Learn How to Write an Article
Now this may seem like teaching granny to suck eggs; however, I assure you it is not. Assignments frequently arrive for articles to be delivered in batches usually following a related or common theme. They may need to be twisted slightly to accommodate different keywords and phrases for SEO purposes or indeed to generate interest for the sake of pure marketing and promotion.
Ask yourself how you would handle twenty 500 word articles on male pattern baldness and your deadline is 24 hours from now?
Using a template will help you focus on delivering the content in a structured fashion that keeps you on topic without meandering through hours of fruitless research or preparation. You do not need to be a slave to a template but I use them frequently and alter them as seems fit depending on the project I’m working on. Below is a template I use and have saved as a Word document and reach for it whenever I am starting a new batch of articles.
There may be cries of “foul” from some of you, but my time is my money and the same applies to anyone seriously looking to earn a living writing.
Here is my template and note this is geared for writing content for the web:
Know Your Audience
Who are you writing for? It’s always going to be a human reader, but is the location on a publisher’s site, for a search engine or a directory site where people want to know where the information is quickly?
This is a reminder to self that there are four potential readers of my work. The most important one as far as I am concerned is the publisher or project provider; as if I am not accepted by them no-one else is going to get a chance to read it.
The Article Title
This should be ten words maximum and include the five serving men and daughters.
Working out titles can be difficult for someone like me. I struggle making up punchy, catchy titles and it is something I really have had to work on. Using “How to..”, “What you need to know about…”, “10 tips for better…..” and “Why you need…” types of headings get you to the punch far better than gazing aimlessly at your navel.
Short and catchy is the order of the day.
This should be a maximum of sixty (60) words and sell the article to the publisher or draw the reader to want to read the entire article.
I don’t always need to use this but I do include it when I am submitting “tester” articles as a sample of my work to a prospective client, or to an article directory. The purpose of the abstract is to sell the piece to the buyer/publisher so you don’t have time to wander around – you need to get to the point of the piece very quickly and grab their attention. I frequently use the abstract as the first paragraph (or vice versa), as the opening lines of the piece are used to hook your readers into the main body of the article.
Meta Tag Description
The description tag should include just twenty (20) words and contain your primary keywords. You want to make it easier for people to find when searching.
Meta tags are a means of describing your piece to search engines and you will need to use them if you are posting this on a website. It is very brief and must include your primary keywords for SEO purposes.
Meta Tag Keywords
These are the primary keywords of the article and you should include six.
This is exactly what it says – your keywords.
I often place keywords at the top of my article on my word processor so I can quickly scan them as I write the article.
(2012 update: recent updates to search algorithms have proven that inserting keywords in the meta tags aren’t always beneficial.)
Line one and last line should to include a keyword relating to the article.
For SEO purposes it helps enormously to get the primary keyword(s) in the very first and last lines of your article. The first line is also important for human readers too, as it has to capitalise on the catchy title that has initially hooked their interest to take a closer look at your writing – remember you are writing for different readers, both humans and internet software, but do not try to load keywords that are out of context.
I always include this as standard but in practice the work I produce is known as “work for hire” and all rights pass from me to whoever has paid me. Don’t include a copyright mark if your client has engaged your services on a “work for hire” basis or has made it clear that all rights pass to them upon payment.
Author Resource Box
This is where you get to brag a little about yourself and is used when submitting to directories. It gives a little information about who you are, what you do, contact information and some self-serving links back to your own site or indeed your client’s site if you are promoting them.
Here’s an example:
The Biz Blogger – articles and content, blog management, eBooks and SEO marketing
Proud Sponsor of Frozenheart – Bring the Children Home
Now, that is a fairly comprehensive template for web content; however, as I have said before, do not be a slave to a template. Templates help to keep you on track but at the same time there is no substitute for your ideas and imagination. Using a template is a great idea for organising your work but do not let it become the only idea for your work.