One of the keys to succeeding with an authority blog is being able to write in-depth articles that engage readers. If you have original information, drawing in readers can be relatively easy. The trick is getting them to stick around. You could write the most important article of the century, but very few readers will finish reading it if its lengthy and rambling. So how do you resolve this? Your job as an authority blogger is to make your articles concise and accessible, despite their length.
In order to craft a well-written authority article, you need one thing above all else: tight organization. If you take wayward paths and sloppy turns, you will certainly lose your readers along the way. It is crucial that you get your ideas and your goals (What is the point of this article?) clear before you even begin writing.
I’m going to share with you the process I use to make sure that my authority articles stay on track and don’t become jumping-off pages.(Unless you have your roommate proofread it and she has ADD and your laptop has lots of Linux games she has never played, but I think that’s pretty much a one-off situation.) I started using this process in college for writing mammoth papers. When I became a blogger, I found that a slightly altered version of my essay-writing method was perfect for authority articles. It works like a charm and I end up with an original, focused article every time.
I touched on this process a couple of months ago when I discussed Freewriting for Bloggers, This time around you will use the outline process to keep your article tight and on track. The magic of this method is that you keep many of your ideas separate until nearly the end of the process. This makes it much easier to stay organized and avoid becoming overwhelmed.
While this process may seem a bit tedious and certainly isn’t for everyone, it almost infallibly creates strong authority posts that hook readers and establish your expertise. Without further ado, here is my seven step process to killer authority articles.
Step One: Create a Rough Outline
Your outline will be the foundation of your entire post. I generally start out with a list of 5 or 6 main points. At this early stage I do not worry about making much sense, I just want to get my ideas on paper. This outline will evolve as you gather information and pull your thoughts together.
Step Two: Gather Sources and Information
Authority articles almost always involve some sort of research or outside information. Occasionally the entire article can simply be plucked from your brain, but that is the exception to the rule. Using my method, you will be researching your article in distinct sections. Though you may find yourself jumping around a bit, I recommend you keep your notes separate.
I use a different document or sheet of paper for each of the points on my outline. Yes, eventually everything needs to come together, but if you want it to be clean in the end, you ought to keep it separate now.
Step Three: Revise Your Outline
At this stage you may find that some of your information calls for a bit of a structural change. Perhaps point three makes more sense as your first point or points four and five can be combined. Whatever the case, this is the time to review your outline and decided if any tweaking is necessary. Remember, the entire point of using this process is to keep your article on track. By revisiting and revising your outline at this point, you are ensuring that you remain on the straight, well-marked path that keeps readers following.
Step Four: Write Your Sections
While still keeping each section of your outline separate, use the information you have gathered and begin writing. If you took thorough notes or filled in some blanks while revising your outline, you may find that a lot of the work is already done for you. You are still in a draft stage, so do not waste a ton of time overanalyzing word choice or sentence structure. You can do all that in the next step.
In this case, you are working on an in-depth article and you want to give it the attention it deserves. Keep in mind that your sections do eventually have to flow together. Do not become to fixated on this, but allow it to help you restructure the article to increase readability.
Step Five: Edit Separately
Yes, we are still keeping everything separate. You have written, rewritten and read all the parts of your article several times now. This is the point at which you run the greatest risk of losing focus. As a blogger, you must become a skilled self-editor. This means finding a way to look upon your articles with fresh eyes at each stage of the writing process.
Step Six: Bring it All Together
Bringing your distinct sections together into a concise, cohesive article is the most important part of this method. It can also be the most challenging. You could have an article full of excellent ideas, but it must flow smoothly or you will be losing readers at every turn. Take your time making sure that your sections come together into a reader-friendly article.
Step Seven: Final Edits and Second Eyes
The pieces have been quilted together masterfully and you just know this is going to be the article: your breakout. Before you hit publish give it the time it deserves. First, you need to read it aloud to yourself. Feel the flow and listen carefully to how everything goes together. I cannot recommend this enough.
If you can swing it, find someone else who is willing to proofread for you. Do you really want the second pair of eyes that sets sight on your masterpiece to be a random reader? I didn’t think so. At this point you really need to dig up a fresh set of eyes. This person does not need to be an expert writer or a blogger, any regular reader will do.
Once you are satisfied that your article is as perfect as it can be, you are ready to publish. This sort of authority article is, for me, the most satisfying kind of article to write. You know that you have put quality time and energy into creating a worthwhile contribution to the blogosphere.