Dreamworker is a retired educator who spent 26 years teaching in both middle and high schools nationwide.
If you want to get people to read the articles you write for online consumption, you must be willing to spend time and effort working on them. You also need a plan that will encourage people to take a look at your articles.
Titles must entice, photos must be creative and must support the topic you're writing about, and topics must meet a need or answer a question.
If you can include personal experiences that enhance the point you are making, do it. It's one thing to write about a robbery, but quite another to tell about a personal experience you had when you were robbed.
As you can see, there is much more to attracting readers that knowing how to put words together.
This article will tell you what I do. If it works for me, it will work for you, too!
Writers using improper grammar, spelling, structure and organization will never do well, because they lack the skills to do so.
English is an extremely difficult language, even for native speakers, so unless you are pretty sure about your skills, you're going to run into problems when trying to write for public consumption.
If you cannot produce good work on your own, you really should not be trying to write online.
There are numerous editing programs available to help people who have problems in this area, but those who do best are the ones who paid attention in school and learned what their Language Arts teachers taught them!
No matter how well you think you've done, always go back and proofread your work. It helps to use a program such as the one in your word processor to do so, but do it every time.
It's easy to make mistakes, and mistakes reduce your credibility with readers. Would you take medical advice from a writer who can't even spell the name of the disease he is discussing?
Write What You Know
It is very difficult to write articles that flow easily if they are based on research rather than personal experience. The reason is that if you use information that is already available on the web, it’s difficult to “spin” it to make it look like it’s your own.
On the other hand, if you write what you know, there’s little or no research involved. This frees you up to make your points but also to add special personal touches that make your work unique and, therefore, more enjoyable for the reader.
I recently wrote an informational article about what things are worth, but at the end, I added a zinger by telling the story of how my mother cherished her $10 wedding ring to the point of turning down a diamond engagement ring I once offered her. I did this to add interest and a personal touch but also to make the point that value is mostly emotional.
Titles can either attract readers or drive them away. They are the first thing they see, so if they don’t like them or are not interested in what they say, they will not click on your article.
I am terrible with titles, so upon the advice of one of my team’s moderators, I learned to use this headline analyzer. This is a free program that evaluates titles and helps you to find one that is most attractive to readers.
It’s amazing how changing just one word can bring views in!
The other thing to remember is that the more specific your title is, the more likely it will be to attract readers. The difference between “Cars” and “What You Need to Know about Honda CRVs” is huge!
If you keep your title simple and focus on it as you write, your article will be easier to write and easier to read and will give your reader what he needs.
Write at Low Reading Levels
Newspapers are written on sixth-grade reading levels. They’ve been doing this for years, and you should do the same.
Fancy or difficult-to-understand words turn people off, but they find that easy-to-read text to be enjoyable and thus will be more likely to want to read them.
Write in Short, Subtitled Sections
Online readers get turned off when they see long stretches of text. If you want to hold their attention, divide text into short sections and write subtitles for each one.
This way, people who don’t want to spend a lot of time reading can browse your subtitles and only read the sections of text that are of interest to them.
The subtitles should also serve as a summary of what is written so that as the reader goes from one to the next, he sees the context of what is written.
In short, you use your subtitles to tell a story. Someone browsing them should be able to understand the gist of your article without having to read the whole thing.
A smart online writer always tries to use lists because they are powerful tools that help readers to get a good overview of an article and also help the writer organize his work.
The best placement is in the introduction because this is where you tell your reader what you will be writing about. Thus, after making your initial statements, you can, for example, tell them that you are going to tell them about all of the issues that support your title.
For example, if your title deals with why people need to train their dogs, you might list things such as that training makes dogs
- easier to control,
- more acceptable to neighbors,
- safer and
- more enjoyable to own.
Once you’ve done this, you’ve created the outline for your text sections as well as the bases for their titles.
Lists can be used either at the beginning of your article, as noted above, or within an article to make certain points stand out.
They are extremely effective and certainly help your readers to clearly understand what it is you are saying.
Add Appropriate Images
When possible, you should use images to emphasize the points in your article. They should be very clear, appropriate, well placed, accredited and large enough to stand out.
Each one should carry a caption that describes it and in some way relates it to the information in the article.
An image is something that is on the page other than text, so it does not just have to be a photo. You can use videos, polls, maps and similar things as long as they meet the above criteria.
You should never overload an article with images. A few well-placed ones will be enough.
Keep It Original
Every piece of text you place online must be original.
- Quote sparingly.
- Use your own ideas.
- If you cannot produce your own videos and images, use those that are available for public use and make sure to accredit them properly.
Use editing programs to modify them to make them look more original.
While it's true that there is nothing new in the world, this does not mean that you can't write information in your own words, include personal thoughts and experiences and do other things to pump information up a bit.
You can, and you should!
It is very easy to veer off topic when creating articles.
The best way to avoid doing this is to keep checking back with your topic to make sure that what you are writing matches it.
For example, if you are writing about women who are poor housekeepers, be careful not to move into a discussion of cleaning products that work well. Your article is about poor housekeepers, not good cleaning products!
Promote Your Work
Once you have written, edited and published your article, it's a good idea to promote it.
This can be done in a number of ways, but the easiest is to make one image for use on Pinterest after you have opened an account on that site.
To do this, you need to take your best image and put text on it that relates or refers to the topic of your article. You'll need a photo editor to do this. There are many free ones you can access online, but I suggest paying the annual $50 fee and signing on to PicMonkey because I have found it to be the most user-friendly.
You can also open a page on Facebook or join a Facebook group, sign up for online groups where people have an interest in your topic, etc.
Do some research to find out what works best for you, but do not self-promote on those sites. Keep it professional.
Evaluate Your Progress
You should be checking your charts regularly so that you know how each article is doing.
If you see an article losing ground with views, see if you can upgrade it. If that doesn't work, let it go.
You're better off writing something fresh and new than wasting time reworking a piece that has something wrong that cannot be fixed.
Articles that get too much competition, are thin on content, or are poorly put together are examples of ones you probably cannot save.
There are reasons why writing either fails or succeeds. It's your job to find out what that reason is and to make appropriate changes.
Give Readers What They Want
Most importantly, you need to give readers what they want. If you don't do this, none of the other things mentioned here will matter.
This article is about what you can do to improve readership. You are reading it because you want tips that will help you to do this. You came here for that. If I don't provide this information, you'll stop reading and won't come back.
People have all kinds of interests, and it's up to you to tap into them so that your views will go up.
All of this is a lot to remember, but if you take the time to print this article out and refer to it regularly, you likely will see improvement.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Sondra Rochelle