Article Writing Advice
Freelance article writing can be a rewarding and lucrative home-based career. It’s possible to make a full or part-time living from copywriting. Consumers continually search online for quality information. This provides freelancers with many outlets for their professionally researched, written and edited articles. The keys to successful article writing is to develop engaging, well-structured content that also achieves a favorable ranking in search engine results.
The Article Opening
The opening should be a brief summary of what will be included in the article. Resist the temptation to begin with, In this article I will be telling you…instead simply start telling. Let the reader know as quickly as possible what information they can expect to find in the article.
For example, if your title is Container Gardening Basics you can write a few sentences about how container gardening is gaining popularity with apartment dwellers and people with certain disabilities. Then you could go on to mention that there are several container choices available and that many plants thrive nicely in small spaces. Subsequent paragraphs should address the information presented in your opening.
The subheading is the main idea or summation of each new idea in your article. Think of it as the subtitle, which should represent the information written in successive paragraphs.
Boldface subheadings get the reader’s attention quickly. People are often in a hurry when searching for online information. Subheadings allow readers to find what they’re looking for by briefly scanning the article. A long article without subheadings can cause readers to give up and move on to another article.
Subheadings also help writers by keeping them focused on what they want to say in an article. It also avoids repeating information. Subheadings can be written before writing the actual article content, as you would with an outline, or added after the article is written.
SEO and Keywords
Knowing a little about search engine optimization (SEO) can be valuable when writing Web articles. Google’s keyword tool is especially helpful when fine tuning article titles. Simply enter an article title in the tool bar to find how often a particular phrase is used in an internet search. It’s best to cut a title down to as few words as possible. The Best Way to Grow a Garden in a Container would be much better as Container Gardening Basics. The keyword tool also helps writers know how popular a subject is with readers. Spending time writing an article only to find out there’s not enough interest in the subject can be frustrating.
Keyword Stuffing – Don’t Do It
Google defines keyword stuffing as, "…the practice of loading a webpage with keywords in an attempt to manipulate a site's ranking in Google's search results. Filling pages with keywords results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site's ranking…typically, these will be lists or paragraphs of keywords, often randomly repeated.”
If your articles have ever been spammed with seemingly nonsensical comments you’ve seen examples of keyword stuffing. The sole purpose of these comments is to entice readers into clicking on links within the spam. These keyword stuffers are just too lazy to write their own content.
Some blogs and websites exist only as a way to flood the internet with heavily key worded content. Google is actively penalizing sites that habitually publish keyword stuffed articles by removing them from the Google index and suspending or terminating Adsense accounts. Google advises that websites provide readers with informative, practical content that uses appropriate keywords.
Online content sites make their money from Google ad revenue and must abide by Google’s strict guidelines. Writers that routinely contribute content to online sites should be aware that key word stuffing will not be tolerated. Self-serving keyword stuffing can cause article writers to lose writing privileges with most content sites. Do not key word stuff your articles – it’s not worth it.
Include Quotes and Links to Add Credibility
Adding reputable quotes, expert information and current statistics to your article adds credibility to your content. Government sites are by far the best and most reliable. Writers who submit articles to certain online content sites, such as Suite101 and Demand Media Studios, are required to include these references. Other sites are more lax when presenting information. Getting into the habit of finding the most reliable references when researching article content is good practice for writers.
Providing links to reference sites is helpful to readers who wish to find out more information. Whenever possible, set the links to open in a new window. Readers will be less likely to get distracted and forget to return to your article. If you contribute articles to sites that share revenue with writers this is especially important. Readers won’t click on ads if they don’t remain on your article.
Writing the Article’s Conclusion
Don’t abruptly end an article. Reiterate your information, without being repetitious. If you have other articles that relate to one another you can add a link in the conclusion. Be sure to read the site’s guidelines regarding what’s permissible when promoting your writing. For instance, Suite101 permits promoting your other Suite101 articles, but frowns on promotion of articles from other sites. In that case you can always include links to your other content in your author’s biography or profile page.
Proofread and Edit Your Article
Never rely exclusively on spell check – there, they’re and their may be spelled right, but your spell check won’t know which version you mean. Proof the article for flow, and missing or misplaced words. Edit for spelling and grammar. Read the article out loud – this often catches mistakes missed when simply scanning an article. Whether we realize it or not, spelling and grammar mistakes make an article appear less reliable.
Fine Tune Your Article Writing Skills
Writing every day helps hone your article writing skills. A personal blog is a great training ground for article writers. Both Blogger and WordPress are free, although Blogger (owned by Google) has the added advantage of enabling Adsense ads and shares revenue (a very small percentage) with blog owners. Get in the habit of structuring your blog posts as you would an article.
As you write more often you’ll improve your skills and this will allow you to command more money for your writing services.
**Are you a writer? HubPages is an excellent writing community with the potential for high earnings. I encourage everyone to sign up for a HubPages account here.
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