Articles are a great way to gain visibility and credibility for what you offer. They provide a great resource for your clients. They increase your website visibility and add value to your media kit. The simplest way to begin writing an article is to break it into three parts: purpose, key elements and basic structure.

PURPOSE
Message: You have valuable expertise to share. Two questions to keep in mind: Why here? Why now? They help keep the content relevant, focused and succinct.

Length: Different venues seek varying lengths but the current “general rule” is 500-700 words for a web article. Newspapers editorials are typically 500 words. Some ezines request 1,000 words. What’s key is to adhere to their requirements.

KEY ELEMENTS
Title: Draw people in with your title and hook them into the message. Browse through magazines and notice what titles engage you. Then adapt your own.

Stories: Stories draw your reader in. Keep your writing “alive” by incorporating active language and be sure that it highlights your message.

Statistics: Statistics or other “data” demonstrates your credibility on the topic and also expands the learning for your reader.

Tips or tools: Keep them simple and doable.

BASIC STRUCTURE
By blending prose with bullet points for tools, you will allow the reader to skim for useable tools and connect with you on a personal level.

Allow yourself to write a “shitty first draft”. This is possibly the most important step in piecing together the article. Let your ideas flow onto the page. Afterwards, go back and hone your story, your tips and your message.

And remember…just like anything new, you’ll have a few drafts before you find your voice, your rhythm and your story. Share it with friends. Ask for input from respected colleagues. And before you know it, you’ll get over the “fear of the red pen” and you’ll begin to enjoy sharing your expertise.