Writing Articles: A mini course in article writing: how to write & sell articles

Article writing techniques: how to write articles for prestige, writing & selling freelance articles

Many aspiring article writers are put off by many books on writing articles and writers courses which, with voluminous detail on writing articles and analysis of article writing techniques, cause those aspiring to write articles to be confused about how to write articles, to loose interest in writing articles.

Many columnists earning a living by writing articles did not learn their craft from books on how to write articles or writing courses.

Writing articles to many is a means of earning a living. The field of article writing is one in which it matters not whether you are a writing class graduate or a DLitt., or have no formal exam. pass. To write articles you need only reasonable spelling and general knowledge from reading articles in newspapers or magazines, watching documentaries or news. If you lack the discipline and the patience to write books, novels, movie-scripts, you still can enjoy money and fame writing articles. The article writing market is wide: local or national newspapers, juvenile or teen-age, trade or international magazines all need articles, and writers to write articles. You can write articles on ‘how to’ issues, on issues you feel strongly about and can state opinions.

Freelance Article Writing

Not all possess knowledge or interest to write articles arguing issues. But there are many topics on which anyone can write articles. Many interested in writing articles use files or labelled envelopes to keep magazine or newspaper cuttings, or an exercise book to jot news or ideas in. These help in writing articles; and there are writers’ sources listing important events past, present, or future as topics to write articles on. Reference or quotations books are ideas sources for topics for writing articles. In writing articles, in all article writing, more than the subjects on which writers write articles, how interestingly to the readers they write articles is what sells articles, makes popular.

The trend in writing articles is: biographical, historical; more, on home economics, increasingly philosophical; always human interest articles. You do not have to write articles on these -you may write articles on anything if informative, interesting, and not libelous (e.g., nothing “is not” good but only “I think it is not”). 

When you write articles, the copyright is yours, whether you sold your article or contributed gratis -unless the copyright has been specifically bought. When you write articles and sell them, normally you sell printing rights. Most buy first publication rights, in the USA some reprint rights. Monies from freelance writing are taxable income.

The Copyright Conventions (incorporated as Intellectual Property Rights) are voluntary agreements which many nations subscribe to with laws basically same but varying in detail. It entitles any author of any country to economic protection in any member country for a period of 50 years from the authors death –but does allow reproduction of parts reasonably in the scientific or literary works by acknowledging the author as a matter of ethics and courtesy ~except in, e.g., the USA and Israel under the Fair Use doctrine which allows more extensively for various purposes [if, e.g., it does not exploit the market] reproduction in whole without the permission and the knowledge of the author. One may not be prosecuted for copyright infringement (except in some cases of digital reproduction), but if can show resultant economic loss (e.g., that one would have financially benefited oneself) one may sue civil law –and it is lawful (without defaming = if true) to reasonably publicize plagiarism.

(If you submit an articles to internet article-sites copyright-free, despite reputable ones’  conditions for re-publication, beware, by some they may re-published without any links or be plagiarized [appear under an author name other than your name or pen-name/s]  –as, e.g., this article had been plagiarised on academic ‘ilmkidunya’.)

When writing articles also bear in mind: some publications will not consider unsolicited articles; all want the freelance articles you write to be word-processed, double spaced, with the number of words stated -approx. 1,500 (longer if asked), and your contact details. Submit topical freelance articles at least three months early. If proposing writing a column send at least six articles.

Policies in Article Writing

It is disadvantageous to write articles to submit speculatively. While established writers do write articles to be syndicated, it is advantageous for the newly interested in writing articles to write for newspapers or magazines which they are familiar with, or to familiarise themselves with newspapers or magazines which they wish to write articles for. The USA’s Writer’s Market or even Writer’s Handbook, or the UK’s rather limited Writer’s & Artist’s Yearbook or its Canadian equivalent may help, glancing though the publications one is interested in writing articles for suffices.

Remember when writing articles: newspapers’, magazines’ preferences differ. Cosmopolitan’s emphasis differs than She’s -itself different than in 1970s; policies also change as Ink’s in 1980s. In freelance article writing also style matters: The Sun or Daily Mirror use much shorter sentences than the Times; keep to the ‘fox-index’ -average sentence length. Ask a magazine you want to write articles for, for complimentary copy -college magazines, trade journals aren’t widely available.

Do not offend readers. In writing freelance articles the readership sensitivities matter. “We know Byron’s reason –what’s yours?” wrote the witty Cypriot writer-thinker-poet, the late,  teacher Orhan Seyfi Ari in Birlik in a open letter to a British Prime Minister –whether the author’s stance on the issue in the editor’s opinion from the point of view of the readership would be applauded or frowned upon is a matter entirely of readership sensitivities, generally or on a particular issue at the relevant time and circumstance. More so is language used. Language acceptable to Playgirl is not to Lady magazine. Few publications allow four-letter words; some require above-average inoffensive language. In writing articles bear in mind the sensitivities of the readership your article is for.

In writing articles to freelance remember: what to the American is ‘chips’ to the British is ‘crisps’. In writing articles pay attention to these -it matters: ‘rubber’ in Britain, ‘durex’ in Australia is ‘eraser’ -in the UK ‘durex’, in the USA ‘rubber’ is condom.

If writing articles for teenagers or juveniles do not talk down to them -they like to be treated as grown-ups. The taboos in writing articles for them are: gambling, crime, cruelty, playing on differences of rich and poor, ideologies, politics, war ~subjects considered detrimental to their physical and mental development. What to you may have been ‘groovy, super, divine’ to them is ‘cool’. Some teenage publications concentrate on teenage love, but bear in mind when writing articles for them, more than sexual, it is sympathetic, romantic, idealised love.

Preparation in Writing Articles

1. Subjects in Article Writing

Remember in article writing: most profitable businesses have always been in the fields, in this order, of: money, food, sex.

The most successful soap-operas are about the lives, life-styles, of the wealthy. People like to read about them, copy them ~not everybody purchase at the Ideal Home Exhibition, but many buy the Ideal Home magazine to inexpensively to copy from it. Most magazines and newspapers, even The Times, has cookery columns -cookery books sell ‘like hot cake’. Magazine and newspaper agony or advice columns are often about problems directly or indirectly involving sex -a paperback on how to tell if a man was cheating on a woman, in one single day had to be re-stocked several times by Selfridges and Harrods, on first night went into third print!

It pays in article writing. But article writing can be on, e.g., water.

2. Viewpoint in Writing Articles

If you are writing articles, e.g., for a water-bottling firm’s trade magazine, write from its viewpoint: ‘bottled water better!’ … Or…

Cookery column: how water can be used to make lighter pastry.

Health magazine: how water contains all the elements essential for health. Woman’s magazine: that it refreshes, keeps the skin and hair young, and how. Teenage magazine -boys: magnet on glass of water, oxygen’s qualities…

Teenage magazines -girls: blue roses, pink daises with ink in water.

Children’s magazine: germinating peas on wetted blotting paper.

The viewpoints of most magazines are at a glance obvious. Article writing does not necessitate detailed study of magazines.

3. Write Articles with Catchy Titles

An example cited can not be bettered: ‘Princess Raped in Canteen’ -money, food, sex! Write articles with interesting titles.

We are writing an article about water -what title for our article?

If for water-bottling trade journal, ‘Healthiest Drink Unhealthy’.

Cookery column: ‘Lighter Baking with Water.’

Health magazine: ‘Water’s Good for You’.

Woman’s magazine: ‘Look Younger with Water.’

Teenage magazine -boys: ‘Amaze with Water’…

Teenage magazines -girls: ‘Colour Flowers with Water.’

Children’s magazine: ‘Magical Pea Shoots with Water!’

A publisher is quoted to have told a writer: “Just tell me the title and I’ll tell you if I’ll publish it.” Write articles with catchy titles.

(If your articles are for internet media, e.g., article sites, you must ensure to include in the body of your article. in your title and description [as well as in your key/search-words/tags] related important words which considerably affect search-engine rank and listings.) 

How to Write Articles

Article writing are of many kinds. Writing articles of the informative kind there are two kinds of, which differ from most other kinds of article writing: the instructive ‘how to’ articles (e.g., some cookery columns), and the descriptive travel articles. Often they are accompanied by photographs or drawings.

These techniques of writing articles vary. State the title, begin: e.g.: ‘How to Repair a Punctured Bicycle Tire’… 1. Inflate it (illustration)… 2. Place it in a bucket of water (illustration)… 3. Look for air bubbles (illustration)… etc. Or, (unless to attract tourists or praise or criticise), e.g.: ‘Cyprus’… Geographically situated in the Mediterranean (a map)… The history of this little island… Prominent in this district is the St. Hilarion Castle (picture), etc.

Generally, in writing freelance articles, stick to the rules below.

4. ‘The Beginning’ in Article Writing

When writing an article begin by briefly saying what the article is about. Tell readers what your article is going to tell them. Whet their appetite for what you will tell them, in less than 100 words.

In writing articles, at the beginning, create a little ‘suspense’…

Cookery: ‘Did you know that you can surprise, amaze, with your baking -make others ask for your recipes? You can, using water ~they’ll ask the secret!’

Health: ‘Water isn’t only essential for our proper functioning, both, physically and mentally; it’s healthier than fruit juice -more than orange, grape juice.’

Beauty: ‘Can water keep you young? Have you ever wondered why flowers in a vase stay fresh only so long as there is water in it -and why the water needs to be changed to keep them fresh? Water can work wonders for your skin!’

Teen boys: ‘Have you ever used a magnet on water? The qualities of water are amazing! With a magnet you can raise the water, amaze your friends!’

Teen girls: ‘Do you want to have blue roses, pink daisies in vase-full, overnight, impressively to beautify your room -be the envy of your friends?’

Children: ‘Can you grow pea shoots without planting them? Here’s how!’

Most freelance articles are rejected within three seconds at a glance at the beginning. Write articles with interesting beginnings.

5. ‘The Middle’ in Writing Articles

In about 1,300 words now tell what you said you were going to…

Cookery: which pastry or cakes, which tars or pies.. How they are normally made with milk, wine or rum -and to substitute water for parts of them.

Health: the qualities, constituents of water; why it is essential, which vitamins contain fruit, vegetable juices; how water contains all those with more.

Beauty: why, indeed, it is that flowers in a vase need water to remain fresh, how flowers whither if the water in the vase is not changed daily to replace the used up oxygen in it.. and that so is all life, so our bodies and skins.

Teen boys: the reason for tides, magnetic pull of the moon on oxygen in water; that water is two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen; ‘lunatic’ from ‘luna’, lunar pull on our bodies -80% liquid; magnet on glass raises water.

Teen girls: white roses, stems in water at night with few drops of blue ink; how, why petals blue by morning; and yellow daisies, with red ink.

Children: how, why, peas on wetted blotting paper in box small grows shoots.

In article writing, in the middle you expand the beginning, and also justify the point to be made or emphasised in the ending.

6. Write Articles with Good Endings

When you write articles summarise them at the end. In freelance article writing this is done with a paragraph of not more than 200 words, or two of not more than 100 words each.

Endings of articles are regarded as ‘telling them what you have told them.’ In article writing readers expect a point to be made or emphasised in the ending -make them feel privileged, go “How so, indeed!”, or “Well, if viewed from that point, of course so.” A articles do not have to argue points, but must end satisfactorily.

Bottled-water journal: ‘How unhealthy is tap water! Bless you bottled water!’

Cookery column: ‘A great way to save on ingredients and impress friends!’

Health magazine: ‘Why not supplement health foods with water? It’s free!’

Woman’s magazine: ‘Who wouldn’t love to look younger? Let water help!’

Teenage boys magazine: ‘Great for showing off, amazing your friends, huh?’

Teenage girls magazine: ‘Blue roses, pink daises… Friends green with envy!’

Children’s magazine: ‘Is your electronic pet real? Peas you can nurture are!’

Remember when writing articles, in the ending to be consistent. Briefly state conclusion/s based on ‘the middle’, and your point.

What to Expect from Writing Articles

Some write articles to aid causes. Many are interested in writing and selling articles. The former is rare; the latter hardly think of most aspiring writers, wanting simply to see their names in print.

Writing and Selling Articles

One may write and sell an article only to meet a financial need. For those interested in earning their living or regularly supplementing their income by writing and selling articles, the article market is wide and lucrative. You can write a subject from different angles, write and sell articles on the same subject to many publications -e.g., ‘water’, environmentally (boat-house, pools in parks) or as a form of energy (hydro-electricity). Writers sources list magazine payments for freelance articles from $50 to $3,000 each, re-saleable as reprint articles to some others.

Writing Articles for Influence or Prestige

Writing articles sometimes is to influence, or for prestige: e.g., an image building article on a celebrity may be sold not to the Daily Mail, but for less to the Sun read by more; one who may write and sell articles with a scientific flavour for more to the Reader’s Digest may prefer publication in Scientific American.

Feature article writing can be to write creative articles to sell or to influence. ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’? Not immediately, but yes: a black lady’s account in the New Yorker of her treatment at British customs brought from top politicians week long repeated public apologies -of greater importance was to China to a New York Times reporter’s visit than a US president’s.

Creative or inspirational article writing can be for prestige, with literary aspirations: fame. Being a writer, to others, makes one very special. If one is not only published because of the e.g., public, office held, then even merely aspiring to be a writer makes one special to others. In the trial of Lady Chatterley’s Lover as acceptable a literary expert witness as the top columnist of the Times was an unpublished young lady who was writing a novel.

If your article writing ambitions include power, the influence of some columnists’, concentrate on writing socio-political feature articles, perhaps first locally -be inoffensive, factual, logical…

Newspaper -end: ‘Bottled costs money! When will tap water be safe to drink!?’

If you aspire to writing intellectual or literary articles try college magazines -note: they tend to be ‘modern’. Such ‘littles’ often pay in copies, but are regarded as publishers of ‘quality writing’.

Littles titles: ‘Is Global Warming and Melting Icebergs Worth the Expense?’

‘Inspirational Beauty of Water-ways Viewed from a Hill-top in Fall at Sunset’

Is literary article writing beyond some writers? Conrad influenced English literature -he learned English in the merchant-navy.

There is not more than the above to article writing, whether you aspire to writing articles to sell, or to write articles for prestige.

(A site on Thinker-Poet-Writer/Columnist, the late, teacher Ari is  http://www.orhanseyfiari.com )

The author’s favourite site is the Teacher of Teachers

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