First of all, what’s the difference between writing blog posts and writing articles? Aren’t they the same thing?
In terms of writing for the web, they are more or less the same, but articles are written for mostly news and opinion publications. When you write for traditional media such as print media, you write articles or opinion pieces. Blog posts, by their very nature, are informal, casual and conversational. Articles are much more formal, professional and factual. I’m not saying blogs shouldn’t be professional and factual, but this is an underlying difference between blog posts and articles.
For example, if you are writing for an online magazine or an online newspaper like Washington Post or New York Times, most probably you are writing an article and not a blog post although they have dedicated blog sections.
It is always beneficial to know how to write articles – the articles that can be published in professional publications.
Even if you yourself cannot write, getting some article published about your business and then getting an incoming link from the magazine or the newspaper can do wonders to your search engine rankings.
How does article writing and publishing help your business?
As mentioned above, articles are much more factual and formal. They are a good way to show your authority on a topic. Articles are more authoritative in the sense that people trust them more just because they are published in formal publications. You can publish a blog anywhere. But when you get an article published in a traditional newspaper or magazine it goes through an elaborate vetting process. Your writing is scrutinized by people who are less interested in you and more interested in the reputation of their publication. Hence, they will publish your article only if they find it worth publishing. That in itself increases your authority if you get to publish your article.
How should you approach writing an article?
Personally, since I get paid for every piece of content that I write, whenever I write, I give it my best shot, and I would do the same when writing an article. An article being approved by an editor of a magazine or newspaper is slightly same as a blog post or a web page being approved by a client, especially when the client knows exactly what he or she wants.
Here is what I would suggest for writing effective and profitable articles for your business:
Write on topics you have authority on
This is very important. If you have an authority on your topic you will be able to write in-depth. You will be able to find the right data. You will be linking to the right references.
That is why among journalists you come across “foreign-policy experts” or “economists” or “business correspondents” or “sports reporters”. Normally, if someone writes on entertainment, he or she mostly writes on entertainment. If someone writes on science, he or she mostly writes on science.
Do extensive research
When there was no Internet doing research was quite difficult. You had to visit libraries. I remember people used to maintain clippings from newspapers and magazines so that they could use them as references when writing their own articles. In the times of the Internet, doing research is simply laboring in front of your PC or laptop (some people even prefer their mobile phones).
Make sure what you want to research. If you don’t ask the right questions, you don’t get the right answers. Make a list of all the references and data sets you want to include in your article. Please remember that the more data you use, more authoritative your article sounds. Just make sure that you obtain your data from trusted and renowned sources.
Use simple language
By simple language I don’t mean write like a third grader. I prefer to write simple sentences unless there is a compelling reason to capture multiple ideas in a single sentence. Express one thought in one sentence. Don’t use unnecessarily complicated words and expressions. Remember that common folks will be reading your articles who may not be experts and may not be familiar with the words and expressions that you are familiar with. The purpose of your writing is not to impress people, but to inform and educate them, or change their opinion about something. Language is your tool. Use it appropriately.
Write an outline before writing the complete article
This will help you capture all the ideas that you want to include. Writing can be a laborious task and when writing, you may forget important points that you want to talk about. Hence, create a notebook or a Word document and in bulleted points make a list of everything that you want to cover. All the important points. Pros and cons of your main agenda. Some authoritative reference links. Some important quotes from other authority figures.
Write shorter sentences
Shorter sentences may create lots of white space, but they also make it easier to read your article. Preferably have 3-4 sentences in a paragraph and not more. Writing shorter sentences and paragraphs also makes it easier for search engine algorithms to analyze your text and then rank your content appropriately. It will be also easier for the editor to go through your article.
Edit and proofread your article after writing
This is what the editor of the magazine or newspaper does before publishing. Editing allows you to refine your sentences. There may be some typos that you may have typed in a hurry. There may be some hanging sentences. There may be some complicated or confusing sentences you may want to simplify. Maybe there are certain words you want to change? Editing helps you fine-tune your article and also gives you an opportunity to do a final reading before you submit it. How about using too many adverbs and adjectives? Don’t over obsess, though.
You may be tempted to use keywords more than necessary so, avoid that. When you publish an article, for example on LinkedIn, or any other publication, you would want the article to be found on Google and other search engines but keep in mind that content-intensive websites like LinkedIn are already ranking well for their content. Search engine algorithms can easily analyze content and decide on their own for what keywords to showcase individual links. Nonetheless, if the keywords are important, strategically use them within your title and the body text.