5 Ways to Instantly Improve Your Article Writing

by Jennifer Good | February 4th, 2014 6:00 AM | No Comments

instant writing tips

If you’re marketing online, you’re likely no stranger to the concept of content marketing. Content has become the new currency when it comes to attracting new customers and readers. While this philosophy is a preferred method to in-your-face traditional marketing, there are certainly some downsides to it as well. Most notably the fact that you need to be producing content. And, not just any content… great content. That means the pressure is on to be able to write and entertain.

For those of you just starting out, you may be having some horrible high school flashbacks of English class. Luckily, there are some tips that can make anyone look more like a seasoned writer. While practice makes the best teacher, these tips can certainly instantly improve your current article writing attempts.

1. Stick to a formula.
While there are a variety of ways to write, one of the most tried and true methods is to have some sort of format or article formula in mind, the most common being the point or list style article. In this type of article, you come up with a number of supporting points relating to your topic and write out at least one paragraph for each. In fact, for reference, this particular article was written in this format. If you break down this article format, you’ll find it composed of the following parts:

  • One to two introductory paragraphs.
  • Four to seven paragraphs each addressing a supporting point.
  • One to two closing paragraphs.

If you were to outline this article format, it would be something like this.

  1. Introduction
  2. Point #1
  3. Point #2
  4. Point #3
  5. Point #4
  6. Point #5
  7. Closing

Which brings us to tip #2…

#2 Outline your articles before you write them.
One of the biggest issues that I find with poorly written articles is the author gets sidetracked and goes off on an irrelevant tangent. When you force yourself to outline your articles, you are forcing yourself to stay on topic. It also allows you to think of your article as a whole instead of focusing on one sentence to the next. During the outline process, you can see how all of your major points work together. It’s also easy to spot a point that is out of place.

#3 – Edit & Revise
A big mistake bloggers can make is to write something, quickly read it over for grammar errors and then hit publish. While there may not be anything wrong with the article, chances are you aren’t showcasing your best work either. To make sure you’re putting your best foot forward, you really need to make sure that you aren’t just checking your work for basic grammar issues, but also for clarity, sentence structure and overall message. For instance…

  • Are the words you are using the best choice to communicate what you want to say?
  • Are your sentences in the right order?
  • Should some of your paragraphs be reordered?
  • Is there a more impactful way of saying what you want to say?

The edit/revision step is vital to creating amazing content. However, it’s easy to want to skip this step, especially if you just spent a few hours writing the article. The best way to approach this is to write your article, proofread it like normal, and then when you are happy with it, wait a day or two. After you’ve had some space from the article, you can go back and read it from a fresh perspective. You may be surprised at how much it could still be improved.

#4 – Use a style guide.
Most spell checkers pick up basic spelling and grammar rules. However, there are a number of grammar rules that people don’t know. Knowing and applying these can help your content rise above the crowd. The best way to keep up on this type of information is to use a style guide. A style guide is typically published yearly and offers the best practices for editorial and publishing practices.

Spell Check Yourself

If you have any question about the way something should be written, the answer will be in a style guide. For instance, did you know that you should spell out numbers below ten? However, if you spell out one number in your sentence, then regardless of the rule you should spell any other numbers in your sentence as well and vice versa.
Stylebooks give you easy access to this type of information. The most common ones include The Chicago Manual of Style and the Associated Press Stylebook. (Both of these have paid-for online versions of their stylebooks.)

#5 – Deliver On Your Promise
Every article has a title that basically acts like a headline. This headline is your promise to the reader. Whatever you say is going to be in that headline is what a reader should find. Are you promising secret ways to be rich? Tips for quick weeknight cooking? The more accurately you fulfill your promise, the higher your readership for that article will be.
It comes down to this – if you’re taking the time to write an article, I believe the article should do something to improve the reader’s life in some way. You can’t write for the sake of writing (or to put up a piece of new content) and expect stellar results. As a writer, we want our work to be read and appreciated. That means giving the reader some value. They need a take away or enough information to take things to the next step – even if your writing is fiction, satirical or a personal journal. There needs to be a reason why the person should read it and you need to deliver on that why.

Inspired to get writing? Use these quick tips to take action right now:

  1. Write down three to four topic ideas.
  2. Pick one topic and research it online for some ideas, stats or quotes you can use.
  3. Outline your article.

Now, you have the shell of an article ready to go. When you have more time, finish it up using the tips from this article.

 

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