10 Simple Strategies That Will Make You a Better Article Writer
Article marketing has the potential to be the most powerful tool in your arsenal of internet marketing tools.
For one thing it doesn’t require any special skills other than the ability to create a simple, short and clearly written article.
Another reason that article marketing can be such a powerful tool is that it is very simple to implement. There are many outlets where your article can be displayed including on your very own WordPress blog (or website) like this one.
A third reason that makes article marketing so powerful is that it can be highly effective. A well written, keyword-rich article can rank extremely well on Google. For example, this article, How to Write a Great Topic Sentence, ranks 1st out of 1,700,000 search results for its primary keyword. That results in a lot of traffic and you can turn that traffic into some serious income:
So, there you have it; three reasons to keep article marketing in mind when selecting from your arsenal of internet marketing tools.
Free Article Writing Handbook
This nifty little handbook is all you need to get started writing good articles. It covers the following:
- How to Write a Great Topic Sentence
- How to Write Using the 3 Step Writing Process
- How to Write a 300 Word Article in an Hour
- How to Write a Clearly Written Article in 4 Easy Steps
- How to Develop Your Article Using Subtopic Sentences
- How to Motivate People to Read Your Article
- How to Write a Blog Post in Less Than 20 Minutes
- How to Write a Simple One Paragraph Article Part 1
- How to Write a Simple One Paragraph Article Part 2
- The Secret to Good Writing
Number 1 – How to Write a Great Topic Sentence
The first sentence of any short article is the MOST important sentence in the entire article. The first sentence is referred to as the topic sentence. It represents the main idea of the article. The topic sentence is made up of two parts; a limited subject and a precise opinion. For example, the topic sentence of this article consists of a limited subject; “The first sentence of any article” and a precise opinion; “is the most important sentence in the entire article”. This article will show you how to choose a limited subject, how to express your opinion about the limited subject, and how to write the topic sentence.
Choose a Limited Subject: The key here is to select a subject that’s limited enough to be covered within the confines of the short article. In other words, you should be able to fully support the limited subject using between 300 and 600 words or so. For example, the limited subject of this article, “the first sentence of any short article,” is limited enough to support in a short article. Imagine how long it would take to write an article detailing everything you’ve done over the course of a year. That would be one very long article. Now, imagine writing an article detailing everything you’ve done in just one day. I’d bet you could do that in 300-600 words.
Express Your Opinion: You can express your opinion by telling the reader exactly what you think about the limited subject. What, precisely, is your opinion on the subject you have chosen? Does it taste great or is it less filling? Which side are you on? More importantly, why? You mustn’t be vague when you express your opinion. Words like nice, good and interesting are vague. They beg the reader to ask, “What do you mean?” Words like beautiful, delicious and dangerous leave little to the imagination.
Writing the Topic Sentence: The basic structure for writing the topic sentence is very simple. First, state the limited subject and then state the precise opinion. Here are a few examples:
- The Godfather is the greatest movie of all time
- Broccoli rabe is my favorite vegetable
- Strunk and White’s “the Elements of Style” is the very best book of its kind
- Learning to draw cartoons is the best way to enhance creativity
- Starting your own internet business is the easiest, fastest and cheapest way to ensure a lifetime of financial stability
I could go on and on but I’m sure you get the point. I hope this will help you write powerful topic sentences in your own articles. It’s pretty easy as long as you remember to stick to a limited subject and as long as you remember to clearly state your precise opinion about that subject. This will help set the level of expectation for the reader and will allow you to focus on supporting your assertion that [insert YOUR limited subject] is [insert YOUR precise opinion].
Number 2 – The 3 Step Writing Process Explained
There are essentially three basic steps in the writing process that all successful writers employ; prewriting, writing and rewriting. Follow these three simple steps and you will instantly become a better and more efficient writer.
Step 1: Prewriting is the process of gathering your ideas before you begin to write. How much time you spend on prewriting depends on the size of the article you intend to write. First, decide upon a specific topic to write about. Then state clearly your opinion about that topic. For example, let’s say that you love the Roboco Automatic Article Writer and you want to write an article about it. Hey, that was easy! A specific topic (the Roboco Automatic Article Writer) and a clear opinion about it (you love it!). A specific topic combined with an opinion forms the basis for what is known as the topic sentence or thesis. It may look as simple as this; “I LOVE the Roboco Automatic Article Writer!” This could be the first sentence in your article (but it won’t because we’re going to make it much better in just a moment). Now it’s time to move on to the writing stage of the writing process where we’ll provide solid support for our emphatically proclaimed topic sentence (or thesis).
Step 2: Welcome to step two of the writing process–writing! Many people freeze up at this stage. In fact, I just did for a moment. It’s called writer’s block and, according to acclaimed screenwriter Syd Field, “it happens all the time and it happens to everybody.” The easiest way to get past writer’s block is to just get past it. Just plow forward. Just write. Anything. It doesn’t matter. Just get the pen moving. You may be thinking, “yeah right! Easier said than done!” And you know what? It IS easier said than done! Why else would there be only a handful of writers out there fortunate enough to earn a living through writing?
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Actually, I’m going to let you in on two little secrets. First, writing is simply the process of putting your thoughts on paper. The secret to getting your thoughts out on paper is you have to let them out. Focus on the topic of your article and embrace your opinion and repeat after me; “I love the Roboco Automatic Article Writer because…” or better yet, maybe now is the time to make our first sentence much better; “These are the top five reasons that I love the Roboco Automatic Article Writer.” Now, consider why you love the Roboco Automatic Article Writer so much and write for five or ten minutes. Write whatever comes to mind. Don’t stop to think about what you’re writing. Just write about this thing you feel so passionate about. Don’t worry about spelling. Don’t worry about grammar. In five or ten minutes you’ll have several hundred words to work with during the next stage of the writing process.
Step 3: Congratulations! You have arrived. You are a writer. You’ve managed to get your thoughts on paper. But before we present it to the world we’ll need to clean it up a bit. The process of editing your work is called rewriting. Now is the time to turn on that part of your brain that loves to organize things. The first thing you want to do is go for the low hanging fruit. Fix all the obvious mistakes like spelling and grammar problems. Next you want to read your article out loud. Listen carefully for awkward sentences. Take your time. It’s not like you’re a cub reporter for the Daily News and you have a deadline to make! Take a break and come back to it later. Ask a friend to review it and provide feedback (be careful here–I once asked a friend to take a look at something I wrote and it came backed covered in red ink. The only thing missing was a big fat capital “D” at the top of the page).
Obviously good writing takes a certain amount of skill and effort. Fortunately it doesn’t require that much time. It should take no more than a minute or two to come up with the topic sentence or thesis. You know what you like, you know what you’re really good at–so write an article based on that. It only takes five to ten minutes to spill your unedited thoughts onto a piece of paper. It shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to an hour to rewrite those words into a clear and concise 350 to 450 word article.
Remember, to get really good at something you need to first learn the process of doing it. Then you need to repeat that process over and over again. That’s called practice. I’ve shared with you the process. Now it’s up to you to put it into practice. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the second little secret. According to many professional writers, the real secret to good writing is using examples. I’ll talk more about this later. The fundamentals of article writing can be learned. Once learned they can be practiced. Once practiced they can be mastered.
Number 3 – How to Write a 300 Word Article in 20 – 30 Minutes
Are you an expert in a particular field and would like to write an article with little effort and as fast as possible? Would you like to learn a simple technique that will allow you to write a 300 word article, with very little effort, in about 20 – 30 minutes?
If you want to write an article in less than an hour it’s best if you begin with a topic that you’re very familiar with and passionate about. Anything else will require research and a level of effort that’ll make the writing process longer. This article will show you how to write a 300 word article, with very little effort, in about an hour.
The first ten minutes: I like to begin by clustering. Clustering is the creation of Gabriele Rico, author of “Writing the Natural Way,” a bestselling book that teaches you “how to use right-brain techniques to release your expressive powers.” Clustering can be learned within a few minutes of reading chapter 2 of Dr. Rico’s book (should be available at your local public library). Once learned it takes only a minute or two to create a cluster and then an additional 8 minutes to turn the cluster into a 400 to 700 word first draft. That’s 400 to 700 words in ten minutes! But we’re not done yet. Now it’s time to edit the draft into a presentable article.
The next 10 – 15 minutes: My goal during this phase is to edit the draft into a 300 word article. Basically all I do is read it out loud and make changes. I do this over and over again until I’ve whittled it down to about 300 words.
The final 5 minutes: I spend this time reading the article out loud and making minor adjustments. I do this over and over again until I think it’s just right. Then I ask my wife to read it out loud as I listen with my eyes closed. If it seems right I submit it for publication. If not I let it rest for a while (maybe a day) and I read it again and make changes as necessary.
That’s all there is to it. Cluster, Write, Edit, Submit. It’s like a dance. Cluster, Write, Edit, Submit. It may take a little practice but once you get the hang of it there will be no stopping you.
Number 4 – 4 Steps to a Clearly Written Article
Nothing is more frustrating than an article that is difficult to understand. Here are 4 simple steps that will help you to write a focused article that will allow your readers to move from one sentence to the next and follow your ideas without any misunderstanding.
- One thing you can do to write a clear and coherent article is stick to the point. Everything you say must support the main point. If your main point is that “The Godfather” is the greatest movie of all time don’t waiver and complain that you thought the garden scene was too long. This would be a distraction and it may lead to confusion.
- Another thing you can do to write a clear and coherent article is to explain your support. For example, stating that “The Godfather was well directed and had many fine actors” might support your opinion that you think “The Godfather” is a great movie but you haven’t really explained your support enough to sway the reader. If you say that it was directed by one of the world’s most highly acclaimed directors, and you named all of the famous stars, and you mentioned all of the awards it received, and you included a few quotes from the world’s most highly respected film critics, the reader is more likely to agree that you have a case.
- Another way to avoid confusion is to remind your readers of your opinion. As your readers move from one sentence to the next, they like to be reminded of your opinion of the topic. An easy way to do this is to repeat the exact (or similar) words of the opinion for each item of support. For example, in this article, the first sentence in each supporting paragraph serves to remind the reader of the main idea that was presented in the opening paragraph.
- Another way to ensure that you’re understood is to include transitions. An article without transitions lacks coherence. It clunks along from one idea to the next. It can be very confusing to read. We can help the reader move from one sentence to the next by adding transitions. Transitions are used to add an idea, to provide an example, to make a comparison and/or to signal the approach of the ending. Words and phrases like also, another, for instance, for example, however, on the other hand, as a result, therefore, and in conclusion are all transitions. Carefully placed they will help your reader understand exactly what you’re saying. Follow these steps and you will be well on your way toward producing clearly written articles that your readers will be able to follow and understand.
Number 5 – How to Develop Your Article Using Subtopic Sentences
This article will show you how to easily develop a compelling short article in a relatively short period of time using subtopic sentences. Subtopic sentences are lead-in sentences that allow you to easily support your main idea (aka your topic sentence). Consider the following topic sentence; The Godfather is the greatest movie of all time.
How can I support this topic sentence? I can begin with my first subtopic sentence (to which I’ve added a few statistics); For one thing it won three Academy Awards including Best Actor, Best Picture and Best Screenplay, and it was nominated in 8 other categories.
That may not be enough to convince the reader. So I’ll add another subtopic sentence (along with a few statements from authorities); It also received glowing reviews from acclaimed critics. Vincent Camby of the New York Times said, “Francis Ford Coppola has made one of the most brutal and moving chronicles of American life ever designed within the limits of popular entertainment.” Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times said, “The story by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola is a brilliant conjuring act, inviting us to consider the Mafia entirely on its own terms.” Edward Guthman of the San Francisco Chronicle said, “In scene after scene … Coppola crafted an enduring, undisputed masterpiece.”
That’s better, but I like to give at least three types of support for my topic sentences. So, I’ll add my third subtopic sentence (along with a personal opinion to support it); But the most compelling reason that I think the Godfather is the greatest movie of all time is this; no other movie in the history of the world captures the essence of what it means to be part of a family–functional or dysfunctional–the way that the Godfather does.
I hope you find this information helpful in developing your articles. All it takes is a little practice and before you know it you’ll find that the article writing process becomes much easier. After all it is a process and if you follow the rules of that process you should be successful. Just like baking a cake.
Number 6 – How to Motivate People to Read Your Article
It’s really not all that difficult to get someone to read your article. You just have to structure it so your reader feels compelled to read it. There are three ways of doing this. First, create an interesting title. Second, create a compelling motivator. Finally, provide good examples of support.
Create an interesting title by answering a burning question. For example, I know for a fact that there are a lot of people who HATE to change the water in their aquariums. “Isn’t there an easier way to change the water in my aquarium?” is an example of a burning question. “How to Clean Your Aquarium Quickly and Easily” is an example of an answer to that burning question.
Let’s move on to the compelling motivator (aka the first sentence). Create the first sentence by converting the title into a topic sentence and attaching a three point blueprint (aka the thesis with blueprint). This will let the reader know what he can expect if he continues to read your article. “This article will show you how the Roboco Automatic Aquarium Water Changer will allow you to (1) change the water in your aquarium in less than fifteen minutes, (2) without disturbing the fish and (3) without spilling a drop” is an example of a compelling motivator. One thing to point out here; the three blueprint points should be listed in order of importance starting with the most important point first.
If you truly believe the Roboco Automatic Aquarium Water Changer is the greatest thing since the Roboco Automatic Bread Slicer then providing examples of support for each of the blueprint points should be a piece of cake. Simply provide personal examples, site statistics, and/or include statements by authorities and customer testimonials. Read the following examples of support for the three blueprint points:
- Once everything was hooked up I turned on the water and began vacuuming the gravel at the bottom of the tank. It was amazing! I have a 55 gallon tank and I was able to change out the recommended amount of water within 15 minutes.
- I have a very large and jittery catfish who likes nothing better than to lay around on the bottom of the tank all day. Previous attempts to clean the aquarium resulted in frightening him to the point that he’d flail around sending debris all over the place. Not only did this make it impossible to thoroughly clean the tank, it put a lot of extra pressure on the tanks filtration system. Using the Roboco Automatic Aquarium Water Changer I was able to clean the tank without disturbing the catfish at all! It was as if I wasn’t even there. I even bumped against him a couple of times to get to the gravel beneath him and he just moved out of the way.
- In the past I’d spill water all over the place getting the dirty water into the bucket and then getting the bucket to the tub and then getting the bucket with fresh water (to which I’ve added an assortment of chemicals) back to the tank. Using the Roboco Automatic Aquarium Water Changer I was able to connect one end of the unit to my faucet and the other end (the vacuum end) into the tank. I turned on the water, flipped a directional switch and totally vacuumed the bottom of my tank in about 10 minutes. Then I flipped the directional switch again and filled the tank in about 5 minutes. And because the water was being aerated at the faucet I didn’t have to add any chemicals! Thanks to this excellent product my tank and the water in it has never been cleaner.
And that’s all there is to it to get someone to read your article; great title, persuasive motivator and plenty of good support.
Number 7 – Follow These 6 Steps to Write a Great Article in 20 Minutes
Here’s a simple 6 step process that’ll allow you to write a 300 to 500 word article quickly and very efficiently. In fact, you’ll be able to write great content for your blog, website or favorite article directory in about twenty minutes. Here are the six steps to follow:
Step 1: Select a topic that you know something about. It helps if you’re passionate about the topic. The more passionate you are the faster and easier it’ll be to write the article.
Step 2: Develop an outline. The outline will consist of the specific topic, your very precise opinion about the topic, and three talking points. The three talking points will answer the question how, why or when with respect to the topic and your opinion.
Step 3: Put your thoughts on paper. Let’s pretend that the topic you’ve selected is an individual’s credit score and your opinion is that a bad credit score can have a negative effect on an individual’s health, wealth and overall well being. You can then provide three examples of how a bad credit score can affect an individual, three examples of why a bad credit score can affect an individual, or three examples of when a bad credit score can affect an individual. Stick to how, why OR when within an article. Don’t try to answer how, why AND when within a single article.
Step 4: Type or speak your notes into your computer’s word processor. Sometimes I type but when it’s convenient I like to speak the words into the word processor via speech recognition software. Either way is fine but if your voice to text software is accurate it can speed up the process (unless of course you’re a very fast typist).
Step 5: Format your article. Format your article using a five paragraph model. In a five paragraph article the introduction is followed by three central paragraphs that are followed by a conclusion. The topic and opinion are part of the introduction. The three talking points are covered in the three central paragraphs. The conclusion reminds the reader of the topic and opinion and prompts the reader to take some action such as providing a comment and/or visiting an alternate website to learn more.
Step 6: Edit your article using Microsoft Reader. I’ve been using Microsoft Reader lately and I’ve cut my editing time in half. First I print the article. Then I convert it to the reader format and I hit play and this robot-like voice starts reading the article to me. I make pen and ink changes to the printed document and then I apply the changes to the electronic copy. Then I let the reader read it back to me one more time and I’m done. It’s like having a personal assistant. Microsoft Reader is free and can be downloaded at the Microsoft website. If you don’t use this tool you can just read your article out loud while you edit. Just follow these six steps over and over again and you’ll be amazed how much faster and efficiently you’ll begin to write articles and posts.
Number 8 – How to Write a Simple One Paragraph Article Part 1
The one paragraph article model (which is based on the one paragraph essay model) consists of three parts:
- The first sentence is called the topic sentence. It describes the main idea that you want your reader to accept.
- The next few sentences are called the middle sentences. These sentences provide specific support for the main idea that was presented in the topic sentence. Support is presented in the form of examples, statistics and/or authoritative statements.
- The last sentence is called the conclusion. It is basically a rewording of the first sentence. It serves to remind your reader of the point you’ve just made. Here’s an example of a blog post I recently wrote using the one paragraph single opinion essay model:
According to many writing teachers, the secret to good writing is using examples. One type of example is called a quick example. A quick example is a single occurrence of whatever it is that you’re writing about. If you’re writing about fast food, a quick example would be “a hamburger”, “a hot dog”, or “a slice of pizza”. In other words, these are all quick examples of fast food. To be more effective, a quick example should be specific. For example, “a bacon double cheeseburger” is a more effective quick example than “a hamburger”. So start using quick examples and watch as your writing improves and your readership grows.
Number 9 – How to Write a Simple One Paragraph Article Part 2
Follow the guidelines for the single opinion except this time you’ll add another idea that supports the main idea. For example:
According to many writing teachers, the secret to good writing is using examples. One type of example is called a quick example. A quick example is a single occurrence of whatever it is that you’re writing about. If you’re writing about fast food, a quick example would be “I ate a hamburger”, “a hot dog”, or “a slice of pizza”. In other words, these are all quick examples of fast food. To be more effective, a quick example should be specific. For example, “I ate a bacon double cheeseburger.” is a more effective quick example than “I ate a hamburger”. Another type of example is a narrative example. Basically you tell a story that evolves around your topic: “Yesterday I went to lunch with my wife and had a delicious bacon double cheeseburger. Not a good thing for my diet but it gave me a chance to spend time with her.”
Number 10 – The Simple Secret to Good Writing
According to “the Practical Writer” by Edward Baily and Philip Powell, the secret to good writing is using examples. Why then do so many writers refrain from using examples? This article will teach you how to overcome this problem by discussing two kinds of examples:
- Quick Examples
- Narrative Examples
Using Quick Examples:
To be effective, a quick example has to be specific. Let’s look at some examples of non-specific quick examples and see how they can be improved by making them more specific.
- My wife likes jewelry.
- My wife likes jewelry; especially diamonds, and emeralds, and pearls (oh my!).
- My son likes football.
- My son loves all levels of football; Pop Warner, High School, college and professional – it doesn’t matter – my son loves football.
- When I was a boy, I was afraid of my mother’s garden because it was filled with insects.
- When I was a boy, I was afraid of my mother’s garden because it was filled with crawly ants, creepy beetles, scary spiders and wiggly worms.
Using Narrative Examples:
A narrative example is like a little story. It allows the reader to visualize. For example, the third quick example above may give the reader the idea that the writer is afraid of insects but a narrative example may tell quite another story:
“When I was a boy, I was afraid of my mother’s garden because it was filled with crawly ants, creepy beetles, scary spiders and wiggly worms. Did I mention the slimy slugs?” That may seem strange coming from noted entomologist, Dr. Clifford Leech, but it’s true. “When I was a boy,” he said, “I read somewhere that the weight of the insects found on earth plus their larvae is greater than the weight of all the other animals on earth put together. I was so intrigued that I decided that day that I wanted to study insects. While observing insects in my mother’s garden one pleasant spring morning I asked my older sister, Robin, if it was true about the weight of insects. ‘Why of course it is,’ she said. Fascinating! I thought as I watched the myriad of insects parading through the dirt. Just then my Robin kicked over a stepping stone. I fell back in shock. I’d never seen so many spiders and worms crawling around in one place! That night I dreamed that our house was swallowed up by a huge sink-hole created by the unbearable weight of the insects. Determined to prevent this catastrophe, I read everything I could about insects. Eventually I realized that the planet was not likely to cave-in but it took a while before I felt comfortable enough to venture into my mother’s garden.”
So now you know the secret of good writing. I hope you use it as I have. It will make writing much easier and a lot more fun. Most importantly, your readers will appreciate your writing and will come back for more.
About the Author
Roland C. Bonay is an engineer with a passion for writing and drawing. He started reading comic books at an early age and soon discovered he had a flair for telling stories of his own. As he grew, he dreamed of following in the footsteps of his idol, comic book legend, Stan Lee. His passion ebbed and his dream faded as it became necessary to pursue a more traditional lifestyle in order to raise his growing family. The dream was rekindled in early 2009 as the youngest of his four children blossomed into young adulthood. Roland’s vision is best summed up by his motto; “the world would be a better place if we all just learned to draw.”
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