Your writing skills matter less than you probably think. Whatever you learned in your English classes at high school or college is little-to-no use when you start your blog and attempt to make more users read your articles. As unfair as it may seem, but even people less talented in writing than you can get more subscribers and reach wider audiences.
Why? Because they know that being a good writer is not enough for the Internet. The Web is an environment with a slightly different set of values. So, regardless of your writing skills, how well you can express your thoughts, or content, people will not read you if your articles do not meet several crucial criteria.
Now, what would be some article writing tips for beginners?
1. Less Is More
This is what graphic designers usually say, but as a writer, you can use this principle to your advantage as well. Leave lengthy bedsheets of text to Leo Tolstoy: when you write for the Web, brevity is what you need.
If your post covers a complex topic, you should consider breaking it into several smaller posts. Each publication you make should contain up to 750 words, so that a reader can glance at it all at once. People on the Internet rather scan texts than read them, and the longer the text is, the more unsuitable for scanning it becomes.
The same is applicable to the length of your sentences. When creating content for online resources, you should focus on how easily your writing can be read, so you might want to avoid compound subordinate sentences. Break them in shorter pieces up to 15-20 words each—this is the optimal sentence length.
The “Less is More” rule works for punctuation as well. Whenever possible, try to avoid semicolons, exclamation marks, em dashes, and so on. Usually, a comma, a period, and quotation marks is all you need to write a nice text.
The clever usage of this rule is often a sign of a skilled copywriter. If you take a look at how professionals write—for example, on CopyCrafter—you will see that instead of trying to write abundantly, they write shortly but profoundly.
2. Forget the Traditional Paragraph Structure
First of all, make sure to write concise paragraphs. There are few things as discouraging to an Internet surfer as lengthy paragraphs in an article he or she felt like reading. Also, keep in mind that each paragraph should contain just one main idea.
In order to organize and connect paragraphs between each other, use subheadings. Not only do they divide the text into logical subsections, but also make it easier for your readers to navigate through an article. If they are not interested in a certain piece of it, they can quickly skip to what they want to read specifically, using subheadings.
3. Make Lists
Everyone loves lists. The Internet is full of websites and articles such as, “10 Weirdest, Most Bizarre Animals,” “20 habits of successful people,” “5 famous Hollywood actors whose face you have never seen,” and so on. Even if your article is not about listing things, try to introduce at least a part of the information in the form of bullet points. Lists simplify comprehension, and can be easily grasped by a single glance, which makes them perfect for presenting new information.
4. Use Hyperlinks
Whenever you dig up something that can be useful or interesting to your readers, provide them with a link to the resource. You should also consider connecting the content on your website with contextual hyperlinks. A contextual hyperlink is an effective SEO tool, allowing you to gain credibility among readers, and to make your website more recognizable by search engines. Basically, a contextual hyperlink is a clickable text, which is related to the content of the hyperlink. The easiest way to use a contextual link looks like this:
“For more information on contextual hyperlinks, click .”
A more professional way to insert hyperlinks in the text would rather look like this:
“In my previous I already mentioned the benefits of using contextual hyperlinks on your website.” If a reader is interested, he or she can easily jump to the post you are talking about, without having to navigate through the menu bar. Such a smooth transition enhances user experience, decreases bounce rate, and makes your website more pleasant to use.
5. Use Engaging Titles and Captions
If you keep asking yourself how to start an article, start it with a heading and a caption. Browsing the Internet for how to write an article for a website, you must have at least once run into advice like, “Compose an engaging first sentence so that your readers would want to read further on.”
The truth is that some people will not even click on your article, so no matter how great your opening sentence is, it is all in vain.
This can be fixed, however, by working on how you name your articles, and what captions you compose for them. A catchy title can immediately highlight your article among others, and a smart caption will make an Internet user want to read the article itself.
There are several hints to composing such titles:
- use emotional words, mostly adjectives, for example “Five effortless ways to lose weight,” “The most crucial rule in any relationship,” and so on
- as you have probably noticed from the examples above, using numbers helps a lot: titles like “10 brilliant quotes by the gurus of marketing that will skyrocket your business” always get lots of views
- make your readers ask themselves questions about what is inside the article. “How I quit smoking cigarettes in just 3 days,” “Here is what scientists call the most promising cure for cancer,” “7 reasons why you should consider downshifting.” Generally speaking, using “what,” “why,” “how,” and “when” in your titles will increase their effectiveness greatly, giving your readers a hint on what is awaiting for them in the article, or what they will gain from reading it.
And now, it is time for that “engaging first sentence.”
6. Use Numbers Inside the Text
People often underestimate the power of numbers. You should not. Any number, due to it being written in digits instead of letters, stands out from the mass of a text, making a reader pay attention to it. For some reason, digits give a clearer image of quantity. It is also easier to perceive this way. So, use numbers whenever possible.
If your text is all about numbers, however, it may become difficult for readers to perceive information. In this case, you will have to organize these numbers in a more comprehensible way: usually, infographics works the best. Histograms, pie charts, all kinds of graphs are recommended as well. You do not even need to know how to use special tools for this: the Internet is full of services which you can use to automatically create graphic representations of your information. For instance, check out Canva, Visme, or Desmos.
7. Use images
Images perform several important functions. They illustrate what the text is about. A well-chosen image can complement your readers’ impression from reading the text. Images also help structure information. Rather often, when a text is large enough, it becomes difficult to navigate around. Using images together with subheadings helps visually make the text lighter, more diverse, and friendlier to the reader. Images also serve as the elements of composition, making the overall layout of the page more attractive. In fact, there is only one case in which you might want to avoid images: if you are determined to create a conceptual website completely tied up to the usage of expensive, stylish, and readable typography. Other than that images are your friends.
As you can see, writing articles for the Internet is slightly different than academic writing, or even writing for print. Still, there is nothing too difficult about it, and following the mentioned tips for writing articles, you should be able to create content that people will read through. There are more advanced tips though, and you should not forget about the importance of SEO, research, SMM, and other stuff—but the basics described in this article should be of help to you as well.