Thursday, June 21, 2007

How to Write a Killer Article, Part 1

Your eyes are wide, fearful, and fixed ahead. Your hands are tense, twitching, mere millimeters from your keyboard. Sweat starts to form on your forehead, cold and foreboding.

Your face is bathed in an eerie, pale glow from the monitor in front of you. On it is an open word processor, its entire expanse filled by an emptiness, deep and white. All that is there, besides the scroll bars and the unused tool buttons, is a single flashing line. It dances in the upper left, mocking you, taunting you, daring you to write something. It challenges you to write on the empty page, like an open field of new snow. “Come on, you know you want to…”

You know how important it is to fill your site with good content, and how you need to share articles and blog postings to help draw search engine attention and clickthrough traffic to your site.

But you hesitate, fingers frozen, held back by one gripping thought.

You have no idea what to write about.

Well, relax. It happens to us all. Even the most experienced writers face the horrible “Blank Screen of Doom” once in a while. I, myself, sat in front of it but a few moments ago. But, nonetheless, I found my topic, and I can now move forward.

I can help you write your articles.

It seems to me that the single most difficult part of writing an article is that whole “Getting Started” thing. And the key to that is figuring out what you’re going to write about. Once that key is found, the words tend to flow, or at least flow more easily. Let me give you some pointers that can guide you and get you writing.

First of all, it’s a good idea to read. Go out and read the paper, read blogs, read books.

Whenever I’m short on ideas, I head out on the ‘net. Usually, I can find something that someone has written that I either agree with or disagree with enough to write something of my own about it.

Second of all, I keep notes. Throughout my days, I see something, and it sparks an idea. Rather than lose it forever, I jot it down in a little spot I’ve labeled “Blog Ideas” in my PDA. A notepad, or a card in your wallet can work just as well. Then, when you sit at your computer and it’s time to write, pull that out and review the ideas you’ve accumulated.

Then you pick a topic for the article or the blog posting. A good article will cover only one topic, and cover it well. Too many ideas, and it not only gets too long, but it gets too scattered. If you have a lot of good ideas in the same subject, make it a multi-part article. In fact, if you scroll back to the top of this article, you’ll see the words, “Part 1”. That was a hint!

The topic you’re writing about should be something in which you have some confidence, knowledge, or experience. Notice I did not say “expertise”. By that, I mean that you do NOT have to be an expert. You don’t have to CLAIM to be an expert, either. I have a lot of experience raising my children. Am I an expert? Not even close! In fact, my kids remind me of that daily. Still, I can share my experiences and observations, and that will be of value to my readers anyway. I have confidence that I can share something of worth, even if that is an example of one of my mistakes.

The topic should be relevant to my audience. This would seem to be a no-brainer, but there are no guarantees, you know… Communication happens when I say something and someone else listens. If I just say it to no-one, it’s like the tree falling in the forest that makes no noise. So, if I write something that is of no use or interest to the people I’m trying to reach, then it’s really not worth writing, now is it?

It also needs to be relevant to my website. Ultimately, in the strategy of articles marketing and blogging, my goal is to entice people to come to (or come back to) my website. So, if my articles or blog postings have nothing to do with the site, then there’s little enticement to click through, and my effort is ultimately wasted.

The “Blank Screen of Doom” can be conquered, and, in reality, without much difficulty. It does help to have some clear steps to follow first, though.

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment