A blog is an invaluable and required tool for any serious business. An article – for a magazine, newspaper, or web-based media – showcases your experience and expertise to an even more targeted, higher level. It’s got to be spot on in language, tone, and voice; designed to speak to a particular audience. It’s got to be written for a specific publication, in its style and with its readership in mind. This is a specialized technique. That’s why we are regularly commissioned by CEO’s and other C-level executives to write their trade content for them.
What is an article?
Many people believe that article writing and blog writing are the same thing, but really this couldn’t be much further from the truth. While many articles are now written for the web, and these certainly display similar characteristics to blog posts, articles are usually more formally written and may be for newspapers, magazines, trade brochures, etc. They are often backed by either a deep-seated knowledge of a subject or bespoke research, or both.
Why write an article?
We’re asked by clients to write articles for a variety of reasons. It may be that they require them for a regular newsletter, or have been commissioned by a trade magazine or newspaper. Others ask us to write articles for their websites as content for static pages such as you are reading now, while we also write articles for newsletters (as well as design and create those newsletters).
Articles might be used to show expertise in a subject, or for disseminating an opinion.
What are the elements of a good article?
First, an article must be written in the appropriate voice for the target audience: the language used for a trade paper, that is read by company CEO’s, will be different to that needed for an article to be published in a magazine sold to teenagers.
The article itself should be unique (and plagiarism should always be avoided). It’s likely that whatever the subject it will have been written about before, and a fresh approach should be taken to draw readers into the piece. Perhaps a different tone, or utilising the addition of visuals such as charts and graphs (I have one client that adds to my articles with paid for comic strips or cartoons), or even including research that no one has thought of.
New ideas, or a different point of view, always attracts interest and adds to material out there rather than getting lost among it.
Content should be researched, and where appropriate sources should be cited (either as a footnote or within the text itself). A good writer is also a good researcher, utilising the available resource of the web, newspapers and trade magazines, and even that outdated method, the library! Then that research should be double checked.
The length of an article is also important: too long and you lose your audience, too short and you risk being seen as having little knowledge. The required length may also depend upon the media for the article is being written. Some magazines or newspapers will insist on a certain length, say between 700 and 900 words to fit in with their page layout.
Some clients provide us with an outline of the article they want written, whilst others provide just a title or a keyword (particularly if for the web).
Finally, the article should be written in an appropriate style not just for the audience but for the type of article being written. A newspaper article, for example, most commonly begins with the whole story in a single sentence or two, before expanding on detail in accessible language. A ‘how-to’ can be far more informal, written in a more conversational tone, breaking down into sub-sections for easy reading (a little like a blog). Academic articles follow a 5-paragraph essay format, with formal, and often technical, language used.
When the article has been completed, then it should be reviewed and commented upon for revision (if any is necessary). A good writer will always send an edited first draft, and offer the client a one round review and revision process within the writing contract.
To find out more, hire our writing services, or request a free content consultation, click here to contact us today.