The next time you’re going to write an article, take 12 minutes (or maybe a little more) and go through these questions:

1) Why are you writing this article?

  • Is it to instruct people on a new way of doing business or of using your product or service?
  • To increase the value of your site’s archives?
  • To sell something?
  • To give your clients some new information?
  • To increase awareness of something or someone?
  • To be seen as more of an expert in your field?
  • Because you feel you have to do write an article this week (bad reason: Read If it’s not fun, why are you doing it? for why this is a bad idea).

Think about the reason why, as if it’s a compelling one, the article will be much more interesting than if you’re just writing to write.

2) Who are you writing the article for?

  • Yourself –– sometimes you need to write out what’s in your head to clarify something you’ve been thinking about. Sometimes you think you need to rant about something. Be VERY careful when writing these posts.
  • Your customers
  • Your prospects
  • Your peers

Every audience has very different needs. When you’re writing an article, keep the needs of WHO the article is written forย  in mind throughout the article so you can write for what THEY need, not what YOU need.

Watch out writing for your peers, as they likely will NEVER do business with you, though getting their approval and/or feedback may be good for your business.

Or maybe not.

3) What specific action are you hoping the audience does as a result of your post?

Think about the specific action you want people to take.

Is it:

  • Clicking a link?
  • Entering a contest?
  • Emailing you?
  • Calling you?
  • Being better educated about something so they are one step closer to making a buying decision?

Is this clear from your post?

Say exactly what you want folks to do as a result of the article.

Is it dead easy to do this from your post? You’d be surprised the number of times the call to action is impossible to actually do from where the action is requested.

4) Where can you share the article to get it maximum exposure?

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ are no brainers. But where else could you share the article?

What about:

  • StumbleUpon
  • Delicious or other social bookmarking sites
  • An industry forum
  • In your email signature

Think of where your audience hangs out and would benefit from reading this particular post, and share the link there.

5) Who in your close network could benefit most from this post?

If you have someone you know could benefit, send them a quick note and let them know you were thinking of them, and include a link to your article.

6) What existing articles on your site could you link to inside the article to give it more depth?

Think about where you could add more value by sharing a link inside the article to additional resources, thus driving up your visitors time on site, and helping them get even deeper into your article.

7) How easy is your article to read? Does it have short paragraphs and is it free from buzz words?

8) How long will it take to read your article (read it out loud if you’re not sure)?

9) Is there an image that could go with your article to make it even more impactful?

If you can find an impactful image, include it and you’ll drive the point home even more.

10) Is there a way to turn it into a list?

If so, make it a list. People love lists, even if you have to expand on some points.

11) What overused words could be removed to make the article even more powerful?

I frequently remove the word “that” from my articles because I’m apt to overuse it and it doesn’t add much, if any, value to my article. Look at the words you use and change or remove any that are overused or that don’t add value.

12) Are there any questions you can ask to help your readers add value to your article? If so, ask them.

Your turn:

What are the questions you ask yourself before writing a post? Leave a comment below so we can all learn from your experiences.

How many of the above tips did you find in THIS article?