Section One: Main Elements of Most Articles

Before you start crafting that article, refresh your memory with my tips on weaving in your own unique voice. 

Tips for Adding Your Own Unique Voice

  • Write from a first-person perspective using I, me, mine, etc.
  • Use an active voice instead of a passive voice. 
  • Directly quote experts on the topic (if it makes sense).
  • Add at least one personal anecdote that relates to the topic or a specific fact.
  • Express your opinion when it fits.
  • Ask the reader a question, especially in the intro, if you can. This qualifies the reader and helps them relate to you immediately.
  • Sprinkle in some humor every now and then.

Okay, now that you’ve got that list handy, let’s begin. No matter the type of article (review, listicle, round-up, etc.), there is always a set list of elements that the piece will need.

The Introduction Paragraph

The intro is the very first paragraph found at the beginning of the article. This establishes the tone and style for the entire piece, hooks the reader, and provides a clear thesis or main idea. Length will vary, but aim for 100-200 words.

It’s so important to nail the intro for so many reasons. But the two main reasons are:

  • Encouraging the reader to stick around until the end
  • Determines how the content will perform in Google’s algorithm

The intro should start with the main keyword, which is often found right in the title, and go on to either define it or explain it straight away. 

The paragraph should then include a quick overview of what’s covered in the article and end with a hook, something that makes the reader say, “Yes, this is exactly the article I’m looking for.”   

Most clients will have specific guidelines to follow when creating the intros. So be sure to pay close attention to the brief provided to you. 

Here is an example of a well-crafted intro for an article titled How to Become a Proofreader:

Becoming a proofreader is about honing the necessary skills to uphold the integrity of written content in any form. This means meticulously combing through every line and page to make sure it’s free from spelling, grammar, typographical, and formatting errors.

Now, proofreading is different from editing, although the two often tend to overlap. Editing is about digging deep into the written content to mold and whip it into shape. Proofreaders are more for surface errors like missing commas, incorrect fonts, and a forgotten indent.

Starting and maintaining a career in proofreading doesn’t happen overnight, no matter how good your skills are. There are other things to consider, like proofreading courses, certifications, and other forms of training.

Lucky for you, I created this quick guide to becoming a proofreader that breaks down all the important details about what it takes to become a professional proofreader. Are you ready to get started? Let’s get to it!

Here’s how this intro checks all the boxes:

  • Starts with the keyword
  • Defines the topic
  • Provides quick and helpful info
  • Covers what to expect from the article
  • Ends with a hook
  • Falls in the 100-200 word range

Bonus Tip: Never clump your whole intro into one paragraph. Break it up for scannability/scrollability.

H2 and H3 Headings

These headings organize the written work so that search engines like Google understand it, and readers can easily navigate it. Proper headings like this also help with that scanability/scrollability factor.

H2 is meant to be used for your main headings, and H3 is reserved for subheadings found within the main sections. When using Google Docs to write and deliver your work to clients, these headings are pre-loaded into the menu, so all you have to do is point and click.

Here is an example of how to use H2 and H3 headings in an article:

H2: How Do You Gain Experience in Proofreading?

(content goes here)

H3: Volunteer When You Can

(content goes here)

H3: Internships and Entry-Level Positions

(content goes here)

H3: Freelance Platforms

(content goes here)

H3: Professional Networks

(content goes here)

Note how the H2 is the main heading that introduces the section, and the H3s are used for the points contained within it.

Internal and External Links

Some clients will ask you not to include any links in an article because they might have someone else on their team who handles that. Linking builds navigation and promotes traffic to come and go from the site, but it also plays into the SEO of the content, so it’s important to get it right.

Links to credible external sources enhance the trustworthiness of your content, while internal links keep readers engaged with your site longer. I like to think of it as building highways with exits and off-ramps but for the internet.

If a client expects you to include links in your work, here are some tips:

  • Hyperlink a relative word or phrase that clearly implies where it will take the reader
  • When hyperlinking more than one word, keep it under four
  • At most, include 2-3 internal and 2-3 external links
  • Only link externally to high authority sources like big brands, government, medical, dictionary, or news sites

Never link out to a personal blog or low-authority site because they’re untrustworthy in terms of reliability. Sites such as those often delete or change content, which then nullifies the link you included in your article. 

This creates what we call “dead links” and will affect the performance of the content. The exception to this is if the site clearly shows authority in the niche or on the topic and has quality content that feeds into the E-E-A-T guidelines. 

Examples of High Authority Sites

  • Government 
  • Medical journals
  • Universities
  • National Geographic
  • Registered news outlets
  • Popular, long-standing magazines 

Examples of Untrustworthy Sites

  • Sites with free domains
  • Opinion-based news
  • Anything that’s poorly designed and has spelling/grammar issues
  • Wiki-type sites are often unreliable too

Keywords and Phrases

We touched on this a few times, but let’s really dig in for a second. Keywords and keyphrases are terms related to the topic. They’re strategically placed to help your article rank higher in search engine results, making it more visible to your target audience.

For example, if the topic is How to Become a Freelance Writer, the keywords and phrases to use might be:

  • How to become a freelance writer
  • Freelance writing for beginners
  • Launch a freelance writing career
  • Finding freelance writing clients
  •  Freelance writing tips

Clients will usually supply you with this information in the brief. As the writer, you need to implement them properly.

Where Keywords Are Used

  • In the very first sentence
  • In the intro
  • In headings
  • Throughout the body
  • In the outro

Bonus tip: Always try to work them in naturally. Forcing them looks unnatural and will put off readers. A single keyword or phrase should be found once in the intro, in at least one heading, once or twice throughout the body, and then once more in the outro. Also, sometimes keywords will lack proper grammar. Be sure to correct or remove them if necessary.

The Body of the Article

The body of your article is simply the written content found beneath headings. This is where you deliver on the promises made in your intro, providing valuable information, insights, or even entertainment. I think of the body as the meat and everything else as the bones.

Tips for Writing the Body

  • Use concise sentences that deliver value in every word.
  • Keep your paragraphs to less than five lines.
  • Use an active voice.
  • Always start a section with a direct answer to what’s asked in the heading.
  • Stay away from fluff (information that’s not necessary or relevant).
  • Try to include a personal touch here and there using a quip, story, or helpful fun fact.

The Outro

This is simply the conclusion that summarizes the key points of your article and leaves the reader with a final thought or call to action.

Here’s an example of a good outro paragraph:

Launching a career as a proofreader opens the door to a world where precision and passion for language converge. By honing your skills, gaining relevant experience, and continuously learning, you can carve out a successful niche for yourself in the field of proofreading. I promise! It just takes time and patience.

Working for yourself can be challenging, but it’s also so rewarding because, with every inch of effort you put in, you get back threefold in the form of experience, professional relationships, and a scalable skill.

If you found my tips in this guide helpful at all, be sure to check out my other articles on becoming a proofreader to get a well-rounded idea of what to expect. If and when you’re ready, we also have an amazing online course you can take at your own pace that teaches everything you need to know!

Call to Action (CTA)

A CTA prompts the reader to take a specific action, like signing up for a newsletter, making a purchase, or visiting another page.

In the outro above, the CTA is: If you found my tips in this guide helpful at all, be sure to check out my other articles on becoming a proofreader to get a well-rounded idea of what to expect. If and when you’re ready, we also have an amazing online course you can take at your own pace that teaches everything you need to know!

Other Elements of an Article

Now that we covered the must-have for every type of article, let’s talk about the other stuff that goes into crafting the perfect piece. Clients will love it when you include things to break up the content and improve readability/scannability.

Images and Graphs: Visuals can break up text, illustrate points, and make your article more engaging and shareable. Only include these if necessary to display the information. Always ensure you have proper permissions and rights to use these images. Include the source so that the client can decide whether to keep or remove it.

Bolded Words: Use bold text to emphasize key points or important information, making it stand out to readers who skim. Bold keywords and phrases or any points you want the reader to be drawn to.

Pros and Cons Lists: These lists can help readers quickly understand the advantages and disadvantages of a particular topic or product. Lists are also good for ingredients, steps, or a series of things. Remember to use bullet points for unordered lists and numbers for ordered lists.