How to Write a Compelling Original Article

Thanks for your interest in writing an article!

You are an expert in many things, why not share them? We want to hear from you!

Our goal is to feature information that is simple, easy to read and to the point. What seems obvious to you might cause another person to become lost if that information is left out. So please, try to be thorough and don’t skip any steps. Consider writing in the “technical manual” style, like a step-by-step guide.  You are an expert in many things, and what seems obvious to you might cause another person to become lost if details are left out. This is why we encourage including photos, videos and screen-captures when appropriate.

Don’t like to type?

That is no problem nowadays! You can use a dictation app on your phone (like Drafts) and email it to yourself; or if you have a Mac, open your word processing program and press the “fn” key twice. (Note: this feature takes a while to start the first time it is used after the Mac is turned on.)

Don’t be afraid to show passion and enthusiasm! It is important to showcase the emotional connection whenever you can. One good example involves featuring real people expressing real passion for something.

Articles work best when they are based on:

  1. Candor – they are honest
  2. Urgency – create a need to get or do something right away
  3. Timeliness – applies to a current issue
  4. Pithiness – poke fun at something that needs to change
  5. Controversy – a debate between several different methods or points-of-view
  6. Utility – Useful information you can’t live without


  • KEYWORDS AT THE BEGINNING – Put keywords in the the FRONT of your title and in the FIRST sentence of your article.
  • SIMPLE – If you need to use industry lingo, be sure to translate it into layman’s terms. People from other industries will be reading your piece. And please spell out acronyms the first time you use them. Example: Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).
  • SHORT SENTENCES – Keep sentences short. Try to avoid compound sentences. A period gives the reader a natural stop—and a sense of progress as they pass one milestone after another. Studies have shown that the ideal FIRST sentence is 40-70 characters long, with subsequent sentences 100-120 characters in length.  Of course, it is better to be clear, than to be brief, so use as many words as you need to get your point across.
  • SHORT PARAGRAPHS – Use short paragraphs. Try to stick to 2-3 sentences. If it’s more than this, the content looks too dense. Readers will give up and move on.
  • SUBHEADINGS – Breaking the content up into sections with subheadings makes it easier to read.
  • KEYWORDS – Keywords should be in the title and in the first paragraph.
  • EMPHASIS – It also helps to bold or italicize the first occurrence of a keyword phrase. Please do NOT underline for emphasis. On all underlined text is linked.
  • LISTS – People love numbered or bulleted lists.
  • LINKS – Provide links for more information or as references in your “Sources” section at the end. Formats that can be described in an article and linked to: Audio Recordings, Videos, Slide Presentations, Webinars, Screencasts.
  • IMAGES – Include relevant images and a description of what the image shows. (Please don’t steal images! If you didn’t take the photo or draw the image yourself, please purchase an appropriate image or do Google search for “Royalty-Free Stock Photos.”)
    • 72 dpi
    • JPG for all photos
    • PNG for everything else
    • 400 – 1600 pixels wide (850 pixels wide works best)
  • YOUR BIO – 1-2 sentences of the author’s biographical information will appear at the top of the article. These sentences may include a maximum of one text link to your own website, and up to two other ways people may contact you (email, Twitter handle, telephone number, etc.).
  • EDIT AFTER YOU WRITE – Don’t try to edit as you write! Writing is a creative “right-brain” activity, while editing is an analytical “left-brain” activity, so it is much easier to just write, letting your creativity flow and edit later. Make editing easier:
    • Turn on Spelling and Grammar tools in your word processing application
    • Having your computer read your article back to you is a fast way to edit. On a Mac: Highlight all the text when you are done (Command a) and press the tilde key (~) to have the Mac read to you.
    • Or, better yet, ask someone to proofread it for you.
  • WORD COUNT – The article can be as long as you want, but we ask for at least 300 words.
  • FILE TYPES – These are all accepted: Text, Rich Text, Word, Pages, HTML, MarkDown
  • And don’t forget please… check your facts and check your links

Structure of a good article:

  1. Start with the headline. Write something that will pull people into reading. Advertising legend David Ogilvy once said, “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.”
  2. What’s the transformation to be achieved? Tell them! Get right to the point and make it relevant to THEM.
  3. What problems will this solve?
  4. What are all possible objections? Raise and overcome objections at the start.
  5. Include 3 sections of supporting content
  6. Conclude with:
    1. a discussion question (Example: ask them what else they use, or how they do it)
    2. have people do the thing themselves and leave comments on how it went
    3. call on people to give their personal experience stories

TYPES of Articles to write:

  • List of Tools or Resources, etc.
  • News – How news events impact the audience
  • Opinion
  • Essay
  • Product Review
  • DIY (Do It Yourself) or Step-by-Step Guide
  • Tutorial
  • Roundup or Link Aggregation
  • Story – How I discovered/learned something, (failures make popular posts!)
  • Case Study
  • Data and research report
  • Infographic
  • Event Announcements or Reviews
  • Quiz or Puzzle
  • Famous quotes
  • Illustrative photos with educational captions
  • Humor

What are People Looking For?

Focus on points in people’s lives where they are looking for information — for example: finding a job, going for or getting a promotion, becoming a new boss, mergers & acquisitions, new product launches, lay-offs, or weather disasters.

Looking for what aspects of your topic people are looking for? Search for your topic in Google, then scroll to the bottom of the page and look under “Searches related to” links in blue.


If you really want to get compelling, Ronald B. Tobias suggests using one of these 20 Master Plots:

  • Quest
  • Adventure
  • Pursuit
  • Rescue
  • Escape
  • Revenge
  • The Riddle
  • Rivalry
  • Underdog
  • Temptation
  • Metamorphosis
  • Transformation
  • Maturation
  • Love
  • Forbidden Love
  • Sacrifice
  • Discovery
  • Wretched Excess
  • Ascension
  • Descension

(Source: Tobias, Ronald B., Cincinnati: Writer’s Digest Books, 1993. ISBN 0-89879-595-8)

IMPORTANT – please read these 3 articles:

  1. How to Get Published on Factory of the Future
  2. Plagiarism – How Not to Steal People’s Content
  3. Titles that Grab You