Writing what you know about has many advantages:
- You can establish yourself as an expert and write for other sites
- Your informative articles can lead to increased sales on your website
- You can convincingly promote affiliate products
Honing your writing skills with familiar subjects builds a base of credibility in the article writing industry. This can lead to a business that is both profitable and a joy to operate.
Finding a Voice to Fit the Writing Market
Each writer has a particular way of writing that appeals to certain readers. Which “voice” will bring you the success that you want in the writing business? Find a voice that is both comfortable and successful by writing on a variety of subjects.
Have you been offended by something that you read before? Was it what the writer said or the way that they said it? The opinion may have been innocent enough but the way it was presented didn’t score any points with the reader.
Each writer has a style or “voice” that makes their writing unique. Different people are attracted to different types of styles. Will your style work for the area of the writing market that you want to influence?
It is hard to pinpoint a writing voice unless you write something. When writers are taught to write, they are usually given formulas to follow:
- Have four sentences per paragraph
- Start with a topic sentence
- Follow your topic sentence with supporting sentences
- Finish your paragraph with a leading sentence for the next paragraph
These formulas are meant to guide you into the basics of writing. Your work will be matter-of-fact which is okay for school. Try that in the real world and you will be sent a Dear John letter from your potential publisher.
What type of voice do you have?
Let’s see: some writers are funny, serious, teaching, sarcastic, stilted or carefree. There are many shades of each of these. This characterizes the style of writing. Within that style, you have a voice which dictates how your words will come across to others.
Here’s another way of looking at it. You can be funny but will that be relaxed funny where your voice is more conversational. Your voice can also be instructional with a few funny points thrown in. They don’t sound the same to the reader. The first is more like you are talking to a friend. The second is how you would talk in a classroom.
Learn to adapt your voice to different settings
Your voice is who you are as a writer. Whether you are asked to write a humorous piece, an editorial, a news story or a how-to article, your voice is present in each one of these styles. A writer who has found their voice will have an easier time of getting the point across in the appropriate style.
Adapting your voice comes into play more so when you are writing for others. As a writer under contract, you will provide articles in the fashion that upholds the general feel of the main publication. Within those guidelines, your voice will make your work unique.
Writers find their voice by writing. Read over a few of your pieces or, better yet, let others read them and see what they think. Pinpointing your voice is the first step in becoming comfortable within your writing life.
Editing and the Perfectly Written Article
As an article writer, you will be editing your own work before you submit it. It will go through another round of editing with the powers-that-be but if you write for your website or blog, you are the final word for changes. Learn when and how to edit your articles.
Editing is what is done after you have written your first draft of the article. Yes, even articles have a first draft. It is a shorter piece of writing compared to a novel, but the first draft is not the final one.
When you begin to write your articles, the idea is to use the information you have gathered to compose an article on a certain topic. Writing the first draft is fun like coloring outside the lines. Nothing is out of bounds for you. Getting all of your witticisms and thoughts on the page is more important than grammar at this point.
That shocks some people. For Type A personalities, it is hard to resist using the red pen (or the markup screen in Microsoft Word) as you write each and every word. But, you must learn to hide that pen and throw caution to the wind. Unless you do, you’ll miss a sentence or paragraph that would have enhanced your article because it was axed as a thought before it reached the page.
After you have drained every last drop of inspiration for the article then you can bring out the scissors. There is an art to editing as well. You don’t want to cut too much out and lose the main point of the article. Editing haphazardly leads to disjointed sentences that don’t follow a train of thought the reader can get behind.
1. Check the grammar. This is the easiest way to begin. If you are writing on the computer, then you can use Spellchecker. Remember, the computer doesn’t catch everything and can sometimes make mistakes. It is rare but it does happen. For instance, maybe you typed the wrong work in the sentence. Say you typed sun instead of son. If the word makes sense from a grammatical standpoint, the Spellchecker won’t flag it. It is important to go behind and read the article again.
2. Read the article out loud. Some words or sentences sound different to you when you read out loud. You can spot areas where your thought falters.
3. Cut out the fifty cent words. There are many times when you will have a word limit. Now it’s time to cut out sentences that can be slimmed down to a word or two. Go one paragraph at a time and be sure it still makes sense after the deletions.
Editing is an important part of writing but it has its time and place. Keep the editing hat locked up tight until your writing hat has made good use of your creativity.
Capturing Your Writing Ideas (even on the train)
Writers get their ideas from a variety of places. Many come from real life situations. But, it’s not always easy to put those ideas into hardcopy form especially when you are on the move. Here are some tips to keep those great ideas from getting away.
It would be nice if you could spend all day with pen and pencil in hand waiting for the ideas to flow in your direction. You could try it but you might find your lights cut off or your car repossessed because you haven’t paid the bills. Besides, life doesn’t work that way – for any of us.
Ideas come from the obscurest of situations and they can happen at any time and in any place. You think of a brilliant article topic, but standing on a crowded subway train or driving down the road is hardly the time to pull out your tools of the trade. We can fix that for you though.
Don’t Leave Your Writing Ideas to the Ether
1. Carry a notepad and pen with you. It can be a small notepad that can easily slip into the pocket of your jeans or the front compartment of your purse. In the elevator, when the guy with the look of death sneezes, you can write down that you want to write an article on elevator etiquette. You can right in shorthand if you know it as long as you get it down. That little notepad (and a flashlight) comes in handy around two o’clock in the morning when it’s dark and you get a burst of inspiration.
2. Use a voice recorder. On the crowded train or driving, it is easier to voice your ideas into a tape recorder, an mp3 player or your cell phone if it has a voice recorder. It can be used anywhere. Don’t worry about the people staring at you. You’re being creative.
3. Send a text message. When you have no pen or paper, send your idea to yourself via text message. Sure, you’ll get charged for the text, but you’ll also have the idea you didn’t want to forget.
Writing ideas don’t often materialize when we are prepared to write them down. You’ll need to carry a few things with you to make sure you are prepared for the rogue idea that slides into your brain on the Number 9 train or sitting at the intersection of First and Main.
How to Write a Successful Article
There is a knack to writing a successful article. If it was simple, every article would be a hit. Fine tune your article to reach its intended target each and every time with amazing results.
If you break it down to the basics, each article has a general structure. You have the title. The title is used to grab the reader’s attention. When you read the Table of Contents in a magazine, you skim the titles of the articles to see if it peaks your interest. The title tells what the article is about but with a twist so the reader will turn to that page.
The article is divided into paragraphs. Paragraphs are kept within a certain sentence limit to make the information easier to read and absorb. A paragraph that had fifteen sentences is a big mouthful and will lose more than one reader.
The first paragraph is the introduction. It states the case for the article. If it leaves the reader scratching their head, they won’t continue to read.
The last paragraph sums up the main points of the article. An article without a conclusion ends abruptly and doesn’t reiterate what you want the reader to remember.
Skills You Didn’t Learn in School
Each article has a purpose. If you don’t know that purpose, your article won’t reach anyone. Know your target audience. If you are trying to reach gardeners, then the article shouldn’t be about cars. That’s an obvious point but some articles can be about gardening and still miss their target. Why? It could be lack of understanding of the topic or lack of the skill needed to convey your thoughts successfully to the audience.
Know your writing style and give it a convincing voice. Trying to write humorous articles when you haven’t a funny bone in your body will not work for someone trying to instruct potential comedians on breaking into stand-up comedy. You may need to pass on that assignment. Writing styles that are not compatible with your voice will come across as insincere to the reader. They need to hear and feel your passion through your work.
Make your writing format easy to read. Use bullet points and numbered ideas. Both of these techniques break up the look of the article and make it easier on the eyes. Readers can digest an article faster with changes in text like this. Also, they can skim the bullet points and numbered text to see if the article will meet their needs.
Use numbers in your title whenever possible. Which title will get more attention: How to Sew a Pillow or 5 Steps to the Perfect Pillow? Numbers let the reader know exactly what they are getting and in how many parts.
Are you looking to create articles that reach their audience each time? A successful article can drive traffic to your site or an affiliate site as well as increase your sales.
Avoiding Writer’s Block When Writing Articles
Writer’s block is a misnomer. If a writer had a block in front of them, they would have something to write about. But, all the same, it is hard to get the creative juices flowing from time to time. Here are a few ways that you can avoid this situation.
What is really going on when you can’t write? It could be a variety of things that are vying for your attention that are more exciting at the time than sitting down and pecking out a story on your computer. Writing looks like a lot of fun but it is actually hard work that begins with a great attitude.
1. Psych yourself out. If you are tired, that will overrule any thoughts of writing. Get yourself in the mood to write by thinking about all of the benefits of getting your articles written right now. For one, you won’t be pushed for time later when you really want to have fun. What do you do when you finish a writing project? Maybe you go for ice cream or spend the entire day watching your favorite movies. Think about how much sooner you can do these things if you get to work right now.
2. Set yourself up for success. Dedicate a section of your home to be your writing area. It could be the table in the dining room or a desk in the den. Wherever it is, design the workspace to be conducive to writing. Don’t do anything but write in that space. That way, when it is time to write, you have a place to go that inspires your writing genius.
3. Accept imperfection. Do you think that all of the famous writers out there became so with their first draft? The first draft is always about getting all of your ideas down on paper. Don’t try to wear the editing hat and the writing hat at the same time. It stifles your work. Instead, be happy with run-on sentences, notes in the margins and grammatical errors. You can always clean it up later.
4. Do more research. If you are having a tough time coming up with what to say, dive back into the research mode and find more information on your subject. The information you have is alright but maybe you are missing that one element that will make your article pop off the page with your readers. You can never do too much research anyway. It just gives you more to work with for future articles.
5. Take a meditation break. Maybe you are anxious about writing your article. Will it be well received? Do I have what it takes to be a writer? All of these thoughts can cause you to end up with a blank creative slate. Take a minute to relax your mind before setting to work.
Are you hitting the proverbial brick wall when you sit down to write? Try these ideas to get those articles written even when you don’t think that you can do it.
Magical Marketing, LLC
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