If you’ve been around the content block a time or two, you probably already know what a for-hire content article should contain. However, if you’re new, you may still be looking at content creation like those essays you wrote in high school and college – a title plus one or more paragraphs of text. Big blocks of text are not online friendly, and they don’t inspire website or blog visitors to read more. They look at that block content and move on to anywhere else that has skimmable content.
1. Accurate Information
The most important thing to put in an article is accurate information. This means you will have to pull up three or more sites with information on the topic you’ve been hired to write and skim them in order to determine what’s there and if it’s useful information that your client should have on his or her website. For example, if you’re writing about Common Problems with HVAC Units, you’ll need to look up websites that list those problems. Then, you’ll need to write about those problems in such a way that it isn’t plagiarism. If you’re worried about accidental plagiarism, I prefer Small SEO Tools, which is free.
2. Statistics with Links
Not every article is going to need statistics, but adding statistics can give the article a more authoritative feel. However, if you list statistics, you need to also link to the site where you found the statistics. Preferably, this is going to come from a neutral site, which means it’s not promoting similar services as the client you are working for. Most clients don’t want you to link to competitors, and especially not competitors in the same area where they are trying to grow their own client base. Good sites for statistics include Statista, Statistics and Simply Statistics. If you’re looking for medical statistics, WebMD (if you can get it to load) and Mayo Clinic offer the most accurate stats on medical conditions. If you’re looking for a specific set of statistics, like the most prevalent type of roofing, it might be best to type “Roofing Statistics” into your search engine.
3. Multiple Headers
Every article you write as a freelancer needs to be skimmable. This means that anyone viewing the article need to be able to scroll through it and pick up the most important parts in less than three seconds. This is primarily accomplished with varying levels of headers. For example, if you are writing an article on Top HVAC Problems, you may want your article outline to look similar to this:
(INTRO Paragraph with no header)
Overview of the article that leads with a question or statistic.
1. Air Filter Is Dirty
- What causes the air filter to get dirty and what you should do.
2. A/C Is Blowing Warm Air
- What causes an air conditioner to blow warm air and what you should do
3. Low Air Flow
- What Causes the HVAC system to blow less air then normal and possible solutions.
4. A/C Keeps Running
- What causes an air conditioner to keep running and what can be done
(Conclusion with no header)
Call to Action (CTA)
With this article, visitors will click on it and scroll until they see the exact problem (hopefully) that they are having with their air conditioning or heating system. Then, they will read the paragraph below it in order to get an idea of what might be wrong with the system and whether or not they should call an HVAC contractor.
4. Bullet Points
Bullets points aren’t always needed. However, some clients may request one or more bulleted lists, and in order to save or reduce the word count, you may need to use a bulleted list. Bulleted lists are another way to get nuggets of information to readers quickly. In the above example, you could also put the headers in a bulleted list below the intro paragraph in order to give the readers an overview of the below content. Some articles, especially medical articles may require bulleted lists in order to quickly list causes of certain injuries or symptoms of certain conditions.
In almost all instances, you will want to list the sources you used for your article, webpage or blog post. This lets the client know that you did your research, and it allows the client to check the places where you sourced your information. In most instances, your client won’t look at this, but they may want to make sure that your statistics are correct or check certain nuggets of information for accuracy.
By researching and formatting your articles in this manner, you will be reducing your chances of getting a productivity killing revision or having the content rejected. Of course, if the client refuses the content and fails to pay, it reverts back to you, so always remember to write the content well enough that you can reuse it for your own purposes or resell it.