Anna Rud
January 31, 2018

5 Editorial Guidelines Based Tips To Writing Better Content

Editorial Guidelines

As a content marketer, I have to read editorial guidelines literally every single day. I’ve read so many of them that sometimes I can predict the end of sentences. Some can argue that every blog has its particular requirements, but there are always some common things I find on every “write-for-us” page. The main points are common for most blogs, but I still see a lot of articles that don’t meet these requirements (not even close).

In this post, I’ll share most common points almost every editorial guidelines include. I believe this list of 5 tips can help you to keep editors happy and get more publications!

Tip #1: Sometimes, the lead paragraph doesn’t get enough (or any) attention

The title and lead paragraph are most important parts of your content . These are where you must hook and keep your reader’s attention. Once your reader gets bored, s/he will leave your blog – even if you write useful articles that provide actionable advice. Thus, all your work can just go to nothing if you neglect your lead paragraph.

The easiest way to start an article is to proclaim some obvious truth like “The Internet has changed everyday life” or (no, not again!) “Content is king”. As I said, it’s the easiest way, so a lot of writers choose it. Well, it’s your choice, but this way your article won’t claim to be an exceptional one. On the contrary, it will look like lazy writing to some.

Here is what I suggest to those who aren’t looking for an easy way:

  • Good stories have conflict. You should describe some problem in the lead and solve it in the body text. Find something that addresses readers’ problems and turn it into a great opening line.

Example: 

                          From BuzzSumo blog

  • Start with a question to your audience. This question also must make your reader think  “yes, I feel the same”.

                    From MeetEdgar Blog

  • Start with a short but catchy sentence. (Sugarman’s “greased chute”). Explain your short sentence more and more in the following sentences to hook the attention of your readers and get them to dive deeper into your content.

    From BuzzSumo Blog

  • Show the statistics! People love numbers and proofs. So start with some shocking stats that will peak their curiosity to find out more.

                    From MeetEdgar blog

  • Describe a personal experience. It could be your success story. But it’s even better if you describe a failure. People appreciate honesty, so it’s a great way to win their trust.

Tip #2: Don’t forget to leave breathing space

It’s no surprise that most people are surfing the Web via mobile phone these days. Now imagine that you open an article on your phone, and its first sentence occupies the entire screen. Would you continue to read?

This refers not only to mobile phones. Sometimes even via desktops, people get scared of straight text and just pass over your article.

Thus, you should keep your sentences and paragraphs short, when possible. And, what is more important, you should leave a space between paragraphs.

It will be much easier to read and understand your text. But it’s also important not to overdo it. Here is what it looks like on Neil Patel’s blog:

Also, break up chunks of text with subheadings, pictures, screenshots, and bulleted lists.

Tip #3: Give some fresh ideas!

The most common requirement I meet is to read the previous content on the blog to make sure you’re not going to write something similar to it. Also, your article somehow should differ from all the existing content on this topic throughout the Internet.

Here you should implement two steps:

  • If you write a guest post, search your primary keyword on the blog you’re writing for.

Explore the results and think if you can write something that stands out.

  • Use an SEO tool to find competitors’ most shared content. For instance, open Serpstat and go to Website Analysis > Domain Analysis > SEO Research > Top pages.

It will return the list of top articles on your topic. If finds the best articles by keyword or domain. You can sort the results by FB, LinkedIn or Google+ shares. Potential traffic is the number of monthly visitors you could have received additionally if you were in the first position for all keywords currently ranked for in top-20 search results. Explore the results, adopt some ideas and write something unique!

Tip #4: Self-editing is crucial

Remember that the editor is your first reader and you can’t send a rough draft to him. If you want to impress your first reader, you should edit your article by yourself before sending. I suggest using Grammarly and Hemingway for this purpose.

Grammarly is a free spelling, grammar and syntax tool that will help you to avoid silly typos, overused words and all the mistakes in your text.

Hemingway app, in turn, can help you to write in more simple and clear language:

Quick tip: Finish your article and then leave it alone for a while. Get distracted, go for a walk, do some other kind of work — whatever you think is best. Anyway, you can’t see all your mistakes when you’ve just finished the article. Don’t be in too much of a hurry to send it over to the editor. Take some form of break, then get back to edit your post. You’ll see that your text isn’t as perfect as it may seem at the beginning.

Also, never trust these tools entirely. They’re just tools, and they can’t be perfect. Sometimes you should believe yourself more than the AI version of Ernest Hemingway 🙂

Tip #5: Keep it informal and simple

Don’t use a formal and corporate (read: boring) style of writing. Speak of your own voice! Be helpful, friendly, and informative. Feel free to include some jokes in the article, as long as it’s respectful.

Also, I suggest reading your post out loud before sending to the editor. If it’s hard to read and there’s not enough air to finish the sentence, then you should simplify and make it shorter.

Summing up

That’s it. Admit that there are way more requirements your article should meet. In this post, I gathered the most common ones and described few ways to handle them.

What else to keep in mind?

  • Don’t write overly promotional content;
  • Find a way to link back to older posts from this blog that relate to the topic;
  • Share and promote your article too;
  • Respond the comments.

Any Comments?

Have you fallen foul of any blog guidelines? Maybe you’ve learned some useful writing tips from some? Please share your experiences with guest blogging in the comment section, below.

 

You may also want to read: Guest Blogging Guidelines: How We Compiled Ours

Guest Blogging Outreach: How to Pitch an Article No One Will Turn Down

Cautions and Advice for Guest Bloggers & New Content Marketers

Featured image: Copyright: ‘https://www.123rf.com/profile_dolgachov‘ / 123RF Stock Photo

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Anna Rud is a Content Marketer in an IT company. She's often writing useful pieces on how to rank higher, how to write for the Web, how to carry out PPC campaign and so on. Obsessed with the constant learning.
  • Moss Clement

    Hi Anna,

    Great article with actionable tips. I took special note of tips #1, where you mentioned that “sometimes the fist paragraph doesn’t get enough attention.” You are absolutely correct, and this is because many writers and bloggers are not focusing more on the intro as a crucial part of the article.

    I believe that just as crafting an irresistible headline is important to attract readers, the first paragraph also plays a crucial part in retaining your readers and make them read the entire article.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Andy Capaloff

      Hi Moss,

      I can’t resist responding to your comment.

      I honestly don’t know if people are sacrificing the first paragraph in favour of the headline. For years, beginning with business writing. presentations, documentation and business emails, I’ve found that a clear minority of people know how to fashion a powerful opening. It’s just a general, widespread weakness. But in the ADD world, it’s also a fatal weakness.

      Thanks for your great comments, Moss!

      Andy

      • Hi guys! Thanks for commenting and sharing your thoughts.Totally agree with you!

  • Andy Capaloff

    Hi Anna,

    The lead paragraph comment is particularly important for any blogger. Clearly, the opening and closing of articles are the most common weaknesses of even otherwise good writers. I have been presented so many articles that virtually nobody would ever read for more than 3 seconds, that actually were highly worth reading.

    I’m happy that our articles complement each others 🙂

    Andy

    • Hi Andy,

      Thank you! Hope my article will help people that are new to writing 🙂

  • Good points, I like the idea of starting off with a question. I didn’t do it so far But I’ll start.

    • Thanks a lot! I’m glad you liked it!

  • I will to install Hemingway to make more readable content in my website. Thanks a lot for the article!