This article contains a step-by-step guide on how to write an article your audience loves and common challenges you’ll encounter on the way. Plus, we include an expert interview.
If you’re a freelancer or business owner, regularly posting high-quality articles on your blog allows you to get an enormous amount of organic traffic. It also increases social awareness and brings in leads without you having to actively look for them.
Without a blog, you’ll have only a few inbound leads, and little promotional content and no social following.
Considering all these benefits, why do freelancers and business owners not post regularly, or worse yet, have no web presence at all?
Maybe they think writing articles regularly is a hassle and maintaining a blog is a pain. While this may be true, it doesn’t have to be. All you need is a method of producing high-quality content regularly so people will click on your articles, sign up for your newsletter and buy your product or service.
You’re probably asking how you can constantly produce quality content that people love to read. Keep reading to find out!
What Makes a Good Article?
Before you can write a high-quality article, you must first understand what a good article looks like, or you’ll just be throwing spaghetti against a wall and hoping something sticks.
For an article to be considered high-quality, it must tick the following boxes:
Think of them as the 3 S’s.
Draw Readers Through Substance
Substance is a fancy way of asking why readers should choose to read your article over someone else’s.
The good news is that you don’t have to create substance. It’s already out there. You simply need to find it.
One of the most basic ways to find substance is to check the front page of Google, look for the longest and most detailed article relating to your keyword and double your word count. This ensures your article is more valuable than anything else on Google, and readers will have a reason to choose you.
For example, if you’re planning to write an article on how to overcome writer’s block, and the most detailed post on the front page of Google is 2,500 words, write an article with 5,000 words. This technique doesn’t require truckloads of creativity. You simply need to help the reader more than your competition does.
The second S stands for structure.
Structure So Readers Consume Your Entire Post
Structuring a post is an artform since you can have the most helpful content on Google, but nobody will read your article if you don’t know how to keep a reader's attention.
The first step to keeping a reader's attention is to write longer and more specific headlines. According to Brian Dean, headlines that are 14-17 words in length generate 76.7% more social shares than short headlines.
The biggest reason longer headlines work is that the practice forces you to be more specific with your articles. If you write an article on how to get more traffic, it’s general and doesn't appeal to a specific demographic. Remember the golden rule of marketing: If you target everyone, you end up targeting nobody.
Consider writing an article instead on how to get more local web traffic as a dentist. Then your audience is more likely to click on your article because it helps them with a specific problem.
When you start writing, visualize yourself holding your reader’s hand and helping them achieve their goals while avoiding potholes along the way.
This way, you answer your audience’s questions as they pop up.
Optimize Your Article For SEO
SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it’s how your readers find your articles. You must optimize for SEO because it tells Google what your article is about, and they’ll rank it higher.
Although SEO might seem complicated and intimidating, it isn’t. Yes, there are countless ways to optimize your content for Google, but if you’re starting out, keep it simple.
First, find one main keyword that’s easy to gain rank and gets good amounts of organic traffic. When starting out, a free tool like Ubersuggest will get the job done. Normally the easiest keywords to gain rank are long-tail keywords, but use only one in each post. Using more than one confuses Google, since the algorithm doesn’t know what your article is actually about.
Once you’ve targeted a keyword that’s easy to rank, use it in your title, introduction, conclusion, H2’s, and H3s. As a rule of thumb, use your keyword as much as possible without stuffing. Remember, you’re writing for your readers, not Google. A search engine knows when you’re keyword stuffing, and they’ll punish you for it.
Now that you know what a high-quality article looks like, how do you create one?
Step 1: Establish What Your Audience Wants
Before you start writing, you must first understand what your audience wants. This is easier than it sounds. You simply need to find out the biggest problems your audience is facing and solve them with your blog post. Tools like Google, Reddit and Facebook groups will provide your audience’s burning questions.
For example, if you own a coffee blog targeted to busy entrepreneurs, common problems they face include:
- Lack of motivation
- Afternoon slump
- Early alarm.
After you’ve gathered a list of problems your audience faces, it’s time to move onto step 2.
Step 2: Choose an Appealing Topic
This step is easy because if you’ve completed step 1, you already know what problems your audience faces. Now it’s almost like filling in blanks. Simply present your blog post as the solution to their problem.
A big mistake most people make is writing an article about a broad topic. The more specific your article is, the better. Using the example above, instead of writing a post about how to beat fatigue, you could split it into 3 different specific articles:
- How To Wake Up Earlier As An Entrepreneur And Not Feel Like A Zombie
- How To Beat The Infamous Afternoon Slump As An Entrepreneur
- Tips For Staying Up Late As An Entrepreneur And Being Productive.
These articles all appeal to specific types of entrepreneurs, and they’ll be more likely to click and read the full article since you’re solving a problem specific to them.
Now that you’ve identified problems your audience faces and come up with topics to solve those specific problems, it’s time to research.
Step 3: Pick Your Keyword
Before you start writing, it’s a good idea to know what your competition is writing about. The best way to do this is to search Google for the keyword you’re targeting and go through every article on the front page. of Google.
This gives you a basic idea of how front-page articles look, and you’ll be able to create a better and more detailed article.
Step 4: Write An Outline
Creating an outline gives your post structure, and this increases the time readers spend perusing your article.
Your article’s outline should include:
- An eye-catching headline
- An introduction that hooks your reader
- H2s and H3s that solve your audience's problems
- A conclusion that summarizes everything you’ve covered.
Creating an outline also makes writing your article easy. You feel like you’re just filling in blanks.
Step 5: Write The First Draft Without Editing It
Now it’s time to start writing, but this is where most people get stuck. They over-analyze their work and expect to write a perfect first draft.
This is the biggest reason for writer’s block. You’ll obviously feel stuck because you’re expecting yourself to do something impossible. Your first draft will be terrible, and that’s fine. You can always edit after you’re finished.
Instead of judging your work, complete your entire first draft without making a single edit. This allows your creative juices to flow. After a few minutes, you’ll experience the flow state every writer seeks.
Want more info on what tools to use? Check out our guide to the best writing apps.
Step 6: Edit Your First Draft Several Times
Now that you’ve completed your first draft, it’s time to edit ruthlessly. A helpful trick is to change the font of your text and print the draft on a sheet of paper before editing.
This tricks your brain into thinking you’re reading a different piece, and you’ll be more likely to catch small errors.
After you’ve self-edited your article, optimize it for SEO. This involves adding your main keyword in your title, introduction, conclusion, H2s and H3s.
If you can afford it, invest in a tool like MarketMuse or Clearscope and paste your article in there. These SEO tools compare your article to the top-ranking articles on the web and tell you where to improve your SEO.
Tip: Don't forget to use a grammar checker.
Final Word: How to Write an Article
Article writing is a great way to help your audience solve their problems, increase brand awareness and build a following. For most people, article writing is a hassle, but it doesn’t have to be. With this 6-step process, you’ll be pumping out front-page content all the time.
How to Write an Article FAQs
How Do You End An Article?
When ending an article, summarize everything you've covered in your blog post and give your reader actionable steps for overcoming their problems and achieving their goals. This prevents them from feeling lost after reading your article.
How Do I Make My Article More Readable?
Whether you're writing a news article or a post to help your audience, you want to include several bullet points, subheads, numbered lists and images. This helps readers skim over your article.
[Interview]: Creating remarkable Content with Nate Weiner, Founder of Pocket
Pocket is one of my favourite productivity apps. I use it to save interesting articles to my phone and read them on the go. I also like that it shows me the types of popular non-fiction articles other writers have published. This helps me figure out how to improve my writing.
Nate Weiner and his team created Pocket in 2007, initially calling their app ReadItLater. Like many products, it was born out of need.
In this podcast episode, Weiner explains:
- How to write non-fiction articles and content that people read and share
- What you should know about the reading habits of your audience
- Why reading isn't going anywhere, any time soon (as a father of kids who spend a lot of time using tablets, this was encouraging.)
And lots more.
If you'd like to learn more, check this article I wrote for Forbes based on my interview with Weiner.
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