Information becomes a form of currency in Knowledge Commerce. The more information you have — and the more you share with your audience — the more wealthy you become.
Writing detailed, information-rich articles might feel like a waste of time, but it can actually move your business forward faster. Good copywriting skills will help you move customers and prospects through the marketing pipeline faster.
It’s not just about landing pages and product descriptions. While persuasive copy is essential for any business to have, so is informational copy. It’s often what attracts consumers to an entrepreneur in the first place.
Learn how to write an article so you can draw in traffic from search engines, share valuable knowledge on social media, and build a relationship with your audience. You’ll thank yourself for that investment.
But how do you write a fantastic article? Let’s go through the process step by step.
1. Keep a Long List of Ideas
Many people think that you learn how to write an article by sitting at your computer and staring at a blinking cursor for two hours. You might eventually be motivated to put something on the page — if only to stifle your own boredom — but there are better ways.
Keep an idea list, whether it’s in a stenographer’s notebook, a stack of Post-Its, or a spreadsheet on your computer. Add to it at least once a week so you always have a rich idea bank form which to withdraw potential article topics.
Some of your ideas will never become articles. There’s nothing wrong with that. An idea file simple provides you with inspiration so you don’t have to come up with topics on the spot.
2. Select a Topic That Interests and Inspires You
You don’t want to sit down to write an article that bores you. The text will bore your readers, as well.
It can take some training, but you’ll eventually learn to tackle any topic with gusto. For now, though, select an article topic that inspires you to write.
Maybe you’re passionate about the content, or perhaps you’re an expert in the subject matter. Whatever the case, choose a title that speaks to you and that you can get excited about.
Sometimes, it’s a mood thing. Listen to your emotions when you need to write an article for your blog or some other purpose.
Narrow Down Your Topic Further
Once you’ve chosen your topic, decide whether you can narrow it down. If you start with a topic that’s too broad, you’ll feel overwhelmed — and you might never finish.
Let’s say, for example, that you brainstormed the topic “how to take better photographs.” That’s a pretty tall order.
You could break it down in numerous ways:
- How to take better landscape photographs
- How to take better photographs in low light
- How to take better photographs with your smartphone
- How to take better portrait photographs
You see where we’re going. There are two benefits to this approach:
- You end up with a narrow, specific topic on which to write, which sharpens your focus; and
- You’ll end up with multiple potential articles, which lengthens your idea list even further.
3. Brainstorm Ideas and Points to Include in the Article
We recommend using stream-of-consciousness brainstorming. Focus on your article topic and start writing down ideas that come to mind. Don’t worry about order or censoring yourself.
You can later organize your ideas into a logical structure. For now, you’re just getting words on the page so you can cover as many points as possible.
What if you feel stuck while trying to brainstorm points for your article? There are a few tips that can help.
Mine Questions from Your Followers
Think about questions others have asked you via social media, blog comments, and in-person conversations. Sometimes, those details can help you flesh out an article that feels too thin.
Remember that content marketing is all about the user experience. You want people to find true value in your work, so you can start with questions people have asked in the past. You can bet that others have the same questions.
Keep Your Brain on Track
For this exercise, you don’t want to let brainstorming get out of hand. In other words, if you stray too far off the path you’ve created for yourself during topic selection, you might wind up with a 100,000-word article.
Keep your imagination reined in during this process. Focus on the core question or concern you posed in the article topic so you don’t go off on unnecessary tangents. You might find that some of your points are too far away from the article topic. In that case, snip them out of the final draft.
Think About Persuasion
Content marketing isn’t just about making the sale. However, that doesn’t mean you have to ignore sales while you’re writing content for your blog or other online properties.
Consider points that will help persuade readers to buy your online courses or sign up for your membership site. You don’t have to directly sell to your readers, but you can subtly hint that your digital products have the solutions for which your audience is searching.
4. Figure Out How Many Words You Want Your Article to Have
Word count should never be set in stone. Let’s say, for example, that you prefer to write articles that are 2,500 words long, but after you finish writing the piece, your word count falls at 2,250.
That doesn’t mean you should add words for the sake of creating a longer article. In fact, that’s a surefire way to turn off readers.
“The best articles use the precise number of words required to fulfill the title’s promise. No fewer and no more. #Kajabi” — Tweet this!
However, it’s a good idea to have a starting goal before you write your article. Do you plan to jot down a 500-word piece, or would you like to pound out 4,000 words for the article?
Knowing the approximate length in advance will help you decide whether you have sufficient points to cover in the piece.
5. Pinpoint Questions You’ll Need to Answer for Your Audience
Any article topic will automatically bring to mind certain questions that readers will have about the subject matter. Let’s go back to our example from above about the photography article.
Maybe you decide to write an article about “how to take better landscape photography.” That’s a great topic, but what questions come to mind?
- What is landscape photography?
- Why is landscape photography different than other types of photography?
- What equipment might I need?
- How should I deal with inconvenient weather patterns?
All of these questions are natural extensions of your topic. When people click on your article from a social share or a SERP entry, they’ll expect you to answer them — so make sure you do.
6. Conduct Tons of Research
It sounds a little boring, but it’s necessary. And if you love the subject matter, you’ll rejoice in every minute of research.
Sure, you’re an expert in your subject area, but there’s always something new to learn. What new equipment, tools, or strategies have surfaced recently? Have there been any related studies whose data you can mine?
Always err on the side of too much research. You might not use it all, but every piece of data will inform your article’s tone, perspective, and advice.
7. Collect Hard Data to Support Your Claims
Building on the last point, make sure you have hard data if your topic requires it.
For instance, an article on how to write an article might not need much in the way of data points. However, if you’re writing an article on how to train a puppy, you’ll probably want to cite experts, research, and studies to back up your claims about the best puppy training methods.
Keep your research on hand for future articles, too. You’ll likely write on similar subjects down the road, so cut your work in half. If you save studies and other pieces of data, you can mine them later and save yourself the trouble of unnecessary Google searches.
8. Cite Every Source You Use
Finally, when it comes to research, remember that the information you dig up online doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to the person who first published it.
We just talked about an article on how to train a puppy. Maybe I visited the website of a well-known dog trainer with abundant certifications to learn more about his methods.
Before I describe them for my audience, I’m going to link to that trainer’s website — specifically, the page where I got the information. I want to give him or her credit for information that doesn’t belong to me.
Citing your sources is even more important if you include numbers, percentages, or direct quotes. Never include those types of information in your articles unless you link to the source.
9. Write a Detailed Article Outline
Before you start building your opening and getting into the meat of your article, take the time to get an outline on paper. You’ll thank yourself when you get to the middle of the article and forget half the points you intended to introduce.
Yes, you already collected data points and other key information and questions, but now you need to assemble them into a logical structure. You want each point to build on the last and to flow with one another.
You don’t have to write 100 words for every point of your outline. In fact, just a few words to help guide you through the piece will be sufficient.
10. Choose Quotes and Other Evidence to Strengthen Your Position
Quotes and evidence can strengthen your article and make you look credible. Again, however, you need to cite the source.
You might discover an amazing quote on a website, but did the author of that web page actually say the quote? If not, try to track down its original source. That way, you’re giving credit to the person who actually voiced the opinion you want to quote.
11. Use Metaphors, Anecdotes, and Storytelling to Provide Context
Dry articles quickly bore readers. You’ll want to keep their attention by driving the prose forward. Metaphors, anecdotes, and storytelling all provide excellent vehicles for fast-paced but educational content.
We used a metaphor to open this article by comparing information to currency. The metaphor was designed to help our readers understand the value and power behind knowledge — especially that which we can share via content marketing.
A good metaphor helps shed light on a confusing topic or lets readers relate better to the content. If they can relate to the metaphor, they’ll understand the point you’re trying to get across.
Metaphors don’t have to be fancy or even original. However, they’re typically most useful when they are easily understood by your entire target audience. For instance, don’t make a comparison with something that few people understand or know about.
An anecdote helps readers relate to your personally. You might share a story about how you made a mistake, succeeded in reaching a goal, or discovered a new strategy that you’ll share with your audience.
Think of an anecdote as a true mini story. It’s a brief, slice-of-life tale that helps your readers better understand your perspective.
If you read personal blogs, you’ve seen plenty of anecdotes. They’re the short stories people tell so others relate to them.
If you’re a writer, you likely tell stories. In fact, even if you’re not a writer, you probably tell stories.
The stories you tell in your articles don’t have to be true. They just shouldn’t be a lie.
You’ll notice that we’ve used lots of examples throughout this content, such as the articles about training a puppy and shooting better photographs. Essentially, we’ve set up a story to illustrate how a strategy should work.
You can do the same thing. Create a fictional scenario to help your readers better understand the points you want them to accept.
12. Pay Attention To Style, Structure and Voice
Of all the aspects of writing articles, understanding style, structure, and voice seem to be hardest. This is perhaps because they’re not easy to define.
Let’s take a look at each one in a little more detail so you can master them in your own articles.
Style refers to the way you arrange phrases, sentences, words, paragraphs, and sections of text. It’s your literary thumbprint.
Here at Kajabi, we use a sparse but friendly style. Our paragraphs and sentences tend to be on the short side, and we often help illustrate out points through storytelling and metaphor.
Our style is also very visual. We break up our articles into numerous subheadings, then break them up further with images, bulleted lists, and numbered lists.
Your style might be quite different. Just make sure that it fits your audience and the subject matter.
An article’s structure is the way in which it is laid out. It might be linear, such as moving from one part of a process to another, or it could be chronological, such as describing the steps toward achieving a specific goal.
Structure also refers to the headings and subheadings you use in your articles. For instance, here at Kajabi, we make liberal use of H2, H3, and H4 tags to help section off different parts of each piece.
Your voice is uniquely yours. Nobody else can speak (or write) in the exact same way you do, so use that fact to your advantage.
Consider the blogger Dooce, for instance. Heather Armstrong is often referred to as the Queen of Mommy Bloggers. She’s earned a considerable living from blogging about her life as a parent.
Armstrong doesn’t provide much in the way of advice. She’s not a Knowledge Commerce professional. However, people return to her blog year after year because of her voice. It’s sarcastic, irreverent, and distinctly her own.
We’re not asking you to copy Armstrong’s voice or any other writer’s voice. Instead, find your own. Figure out what makes your own voice unique and magnetic, then use it to your advantage.
13. Use Bullet Points and Numbered Lists
Think of your article as one long document that you can see from beginning to end. It might seem a little intimidating when viewed from that angle, right?
On the screen — and even in hard copy — people often feel intimidated by great slabs of text. That’s why newspapers and magazines often publish their copy in columns.
You can use columns, of course, but that doesn’t make much sense on the screen, especially when it comes to mobile devices. You have to find other ways to break up the copy and make it more readable.
Bullet points and numbered lists help. Not only do they create a visual break in the content, but they allow you to feed your audience lists without overwhelming them with words.
14. Refine Your Draft Through Careful Pruning
After you’ve written your article’s first draft, don’t hit the “publish” button just yet. It’s not ready for prime time.
Instead, work through it carefully with a real or imaginary red pen. Pretend you’re an English teacher grading a paper for a class on article writing. You want to be ruthless but kind.
In other words, delete anything that doesn’t belong. Remove words, phrases, and even whole sentences and paragraphs if they don’t contribute real value to the article.
Why do you need to edit and prune? Because you only have a certain amount of time to capture your readers’ attention. If you stray too far off your main points, you’ll lose them.
15. Get Right to the Point and Make Specific Points
An article shouldn’t meander or run off on tangents. When you’re writing, you don’t want to leave any room for ambiguity.
In other words, cut anything that doesn’t help you make your primary points, which you brainstormed before you started writing. Additionally, try not to “build up” to your points through purple prose.
It’s helpful to think of any piece of writing as an elevator pitch. With every floor that passes, you run out of time to get every point across. Consequently, you need to get to the point as quickly as possible and write in specific, actionable language.
16. Make It Your Own
It’s sometimes difficult to stand out from the crowd in Knowledge Commerce. After all, no matter your topic, someone else has written about it before.
But that’s okay. It’s preferable, even, because it means you have a built-in audience.
It also means that you have to find a way to stand out. The best way to do this is to bring your own sense of humor and intellect to the piece. Add information and data that only you can provide.
Additionally, make sure that every word is your own — unless, of course, it’s cited and in quotes. Plagiarism will get you kicked out of college or result in a cancelled publishing deal. It’s just as serious when you’re blogging or distributing other types of content.
Plagiarism means that you’ve claimed someone else’s words as your own. It’s bad news. If you borrow from someone else’s work, give him or her credit.
17. End With a Compelling Conclusion
You always want to end with a strong conclusion. It will likely include your CTA, which should tell your reader exactly what to do next.
It’s a good idea to summarize your article a bit. Provide the key takeaways for your readers so they understand what they should get out of the article.
18. Think About Adding Supplemental Material
Many of the best articles include supplemental material to help readers on their journey.
For instance, let’s say that you’re teaching people how to create better landscape photos. You could provide one of your own landscape photos for people to download and edit in Lightroom, Topaz Studio, or any other software program.
Other articles might include downloadable content, calculators, or printables. Think about how you can pack more value into every article you write.
19. Give Sneak Peeks to Keep Readers on the Page
One of the best ways to keep people on the page is to tease information you’ll reveal later one. For instance, you might include asides, such as a parenthetical statement:
(But we’ll talk about that more later.)
These subtle cues tell readers that you’re not done providing value. It also encourages them to continue scrolling, even if they don’t read every word.
Think about the last novel you read. You probably kept reading because the author provided hints of a mystery, foreshadowing, and other details to help keep you glued to the page.
You can do the same as you learn how to write an article. People will read more of your work if you can keep the suspense high and suggest that more value awaits further down the page.
20. Write a Headline That Summarizes Your Article in an Intriguing Way
The headline is perhaps the most important part of your article. It’s what appears on your blog, in the SERPs, in your social media post, and everywhere else you share the article.
So how do you make sure that your headline works for — rather than against — you?
Make it compelling. Ask a question, suggest an unexpected conclusion, or hint at a heretofore never-revealed secret. Most importantly, make sure it’s full answered in the article that follows.
21. Read, Revise, Repeat
Many people don’t read their own articles. They type the final period and send it off into cyberspace.
Your article needs a little more attention. Plus, you’ll want to make sure that your first great article is followed by another great article.
Don’t use this guide for a single piece of content. Revisit it each time you sit down to write so you know that your putting your best foot forward.
Use Kajabi To Turn Your Knowledge And Content Into Products You Can Sell
At Kajabi, we’re committed to helping Knowledge Commerce flourish. The more of your knowledge you share, the more valuable you become to your target audience.
Sometimes, it all starts with a single article. It might be a blog post, an email, or something else entirely.
The important thing is to make sure you keep eyes on the page. Once you know how to write an article, you can replicate your success over and over again. Then, once people start paying attention, you can earn money from your knowledge. That’s where we come in.
In fact, we’re doing our best to help Knowledge Commerce professionals get off on the right foot. You can start selling your knowledge today and build a business of your own. The first 14 days is on us.
Learning how to write an article can make you a more effective Knowledge Commerce professional.
Start by creating a list of ideas. Select a topic from that list that inspires and interests you. Brainstorm the important key points for that article and figure out how many words your article should contain. Don’t forget about questions. They’re often the basis for a good article.
Research the topic, collect hard data, cite your sources, and write a detailed article outline. This prep work will save you a lot of headaches moving forward. You can also figure out which key quotes and data points you want to highlight in the text.
While you’re writing, use anecdotes, metaphors, and storytelling to enliven your prose. Nail down issues like style, structure, and voice, and don’t forget to break up the text with bulleted and numbered lists.
Every article should end with a compelling conclusion. It’s essential.
With a great headline, sneak peeks sprinkled throughout the article, and supplemental material, you’ll be well on your way to wowing your audience.
What are your best tips for writing an article that impresses readers?
10 Step Checklist To Creating Content That Sells
After you start driving traffic to your content, you're going to want to start monetizing it!
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It's a checklist we've come up with using insights from one of our #kajabiheroes Alex Fergus, and you can follow it to for your own Knowledge Commerce business!
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