Writing articles takes more than a good grasp of grammar. Your success as a freelance writer relies on whether you can write articles that are valuable to your reader.
While most writers can create content every day, it’s not always enough to capture the audience’s attention and drive traffic to the targeted site.
So, what’s the secret to good article writing?
Since I started out as a freelance writer in 2011, I’ve written possibly tens of thousands of articles. I know what a high-quality article looks like in 2022.
Whether you are a newbie or a veteran struggling with how to craft a good article, I’ll share some of my valuable tips to help you become a well-paid and successful freelance writer.
If you want to improve your article writing skills, this article is also for you. Here, you’ll get helpful tips on what you should include in an article, formats to use, and the mistakes to avoid.
What makes a good article?
Before you start writing, you first need to understand what makes an article sell.
How do you tick all the boxes for the reader?
According to Microsoft, you have eight seconds to grab your audience’s attention. You should have this at the back of your mind as you draft your articles.
If your article is not captivating enough, you’ll most likely lose out on traffic, conversion, and sales. Most readers will stick around and engage with your content if the article addresses their needs or solves a problem.
But what do the experts think?
Andrew M. Warner conducted a survey on 276 bloggers and marketers. They revealed that as you write an article, you need to factor in the following;
- Backed by data
From this survey, we learn that most readers want practical content. Ensure that you tailor your content to meet this need.
Your articles should also be from a trustworthy source and backed by data to be authoritative enough.
What’s the process of writing an article?
Writing an article can be fun.
However, this is not an everyday thing. It may be challenging sometimes. You might encounter the dreaded writer’s block.
Here’s the good news:
If you have a process, the entire experience can be much easier.
Although every freelance writer has their own format and structure that works for them, there are some standard processes that you can follow to create high-quality and helpful content.
Think about the type of article
There are different types of articles. What you’re writing could be a:
- Product review
- News piece
- How-to article
- Comparison post
- Long-form, skyscraper content
As you choose a topic, think about the type of article that will be best suited and the key points you want to convey to your reader.
Select a topic
This applies if you’re writing for your own website. However, if you’re writing for a client, you won’t have much control over this.
There’s nothing as disappointing as writing an article that does not attract your target audience.
However, from my experience, this will happen on some occasions.
My advice is that you select a topic that will captivate the audience and bring them to your website. To do this, list multiple potential topics and pick one relevant to your audience.
There’s one mistake that most freelancers make:
Repeating exactly what’s posted out there.
Avoid this. Your content will not hit the milestones you expect if it’s strikingly similar to what’s already out there.
Your topic should be relevant and properly SEO-optimized.
If you are struggling with choosing the best topic, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Brainstorm ideas with friends and fellow writers to see the topic that evokes interest from the target audience.
I prefer going with data, though. After brainstorming, use keyword research tools to get better angles to write on. You can also check competitor websites, Google search results, and AnswerThePublic for ideas.
Identify your target audience
Write for the right audience to meet your content goal.
Do a SWOT analysis to determine which audiences are a perfect fit for your content. You can evaluate your target audience based on these factors.
- Demographics: What are their ages, annual income, educational background, and location?
- Buying habits: Are they keen on purchasing the services or products you are promoting in your article?
- Behaviors and interests: What motivates your readers to take action? What industry trends interest them?
If you’re writing content for a client, ask them to give you details on exactly what their target audience is.
Data is king in any type of business.
As you write your article, back up information with authoritative research sources.
If you look at most of my articles, you’ll see numbers, statistics and data to support the information. I use this to deliver accurate details to the reader.
You should replicate the same as you write articles. Find useful facts that will captivate your reader. Some data you can use on your article includes:
- References to media
- Quotes that are relevant to your topic
- Current industry topics
- National or local events
- Definitions of industry-specific words
- Available company data
- Additional resources that might be useful to the reader.
During your research, note down and add the relevant links in your article. Your links should always be sourced from the original publisher.
Write a rough draft and outline
To deliver pure gold, take time to refine your article.
A rough draft helps restructure the ideas you want to communicate. You might not always have it right the first time. Therefore, you can draft your thoughts and a draft outline to serve as a foundation for your article.
Once the draft is complete, you can keep editing and adding any new data and information until the article is complete.
However, this does not mean that you should spend a lot of time or days on an article, especially if you have a client deadline. Ensure that you deliver the final copy on time.
Read the draft aloud
While this might sound irrelevant, it’s not!
You want your reader to stay engaged from start to finish. The only way to achieve this is by testing the article yourself. How does it sound? Would you enjoy reading such an article?
As you read it from start to finish, identify and fix any errors that come up. Pay attention to the sentence structure and flow. A user who reads the entire article is more likely to click on the call-to-action button.
Don’t want to read it yourself? I get you. I personally use the Read Aloud feature on Microsoft 365.
Yes, I know, Microsoft 365 is a paid version of MS Office (Word, Excel, etc), which I totally recommend. However, if you’re unable to go premium yet on MS Word, you can still use a screen reader on Google Docs or NaturalReader.
One of the best things about these screen readers is it can read content on your preferred version of English. In fact, MS Word even has Kenyan English as one of the reading options. It was interesting to hear how accurate it was.
So, if you’re writing content for a US audience, let the reader read content in US English. If it’s for a UK audience, let it be in UK English. That way, you can take note of anything that sounds weird and edit it.
Make the final edits
Proofread the article to confirm that there are no mistakes. If you have a style guide, check that the article follows the structure and aligns with the specifications.
What format should your article follow?
Once you get an order for an article, what should you include? Here are the key sections that I advise every freelance writer to have in their articles.
Craft a good title
Your article title is the first thing the reader sees in your article. This means it needs to be catchy, informative, and enticing.
A good title is necessary because it communicates what the article is about. It can determine whether the reader continues reading the article or not.
The title is also key for your rankings! Google and other search engines prioritize titles that are properly optimized.
Restrict titles to about 50 to 60 characters if you want them to show on the search engine results page (SERP).
Your title doesn’t have to be too rigid!
Use different techniques to make it catchy and targeted. For instance, a title like “How to Write an Article: A Beginner’s Guide” shows the audience the article is targeted at newbies and prospective writers.
Additionally, you can add numbers to the title like “15 Useful Ways to Grow Your Freelance Writing Career” to make them catchy.
Write a strong introduction
You need a powerful intro that explains to the reader what the article is about.
It’s a crucial part of the article. If it’s not well written, the reader will abandon the article and click on the next page or website.
An excellent introduction should arouse curiosity and hook the reader’s attention immediately. Therefore, ensure that you focus and strategize on how to captivate the audience at this stage.
It won’t matter how good the article is if the introduction is poorly done.
So, how can you avoid a weak opening?
It’s very simple if you follow these steps.
- Keep the introduction short: Many people have a terrible attention span. For the best results, keep the introduction precise and short. Use a few sentences in the introduction to inform your readers about what they should expect.
- Keep it concise: Avoid filler words to meet the word count. Use shorter sentences to communicate your message. This will strengthen the quality of your content and hook your audience much better.
- Remember the title’s promise: Your introduction should deliver on the promise of your title. Introduce key areas and pain points that your article will explain further. This builds trust with your reader.
To make the introduction alluring, you can start with:
- A fun fact: Say something interesting that your audience probably has no idea about.
- The pain-agitate-solve method: Here, you talk about a pain point, agitate it, then state that the article will solve the problem.
- Useful statistics: To give your article a research appeal, you can start with a helpful statistic.
- Empathy: This is my favorite. Here, you empathize with the reader’s situation. You talk directly about what they’re going through. See how Arthur did that here.
Write the main body of the article
Your main body should also have the same style as the introduction paragraph.
The body should be divided into sections and include subheadings that are tailored to the main title.
Here are the key pointers to know when writing the body of the article.
- All paragraphs should be coherent and flow logically from the first one to the last.
- Vary the paragraph length depending on your article.
- Avoid long and winding sentences. Avoid long and winding paragraphs.
When writing the body, make it simple for everyone to understand. Readers will engage more with your content if it’s less complex.
The subheadings should be related to the title.
For instance, if your article is about “How to Start Your Freelance Writing Career”, the subheadings can include:
- What you need to know about freelance writing
- How to write helpful content
- Mistakes to avoid as a freelance writer
- Where to get freelance writing jobs
Each subheading should deliver unique information to the reader. The number of subheadings may vary depending on the type and length of the article.
Having valuable subheadings will improve the readability of your content, boosting dwell time and conversion rates.
Write a conclusion
While it may sound obvious, your article needs a strong conclusion.
A conclusion restates all the main points of the article. It should give the reader a summary of all the lessons the reader should learn from the article. Find a way to connect all the main points in this section.
Just like the introduction and the body, a good conclusion should be short and direct. Your conclusion should answer the questions raised in the opening paragraph.
You can also choose to ask readers a question. This technique is effective if you want to encourage lively discussion in the comments section.
Conclusions are a good place to include a call-to-action (CTA). Some call-to-action phrases can be:
- Contact us
- Sign up today
- Download now
- Schedule a call
- Request a quote
- Book a meeting
- Subscribe now
- Start a free trial
How to write articles for content marketing
If you want to make money as a freelance writer, you need to know how to write for different purposes.
The article can be for a business website, your own blog, or content marketing for a client.
Here are some useful tips to guide you.
- Include images and videos: To break long texts, add images and videos. These visuals also enhance the content’s clarity and give readers a reason to engage with your content.
- Repurpose the content: Your article can be used for different purposes. When the article is complete, you can use the information for an eBook, a white paper, a podcast, social media posts, and other parts of your (or your client’s) website.
- Add multiple calls-to-action: Many people only add a call-to-action on the conclusion. But not everyone will read all the way there. Have it on the intro and in the middle of the article as well.
- Talk about the site’s products: Gone are the days when you’d just blog and hope people will find your services. Mention the site’s products and services right there in the article.
Mistakes to avoid when writing an article
While you may have all the right freelance writing tips at the back of your mind, you’re still prone to mistakes.
To keep your audience engaged and your clients happy, here are some of the mistakes you should avoid.
Grammatical and punctuation errors
Before submitting or publishing your article, it’s essential to proofread and confirm that it has the proper grammatical flow and punctuation. Clients prefer people who deliver error-free content.
If you are writing for a publication with specific guidelines, ensure that you strictly follow them.
This is the only way you get hired again.
I advise writers to use tools that help to check grammar, such as Microsoft Editor, Grammarly, ProWritingAid, or Hemingway Editor. These will help clean out your articles.
Time yourself when drafting articles. Monitor your time as you write the first drafts and see how long it takes.
If an article is taking longer than expected, inform your editor or client as early as possible and update them on the progress.
To avoid these issues, set realistic deadlines.
Keep the article simple
Your article should be clear and direct to the point. To succeed as a freelance writer, get the message across with fewer words. Meet your set word count, but ensure that it’s not too complicated for the reader.
Write articles like a pro
Article writing can be hard if you don’t follow the right process. An article that’s poorly done will not perform as it should. It can ruin your career and mess up your client’s website.
The great news is if you follow the right process and avoid common mistakes, you’ll be way ahead of the average writer. You’ll give clients high-quality content that convinces, converts, and sells like crazy.
You’ll earn well and finally be free.
But here’s the thing:
You may have all this information but still struggle to implement it and deliver highly engaging articles.
You may need someone to review what you write, give you a score, show you where to edit, and teach you exactly how to earn with your content.
That’s where I come in.
I can show you how to write the best articles, avoid writing mistakes, get clients, and grow your writing career. I genuinely want to see you succeed as an article writer.