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November 20, 2007

Ezine Article Writing – Structure and Stretch

If you are a webmaster you will know that writing articles for publication in ezines is an excellent way to get free publicity for your website. One thing that holds many would be writers back is that they don’t think they will be able to find enough to write even on a subject they know well. Webmasters who have never written an article before tend to feel their minds go blank at the suggestion of writing for publication. One of the most common reasons for not writing articles is that people do not think they will be able to write enough about a topic. This worry is usually overcome during the writing process but, even if you run out of words too soon, there are a few useful tricks you can use to increase your word count.

Most article directories will not accept an article consisting of fewer than 500 words; the most suitable length for an article is between 500 and 700 words. Let’s go for 500 words for our first attempt. That might sound a lot but, if you look at the structure of most articles you will see that they are broken down into three sections: introductory paragraph, main content and closing paragraph. In turn, the main content will be broken down into 3-5 paragraphs.

If you plan your article to have three paragraphs of main content, you only need to find 100 words to write in each paragraph and that is a far easier goal to think about than finding 500 words. When you write the article, you obviously won’t have exactly 100 words in each paragraph but this rule of thumb gives you something to aim for. Decide in advance on the sub-topic of each of the main content paragraphs, you can give them subheadings if appropriate, otherwise just use the sub-topics to plan your structure.

To get a feel for structure, let’s look at an idea for an article. Our subject can be planting spring bulbs and our plan will look something like this:

Introduction – general information eg about types of bulbs available for spring flowering, type, varieties available, colors available, best time to plant, benefits of using bulbs in preference to other forms of planting.

  1. Paragraph 1 – choosing the right bulbs for particular situations eg shaded ground, containers, mixed planting, indoor displays etc.
  2. Paragraph 2 – planting techniques e.g. choosing growing medium for containers, choosing containers, depth to plant different species, color schemes
  3. Paragraph 3 – general care e.g. watering, when to cut down, propagation, naturalizing

Closing – brief summary of topics covered or something along the lines of “if you follow this care guidance, your bulbs will provide a colorful display year after year”.

In this plan our closing paragraph is very brief but there should be no problem in writing well over 100 words for the first paragraph. In fact, if you are a bulb expert, you could write several articles based on each of the sub-topics.

If you feel you need to write an article on a particular subject but really run out of things to say, there are a couple of simple ways to bring your word count up to the level required by the article directories. Make it a rule, however, that you never use artificial padding to inflate your word count. The trick is to add words that enhance the value of your article, not just puff it up. These are legitimate ways of boosting your word count:

  1. Add a sub-title to the article and use sub headings (if appropriate) for each paragraph.
  2. If you use acronyms or initials, place the full term in brackets after the abbreviation. eg if you are talking about PPC, add “(this stands for Pay Per Click advertising)” after the abbreviation to add seven extra words.
  3. Use quotations or statistics. Some articles can be uplifted by the use of a famous quotation. Inserting the quotation and author name adds several words but you can expand this by adding a brief biographical note about the author eg “the famous Russian metaphysical poet”. If the article is not suited to the insertion of quotations, you might be able to add an interesting statistic. The information together with details of its source will add more words.

If you follow the steps set out above, you should find it comparatively easy to write an article of sufficient length for Ezine publication.

Author:  Elaine Currie is the owner of the Free Work At Home Directory containing ideas for the best ways to make money online and author of Ezine Article Writing – 10 Steps To Success.