Want to learn how to write a good article? Craft attention-grabbing titles? Pull readers in and keep their focus?
Knowing how to say something is as important as knowing what to say. The following seven tips will help you create articles that engage readers from beginning to end.
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1. Create a catchy title.
A title is the first thing your reader will see, and it's the first chance you have to convince them to continue reading your article. You don't need to resort to clickbait-style titles to get readers interested. There are many different strategies for formulating good titles. Here are a few suggestions to help you formulate one that is perfectly eye-catching:
- Promise a solution. What problem are you going to solve for the reader? Draw them in with a promise of answers. For example, start out with phrases like "how to" and "tips for."
- Be succinct. Blog posts with 6- to 13-word titles get the most traffic, so make sure your titles aren't too wordy.
- Ask a question. Write your title in the form of a question to which you know the answer will be "yes."
2. Start strong—write a strong hook.
You only have, at most, a few sentences to draw a reader in. Let your reader know that this is going to be an article worth taking the time to finish. The first sentence is the most important of the entire article and should be carefully crafted. You want to hook your reader in and not let go from that point forward. Here are a few tips:
- Pose a question. What's the driving question behind your article? Start there and make your reader want to stay for the answer.
- Present a surprising fact. Right out of the gate, the reader knows they will learn something new in this article.
- Start with a controversial statement. Get the reader invested immediately.
3. Write succinctly.
Keep your sentences and paragraphs short. Long, dense paragraphs can be intimidating. You don't want your reader to open the link, see a block of text and think. “I don't have time for this.” Shorter sentences pull the reader along and encourage a quick reading pace. Here are some suggestions for how to trim your sentences:
- Avoid excessive words. You're a writer. You like to write. But don't get too caught up in creating flowery prose. Make sure that your writing isn't getting in the way of the information you are conveying.
- Check your adverbs. If you find adverbs paired with weaker words, use a stronger word to convey the same meaning instead. Is something “very important” or “critical”? Cutting out adverbs not only saves you a few words, but it also makes your writing stronger.
- Watch redundancy. Adverbs are often at fault here too. Something is just “harmless,” not “completely harmless”. Something is “blank,” not “totally blank”.
<div class="tip">What about the length of an article itself? It's a common question, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Follow these guidelines about how long a blog post should be.</div>
4. Edit your work. And then edit again.
In other words, don't be afraid to edit. It's common to feel that every word you write is crucial, and it can be painful to cut things out. However, editing is just as important—if not more important—than the actual writing.
When you've finished your first draft, go back over it with a critical eye, deleting anything unnecessary or repetitive. If a sentence doesn't function to strengthen your argument, give it the ax! After this initial and brutal editing phase, read over your piece again to ensure that every sentence feeds naturally into the next.
5. Pay attention to visuals.
It would be nice to think that only the quality of your writing matters, but the truth is looks matter too. Learning a few tricks allows you to use this to your advantage.
Variation in sentence length, paragraph length, text size, and text type breaks up the visual landscape in an appealing way. This variation also serves to guide the reader to the most important parts of your article.
Images can also serve to break up the text, and they are another way to draw in the reader. A catchy title draws clicks, but an enticing image piques readers' interest enough to continue reading. Remember, it's important to consider which images will work best for your article and how to access them.
- Keep paragraphs short and visually appealing.
- Use bullet points to break up blocks of text. Since 43% of readers skim blog articles, it's important to highlight your main points.
- Bolding is another way to break up your text, directing the skimmer's eyes to those ideas that you want to stand out.
- Use images to break up the text and draw in readers.
6. Use the appropriate format.
Not all articles are created the same. It's important to be aware of different types and to consider which format is the best fit for what you're writing. Will your topic work best as a numbered listicle? Keep in mind that titles with numbers generate the most clicks.
Formatting your article as a how-to is also a good way to generate clicks. Consider your topic and what will work best in terms of the presentation of ideas.
7. Use keywords strategically.
Keywords are an important part of search engine optimization (SEO). However, keep in mind that Google penalizes sites for keyword stuffing. We are still aiming for quality content and the appropriate use of keywords. Include the primary keyword in the title of your blog post. Secondary keywords should be featured in the subheadings and the body of the text.
There are two additional tips that will drastically affect how you write an article: practice and read. The more you practice writing, the better you will get. Actively practice implementing these tips in your writing. Then when you read other articles, engage with them as a writer. Were you drawn in by the opening? Is the layout visually appealing? Thinking critically while you read is another way to improve as a writer.
This article was written by Compose.ly writer Grace Neveu.