If you want to engage with your audience and attract new members, then it is important that you write a quality article. Constantly, you hear reviewers, internet marketers or critics suggest that writers should always strive to create high-quality content, well, content is king. There are many writing niches such as writing research findings, writing for business, writing as a form of therapy, writing fiction etc.
Different forms of writings are used for different purposes hence they have different formats. For example, a business article can be descriptive or persuasive, a research finding should outline the purpose of the research, finding and conclusion. But regardless of the type or purpose of writing, quality is still important. Outlined below are the steps you can follow to write quality content.
1. Understand the topic you’re going to write about
For you to deliver quality content, you have to understand the topic that you are writing about. This will help you to know what type of research you need to carry out, the format etc. For example, a marketing article will require the use of certain keywords, a review will need pros and cons, and writing fiction requires a certain setting. The topic of your article is what your content should be about hence it helps to narrow down your area of focus. Simply understand the topic then go ahead and write it in your own voice.
2. Identify your audience
Note that you cannot write an article for a non-existent audience and hope that the audience will come after you have produced the work. Your content should have a target audience already because they will be the main consumers of the article. What is their location, age, gender or level of income? The main goal of writing a quality article is to create content that people will read, connect with, share and recommend.
Identifying the target audience will help you to understand the language and channel of your writing. If you want your readers to understand your article, use strong cognitive-fluency i.e. phrases and words that are familiar to your audience. You can identify your target audience by asking readers for feedback on articles or carrying out a survey on social media through polls.
3. Do your research
It’s difficult to write quality content without carrying out extensive research. The internet has made it easy for a lot of people to copy and paste content leading to a lot of articles to lack originality. A quality article is well researched and also well supported by facts. As a writer, you should start your research by:
Evaluating your topic. Once you have understood your topic and identified your audience, evaluate what your audience needs and specific areas of your topic that you wish to cover.
Researching on what has been written before. Deeply delve into what has been written previously about the topic. This will provide you with the necessary backbone that you need for your article.
Identifying any gaps. Try and identify some aspects of the topic that haven’t been covered or are not well explained. Note that great content has to be useful, fresh and unique.
Your research should have things such as definitions, basic/common terms used in that area of writing, basic format, statistics, examples, references, helpful resources etc. Collect everything that you think will be beneficial for your writing and save it somewhere. After that, sift through what you have collected to separate what you need and what you should discard.
4. Choose the Writing Structure
Different forms of writing have different writing structures. The structure is important because it helps to keep the article organised and it ensures that there is a transitioning flow from one paragraph to another. A well-organised article is what will get people attracted to your content. An article must have a title and the end because nobody wants to read an article that is unclear or incomplete. From your research, you can outline your article by mapping out the ideas and the sub-topics you plan to write.
Whilst some people may first write the article before outlining, having an outline first is what will help you to get the right approach. Your writing structure can be in the form of categories or sub-titles, lists, numbers etc.
5. Write the Article
After you have carried out your research and outlined the structure of your article, it is now time to sit down and write. Start with the introduction/definition and let everything flow from there. It is important to avoid distractions of any kind e.g. noise or social media and put your whole focus into writing. You can move it a secluded quiet place so that your mind is fully focused on one thing.
While you are writing, it is important for you to remember to create credibility. Nobody wants to read redundant articles. People are tired of reading the same types of things over and over. We all know that anybody can write anything the way they want and that is why we have high cases of plagiarism. Web users oftentimes come across content that has been cited as “unreliable” or “plagiarised” and that is why some websites have protected their websites using software to prevent copy and paste.If you are writing online content for blogs, people will only take you seriously after they have verified the credibility of your content. You can build credibility by writing true unbiased content that is non-promotional (in the case of a business article). Note that readers especially the web readers are very sensitive when it comes to product/service articles. You can boost your credibility by:
- Stating your expertise or a qualifying experience.
- Citing your references, statistics or facts. Always try to use the primary content source.
- Using attribution phrases whenever appropriate
- Providing a link to other industry experts to help your readers with additional resources.
Your writing should be actionable. People are always looking for content that is mind-blowing, challenging, interesting, thought-provoking and useful. The way the world is set up right now, readers are looking for things such as tips, instructions, solutions i.e. they are looking for content that has benefits. An audience that is engaged in your content will hang on to your every word and also take in all that you write.
However, the only way you can engage your audience is by writing content that is engaging and this starts with you, as the writer, knowing what and how to write the article. Write with authority, like a person who fully understands what they are talking about. Your sentences and the sub-headings should make the reader feel compelled to read the whole article.
When writing, ask yourself what you want the reader to know, do or feel. Does every section of your article relate to the previous one and does the whole article flow? Is there a call to action? It is also important to use a conversational style in some parts of your article, this helps readers to connect and engage with the content. Try to avoid an overdone, flowery language or the use of complex vocabularies in the article. Use the standard spelling and grammar to ensure that your article is easy to understand.
In an informal type of writing such as writing for pleasure, you are allowed to use common urban vocabularies and slangs. A business article requires the use of descriptive phrases and if it is for search engine optimisation purposes, you have to check out the keyword density. If you are writing fiction, avoid things such as prologue and a detailed description of the characters, things, and places.
Note that the best high-quality articles usually have strong and attractive opening lines. The first paragraph should answer the question that any reader has. This helps to narrow down the focus of the content in the article and it lets the reader know that they have found the correct content. After you have set out the tone of the article, it is in the main body where you offer advice, give opinions, state the facts or findings, offer instructions and any other information that is pertinent. If your writing moves off the grid or it becomes much cluttered, the reader might stop reading midway. Furthermore, do not limit the way you write your content to a one-dimensional reader. Make your content appeal to a wider audience by trying to incorporate the expectation of different readers.
6. Watch the length your article
Length of an article is very important. Keep your content short enough to fully capture the attention of the reader and long enough to tackle all the important points. Don’t drag it out but also don’t keep it very short because very long or short articles are usually ignored by readers as well as search engines. Your article should not take too long to get to the main point because the reader will more likely stop and move on. Note that getting your article out there into the hands of readers is very difficult hence you don’t want to waste such opportunities because of long or short length.
7. Edit the article
Format the text. Read through the article, revise and repeat. Correct any grammatical mistakes, punctuation errors and proofread it. Apart from ensuring the title is well written, headings and sub-headings should be well formatted and organised. A messy, unorganised and grammatically incorrect article is a total turn off to the reader. Your article should start with an introduction, main content then a conclusion. While editing;
- Ensure that the paragraphs in your article are short. A four to six sentences paragraph is a good range.
- Use numbers or bullet points whenever necessary to make your article easy to read and more organised.
- Use italics or bold letters to emphasise strong points.
- Use sub-topics and sub-headings to guide the readers through your article. The sub-headings should give the reader an idea of what the paragraph below it is all about. Research reports indicate that over 80 per cent of people read the sub-headings while only 20 per cent read the rest of the content.
- Use a clear font. Use an averagely sized font so that the reader can view your article with ease and in a more relaxed manner. Nobody wants to squint their eyes while reading because of small font or feel uncomfortable because of an extra-large font. If you are writing a blog article, a good font size should be between 14 px. and 16 px. Sans serifs are one of the best fonts to read on the internet
- Spacing- contrasting and transitioning from one paragraph to the next is very important and this requires the use of spaces. You can skip one or two lines in between paragraphs and skip one line after each sub-title.
- Use simple sentences that are direct to the point. Avoid the use of verbose language and get straight to the point. Avoid using a lot of fluffs or irrelevant content.
Editing, The Final Step to Write a Quality Article
Editing is the final step of writing a quality article. Although most people hate to go through their articles after writing, this is one of the most crucial steps that will help your article to stand out. You have to edit the article to ensure that it is consistent with the main topic, that there is flow from the beginning to the end, your points are right and that the grammar is correct. Use appropriate paragraphs, short sentences, numbers, bullet points, italics etc. to emphasise your main points. Remember that quality does not come from the writing itself only but also in the way the content is presented.
Writing a quality article is not an easy task. It requires a lot of time and dedication in carrying out research, sourcing, writing down the main points, elaborating the points, structuring and editing. Writers should treat every article they write as a means of connecting with their target audience hence they should take special care in ensuring that each article is as accurate as possible and free from errors.