Article Writing Template: How to Craft Great Content Consistently
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When the time to write an article comes, do you struggle with getting started? You have a solid idea, but getting it from concept to a draft is challenging. The blank page is intimidating.
The possibility for your idea to take dozens of different shapes can paralyze you and make you a slow, frustrated writer. Missing deadlines and not hitting goals doesn’t help, either.
There’s a better way to write your article: by using a tried-and-tested article writing templates. It brings consistency and focus to every writing session and allows you to ship quality content every time.
As John Rogers, an American screenwriter, put it: “You can’t think yourself out of a writing block; you have to write yourself out of a thinking block.” This article writing template and guide will help remove blank page paralysis and give you an easy place to start thinking—and writing.
Download Your Article Writing Template
Before we dive into a streamlined article writing process, you’ll need a template to work from. It’s the key to focused, efficient writing and never starting from scratch again.
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Why Follow a Template When Writing Articles?
Here are three key benefits that make an article writing template a valuable asset in your toolkit.
1. You’ll Be More Efficient
When you first sit down to write with an idea in mind, it’s easy to spend hours in a research rabbit hole. This leads you to a mountain of tabs, screenshots, downloads, and notes you now need to sift through to find the ones worth using.
If you have unlimited time available to write your article, that’s not inherently a bad thing.
But you’re a marketer in a busy team—you definitely don’t have all the time in the world for one article.
Harvard Business Review shared some research that suggests innovation and creativity thrive when there are constraints in place—a concept also known as creative limitation. This is where using a template comes in.
The structure of an article writing template allows you to braindump your initial thoughts on a topic and use them to map out an outline. Then, you can research more intentionally and build your article based on points from your outline you want to support—rather than researching everything there is to know about a topic.
2. You’ll Gain Clarity
A template will give you a writing action plan.
Without it, you’ll end up with lots of blurry lines around your topic and a vague sense of what you’re aiming for with your article. You’ll spend lots of time wondering what to write instead of actually writing.
Karen Martin, president of TKMG and author of Clarity First, said in an interview on our Actionable Marketing Podcast that you should “limit how many things you’re working on at any given time. You’ll get more done per unit of time.” This applies to every facet of work, and writing is no different.
At CoSchedule, we often remind our readers to focus on a target audience statement in their editorial strategy because it brings clarity and focus to the process. An article writing template does the same — just on a more granular level.
3. You’ll Publish Better Content More Consistently
Publishing quality content is the means to an end: your marketing goals. Website traffic, email subscribers, conversion rates, social media engagement… Consistent content will get you closer to almost any marketing goal you can dream of.
With an article writing template, you’ll have a process in place for your research and writing so you can hit those goals every month, quarter, and year.
And if you don’t have clear marketing goals yet, remember: marketers who set goals are 376% more likely to report success than those who don’t. It’s never too late to start.
The 4 Basic Elements of an Article
Work from a template that is both simple and impactful. The one we recommend consists of four basic article elements: a headline, an introduction, article body, and conclusion.
Your headline summarizes your article’s substance.
Effective headlines encourage people to click through to your article and share it with their network. They also help you reach your audience organically through search engines.
Think of your headline like a storefront on a busy street. The job of a storefront is to attract people into the store as they walk by. It has to appeal to what a passerby wants, needs, or is curious about.
Your headline is no different: it has to convince a potential reader that the investment of their time and attention to read your article will be worth it and that you wrote it with them in mind.
Elements of a powerful headline:
- Word balance: a mix of common, uncommon, emotional, and power words
- Length: optimized for visibility and click-throughs on search engines and social media
- Type of headline: experiment with types of headlines like ‘“why” headlines, how-to, and question headlines
- Clarity and skimmability: simplified for easy reading and understanding at a glance
Our ultimate tip to write better headlines is to write more headlines. At least 25, to be more precise. The first third is usually packed with obvious ideas, the second third gives you some momentum, and the third third will bring up unique, innovative ideas to the top.
When you choose your top five headlines from this list, double-check each of them against the powerful headline elements listed above.
The easiest way to do this is with CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer Studio, which will give you suggestions to tweak your headlines, brainstorm alternative versions, and compare them until you find the most impactful version.
2. Introduction (The Lede)
Your introduction, also known in journalism as the lede, is the bridge between your headline and the core of your article.
First, your introduction should expand on the promise you’ve made in the headline.
Think back to the storefront example. An introduction that matches the headline is equal to walking into what looks like a hardware store and immediately seeing four aisles you want to browse through.
If your introduction doesn’t match the headline, it’s like walking into that same store but realizing it’s actually a coffee shop. You don’t want your readers to feel tricked, so paying attention to the headline/introduction connection is crucial.
Second, your introduction should also tease your ways to deliver that promise.
Will you be sharing tips, step-by-step guidance, contributions from industry experts, first-hand experience, or something else that makes your article credible? Your introduction is a great place to mention this.
Ryan Law, director of marketing at Animalz, a content marketing agency, recommends the thesis, antithesis, synthesis (or TAS) approach to writing article introductions:
- Thesis: present the status quo, the idea that’s currently accepted and widely held
- Antithesis: articulate the problems with the thesis
- Synthesis: share a new viewpoint, a modified thesis, that resolves the problems and reconciles the two previous paragraphs
The TAS approach reduces complex arguments into a simple three-paragraph structure. It also gives voice to readers’ doubts and addresses their best objection.
Here’s a meta example of a thesis, antithesis, synthesis introduction in action directly from Ryan’s article:
Here’s how Laura Bosco, a B2B and ecommerce writer, analyzed a strong article introduction:
Ya know, intros are hard, and I’m still learning how to write ’em well every time. 😬
That’s why I like picking good intros apart and thinking about how they drew me in. 👀
Here’s one from @TaylorHoliday and why it snared me.👇
What’re some good ones you’ve seen recently? pic.twitter.com/Sbal9oSVh8
— Laura Bosco (@lauraebosco) February 17, 2021
Elements she called out fit the TAS approach, too, and they include:
- Drawing the reader in the middle of a story with specificity
- Engaging reader’s (uncomfortable) feelings
- Addressing the “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM)
- Backing up bold claims with industry news and data
- Announcing a table of contents
You (should) know your readers best, so feel free to expand or tweak these elements based on your audience. If in doubt, turn to data like time on page reports from Google Analytics to see what works, and don’t be afraid to survey your email list or readers on social media to understand how they consume your content.
Always be on the lookout for introductions you like and analyze their building blocks.
Here’s a great example of an article introduction on Toggl. All three elements—thesis, antithesis, and synthesis—are presented in a single paragraph and a bullet point list:
3. Body Content
Your article body is what your reader came for; it’s how you deliver on your promise from the headline and introduction.
The best way to do this is by using sections, each of which should tie back to something you teased in the introduction, whether in your copy or in the table of contents.
Sections are defined with subheadings. Each section should be a standalone idea that naturally flows from the previous one and sets the stage for the one after it.
Each article section should include:
- No more than three key points; if there are more, you can create a new section
- The ‘why’ of the section and how it relates to the topic as a whole
- Research and examples that support your points
- Takeaways for the reader; knowledge they can use or actions they can take
When you focus on making no more than three key points, you’re making your article sections easier to digest.
This also makes them more impactful because you’re focusing on the core points instead of squeezing in as much information as possible, which can confuse readers and hide the real value of your article.
The three point limit per section doesn’t mean you’re limited to sharing just three pieces of information. You can add as many as you want, but they should support one of those three points.
Examples of information you can use in your sections to support the points you’re making include:
- Custom images
- Statistics and links to research
- Original examples
- Quotes from relevant people
- Resources like books, videos, talks, podcasts, and more
A great example of this comes from the same Toggl article we mentioned earlier.
If you look closely, each section contains three main subsections. They’re supported by links to scientific research, Toggl’s other resources, and graphics that help the reader visualize the concepts these sections cover:
Your article conclusion gives your reader a sense of closure. It reinforces the main objective of the article and helps the reader decide what to do next.
Here are the main styles you can use to write your conclusion, plus examples for each to inspire you:
- Simplicity: nudge the reader to implement what they learned in the article
Conclusion example from Pipedrive
- Summary: list the takeaways (as bullet points, for example) as a reminder of main points your article made
Conclusion example from Pipedrive
- CTA: drive attention to a high-value CTA, like signing up for a trial or an email list
Conclusion example from Wise
- Engagement: point to your other relevant resources and/or encourage sharing on social media
Conclusion example from Ahrefs
Conclusion example from CoSchedule’s blog
Your conclusion should leave your reader with a sense of accomplishment and tie back to the promise you made in your headline and introduction.
The Article Writing Template You Need to Write Clearly and Efficiently
When you grab your copy of the article writing template, you’ll have a head start when writing your next article. Here’s how to use its first section to define your article:
- Topic summary: Describe your topic in one or two sentences. This is your starting point for everything you’ll do for this article. For example: “This blog post will show users how to achieve [goal] using [downloadable resource].
- Keyword data: What do your readers type into a search engine when looking for an article like yours? List these keyword variations here and add data like search volume and keyword difficulty if you can.
- Headline options: Remember that the more headlines you write, the better options you’ll end up with. List your best options here.
- Angle: You can tackle the same topic from dozens of angles, for example: beginner or advanced, list of tips, step-by-step, case study, product-focused, interviews, comparisons, a different take on a widely accepted stance, etc. Use this field to choose what you’ll focus on.
The second section of the template covers the remaining three basic elements of an article: intro, body with sections (each with up to three points), and conclusion.
Before you start the actual writing process, use the template to build your article outline first. Start with your existing knowledge, experience, and notes and see how they fit together. Ask yourself:
Is this bullet point broad enough to be a standalone section you can further build out? Or is it a smaller, supporting piece of information for a wider section?
Then, jump into research based on your article angle. Do you need to reach out to industry experts for contributions? Dive through examples to find the ones that fit best? Create screenshots or screen recordings that support your claims? Find research and data points?
As you research, add information worth keeping to the outline you started building. Some resources will lead you to new ones, which might give you ideas for additional sections and points. For each of them, ask yourself again if it’s broad enough to be a new section or simply supports an existing one.
If a section starts expanding into more than three points, create a new section.
Finally, build out the main points for your introduction and conclusion. Many writers prefer to write the introduction after they’ve written the entire body content, but this is entirely up to you and your writing style.
Armed with this powerful outline, you’re ready to write.
3 Additional Tips to Increase Content Writing Efficiency
Here are three more tips for maximum focus and efficiency in your content creation.
Plan Every Piece on an Editorial Calendar
In the words of our very own Garrett Moon, creating content consistently without a calendar is like driving a car without a steering wheel.
An editorial calendar will give you tangible deadlines for creating impactful content, instead of just relying on “whenever you get the chance.” It will also allow you to:
- Plan and run coordinated content campaigns and themes so you can support your company’s marketing and business goals
- Manage and balance your team’s workload for maximum efficiency
- Share your content marketing efforts and progress with higher-ups
A tool like CoSchedule’s Marketing Calendar helps you do exactly that (and much more).
Conduct Basic Keyword and Topical Research
Spend some time understanding the words and phrases your ideal readers use to search for topics you’re writing about.
If you don’t know where to start with keyword research, here are some pointers:
- Define your core term (like Austin restaurants) and modifiers (like vegan, Italian, downtown)
- Use a tool like Serpstat to find keywords with high search volume and low competition
- Analyze if a keyword ranks for articles or home/product pages (home/product pages are harder to compete with)
- Analyze if the search results are packed with huge websites like Wikipedia, BuzzFeed and similar as they are hard to outrank
- Analyze keyword intent: informational, transactional, or navigational
This will give you a great place to start incorporating search behavior of your target audience into your article writing process.
Use an Editing Checklist to Make Editing Fast and Efficient
Make it easy to edit and proofread your articles with an editing checklist. This way, anyone on your team or any future hire can take care of editing—not just you.
Here are some editing tips to add to your checklist:
- Remove passive voice
- Read your article out loud to check your flow, syntax, and the authenticity in your writing voice
- Remove unnecessary words
- Shorten paragraphs and experiment with various sentence lengths
- Remove unnecessary adverbs
- Replace jargon with specific and simple words
Start Writing With Ease
Use the article writing template—and our tips to make the most of it—to brainstorm, write, edit, and publish impactful content on the regular.
Keep in mind that content isn’t about shipping as many mediocre pieces as possible until something sticks. The article writing template is here to help you publish content that brings value to your readers and tangible results to your marketing and business.
May 24, 2021