Tuesday, March 24, 2009

How to write an article

Article writing can be easy and a big money generator for freelance writers. While the rates per article vary, you can command as high as USD 200 for a piece in a trade publication or a high end glossy magazine. A lot of smaller magazines offer wider exposure but will pay you only a nominal sum. Whichever way you choose to go, ensuring your article is formatted in the correct manner will put you one step ahead of the competition (and believe me, there is fierce competition out there!)

Create an outline and then fill in the blanks: I am a firm believer in freewriting. But whatever method you use, make sure that you have a rough outline in place. You will begin your work using this outline to fill in the rest of the copy.

Your article will always include the following:
Headline: Ensure your headline is catchy and tells viewers what the article is about. You readers may be skimming through the magazine and can and will completely bypass your article if it doesn’t seem interesting enough.

Use a subheading if need be: Your subheading will summarize the article in one-two lines.

Your by-line: If you are including your author by-line, then it should be between the heading and the body copy. Your by-line is essentially there to promote you, so even if it’s only one-two sentences, it should capture the essence of who you are and what you do. Include a name, what you do, where you are based, why you are qualified to write this article and how you can be contacted.

Body: Your article body covers the actual content of the article; its meat and bones so to speak. Break up each point into paragraphs for easy reading and keep each paragraph short, no more than 5 lines.

Conclusion: And finally, have an interesting conclusion to your piece. There nothing worse that an exciting article with a poorly written conclusion.

Resources: If need be, include your resources at the end of the article, including contact names, website links and contact details where relevant.

Take a break:
Once you’ve finished your article, always take a break. I like to leave my work untouched overnight. I almost always make changes to it the next morning, when I can view it with a fresh pair of eyes.

Format, edit and print:
Once you’ve formatted your article and edited it online, print it out and re-read it. You are bound to find mistakes or sentences which do not read well. Make the necessary corrections and then go through the process of formatting, editing and printing it out again. If possible, get someone else to look at it. Reading a document online is quite different from reading a printed version and the eye often finds it hard to pick up on errors online. Don’t rely on online correction software either. Very often the software is designed to pick up spelling but not grammatical errors.

So there you have it; a simple yet effective way to write an article.

© 2009 Usha Krishnan Sliva
Freelance writer Usha Krishnan Sliva has years of article and copywriting experience. To get more free tips and writing ideas, subscribe to her ezine-Getting It Write, today.


Lloyd Lemons said...

Excellent advice. And it's worth repeating over and over again. Thanks for the reminder!


Usha Krishnan Sliva said...

Thanks Llyod, After writing a couple of articles you get into the hang of things, but for new writers, it's often hard to know where to start. Hopefully this article gives one that much needed starting point.