I’m an art director by training, but personally do very little of it any more. The majority of my time is spent writing. Over the past few years, I’ve learned what will seem like simple, obvious tips to make telling a story so much easier. Most important to writing is remembering it’s okay to be personal in your posts. When I first started writing I kept everything very business-like. Then the editor of Digiday reached out to tell me one of my posts had been responsible for a huge open rate for their newsletter. He believed the reason was I had gotten personal with the article. From that day on, I have woven in personal stories.
We just launched a new blog and are coercing co-workers into writing for it. And many of them have never really written before. They just start writing and what they can end up with is a very, long piece, which is not well organized. So I put this simple five-step outline together.
1. Write the headline first.
Always start by writing the headline first. It’s the idea behind your article and sets the stage for the rest of the content. It will also help you keep the content you write on the topic–on topic. Just make sure the headline is one that will grab someone’s attention.
2. Write the two-sentence intro next.
Following the headline, the intro is the next step and should tell the reader what you are going to talk about and get them salivating to read on.
3. Bullet out the content areas next.
Next rough out the other bullet points/arguments that support the idea you are writing about. Writing them as crossheads will not only help you with outlining the areas you need to write later, they will graphically help the finished product leading the reader through the post.
4. Go back and fill in the blanks.
Once you’ve finished the outline, go back to the bullets and fill in the content. Don’t worry about the order as you can always move the sections around once you’re finished.
5. Write the conclusion.
Sum it all up in 2-3 sentences. And add a call-to-action asking the reader to share their opinion.
And finally, the other thing I do is I keep a folder of ideas that I might write. I start the article with maybe just the title or the intro paragraph so I can remember the idea and stash it in the folder for some later date. Invariably I get asked for a last minute post and it’s nice to have ideas for those fire drills.
What will you write today?