Writing Articles Online

Many of us write articles for various purposes, not the least of which is as part of a revenue-sharing article site. Once you have set your goals and targets, say for writing on InfoBarrel, or some other medium then it is proper to take a look at how to make your articles sound right and attractive. In this brief guide, let’s look at how you can write an article that will capture the short attention span of online readers. As we all know, the Internet community is never going to run short of attention-grabbing material so the limited scope of the written word – though by no means underestimating it’s power – must be put to optimal use. Here are six writing tips and techniques for a better online article :

i)  Be clear, be understood

When you want to get a message across, using fewer words will allow you more control over the end result, which is to be quickly understood by the reader. Fewer words will give the reader clarity and make you avoid unnecessary ‘doodle’. For instance, instead of saying “what I felt like doing at that time was to exercise more so that …”, just say “I felt like exercising more so…”.  This gets your meaning across in a rather quick and efficient way without loss of content. This is important with the relatively short attention span of the Internet user, especially with the growing use of mobile devices on the go. The “efficiency of writing” online which revolves around attracting the audience within a short space of time as they are reading on their computing devices is distinct from the offline world where people sometimes spend hours browsing in a bookstore or in casual, leisurely reading.

ii) Write mainly in the active form

Passive speech in writing will more often than not weaken your intended meaning. For example, rather than saying “The horse was led to the barn by Ned”, you could just say “Ned led the horse to the barn.”  Though the passive form plays a role in writing, in practice it is better to put it to limited use to make your sentences look better and more purposeful. Make the reader notice your intent.

An easy way to check is to use a proof-reader(which is available online if you write for InfoBarrel) because this actually advises you on trying to use the active form in  a sentence if it sees otherwise and then you can use your judgement to see if that will improve your delivery in some cases.

iii) Use a slightly authoritative tone

Avoid overly modest approaches which often happen when you are trying consciously to be less obtrusive with what you say. If you write “In my opinion …” or “what I would like to say here is that …” and similar things too often, it carries less weight and may even make you look like you are not entirely believing what you try to say. This is not unlike a verbal conversation where you would be saying something a little more firmly or assertively when wanting to get a message across as opposed just an overly casual one where your voice gets drowned with everyone else that's speaking. When you write an article, you are the author of that article and it should show that you are talking about the topic confidently, or ‘author-itatively’. Of course, do not go the opposite way either by presenting yourself in a rigid, arrogant manner. In this respect, you may be balancing yourself well by alluding to references while having that confident tone. Re-read your article a couple of times to yourself once you are done to get a feel for your tone. If it doesn't appeal to you, it probably won't to others either.

Feather writerCredit: Public domain

iv) Use big words ONLY if necessary

The correct use of words is necessary and using difficult-to-understand vocabulary in your writing is only justifiable in as far as the meaning and context of the word being appropriate for the occasion. The test for this is to simply replace a difficult word with a simpler one in the sentence and see if it carries the same meaning. Then, if it does just don’t use the difficult, long or unfamiliar word. For some people, reading a few big words in quick succession can annoy them to the point that they stop reading an otherwise interestingly written piece. Sometimes in trying to make it look complicated, you may not even be using the word correctly.  “There are a few alternatives to get there” can be better said as “There are a few ways to get there” since the different ‘ways’ may be equally available as opposed to ‘alternatives’ which is often used in the context of unequal opportunity.

Pen and paperCredit: Public domain

v) Write in the way readers would talk about their concerns, issues or problems

In order to create a connection right away with the relevant audience, write in language that they would use to express their situation, like a person with  a particular health condition talking about his or her ailment, a person looking to buy something detailing the features of their favourite item in their own way or a person intending to travel enthusiastically describing their places of interest and so on. In so writing, you will be able to get the trust of the reader that you indeed understand what they need or are looking for. This will have readers coming back to read more of your writings. Also, use the more personal and direct expression of “you” to address the readers so they feel more like you are speaking directly to them. It has a greater effect in engaging the reader.   

 vi) Brush up your skills with good resources

Finally, you must read good and well-written material yourself on a consistent basis because these eventually show in your writing too. It is also good to read about writing elements and styles from authoritative sources and clean up some of the ingrained patterns of writing you may have that aren’t exactly the best way to write.

Writing articles that pay

Learning to write articles in a concise, direct way that at once embrace the reader’s trust and understand their interests and needs while being complete, informative and tactfully written will go a long way towards creating articles that pay, with money and satisfaction.