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Planning, Writing, Revising and Editing Articles

In the previous tutorial I showed you how to do a proper content research when writing an article for your website. In this guide, I will show you the next 3 steps to finalize your article. These are

Planning the Article

Planning your article, is the part where you take all your research and start organizing it, structuring it, and expanding on your research points. This will eventually become the outline and bones of your article.

In this tutorial I will show you how I did this for my example article, How to Add GIFs to WordPress.

First, I will open my Dynalist where I jotted all the points I took down from my content research step. These include the length and layout type of the article. In my case I have identified that the article should be around 3,000 words long, and it will be a Q&A type layout.

I will therefore refer to my ‘Q&A Article’ Template, so that I can follow along this pre-defined structure.

At the same time, I will be going through the research notes I have included in my Dynalist.

Now, in the same Dynalist where I have my research, I am going to insert a new title and name it ‘Article Outline’. This is where I will create the outline of the article.

The first thing I’m going to include here is the sections and subsections I have in my Q&A Template. This is how my Dynalist looks at this stage.

planning WordPress article on dynalist using template

In the first planning step, I’m going to brainstorm exactly the sub-titles I will include in each of the above sections and the topic points I will be mentioning.

Since I have a target word-count of 3,000, I will need to keep this in mind and try and calculate an expected word-count per section.

This is how my Dynalist ‘Article Outline’ section looks, after I completed my article planning phase.

planning website article outline for WordPress posting
planning website article outline on dynalist
planning website article outline

Writing is hard for some people, and one of the benefits of planning a website article in this way is that it breaks down the writing task.

In this way, when writing the article, instead of looking at it as one big task, which can be very overwhelming, I just see a handful of smaller articles.

Not only are they smaller articles but I already know exactly the points I will include in each section.

Thanks to the research and planning phase, the article is practically already written. By the time I get to write the actual content piece, it’s a pretty easy and straightforward task.

This process allows anyone to create good web content.

Write a First Draft of the Article

Once the planning step is done, it’s time to actually start writing the article.

Most of the thinking has already been done in the planning phase and you already came up with the points you’ll be mentioning.

So now it’s just a matter of writing it up in a coherent set of sentences and paragraphs.

Start with the Body of the Article

When writing content, I like to use the same method I learned in my younger school days, that is, start with the body of the article, rather than the introduction.

The Body is the main part of the article. All the text in between the intro and the conclusion.

Once you finish the main body of the article, it becomes simpler to prepare the intro and conclusion, because you already know what the article mentions in the main part.

Remember, in the planning phase we broke the body down in a series of sections, which means we now have to look at the task as writing a series of mini articles.

When writing for the web avoid writing fluff just for the sake of filling up the word-count. Every sentence you write should add value to the reader.

The way I approach the writing part is to first open the Dynalist with my research and planning points. I then copy the planning points into Google Docs or Microsoft Word. Whichever you prefer.

Important: In your Word document, or google doc, make sure that your formatting is set properly since this same formatting will remain valid when we paste the content in WordPress. So, this will help you avoid going over the formatting again in your WordPress editor.

The formatting of the Heading should be H1 for the primary title, H2 for the main sub-sections, and then any H3 and H4 titles should go within the main subsections in logical order.

When you come to a section of your content piece where you feel you might insert an image, just type in [IMAGE] as a placeholder. I like to write it in CAPS so that I can easily identify it when I’m editing on WordPress later.

When writing the article, remember to keep the main keywords in the back of your mind. You should include this and various variations of this keywords, as naturally as possible, within the content.

Also, remember to keep track of your word-count as you write.

Writing the Intro of the Article

Having a great and impactful introduction is extremely important.

Why?

Because the web is full of alternative options that readers can easily go to if you don’t peak their curiosity and get them to keep reading.

Three Elements of a good Introduction

In the intro we need to show our readers;

  1. That we will answer their query. This will show them that they came to the right place, and they don’t need to hit the back button;
  2. That they can trust us. This is done by subtly hinting to our expertise on the subject topic;
  3. The main topics we will be covering in the main body. This will get them excited about what is to come in the rest of the article. Also, if they just need a quick answer, they can skip down to the part that is relevant to them.

Since I already wrote the body of my article, it’s going to be much easier to write the intro as I already know what the body talks about.

Avoid Fluff and answer the Query immediately

To avoid fluff and make the content more relatable, keep in mind the user query and what the user already knows.

For example, in the article I am writing, the main Keyword and query I’m targeting is, ‘How to Add GIFs to WordPress’.

People who search on Google for this query, and who land on my article already know what WordPress is and what a GIF is, otherwise they wouldn’t be asking this specific question.

So, it’s useless for me to start the article by explaining what a GIF is or what WordPress is. This would just be fluff and I risk alienating the reader and losing their interest.

Instead, I will jump right into an answer, such as, ‘There are 3 ways How to Add GIFs in WordPress Sites and in this article I will show you how to do all three, and give you the pros and cons of each method’

TIP: Notice how I added the exact keyword in my first sentence of the intro, i.e., ‘How to Add GIFs in WordPress’. It’s important to add your keyword immediately in the first or second sentence of your article. This is an SEO strategy that helps your article to rank for that exact keyword.

Gain Reader’s Trust

In the next sentence of my intro, I will subtly communicate why I know what I’m talking about so that I gain the reader’s trust.

Ask yourself, Why Should the Reader trust me? And answer that truthfully.

In my case, my next sentence would be something like. ‘I love adding GIFs in my web articles, and over the years, I’ve tried various methods. I now know the ideal process to follow and what the pitfalls are, and I’m going to share these with you’.

Insert a Table of Contents

Finally, we give our readers a preview of what’s to come in the main body of the article.

If it’s a long article then it makes sense to include an actual table of contents with each item in the table linked directly to the respective section of the article. This will make navigation easier for the user.

Tip: If you format your headings with the appropriate headers (H2, H3, H4 etc.) in Word or Google Docs, to insert a table of contents, just click on Insert > Table of Contents.

All your headers will be automatically picked up and included in the table of contents.

Here’s a video tutorial you can follow for this.

If it is a shorter article, or maybe one with not many sub-headings, then a short bullet point list of the main subheadings will be enough.

When writing the last sentence of my intro, I try to make it transition into the main body. For example, in my article, I will write ‘Keep reading to see which method is right for you’.

Writing the Conclusion of the Article

The conclusion of a web article has two main purposes:

  1. To summarize what has been said in the main body of the article.
  2. To invite the reader to take some sort of action.

blogger preparing to write a first draft

In the title of the conclusion, I like to write something that persuades readers to keep reading till the end.

For example, since my article refers to 3 methods in the main body section, I might title the conclusion as ‘What’s My Favorite Method?’.

Alternatively, you could write a title that leaves them hanging, such as ‘What Next?’.

The first one or two sentences of the conclusion should wrap up the topic.

In my case, since the main query was about different methods to include a GIF in WordPress, I might say: ‘We’ve seen the three methods you could use to add GIFs to WordPress. I personally prefer to upload a GIF into my media file so as to have full control’. Which one will you go with? Let us know in the comments below.

That’s it no need to include more. In this case I also finished with a question for my readers to get them to engage with the page by leaving a comment.

In the next paragraph I will include a Call-to-Action (CTA).

Now, strictly speaking, asking my readers to leave a comment as I did above is a call-to-action in itself. However, for the sake of this example I am going to include a second CTA to my article.

What type of CTA to include?

If the article you wrote is an informational type of post, then the CTA will probably be to ask them to read another related article on your site. This is good because it creates more engagement on your site and therefore more time on your site. All these are SEO ranking factors.

If the article is a promotional piece, then your final CTA will be to convince readers to click on to the product or service page where they can buy it.

In my case, my final ‘Call-to-Action’ will be to ask my readers to click on a related article which explains how to add animation to a site using a particular software.

So, my CTA sentence could be: ‘If you’re interested in taking your animations and GIFs to the next level then I suggest you give Lottiefiles.com a try. This tool gives you a bunch of pre-made animations, but also helps you to build unique animations for your site. Read my Lottiefiles review here’.

If you’re still starting out with your website, then chances are you don’t have any relevant articles to link to yet. Don’t worry. You can publish this article without a CTA, and in the future, if you have any related posts or pages, you can come back and include a CTA in this page.

Congratulations, you’ve officially written the first article for your website. Hold off on opening the champagne just yet though. There are just a few more steps left before we can publish it.

Revising and Editing articles

After you write a first draft of the article, you then have to revise and edit it, before moving it to WordPress.

The editing process will be done directly on our Google Docs or Word Editor, whichever you are using.

revising and editing your WordPress article

As long as I’ve been writing web content, I always find some mistakes when I read through it afterwards. That’s why I have created a step for the editing process, which I carry out before I finalize and publish any of my articles on WordPress.

In this next section I will show you my personal editing tips.

Editing Tips

Correct Grammatical and Spelling Errors

The first thing I do when revising and editing articles, is to go over the grammatical or spelling errors that my Google Doc or Word Doc is highlighting.

Some people like to do this as they write the article. I prefer to keep things moving along when writing, and then go back through these errors in the end.

This allows me not to disrupt my train of thought while I’m writing.

Edit Out Loud

Once this is done, the next step of my editing process, is to read the whole article out aloud. I refer to this as Edit Out Loud.

By reading my draft article out load, I can hear any sentences that seem incoherent, and spot more spelling and grammar mistakes that were not picked up by the spell-check function of my word processor.

Use Writer and Editor Tools

The third step of my revising and editing process is to use some free online Writer and Editor tools or Apps, such as Hemmingwayapp, or Grammarly.

Hemmingwayapp

I copy my article and paste it in the Hemmingwayapp. The app will show me the final word-count and give me the readability score.

A readability score of Grade 5 or more is good for web writing purposes. Having said this; take this score with a pinch of salt. I don’t want you to go berserk trying to increase this score.

I’m mentioning this because the Hemmingwayapp is meant for academic type of content writing.

Web writing is different from academic papers. Remember we want to write as if we’re conversing with our readers. This helps engage them more.

This is the result I got when I loaded my first draft article into Hemmingwayapp.

writer and editor tool for website articles editing process

If you look at the 5 targets that Hemmingway presents on the right side of the page, you will notice that it ranks your article for adverbs, passive voice, phrase alternatives and 2 metrics for ease of reading.

I personally like the ‘simpler phrase alternative’ suggestion. I tend to take that into consideration.

With regards to the ‘ease of reading’ metrics, I usually go through the sentences that Hemmingway highlights, just to make sure I don’t have very long sentences, or to check that they are flowing and easy to understand.

Honestly, though I probably adjust only 10% of the sentences that Hemmingway highlights.

If you decide to use this tool, my suggestion is not to get obsessed with getting a better score or removing the highlights. You can easily get stuck in a time-consuming loop this way.

Remember that Hemmingway is an algorithm, and it does not always get the exact sense of what the writing is about. So, use common sense when editing on its suggestions.

In my case I usually still have plenty of highlighted sentences left in when I’m finished with the article editing.

Use Hemmingway suggestions as a guide and not as Rules. At the end of the day, if you were happy with the way it sounded in the ‘edit out loud’ step, then it should be fine.

Tip: If you want to adjust a sentence that Hemmingway highlights, just add an alternative next to the highlighted sentence. If Hemmingway does not highlight this new sentence, then leave it there and delete the original sentence.

Grammarly

Grammarly can be a very useful tool for your content writing process, especially if you’re not writing in your native language.

grammarly writer and editor price list

Not only does Grammarly highlight grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, but it helps structure sentences.

It also includes a plagiarism checker that highlights any sentences you have in the article which are phrased word-for-word as another article that already exists on the web.

Grammarly has a free version which you can try here.

Check for Plagiarism

The final step in my editing process, is to check my article for possible Plagiarism issues.

Plagiarism is a definite no-go for content writing and Google penalizes this by not ranking your content.

woman copying from another person while she is revising and editing her website

However, keep in mind that with all the content available on the web, there is a good chance that a few phrases will be coincidentally worded exactly the same as that of another article.

Having a few of these exact phrases on your article is fine, but having full paragraphs is not good, unless it’s a quote.

When checking for plagiarism, I recommend you don’t leave long sentences or paragraphs that are written exactly word-for-word as another article on the web.

Also make sure that no more than 5% of your article is highlighted as Plagiarism. In cases where you have quotes included in your article, then this can go up to around 10%.

A plagiarism checker alternative to Grammarly would be Copyscape.

I like using Copyscape because you can buy credits beforehand, from as low as $5 and then pay per use.

As you get used to writing more and more web articles, you will notice that your editing process tends to get shorter since you automatically adapt your writing style to avoid mistakes you previously made.

The editing process will still be an important part of your overall tasks however, especially if you outsource your content writing to third parties.

Revising and Editing Done. What next?

Now your article should be finalized and ready to go up on your WordPress site. In the next tutorial I will show you how to upload it on WordPress and Publish it for the world to see.

If you don’t have your WordPress site up and running yet, then take a look at my step-by-step WP tutorials section. These guides will get you up and running with your own WordPress site in a few hours.

Do you have any writing or editing tips of your own? Share them with us in the comments below.