If you love to write, there’s no greater reward than making a living from your art. While becoming an author is a great way to do that, it’s not the only path. Many writers make good money from online content, penning articles for online outlets. Even if that’s not an avenue you want to explore, you might want to create some quality online content to attract potential readers to your author website, or as a way of marketing your other work.
Thanks to the internet, people are reading more than ever, whether it’s a lengthy essay from an online magazine or a pithy, 140-character tweet. In fact, if it wasn’t for written content, the web would essentially just be filled with Real Housewives reaction GIFs, and more videos of cats than there are actual cats in the real world.
Writing articles either for your own blog or for publication elsewhere can not only be financially rewarding, it can also increase your audience’s awareness of you, as well as attract more to the flock. It’s also a great way to exercise your writing muscles on a regular basis.
Those are some of the reasons you should consider writing articles online, but how can you go about it? My two-part guide is intended to answer that question, beginning with this first installment that focuses on structure and writing techniques.
Structuring an article online
The definition of an ‘article’ online is a lot more varied than you might think. If you’re writing for another party, whether it’s a guest post for someone’s blog or an online publication, they’ll dictate the length and format of the article they want from you. If you’re writing for your own site, you can pick the format that suits you best. Either way, it’s good to be familiar with the options.
- Short-form – 1,000 words or less. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) experts describe short-form content as, ‘snackable’. This format is ideal for delivering breaking news, or if you just have a simple point to make. If you want to publish content daily, this might be the most realistic choice.
- Long-form – Anything over 1,500 words. SEO buffs will tell you that long-form content ranks higher in search engines and people are more likely to share it than short-form content. However, you need to be able to sustain a reader’s attention for the extra stretch. If you only have about 500 words to say about something, needlessly stretching it out will show, as you’ll likely end up repeating yourself. If you loved writing essays in school, this might be a format you’ll enjoy.
There are many types of article – choose the one that matches your style and your purpose.CLICK TO TWEET
- Listicles – If you’re a regular BuzzFeed reader you’ll be very familiar with this list-based format, and you may have strong opinions on its literary worth. Love them or hate them, as someone who makes a living writing a lot of them, I can tell you that they’re both hugely popular to read and easier to write than the previous two formats. You can disguise what could have been a 3,000-word essay in a list with surprising ease. Why do people love lists? The same reason humans invented clocks. You can see in a quantifiable amount how much information an article contains and exactly how near you are to the end while you’re reading it. This is especially attractive to the huge audience who read listicles as a way of breaking up the workday. Choose this option if you find clearly defined structures help you to write, or if you love making to-do lists.
- Slideshows – This format features images and/or videos with accompanying text. It’s very similar to a listicle but usually with visual content being the focal point as opposed to text, with each entry either accompanied by a title, caption, or both. Again, this may seem anti-literary, but there’s a certain satisfaction to be gained from a well-crafted witticism delivered in just one or two lines. If you’re a fan of comedic one-liners, you might want to try this one.
Making an article look visually appealing includes, but is not limited to, inserting images, GIFs, and videos to break up the text. This is more necessary for online content than physical copy – the web offers endless diversions, so reading your article has to appear immediately easier than just moving on to whatever’s next. Producing something that looks hard to digest is risky, as you won’t just be putting off readers who aren’t worthy of your content, but those who intend to save it for later and end up forgetting. Remember, again, that a lot of workday readers are looking to treat themselves with content. Success lies in making it simple for them to do so.