The Best Way to Format a Successful Online Article

Updated on September 22, 2019
Dreamworker profile image

Dreamworker is a retired educator who spent 26 years teaching in both middle and high schools nationwide.

When I started writing online articles almost 8 years ago, another writer told me that I obviously had no clue as to how to produce successful work for internet readers.

I was angry that she said this to me, but I was also frustrated because I did not know what she meant. Furthermore, she didn’t explain her reasons for making that comment or even show me some examples.

I knew I wasn’t the world’s best writer, but I also knew that I wasn’t the worst one either. Yet, after an entire year of trying, I simply was unable to find success.

I left that site and moved on to a more user friendly one. There, over time, I learned a great deal from the staff as well as from other writers. As a result, I came up with a formula that, while simple in concept, eventually worked well for me.

I am not saying this is the only method people should use, but I am saying that it is one that, if properly applied, can work for any writer who is wants to do well in his online writing career and is willing to be patient in order to achieve that goal.

Remember, it took me eight years! And by the way…I’m still learning!

Creating a successful online article requires thought and planning
Creating a successful online article requires thought and planning | Source

Write Correctly

Using correct spelling, grammar and sentence structure are essential skills that any writer must have if he is going to be successful.

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!

Write What You Know

I’m sure you’ve heard this term before, but probably you don’t realize why doing this is so helpful.

I believe 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 one offered here. I did this to add interest and a personal touch but also to make the point that value is mostly emotional.

Don't write about things you know little or nothing about.  People want to read original work that is written by people with experience.
Don't write about things you know little or nothing about. People want to read original work that is written by people with experience. | Source

Don’t Blog

Some people are very good at blogging, but most are not. This is because readers generally don’t really care about your personal life. They normally want to read about things that will help them or answer their questions.

Adding a personal touch to an informative article is not the same as blogging, but only if you use that technique to enhance the information you have presented.

Avoid Spam

Readers come to your site because they have a question they want to have answered or they need information. They don't come to buy products.

Spam is disapproved of by Google and can turn readers off.

If you have a product that you have used and that relates directly to your topic and that you feel will help readers in some way, placing one ad is fine and likely will produce income for you if properly done.

Pages that are full of advertisements dilute your message and make your page look promotional rather than informational.

Title Carefully

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 a free program that helps me to produce better titles.

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!

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.

Use Lists

A smart online writer always tries to use lists because they are powerful tools that help readers to get good overviews 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 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.

Market Your Work

Once you have written and edited 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.

The Bottom Line

As long as an article meets a reader’s needs, is well-written and carefully formatted, it is almost impossible for it to not do well unless it is written on a subject that has already been covered extensively or has too much competition.

You will never be able to compete with any health article that people can find on the Mayo Clinic site or one that discusses issues such as love because they have been beaten to death already.

Find out what people want to know or what people need, and write about those things. One writer I know of got 5 million views on an article she wrote about no bake cheesecake! It was a simple topic but one that people wanted to learn about.

Finally, stay away from current events. Write one article that people can read for years rather than 20 that will be old news in a month. This is how you earn passive income, and this, in addition to everything else written here, is what will help you to become successful.

Did you find these tips helpful?

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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

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