1. Know your audience
Are you writing for the industry, your peers, your clients, your clients’ clients? This is your starting point. This will direct the tone and message of your whole article. It dictates how much knowledge they’re likely to have, how much industry jargon it will be acceptable to use, what issues they’re most interested in.
2. Have a message
It’s important to have a clear message. This might be to challenge a widely held opinion that you believe needs consideration. It might be to impart knowledge, inform and shed light on an area that isn’t well understood. It might be to ensure your voice is heard in an important industry debate. When your audience has finished reading your article, they need to have got the message, know where you stand and understand the value you add.
3. Don’t sell
A sales message is the domain of advertising and needs to be paid for. Editorial is independent. This is a good thing. Readers are more likely to believe editorial content than they are advertising content. The value is in having an article authored by you. It can show you as a thought-leader, an influencer, knowledgeable, valued enough for the publication/website to publish. This isn’t the place to try and include a sales message for your company. In fact, a sales message will jar and turn the reader off and, of course, is likely to be omitted by the publisher.
4. Keep it light
This isn’t a white paper, it isn’t for Government, you won’t be cross-examined on it in the high court. If your audience is going to read until the end, keep it light. However serious or dry the topic, punchy and light is likely to have more impact. In a world of content-overload, the light way is the right way.
Any outlet – website, publication, blog, portal – that you write for is likely to want an exclusive article. No-one is likely to want an article that has been published elsewhere. At first glance this may feel like a challenge. You’ve got a great idea for an article on your specialist area, you’ve written it, it’s been published, and now you have to become a specialist in something else. Not so. You can write on your specialist area time and again, but you do need to find a new angle. It’s your specialist area, you can do it.
6. Call to action
Although you won’t be including a sales message, you still want to achieve a result. This might be to get your audience to consider a different opinion, broaden their knowledge of a particular area, take your organisation seriously in your field. Keep this in mind when you’re writing and it will add focus.
Practice. Review. Edit. The more you do it, the better you will get. You might even enjoy it. When else do you get free reign to deliver 750 words uninterrupted?