Writing blog articles requires patient and writing abilities that can be trained. Either if you already run your successful blog, or, otherwise, you are at the very start of the play, you surely have thought once in your writing life “How can I fill in this blank page in a way that is clear and interesting at the same time?”.
If ever you had experienced the panic that a blank page can give with the approaching deadline, or even if your block note is stuffed with brilliant ideas for new blog articles, this reading is for you.
Well, this article can’t teach you what you have to write, this is really up to you and is related to your niche, market, job, attitudes, interests etcetera. The core idea is giving you a method to wrap up effective blog articles. The best articles are those that gift you a method. I would like to provide you a walkthrough for creating posts organized, easy to understand, and useful for the community.
Starting from there we will try to:
Each point is essential to let us reaching the success.
A first main point should be finding the type of article you want to write down.
Try to ask to yourself: “What kind of post I’m more comfortable in writing on? I prefer an argumentative or a tutorial one?”
Choose a topic that is fun and interesting to you, which takes from your experience otherwise you may encounter many difficulties in proceeding. Think simple and write even more.
Don’t forget to give background information and don’t take anything as assumed. If you feel that something is quite obvious then explains it again. If someone else has explained a common definition in a better and easy way simply cites the source. It is better being repetitive than leaving out something.
Once decided the topic you need to focus on it and put your ideas in order. Whatever you decide to write on, stick to your idea. It may occur that, while you are writing or doing researches, you have other brilliant ideas. Take note of them for further articles and go ahead with the first idea you got.
Make a list of the points you want to touch and include the list in the post. It will help you to trace a clear line and will be a kind of breadcrumbs for your reader that would be able to follow the writing flow without getting lost between the idea transitions.
Create a panorama, trace a scene where your readers can be comfortable and recognize their own in your writings and they will appreciate you but give them also a list to follow and they will love you.
The Net is stuffed with an enormous amount of data, information and others writings. People who sell themselves as experts are everywhere. Having reliable sources is important to provide valuable contents and to have your idea supported with a real basis. The most important thing in this phase is the trustworthy of the source. Reliable sources or authoritative authors may have already published their researches on the same topic. Each source must be carefully judged.
Quoting by Wikipedia way of finding sources:
“the identity of the author may help determine reliability. The opinions of specialists and recognized experts are more likely to be reliable and to reflect a significant viewpoint”
[Source: Wikipedia – Identifying reliable sources]
You can go deep with the matter thanks to their experiences and provide to your reader suitable examples. Always quote your sources giving them the right credit for their job!
Outlines are, as said, a kind of breadcrumbs to rely on while you are writing. The list can be as simple or detailed as you would like. For example, a good time-saving trick is using titles and subtitles as outline. This will let you go faster later because you will re-use your outline as framework for the content.
As a matter of fact I made the same while I was preparing the outlines for this article:
You can otherwise construct mind maps to organize your materials. I invite you to read the article dedicated to mind maps here in the blog (Mind Mapping: Scheme to Improve the Creativity Process) to spot out how they work. You can also take advantage from a free mind maps library to study existent maps and take inspiration for your own map. Go to Biggerplate(http://www.biggerplate.com/) and explore the shelves.
You don’t need to write everything in detail now. Remember that this is just the outline step which help you have everything in order first to write better later. Identify the points that should be filled in first. They will before your text such as those main pillars for a building.
Depending on the article length that you would obtain, it could happen that you come out with more points than those that you really need. You don’t need to cover everything. Save the exceeding materials by expanding them for later articles.
In the same way, it may occur that you find out that you missed some aspects that may add interesting points to the discussion. Don’t worry! You have time to change, add and modify everything in the process. The only important thing is that you don’t get lost in the flow of your mind.
The very first approach of the reader to the post is obviously the title. We discussed this topic in another article titled Powerful Titles for Your Blog Posts, so we can go ahead and switch to the next key point which would bring us toward the perfect article construction.
It is useless to underline how much the introduction of a post is important. Several studies have demonstrated that the reader tends to scan a text. He starts by reading the introduction, which actually contains an outline of the whole article, than, if you have been able of moving his interest and curiosity, he go ahead and jumps from one heading to another.
If contents should take readers on a journey, then the introduction lines are the advertising to show them up the magic of the cruise.
Within the space of few sentences the writer has to show his arguments without showing his hand. These first lines represent the contract which you sign with your readers, the promise that you do. The very first few paragraphs are perhaps the most important to create a relation with the reader.
Last but not least they are the goal to evolve, the idea to bring on with the post. This is not always easy to accomplish, however the initial statement can absolve the role of constant reminder toward your post aim. You can consider it a sort of guide. If, we said contents should take readers on a journey then you should be the driver of the trip.
This brings us directly to the next point: the writing phase.
There are not rules, the important is starting.
When I write on general graphic design theory this is the point of the workflow where I actually start to write down. Completely different if I’m writing a tutorial, in that case I now start to create the artwork taking a lot of screenshots and the writing follows this phase. We will see the work flow for tutorial article more lately. Going back, in case of an expertise article, like this that you are reading for example, at this point, after having listed the outlines and collected information and ideas, I start writing.
We said that whatever you are writing on you have to stick to the main idea. The good news is that you don’t need to do the same with outlines and titles order that you previously have listed. They are just guidelines that you may follow to be more comfortable in the text flow but they are not a cage to entrap the ideas.
You are free to write a paragraph before another. You can write the paragraphs in the order you want and you can also start and suspend a thought to say it better later.
Do you feel that in that exact moment your thoughts are more focused on a part than one another? Leave this section for later and start following your thoughts. The ended article has to have a structure but the ways in which you achieve the result have not a real importance. Go ahead and expand a concept when you find the right example to do and you will obtain much better result than staring the paragraph title waiting for inspiration without writing a single line.
Can you figure out a post without images? Really boring!
Images are important to break the text and give a visual idea of what you are saying. How to choose them? Let your creative side coming out and use visual metaphors or puns. Play with the meanings and set free your imagination.
Try to balance between words and images. People learn better if they can associate the concept with an image because the two inputs touch different areas of the brain, the visual and the abstract, giving strength to the meaning.
It’s obvious that searching the right images takes time and patience. Not to be offensive, find the right meaning, credit appropriately images’ author are just few examples of what you have to pay attention during you images selection.
If the images are not belonging to you then you have to check their publication license carefully. Make sure that you are not using images without the permission of their owners! Choose images that are free or, anyway, respect the license requests.
Google Image search tools could be helpful in your research. It allows filtering results to images that have been tagged with licenses like Creative Commons. To use this feature go under the Advanced Option of Google Images Search and apply the filter you need as shown below.
Tutorials are a different. They actually are a kind of user manual which may introduce a wide bunch of things, depending on the discussion field of the blog. I mostly write articles on graphics but I also often manage writing products User Manuals.
It is not an easy job. First of all you have to put yourself in the reader’s shoes. While you are writing you have to figure yourself doing the tutorial and imaging which points could be trickiest and spending more detailed instructions, screenshots and examples there. More steps the better.
As per my tutorial writing experience, I start with an idea in my mind. I want to create this or that because I want to improve this technique or inspect new possibilities. Then I start by asking me:
Replying to these questions I follow the following steps:
I select the assets (brushes, textures, icons etc.) that I’m going to use during the tutorial! They are important to let the reader having the tools to obtain the same result as mine. I provide appropriate links to download the resources needed.
I introduce an explanation of what I’m going to show along the tutorial, I list the tools, the level required and an estimated time to accomplish the task.
I include a preview of the final image to keep the interest up to the article and invite the readers to continue.
I start now developing the artwork with tools and techniques that I chose to use, it could be for example Photoshop or Illustrator or any other software, pencil, paper suitable for the job. During this process take screenshots and save high-quality JPEGs or PNGs of the graphics.
You can take your screenshots in a wide variety of ways, using the Print Screen buttons of the keyboard or with dedicated software which many other options. Often including the cursor is useful to point particular details so I suggest checking for software which gives you more options.
It worth to repeat that the more screenshots the better! When I finish I take the rough screenshots and copy them in a document. At this point I start the writing job explaining step by step how I’ve obtained this or do that, showing the achieved result for each step.
Once I’ve finished the writing I open each screenshot again with Photoshop and I rid of the useless elements and highlight the important ones. Sometimes I mark them up with additional inside notes.
Screenshot are the core so they need to be detailed and helpful to explain each passage.
Make consistent screenshot and let the images do the talking. Magnify smaller details like 1px borders or lines, slight shadows and all those aspects which you think are a plus.
When you give the final cut to the screenshots keep in mind the final size that they have to assume. Avoid too small sizes that let them looking blurry and less readable. If the template requires small thumbnails also provide a larger version available on click.
Try to explain things clearly in writing, explaining what you have done with accuracy.
Showing the created design again in its final step let the readers close the circle and sum up the result.
This is the way that I’m used to however these are just a line that you may follow, reuse or completely change. It depends on you and your way of proceeding.
The closing is greatly important. A good way to close is going back to the opening and list again the main points. This helps your reader not getting lost and put order in their thoughts and opinions about what they have read.
Do you remember one of the first steps which we have seen? Sources have helped you in finding the right direction about your idea. They have given you a glimpse on what others have come on the same topic, their studies and results. It is now time to give credit to them.
A complete list of the sources offers :
So, if you have not quoted them or cited their link yet , do not forget to include them now before ending the post!
Writing an article and getting it published means that your name will be associated with it and that a potential large audience will read it. It’s obvious how important is that your tutorials look good but also that it is without misspelling and well written. You can’t know who is on the other side, could be a designer fellow, a professor or a potential employer which is googling on you. Not every blogger is English native and maintaining a good level is not easy but it worth the attempt.
After this last revision, if your text passes the controls then the main of the job is done. It is now time to refine it before actually posting it.
Once you have completed your first draft, leave it for a couple of days and come back to it with new fresh eyes. I bet that you will ask to yourself why you wrote this instead of that. You will be surprised from how many sentences you will modify to make them more fluent.
Well, we have seen how to organize the starting phase of an article and inspected the difference in managing an argumentative article compared to a tutorial based post.
We have organized the materials and started writing.
We have searched and included images to be clearer and breaking the text monotony.
We have included sources and concluded with a sum up.
Everything now is ready to be published. You should have guessed how important is to revise, so, just before hitting the publish button, read the whole text again, adjust and revise one more time. It is never enough.
If you are blogger or content writer I would like to invite you to share your own process. Comment to the post sharing tips and tricks that you use.
Other sources which have inspired this article.