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How To Write A Short & Snappy Article
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An article is like a bowl of soup...

An article is like a bowl of soup...

I have always tended to stay away from the shorter articles, but now I’m seeing that there are some perks to both medium length (which I usually write) and the shorter ones.

The Perks Of Writing A Shorter Article:

  • Writing shorter articles can help you get out of a writing slump, if you are used to writing medium or longer articles.
  • Shorter articles (when written correctly) can be more hard hitting and straight to the point, which can make it easier for a reader to glean information from them.
  • Shorter articles force you to mercilessly edit your content–you will learn to trim any superfluous wording, leaving just the ‘meat’.
  • Shorter articles can be written more quickly–it’s a good feeling to be able to write several quality articles at one sitting.
  • Let’s be honest–writing a shorter article is better than writing no article at all, isn’t it?

The WRONG Way To Write A Shorter Article

There is definitely a right and wrong way to write a short article.

Do it correctly, and you’ll have a quality article that readers and publishers appreciate.

Do it incorrectly, and the article will look like it was created with the sole intention of gaining a backlink (which is not the way to win the hearts of publishers or readers).

How can a short article go “wrong”?

It’s pretty simple–it doesn’t provide valuable content.

It looks to be a piece of fluff that was just trying to meet a minimum word count requirement.

A shorter article doesn’t have to mean less value though. If you write it with the following guidelines in mind, you can create a very sharp, helpful, informative and educational piece of content.

The RIGHT Way To Write A Shorter Article

1. Use a word count limit.

For a ‘short and snappy’ article, think 400-700 words.

2. Laser beam your topic.

There are 2 approaches to a shorter article:

  • You can give an overview of a broad topic (for example, I could write an article about “What is Article Marketing?”)
  • You can provide more in depth info on a more specific topic (for example, I could write an article called “3 Ways To Make Your Articles Easier To Read)

One thing is for sure–you need to have a plan before you start, or (if you’re anything like me!) you will end up going off on a tangent. Remember, a good short article is extremely focused.

3. Leave them wanting more.

DO offer helpful information in your article.

Do NOT feel the need to tell every last thing on your topic.

If you give a reader a tasting of information that appeals to them, then they will be more likely to seek out more info from you (by clicking the link at your resource box).

Think of your article as an appetizer, and your website is the main course.

4. Use an outline.

Writing from an outline is a great strategy for any length of article, but especially for a shorter article where you really need to stay focused. Here’s what I do:

  • I start by writing my basic points
  • Then I flesh out my basic points briefly
  • Then I add a short intro paragraph and a concluding paragraph

I check my word count at the end, and I might need to do some tweaking, editing to get the article down to a certain length or adding info to make it longer.

5. Edit ruthlessly.

In many ways, it takes more discipline to write a quality shorter article than it does to write a longer one. With a short article, you need to decide what info is absolutely essential to the success of the piece.

With my own shorter articles, I’ve noticed that I’m less conversational and more “just the facts, ma’am”. I trim out any sentences/phrases/words that re-state what I’ve already covered at other points in the article.

I have to watch my word choice–can I get my point across in fewer words?

6. Be sure you have some chunks of meat in your article.

An article is like a bowl of soup–if it’s too watery people won’t eat it no matter how hungry they are.

Short does not mean frivolous. Short means hard hitting and to the point.

Your Homework

  • Experiment with writing at least one 400-700 word article this week.
  • Get ambitious: See if you can write several shorter articles at one sitting using the guidelines I’ve outlined here.

Let me know how it goes…

Photo credit: Rachel is Coconut&Lime

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22 Responses to “How To Write A Short & Snappy Article”

  1. I have actually found that articles of 275-300 words work the best for me. The CTR is very high when compared to my longer articles. I think this is because most people do get distracted with longer articles and never finish them!

  2. Tinu says:

    I really like the bowl of soup analogy. And article marketing is SO much more than backlinks. When writing an article, that’s the least of my concerns. Ironically, the kinds of articles that focus on value are the ones that get published the most.

    Or get published the least, but ONLY by the top publications. Wink.

  3. Frank Osorio says:

    Hi Steve,

    I just started doing Article Marketing, I have 2 published articles so far. It’s a great feeling when I get a email telling me my article got excepted! I always look forward to your next letter filled with great valuable information about writing articles.

    Thank you so much,
    Frank Osorio

  4. This is what the beginners need.Straight to the point.

  5. I love this information. Thanks for sharing it.

  6. Elbon says:

    I a newbies and this article has really answered factual questions for me.
    This has really answered some factual questions.
    If a short article is between 400 – 700 words. Can i take it that a medium article between 1000 to 1500 words. I have just written my 1st article for my e-biz and really trying to understand size that are recognized as acceptable.

    Thank You


  7. Steve Shaw says:

    Hi Elbon,

    I consider 1,000 + word articles to be long. I never write articles that long, simply because it limits your publishers, and it takes longer to write. A 1,000 word article could be broken into two 500 word articles.

    If I’m writing a medium length article I keep it to 700-800 words.

    I hope that helps!

  8. Naomi says:

    Great article with excellent information! I just created my second blog and wrote my first two short articles and published them. Wish me luck! (-;

  9. Elda Titus says:

    Thanks! Now I just have to apply it:)

  10. Thanks for the help. I got my article written. I attempted to write another short article, but somehow my first ebook came out of it!

  11. Thanks for the info, it was very helpful I plan to put it into use.

  12. Ricardo A says:

    Very useful tips. I see that discipline and objectivity are necessities here. I guess this comes with time and experience.

    I’d like to see this worked out though.

    Would you happen to have an long or medium length article written out and the same one edited as a shorter article?

    Sure would appreciate that.


  13. Steve Shaw says:

    Hi Ricardo,

    I characterize a short article as being 400-700 words, and a long article as being anything 1,000 words or over.

    So, I guess that leaves 700-999 words as the medium bit!

    In the past I have kept a tight reign on my word counts–I never venture into the 1,000 word + realm.

    I usually will do 700-800 word articles, but lately I’ve started experimenting with writing shorter articles.

    So, I have only short and medium length articles to show you, but here are a couple:

    Short: Article Marketing: A Beginner’s Guide (569 words)

    Medium: Article Marketing: 3 Ways To Rank Higher In Google (744 words)

    I hope that helps!

  14. Gail says:

    I am motivated to get going and work on a few short articles as I have been a little lax lately. Thanks for the push! Great article.

  15. Ricardo A. says:

    Hello Steve,

    Thank you for your generous response.

    Helps a lot!

  16. Great info Steve.

    I tend to think shorter articles actually do better. No one likes long and windy, but even a long, well-written concise article can bore people.

    Shorter seems to be better in many ways, but you are right, it must contain some MEAT!


  17. maniz says:

    great stuff glad to read it.

  18. Tim says:

    Great point Steve. I often find myself reading over my articles as an update to “War and Peace”.
    Editing seems to be as much of a talent as writing an article in the first place.
    What guidelines can you provide to effectively editing an article, regardless of the subject matter?
    Some times my mind believes text should stay when in reality, that may not be the case.
    Appreciate your input.

  19. Steve Shaw says:

    Hi Tim,

    Sure, I have some guidelines on creating an article with a limited word count:

    1) Create an outline. It doesn’t have to be a formal outline, but it really helps to jot down the skeleton of your article before you start filling in the paragraphs. The first thing I do is write down my tips or the steps of my ‘how-to’ (I do a lot of how-to’s and list articles). I just make brief notes of the major points I want to make without worrying about polishing anything at this point.

    2) Fill in the outline and be as brief as possible. Say exactly what you need to say to get your point across and stop there. No need to add embellishment on top of embellishment. Remember, this is your first draft.

    3) Save writing the intro paragraph and the conclusion for the end. This is a trick I’ve learned that saves me bunches of time. Some of us ‘wordy’ folks will instinctively go crazy on our intro paragraph spending a lot of time on it trying to get it just right, and then later realizing that we’ve just spent half of our word count allotment there!

    Focus the majority of your words on the “meat” of the article, which is the body (the part that is in between the intro and the conclusion). For ‘How To’ or other list articles that, your intro paragraph can be as simple as one or two sentences that tell the reader what your article is about and lead them gracefully into your list. Your closing paragraph can be one or two sentences as well–just a quick wrap up.

    4) After you have your first draft completed, do a word count. Copy and paste your article into a Word document and then use the word count editing tool. This will give you an idea of how much you need to trim or how much you have to fill in. Knowing where you stand with the word count helps you gauge how much you can elaborate on your inner paragraphs. It also saves you time because you’re not wasting time writing only to find out that you’ve over-written and need to cut a bunch of stuff.

    5) Eliminate all redundancies. For any type of article, look over your article and remove any phrasing that does not absolutely have to be there. Sometimes we have a tendency to say something one time, and then say it again in the next sentence in a different way. Just say it once, clearly and concisely, and then move on.

    6) Eliminate wishy-washy statements such as “It seems to me” or “I believe”. If you say, “It seem to me that most people prefer soft baked chocolate chip cookies rather than hard ones.”, you’ve just used up 5 unnecessary words with “It seems to me that”. Just say it! “Most people prefer soft baked chocolate chip cookies to hard ones.” Don’t second guess yourself by putting the qualifier “it seems like” or “I think” or “I believe”.

    7) Trim Strategically or Create 2 out of 1. If your word count is too long and you’ve trimmed out as much as you can from each section, you may end up needing to make your Top 10 article a Top 7 one. There is also no shame in creating two articles out of one. Perhaps your “Top 10″ article needs to become two “Top 5″ articles. Splitting your article into two will also allow you more room to elaborate for each point.

    Tim, I think the main trick to writing a short article when you’re used to writing longer ones is to tell yourself that it is okay to leave the reader wanting more. You want to provide some meat in the article to make it worth a person’s time to read, but it’s okay to hold back some info.

    I hope that helps!

  20. [...] you like, you can try out that short & snappy article method I told you about [...]

  21. [...] ended up making 4 additional articles off of that one original post (here, here, here, and [...]

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