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How To Write An Article Online - 3

I designed the How To Write An Article Online series to give bloggers, new online content providers and writers a sound resource they can refer to for help. We've already discussed these elements: How To Write an Article Online: developing skill and technique and How to Write an Article Online: good practicesIn this third tutorial we'll discuss the actual writing process and talk about a topic that proves very difficult for most writers - ideas for articles.

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How to write an article online: finding ideas for articles
Ideas can sometimes evade us, especially if we’re doing this as a full time job, on a constant basis. The best ideas come from real life. Why? Because this is the only way to find an original perspective on a given topic. Sometimes I have a eureka moment about something I think is fantastically original, only to find that someone has already given the idea a good scouring and airing in the Internet.  At the risk of sounding cynical, there's hardly anything we can come up with these days that’s not already been beaten to death on the web. Your job is to make your version unique.  The best way to do this is to put your individual spin on it.  Only the people who put their individuality into their articles have work that stand head and shoulders above the rest.

Question: Is it possible to produce brand new content when writing an article?
Yes. If you always research thoroughly, i.e don’t let the total sum of your research be one page of Wikipedia (we know that Wikipedia, useful as it is, is not a dictionary. It’s a site that anyone can add anything to. By nature of this, there are many inaccuracies there), but at least eight or nine other sources as well. Why so many? The answer to this is easy. One page gives you one person’s viewpoint. Looking at a case from all angles gives you a total picture of what the nucleus of the story is (like the four gospels give you all-round viewpoints of the same story, because it comes from four different writers). This is the only way your product will stand out above the rest of the grit on the Internet. We’ve already said that there aren’t many new projects you can think about doing, but your content will always be fresh and new if it’s coming from you. The world has already heard the lies and the facts from other people.  Copying or rehashing will make your article old news - expressing the very same ideals and, worst of all, other people’s views. If all else fails, when writing an article put yourself and your opinions into an old story to make it new again. It'll becomes your story - your spin.

Ideas for writing articles 1: your life
The best and most ‘original’ ideas come from real life. Always carry a note book with you. Little things create a spark in the minds of creative people like writers and photographers. When my daughter was four she had a little notebook which she hid under her bed (yes, go ahead and judge me. I read it). The book was was named, ‘my book of evil plans'. She had listed nasty (funny) things she could like to do, including chucking a piece of carrot at my head when I was telling her off. I found this hilarious, and immediately set out to write an article of the same title, outlining the evil things that I'd like to do and get away with. That article was an overnight success, and made me a substantial amount of money. Another time I was sitting behind someone on a bus, who was carrying on a very interesting conversation on her mobile phone. The thought struck me to write a short story, comprised of just a one-sided phone conversation, so the reader had to guess what was happening on the other side of the phone.

Note: This article is now different from all the others you'll read about how to write an article online. Why?  Because I’ve just illustrated my point by telling you a personal story, a story which I can guarantee you will not find anywhere else.

How to write an article online extended reading: you can practise writing snippets from your life for these hard copy writing opportunities 
Want your well-written work to stand out? Here are some great ways to promote your articles.

Ideas for writing articles 2: read, read, read
Magazine subscriptions: Every year when my present subscription runs out, I subscribe to different magazine. Reading gives you ideas and shows you what works in the current writing arena. If you write about cars or internet games, you should be subscribing to a magazine which deals with those subjects. This is not to copy their content, because that would be stupid and wrong. Besides, if you get caught you could be sued for plagiarism. Reading within your subject of expertise makes you more of an expert (reading and studying material in their field is what makes experts, experts) and it gives you genuine ideas for articles of your own.

Upcoming events: Look for what’s ‘coming next month’ in your magazines. They’ve done the expensive surveys to find out popular trends, (Viola! You’ve had a free survey done on your behalf) so do your own article before they’ve come out with theirs. Having said that, it’s not completely free, since you’re paying your subscription and are entitled to read and devour anything they’ve printed. 'Read and devour’ is far better than ‘copy and write-up.’

Think beyond every experience: A piece on a wedding for example, could give you an idea about vows that people make. Your research on this topic would reveal quite extraordinary and humorous information on various kinds of vows that are made in the world around us.
Reading also gives a vital boost to those who’re less versed in English language rules and correct punctuation. These are vital writing knowledge which are lacking in many internet articles.

How to write an article online: extended reading - Online English lessons

Ideas for writing articles 3: use radio and television
As a writer or blogger, you're no longer allowed the privilege of watching TV and listening to the radio, just for the pleasure of it. You’re now doing these activities as part of your job as well. Keep your eyes open for subjects being researched, and news and reviews about the weird and wonderful. Ask yourself what spin you can put on stories in the news. What ideas do they give you? Does a piece about a plane crash give you an idea about natural disasters? Does a story about a murder in your area give you an idea about unsolved crimes?

As an aside, you shouldn't make the mistake of following the popular trend on the Internet which makes fun of the dead, the dying, or the sick. Always treat these subjects with respect. Remember that no matter what the dead were like, they’ve got living relatives who should be considered. Once your articles are published they go out into the world where anyone, and indeed, everyone can view them. Your handling of a story, no matter how despised the subject or individual covered, reflects on you - the creator - not them. Remember to make use of your humanity and pay respect to the people about whom you write. You are not the paparazzi.

Ideas for writing articles 4: your day job can work for you
Many people don't remember that they have at least one hundred unwritten articles under their sleeves. Do you have a day job? What is it? If you don't have a day job now, did you ever have one? Are you a mother taking care of children? There’s your hundred articles covering something about which you have a remarkable amount of knowledge. Are you a gardener? Give your fans advice about plants. Are you a fantastic cook? What about teachers? Do you give your students topics to research? Are they studying Winston Churchill this month? Why not do your own research and write about him. You must have tons of advice on how to study. Your colleagues on the website you write for may not need that particular advice, but they know a good, well-written article when they see one. They'll put your work out there for the hundreds of thousands of people who do need it.  Once you've worked out how to write an article online, you'll have no trouble finding what to write in them if you let your day job do the talking. I’ve beaten this one to death so I’ll move on.

Ideas for writing articles 4: become an expert in your hobby
Your hobby, by definition is something you spend a lot of time doing. This can offer you at least another hundred articles. Do you like redecorating? Are you a dab hand at fixing up old cars? Do you take a run every morning? How about TV? Do you love watching TV? Why not choose a few of your favourite shows and do weekly reviews of them. Now we’re talking not 100 articles, but a lot more than that.

How to write an article online 3: Revision
Add a bit of myself to everything I create. This is the only way to make my articles original.
I should use more than one source for thorough research.
Real life throws up the most original ideas, but I always have to be on the look-out.
Prolific reading gives me great ideas for writing articles.
I must not discard the stories I watch and listen to in the media. If I think long and hard enough about them they’ll open up new ideas for me.
I have a vast amount of knowledge about my day job (or former day job). I should use this wealth of knowledge to become an expert in my field.
My hobby can provide me with lots of ideas for writing articles.

Please read the other 3 posts in this 'How To Write An Article Online' series. Other posts you may find helpful are: 
20+ must-read articles for the new blogger
More ideas for super blog posts



10 comments:

Dr Erhumu February 2, 2012 at 4:23 PM  

These days I like putting different jotters in different places, cos an idea can just jump at you and if u don't write it down, you may just forget it the next day.

Anne Lyken-Garner February 3, 2012 at 12:01 PM  

That's true. I always write down my ideas or I forget them.

Mike February 3, 2012 at 2:36 PM  

Writing and article is not difficult but making it great is way more difficult. Only good articles gets likes, links, tweets and +1's so it's important to write well researched articles and try them make as fluent as possible.
Thanks for the tips!

Anne Lyken-Garner February 3, 2012 at 3:55 PM  

Mike, sometimes even good articles fail to get likes. I've learned that promoting your article is just as important as writing them correctly. Thanks for the visit.

Mike February 3, 2012 at 6:16 PM  

Anne,

Yes, I have to agree that good articles is only part from success. Article perhaps is hidden in places where no one can find it and so it can be stunning but still useless :)

Article Writing May 8, 2012 at 6:55 PM  

It's either writing an article or making the great one is difficult but if you'll just be open minded and go beyond to the discovered things then it might be easy as counting as 123.

Anne Lyken-Garner May 8, 2012 at 10:51 PM  

As the saying goes, everything is easy when you know how :-)

Andrea September 16, 2012 at 1:39 PM  

Hi Anne

Thank you for this lovely series. In your posts you mention when you started your writing course. Can you refer me to a good writing course?

Thanks
Andrea

Anne Lyken-Garner September 17, 2012 at 9:07 AM  

Hi Andrea, try the Writers Bureau. You get a money back guarantee and a great course. You can also then subscribe to their Freelance Market News. I get a lot of fantastic ideas from there.

Mae Kristine Raña February 9, 2013 at 1:12 AM  

There are many things should be taken into consideration, but you've made a good point here. Thanks a lot for that. I will follow your way soon.



Brian Vickers Fiance

Anne's a published author, freelance writer and experienced editor. She's just signed her second publishing contract this year with 2 separate publishing houses. You can hire her or see her available books in the side panel on the right.
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