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How to write a website article that delivers value

Website content should attract and retain the interest of a specific target audience with relevant content that contains keywords of interest to the users.  Article writing is one such type of content that can provide value to your readers.Article writing can present news, features, analysis, editorial (with the writer’s opinion on a topic), helpful how-to articles, profiles of people, reviews, interviews, backgrounds of events and cultural traditions,  historical pieces, biographies and so on.

How to write a website article that delivers value

How to write an article for your website

Think about your reader.  What is he or she interested in reading?  Then, choose a topic for your article.  Think about an idea you are passionate about.  Make a list of possible headlines, and choose one that contains keywords with your idea.

Research your topic using reliable primary and secondary research sources.  Primary sources such as journals carry first-hand accounts on events when they happened.  An example is “The diary of Anne Frank”. Other primary sources are government records, archives, corporate reports, insurance policies and personal reports.

Secondary sources are commentaries on events after they have happened and are available in published records and databases, news articles, books, abstracts and reference books.

Make sure you attribute your sources correctly and completely. Choose a citation styleIt is wise to research a range of sources. For example, you can watch films, documentaries or TV interviews or conduct roving interviews,   but be cautious when it comes to online sources.  Make sure you gather supporting data for your article, say from government or university websites which quote other sources.

Think of a perspective to your article and write your topic from this angle.

Do not copy.   You can use quotes and facts to support your statements, but be careful not to overdo this.  You need to have something of substance to convey to your audience.  Supporting content is just that – support for your article. 

Outline your idea to visualize how it flows.  You can use a five-para essay guide but stay flexible during your writing to change the flow if it reads better from another perspective. 

Decide on the article length and word count. Your article or blog post  length could vary from 200 words to 1,000 to 1,600 words or more, depending on your topic, your research, your presentation style and your use of supplementary materials such as infographics, quotes, sidebars and photographs to support your points and to capture your audience’s interest.  Although the web does encourage people to scan rather than read word for word, and shorter articles tend to be more popular with users, there are many web users who read and share articles that deliver more detailed information. That said, it is the article that delivers value that is shared and re-tweeted, regardless of the length.

Use descriptive language, colorful words and vivid expression, where it fits in with the concept of your article. An article on fashion design, for instance, would be quite differently worded from a factual, scientific article.

Pay attention to style, structure and voice. Depending on your topic, your writing style can be informal, simple  and personal, using colloquial language, abbreviations and contractions such as TV, photo, I’m, doesn’t, shouldn’t, it’s.  Or it can be formal, complex, using longer sentences, objective, and avoid exclamation marks and contractions – unless the abbreviation is better known than the full name, such as VIP or FBI .  Writing in active voice (which is more direct, simple and clear) or passive voice (which is more wordy and complex, yet can be more tactful or authoritarian) is a decision you need to make while crafting your sentence.

Begin each paragraph with a strong anchoring sentence to move your reader forward into the content of your article. Vary the length of your sentences to retain reader interest.  Reading every sentence with the same cadence and length kind of lulls the reader to sleep, while very short staccato sentences make for choppy reading.

Build in transitions to connect one paragraph to another, to help the article read as one coherent whole.  You can use words that link with the last sentence in the previous paragraph, such as ‘In addition’, ‘One exception to the rule is’, etc.

Enhance your article with complementary material.
Illustrate your topic with photographs, charts, or infographics and graphics to support some of the points in your article. You could develop a major point with a sidebar-type box – a short 50-75 word write-up that explores more deeply into one aspect of the subject. For example, if you’re writing about a desert safari, your sidebar write-up could highlight camel rides.

Remember, these materials are supplementary. Your article content should stand apart on its own. It should be clear, focused and understandable without the help of charts, photographs or other graphics.

Wrap up your article with an energetic conclusion.
Reconnect to the title or the first paragraph of the article to make a point.  You can close with a close with a quote, a story or a question that poses thought. A strong conclusion is one that empowers and enlightens the reader or makes him think.

Conclusion:
Choose a topic you are passionate about, and write it from your perspective. Research primary and secondary sources and cite your sources.  Research has shown that blog posts with word counts of  1000 – 1600 words are shared  when they present content of value.  You could support your article  with nuggets of attention-grabbing facts, sidebars, photographs or infographics. Close with a quote, a story or a  question that poses thought. When you put effort into researching and writing your article  from  your unique angle, it creates value for the reader who will come back for more. 

Sources:
http://www.wikihow.com/Write-Articles
http://www.princeton.edu/~refdesk/primary2.html
http://www.wikihow.com/Cite-Sources
http://www.viperchill.com/blog-post-length/
https://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/CCS_activevoice.html

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