If you stepped into a restaurant and asked for a wine, you'd get a question back. The question would be: Which wine would you prefer? Red or white? And of course those questions would lead to more questions. Until finally you got down to the exact wine you were looking for.
Article writing has that kind of variety too.
And because articles are so varied in nature, it's easy to get confused with the terminology. So first we must ask: What is article writing? And the answer to that is simple: Article writing is like the editorial you see in your newspaper. When you read the news in your newspaper, those are articles. And even as we understand article writing, we tend to get confused between articles and sales letters.
So aren't sales letters articles as well?
Sales letters are what you see on a sales page. So when someone is selling something to you, they tend to write a sales letter. The sales letter has a different tone. It has different graphics. And if we go back to the newspaper analogy, we see that the editorial is the news you read.
And the sales letter are the advertisements in the newspaper. As you've figured out, the ads look different from the editorial. Different tone, different graphics—yeah, lots of differences.
So why bother with article writing when you can just sell?
Article writing is powerful because we have a natural tendency to “put up a wall” when we are being sold to. Article writing is a powerful expression of ideas. For example: With an article I can get you to eat one type of food vs. another. I can get you to understand why you need to change that chair you're sitting on. I can get you to switch to a superior brand of coffee. And the reason this happens is because information empowers you.
When you're empowered, you tend to pay closer attention.
When you're being sold to, you often gloss over the material. This is why we tend to read almost every word in articles, and tend to skim over sales letters. So in fact, the article is an extremely powerful way—and a non-threatening way—to get your customers to see things in a different light.
But this lighting gets all confused if you don't know what kind of article you're setting out to write.
So let's explore three main types of articles you could write.
This type of article-writing is when you give specific facts. You may tell me why I need to wear sunglasses (to avoid problems when I'm older). You may well tell me a method to increase my prices (without losing customers). You may tell me how to grow a thousand tomatoes in a tiny space. As you can tell, this is a how-to type of article. And it's a lot different from the news articles you often see.
News articles are just a report of what's happened. E.g. A bus crashed into a store. A cat ran up a Sequoia tree etc. Those are just reports and they do inform. The how-to article goes a bit further. It empowers you to achieve something, do something or experience something in a different way. A how-to article tends to have specific steps. Which is slightly different from a story-type of article.
The story type of article is educational, but in a story format. So if you tell us the story of how you had your first workshop, then that transports all of us into your world, your triumphs, your mistakes. It's a powerful form of article writing, because people love stories. And it's not only easier to read a story-type of article; it's also easier to write one.
A story-type of article will not necessarily have any steps. It follows a sequence. First this happened, then that, then that. And because you don't have to think of steps, you can write faster. Your story is your story. No one objects to the concepts in your story.
And of course there's a third type of article: The FAQ type. FAQ is simply “Frequently Asked Questions”.
Think of a manual. A manual has instructions. The FAQ type of article is a very dry, instruction-based article. And it's easy to underestimate the value of this type of article. After all this article doesn't very often generate any income, and is often something a client will read after they've committed to or after they've bought something. And yet the FAQ article is critical because it helps the client find their way around unfamiliar territory.
E.g. If you're a photographer and you write articles on:
– What clothes to wear to a shoot.
– How to handle kids at a shoot.
– How to be un-hassled for a shoot.
What you've done is given the client the chance to consume your product in the best possible way. And this applies to both products and services. If someone buys a product from you, your instructions should be clear so they can download the product, or use the product to their maximum advantage.
These articles are dry and boring—for you to write. It's critical for the customer to read and not dry and boring at all. And there you have it, three core ways to write an article.
So which type of article writing is the easiest?
They're all tough. One may appear easier than the other, but they all require enormous practice without which you'll soon lose steam and give up. The story-type may appear easier, but remember that there are thousands of Hollywood scripts, articles in magazines and novels that are pure story-lines and still get rejected day after day. The key to your success is to stop looking over the fence to what seems like the easier option.
The best method to write articles is to pick one way and keep at it.
Every article has the same core structure with a few changes. Once you learn to write one type, it's easier to switch over to the other type without any drama. But if you try and go back and forth between the types of articles, you may well struggle. And you only have yourself to blame.
My advice is to stick to the how-to type
The how-to type allows you to tell stories, give a how-to component and is also very instructional in many ways. If on some days you feel like just writing a story, don't let me stop you. But don't believe for a second that one type is easier than the other. They're all tough, and the sooner you get mastery over one type, the sooner you get mastery over all three.
- Articles are different from sales letter writing.
- Sales letters are different in tone, structure and are purely salesy. Articles are not.
- Articles convince because they empower the customer rather that bamboozle them into buying.
- There are three core types of article writing: How-to, Story, FAQ.
- How-to works best because it can encompass all three types within a single article.
- The other side of the fence always looks greener. Stay on your side.
Articles are like wine
There's a lot to choose from. It's a struggle because they can be so varied in nature. But just like wine, it's best to get to your favourite type and then enjoy.
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