In the last article, we discussed three tips on developing a great relationship with your editor. Since then, you’ve submitted a pitch and your editor accepted it. Now, it’s time to write the best possible article by following three simple steps.
- Preparation and Research Come First
While it may be tempting to just sit down and start writing the article, this will not produce the best result. The first step is to review the website or other work so you know the company’s style.
Make sure you know your audience. Are these prospects, current members, or subscribers, etc.? If you’re not sure, ask your editor. If you’re writing to the wrong audience, your article may miss the mark entirely.
Ideally, you’ve already done both of these steps prior to submitting the pitch.
Conduct any additional research. This could include reviewing external sources and conducting interviews.
- Writing an Engaging Article
Editors want an interesting article that’s going to engage their readers and keep them on their website until the very end. The best way to do this is to write in a conversational style. That means using short sentences, contractions, and bullets.
Additionally, write in an active voice. For example, “I finished my article today,” is much more interesting than, “My article was completed today.” While both sentences get across the same message, the active voice is more compelling.
Two things to avoid are being repetitive in your writing and using jargon. Your editor is bound to call for revisions if you write in this manner.
Include proof elements to back up any claims you make. This would include saying something is the best or most successful. Ideally, you’ve found proof elements through your external research, in the form of polls or studies. Ways you can add this proof to your article are… “According to a poll by…” or “A recent study by…” You may even want to include links to your proof elements on the bottom of your copy or in a separate document. This will assist the editor when she fact-checks your article.
Put stats or financial information in context. For example, saying a company increased the number of clients by 50% may sound impressive. But did they go from two to three clients? Or from 100 to 150 clients? Obviously, the latter is more impressive. To say that in context, you could write, “We improved our client base by 50%, adding 50 new clients this past year.” When you write with more detail, your reader has a clear understanding of your message.
Write to the appropriate level. Today, the standard is a Flesch-Kincaid (FK) score of 7.5 or less. Edit and revise your work until your copy comes in at that score or below.
(Tip: Need more help drafting an engaging and informative article? Follow this proven process from Rebecca Matter: A 5-Step Process to Writing Articles that Get Published.)
- Self-Edit Your Copy
As we mentioned in the last article, self-edit your copy. Revise and polish it until you think it’s ready to be published. Run it through Spell Check in Microsoft Word or use an external site like Grammarly. These tools will help you find potential mistakes, including grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
While these tools will help, they are not perfect and don’t find everything. In addition to identifying errors, they can also point out words or phrases that are not mistakes. Rather than relying on these tools as your only editing tactic, read your article out loud. This will slow down your reading so you can find misspelled words, improper grammar, and mistakes in punctuation. It will also be easier to find clunky and awkward sections.
Repeat these steps until you have a polished final product. (Tip: For more help in doing a thorough copy review, use this Five-Step Plan for Turning in Your Best Work Every Time. If you do this kind of review yourself — before it reaches your client — you’re going to turn in better work.)
When you follow these three tips, you’ll be more likely to write a professional, engaging article, free from a lot of mistakes. Your editor will appreciate that she doesn’t have a great deal of editing and revising to do and may offer you more writing opportunities in the future.