The Newbie's Guide to Writing Articles for the Internet | Ezequiel Bruni | Skillshare

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The Newbie's Guide to Writing Articles for the Internet

teacher avatar Ezequiel Bruni

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

5 Lessons (32m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Picking Your Topic

    • 3. Research

    • 4. Outlining Your Article

    • 5. Actually Writing the Thing

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About This Class

A simple class for anyone who wants to get started writing on the web.

Meet Your Teacher

Hello, I'm Ezequiel. I live on the Internet.

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1. Introduction: Hello, ladies and gentlemen, writing is like allowing your brain to give birth. Did I'm not going to do that to you guys. Actually, what we're going to do today is I have a very basic introductory class to writing articles for the Web. In between my classes about Web design and various aspects of building websites, I'm going to be, yes, producing some classes on making content. And today we're talking about articles. It's actually writing is hard. Writing is difficult, mostly because we make it difficult for ourselves. We we hate our own work. And then, yeah, but the very basics of writing articles for the Web is are actually pretty simple. The rest comes with time and practice. And so maybe your boss has asked you to write something for the company. Blawg. Maybe you want to start a block of your own? Maybe just got some information you absolutely need to share in the form of a do tutorial. And you only want to do this once. Whatever the case, I'd like to help you get started. I've been writing for a living since 2013 which is a little over four years at the time. of this recording, and I've been mostly writing for Web designer Depp oh dot com and done some editing work for them, too. And what? I've tackled quite a few topics over the years, so I can I think I can help. We'll be going over. Top s a basic introductory topics such as picking your topic. I say topic a lot. Downtime. Ah. Also researching your article outlining the article writing the article and the last video will be on general writing advice. So, uh, get company. Grab a coffee. I hope this helps. Let's get started. 2. Picking Your Topic: All right, everybody, let's get started. Let's get started specifically with picking your topic. Now picking your topic doesn't have to be that hard. It can be difficult, though, Comma, if you're writing for a living constantly coming up with something new and interesting to write about can be a pain in the butt. And it can also be a pain in the butt. If you're given a topic to write it, write about, but you don't know anything about it. But that's what the next video on researches for. So we're going to skip over that ideally, when you're choosing something to write about for an individual article, you will, right? What do you know? More specifically, you should write something that you're passionate about, something that you're very in precedent. So you will either be writing what you know or what you know adjacent. You know you have writing something close to what you know, so you can research and fill in the details that you're might be missing. But I just wanted to go over again how important it is to whenever possible, right about something you're incredibly passionate about passionate about, because passion comes across clearly in writing most readers. Comptel. If you're rare, very interested and the topic you want to write about, they can tell when excitement is forced. They can tell when you're just getting the bare facts out there as quickly as you can. And now there are some sort of forms of writing, saying news writing, for example, where you might want to be dispassionate where you might want to ah, stick to just giving the facts and letting the reader come up with their own conclusions rather than inserting your own emotions. But in most forms of writing, even technical writing, passion comes across Clearly. Passion comes across an attention to detail. Passion comes across in the way you express yourself, the way you make the way. You kind of make the whole thing personal. I'll get I'll get into that later. But whatever you do, whatever you choose to write about, that's you need to be passionate about it. First of all, what passion is not enough when you're when you pick a topic, you need to have a goal in mind for that topic. So let's say you want to write about fishing, OK, but you can't just I mean, you could just do an essay on the wonders of fishing, but that might be a bit disorganized. It might be a bit meandering people on the Internet. They tend to want to, Ah, Teoh. They tend to read for a purpose. They're looking for specific information about something more often than not. So an essay on the wonders of fishing might do well. It might, as it's certainly a possibility. I apologize for any noises in the background. I had to move some things around anyway, Um, but you might find more success and find more things to write about. If every time you go to write about fishing for your new fishing Blawg, for example, you decide to review a specific lure a specific bait or you to try out a new fishing rod. Or you want to try a new fishing technique altogether. Or you want to talk about uh, specific aspects of fishing regulations that you do or do not agree with or behavior in the fishing community. There's, ah, with the purpose of getting people to behave better. There's are a lot of re things to talk about in any given field of interest or study or industry. So you know that you'll never really run out of topics. No, not normally. Anyway. The more you learn about something, the more you can write about it. But you every article needs to have a goal. Okay? What point do you want to communicate? Or maybe you don't want to tell people things. Maybe you want to ask your community something. What question do you want to get across? What is what is bothering you? What would you like opinions about in your comment section? The point is, have a goal. Have a point you want to make. Otherwise, your article will most likely be s kind of meandering, rambling mess a little bit like this class. Okay. Anyway, so, yeah, that the most important things to know or to write something about something you're passionate about, if you can when you can. And second, to have a goal to have a point, you want to make a specific conclusion. You want Teoh readers specific? Yeah, that's that's it. This is where this is where I take my own advice and learn where to stop. Okay, so that was had. That has been how to pick your topic. Next, we'll be talking about research 3. Research: All right, let's talk about research in your article. Simply put, even when you're writing what you know, you don't know everything. So you got to do your research. Double check your fax, for example, when I'm writing about something that can change really quickly. For example, when I'm writing about software, I might find that a new version has come out and things aren't the way they were before. So things have changed. And when you're not writing what you know, research is everything. I mean, it literally will be the beginning and end of your knowledge, the amount that the mass of the amount of time you spend putting into that research. Is Tripoli important? At least. So how do you research your article? Well, if you've got books hit, um, hit those books. Not literally, but just get into them and start reading. And if you don't have books on the subject in question, Google is your friend. Spend some time learning how to use Google efficiently. How to exclude certain keywords from your search, how to make sure certain key words are always included in your search. How to duel that basic stuff with Google. Ah, And so Yeah, baby, Because honestly, finding the stuff you want toe binding the information you need first and foremost is can be one of the most difficult things, period. And if you need to address something that is not what you what you know, if it's from a field outside of your realm of expertise, you're going to need to learn the jargon we're going to need to learn the basic industry terms. For example, in Web design, you might learn terms. I might start looking up terms like color palette and what people mean by the box model and the cascade and all of that stuff. You need to learn the industry jargon in order to search for the right things, because most of the information you're looking for will be hit in behind ah jarred jargon related search terms. So, uh, it's also useful advice when you're researching something brand new for any reason, so that's what you'll want to do. You want focus on Google or you the search engine of your choice, and you'll want to. You'll definitely want to look into the industry terminology. You'll want to look up some basic guide so you know what to search for in the first place. I know I'm repeating myself, but this is incredibly important. Otherwise your research is going to go nowhere. Or you're just going to learn the very basic things that you could learn by way or reading Wikipedia, you know? So if Wikipedia gives you extra links, click them, learn all you can so that you sound as proficient and as knowledgeable as possible when writing your article. And lastly, when you're doing your research, you'll want to make make use of the experts in the field you're researching. So, yeah, if you if you know if you have a friend in the industry, if you have some contacts. If you can make some contacts, talk to people, get on a get ah, you know a Skype call going get, you know, meet them for in a coffee shop. If they're within your city, do whatever you can. People love talking about themselves, and they are, and they usually love talking about their work. If it's something they actually like doing, so make use of that and, of course, threat. All your research throughout all of your talking to people and interviewing people and everything. You will absolutely want to record record things or write them down somewhere. I find you're absolutely going to need notes because, especially if you're researching something brand new, the sheer volume of information could be confusing. And you'll need Teoh need some notes like that. You can go back and look at and go. Oh, right, that's what that means. Okay, Plus, notes can help you. Ah, lot when it comes time to actually write the outline for the article, and that's what we're going to talk about next, so stay tuned. 4. Outlining Your Article: all rights. And let's get on to the outlining because this is where you're planning. Really get serious. So I mentioned research notes in the In the last video. Sorry. Excuse me. I'm just leaving these mistakes in because, quite frankly, trying to edit out every mistake makes making classes take a lot longer. Every mistake and throat clearing and nose scratch just can't be done anyway. Start with the notes from your research. Organized them into a clear structure. Sounds simple, right? Well, there are a variety of different structures you can use for your articles, so you'll want to have all your notes, say, in one text file on one side of your screen than open another so you can start to, ah, warm a concrete structure for your for your article. Now there are a variety of possible structures, and let's get into the 1st 1 real quick. Here, the short and sweet structure, short and sweet. The certain sweet, uh, article structure is characterized mostly by what's not there, so there are no subheadings. There are no sections. There is nothing fancy. This is normally used for short news articles, for example, or if you just have a quick thought in the euro, you're on a personal blawg, for example. You can write down a couple of paragraphs and go, It's your block. You can do what you want, and often a lot of very profound and very interesting concepts can be expressed best in as few words as possible in very in relatively few words at least. So don't be afraid, Teoh. Make your article. Make your point quickly. So don't be afraid to make your article short. Now. The next structure that I have in mind is the subsection heavy structure. Now, this is not an official name for it by any stretch of the imagination. But it's just what I call those articles that have tons of different subsections, one for each major point that they're trying to make. Now, I've written a few of these myself, and it has, um, it Z just where you you've got like, you've got to make several points regarding on overall theme and overall topic and ah, you know, they're like they're related points. But they but you wouldn't make sense to put them all in the same section now, often now very similar to the subsection heavy a structure is the list ical structure. Now they did that. This is the actual official title ballistic ALS. Are those articles you'll find on, say, buzzfeed or up worthy? That's where they were popularized more than any more than anywhere else. Ah, you know, top 10 dresses for the summer Top 15 epic fails all that sort of thing now the format. Some people confined it annoying, but it's also incredibly popular. People like that list ical format because they can just breast of the list really quickly, and if they see something they already know about, they can skip it. But if they find as subsection that promises new information, they can jump right in and it's, ah, it's very skin mobile that way. And people on the Internet generally do like to just kind of skim content. So, you know the ballistic ALS are can be a good way to go, and they can be well written. You can make them interesting. You can make them insightful. They don't have to be pure buzzfeed, basically okay, Moving on the narrative structure now, narratives, narratives literally just means telling a story. So if you've got a long as store. You want to tell the narrative structure is a good way to do it with a beginning, a middle and an end, you know, Ah, the set up the conflict. The conclusion it's, you know, it's Ah, it's really not that hard. It's often used in. It's often used in exposes its used and long form news formats long for news articles. It's used to talk about very sensitive issues in a very personal contextualized way. By introducing all the players involved and telling their stories. It's it's a very it's a complex and in depth and absolutely but but also very emotional a steward structure for an article. So if you want Teoh, just put the facts out there without, you know, lending a lot of opinion. Telling the story is not the best way to do it. Stories are inherently emotional, so let's move on now to the tutorial that's pretty self explanatory. You do you deliver a series of instructions in a step by step fashion to teach somebody how to do something else. It's It's pretty. I mean, what, go out there, read any tutorials you confined and you'll get the basic structure down. And lastly, we have the interview. Interviews are just that. They're interviews. Um, they're often like you've got your questions. You've got your answer, your questions and your answers. But they're often interspersed, at least in the longer interviews in the some of the more interesting interviews there, interspersed with commentary, a bit of narrative commentary as well, to provide context like, Where is this interview happening? What are the expressions on the interviewees face as you do it so on and so forth? So that's it. For now, that's my list of the most popular article structures. You'll find out their I mean, their arm or there are more, but those are the most popular one. Some of the most common ones that I've encountered round next will move on right onto talking about writing your actual art article. So stay tuned 5. Actually Writing the Thing: and lo and welcome back. If you just come from the last video. Good for you. If you take um uh, coming back after a break. That's good, too. All right, let's get started talking about actually writing the article. Now you're going to have ah, different process from me. Heck, my process can change from week to week. Sometimes I just crunch and I get on article done in a day, sometimes two other times. I have to take my time and write an article slowly, bit by bit. You know of 500 words here 750 words the next day, just in order to get it done, and it changes sometimes between articles, some some are easier to write at all at once than others. And that's just life. Your process might change mind certainly certainly does, and your process will most likely not look quite the same as mine. But the important thing is you do need to form a process mostly through trial and error, Um, for your writing. But ah, now that we've gone through that, I have Ah, I have a bunch of advice. Some war is more specific to writing articles in particular, and some is more general eso. Let's sum for the actual writing process. Let's start with that. The advice for the actual writing process. First, allow your ideas to evolve. It's a pretty simple concept as you start to flush out your ideas as you look over your notes and your research and start to put your structure and outlined together, we will also start to flush out your ideas. It's start to come up with all the things you want to say, and during that process you have to allow your ideas to evolve because sometimes things will change. I have found myself making the exact opposite point that I had originally intended to because I did some extra research because I found out of some of my previous information was wrong or things that just changed. And I double checked things, and all of a sudden I found myself making the exact opposite point, and you need to allow yourself to do that. You need to allow that to happen. It's important. Um, it will make you a better writer. However, even considering that, don't lose focus. Don't lose sight of what you're writing about in the first place. I mean, you want to stay on topic even if your opinions might change, you want to stay on topic and most of what you say, the vast majority of everything you say in the article should be in service to communicating the point. Do you want to make about your topic? Stay on one point at a time. By the way, this is like a something a subsection here. Stay on one point at a time until you think you've said enough about it. And actually, yet here we go. Enough is enough. Enough Might be a sentence. It might be a couple of paragraphs when, whether you're talking about one specific point or whether we're talking about the entire article you want, Teoh, you don't want to overdo it. You don't want to overstay your welcome. It's better to be concise in general than to ah, you know, overdo it on your tie on your space limit. Um, many are of the articles I write for Web designer Depp. Oh, for example, are limited to 1000 words because 1000 words is usually enough to get the basics across for most subjects and ah Frankly, most people on the Internet don't. They don't spend a lot of time reading long form stuff. Some people do. And so if you want to write long form and you want to cater to that crowd, you absolutely can and should. But, yeah, it's it's not for everybody. Shorter articles tend to do better, all right, moving on spice things up, crack a joke, get emotional, um, or just a general or include some side fax. You know, like I said, most of its most of your articles should be in service to making your point. But you need to put a little variety in there, or it helps often to put a little variety in there to help people not get too bored, you know? Ah, lightening the mood is often a great idea unless you're talking about something really tragic, in which case, maybe don't do that unless you're shocked. Comedian or something, anyway, is closely related to spicing things up by throwing in a little variety. A joke here and there is to make it personal. Now, what I mean by make it personal is, well, there's a couple different meanings, a couple different ways you can do this one way I like to do it is I take the topic at hand and I discuss in the introduction of an article my my own experiences. With the topic at hand, I give a brief overview of Okay, this is how I got into this. This is why I care about this. This is why it interests me and creating that personal connection with readers. So they feel like they're reading something written by a person rather than, say, a bott is important. And it can often be the difference between readers staying around and readers just going to look elsewhere for their information, creating a personal connection. It's not. It's absolutely essential, but it is advisable. It's often a very good idea. So, um, after you made that personal, who's speaking of introductions, by the way? Yeah, sorry. That's a better Segway. Write the intro last Now, this isn't always what you want to do. This isn't This isn't You must do this sort of thing, but it doesn't hurt. You know it. Ah, it doesn't hurt. Teoh. Sometimes toe after you've written everything else After you've made all your points discussed the meat of the topic written your conclusion. Sometimes it could be better to wait till you've done all of that to write your introduction, because then you know what you're actually introducing. And then you can say stuff like, Well, when I first started writing this article, I thought Opinion A. But over time I actually got over two opinion be and have started to consider opinion. See that sort of thing? It's some, you know. Once you have more contacts, once you've actually written the rest of it out, that context could help you write a better introduction next up close. Well, now, not every article needs a clearly defined conclusion section with the heading that says conclusion. But your parting remarks should most of the time I feel like on end in a way it should feel like, Yeah, this is over. This is This is done and you can do it by summing up your opinions on the topic. You can do it by saying, As you can see, it's fairly easy to do this, so give it a try. You know, you there are 1000 ways to end it, but it had needs to feel like an end most of the time. However, if it's a list ical that is not absolutely essential, you can just end a list ical by ending, you know, on whatever the last list item is. So you know that's that's not a hard and fast rule, but it's generally a good idea. And lastly, for the more specific advice, give your article a once over when it's done. You know, um, even if you're going to hand your article off to an editor, you want to give it a once over first, you want to catch all the most glaring mistakes you're never gonna catch them all yourself are almost never because we tend to, um, our brains tend to skip over information, especially for the ones that wrote it, or at least mine does. So I could almost never catch everything I did wrong. However, um, you really want to read through it, re throw it out loud. It helps, and you will catch a lot of, ah, things you might have not written very clearly. You will catch typos, grammatical errors, all that sort of stuff. So give it a once over, and now we're going to ditch the slides for a while, and we're just going to talk about some sort of more general writing advice, writing for the Internet and not, um, let's see. Let me look at my notes. Get an outside editor if you can. If you're writing for another publication where there's already an editor, hallelujah take advantage of them. They will spot mistakes, typos, grammatical errors and clarity problems that you can't that you just can't. Because you know what you want to say. You know what? You intend Teoh to communicate, and sometimes the fact that you know that can get in the way of actually doing it. So, uh, editors will often right back. A good editor will often right back with questions like Okay, What did you mean here? Could you make this a little bit more clear? Could you provide more information on this? It's all very good stuff. Very important. Next you'll want to. In general, for the Internet, you should write rather informally. The thing is, the kind of people who used to subscribe Teoh magazines and publications back in the old days often considered themselves various serious people, and they bought very serious publications. But the Internet was largely founded by, frankly, nerds who didn't have time for that. And that aspect of the culture has stuck in most of the Internet. Informal writing is a considered par for the course, almost essentially, and and that's not a bad thing, right like them, and they will read it. Basically, as speaking of which, in general, you should write for easy reading. Most people really, really, really just want to get to the point. They want to be informed, and they want to move on. They found the information they're looking for their good hiding your point in flower language or industry jargon will lose you readers. And this is especially important, I might add, for tutorials. Ah, and now, on a slightly lighter note, be ready for the feedback. Comment. Comment sections can be held. A lot of major publications have just closed down comment sections entirely for that very reason. I've got a couple of funny little stories about that, Um, one time just on my personal blawg o. R. I think it was my medium account. I wrote an article about originality in Web design. I debated whether constantly being original is really the most important thing? Or is it perhaps rather getting the sales for your client Your client wants from the website? Like does a website have to be a super original to be effective? And a lot of people debated this in various commenter sections around the Web because it got shared on other sites. And But in one common section, I found people going saying, I found people saying not only that I was wrong, but I found people saying And this is the problem with medium. Anybody can post anything. We need gatekeepers. Essentially, they were arguing for the existence of gatekeepers. We need to be more careful about who we allow to express opinions in our community. And so you're going to run into stuff like that and yes, a Z Comptel by this, a tone of my voice that I found that to be incredibly absurd I mean, wrong people need to People who are wrong need to express opinions to. I still happen to think I was right, by the way, to argue that results in general are more important than originality, at least when it comes to a Web design. Because Web design is business. It is science. It is not so much art anyway. Moving on. Um ah, funnier story was one time I was Ah, I do a monthly article on Web Designer Depot, where I review people's portfolio sites, and I reviewed one where I didn't recognize the language, and to me it looked like Arabic. So I said, I would tell you more about the, like, what they're doing with the content. But I don't read Arabic. And the article went live like that. And there was a very irate commenter from Israel who was very upset that I had confused his language with the Arabic language. To be fair, they look a little similar there. Ah, but But I didn't know how to handle that. I was a little freaked because, you know, the last people I want to piss off for the the Israelis and the Arabs. So, uh, maybe maybe I'll edit that out. Maybe I should edit that out. But anyway, last people, I want to piss off for them, and I didn't know how to handle it. So I asked my editor or what do I do? And he just responded with, I think what was the best comment. He said, actually, if anything, you've made his point for him. He does not speak Arab, so, yeah, you need to be ready for all the crazy stuff that could get thrown at you. Especially if you do legitimately screwed up like I did in that second example screw up like I did in that second example that well, that was a legitimate mistake. And the the comment was a bit harsh, though, and you're going to run into a lot of that. Frankly, as a writer, I often never even see the worst of what is published. Um, in the common sections, although I have done some common moderation. Yeah, yeah. So be prepared for that. All right, this has been some more general writing advice. I hope this class helped you. Your class project is to write on article and share it with the rest of us, if you feel so inclined. So take care. Hope this helped. This is his equal signing out