12 Article-Writing Tips for Beginners

Photo by Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash

If you’re reading this, you’re likely a Medium writer looking to improve your craft. Medium is home to thousands of top-of-the-line writers, and the competition can often be disheartening. Luckily, there are many ways to improve your article-writing skills in a short time, and everything you need is right at your fingertips.

1. Formatting

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

This is an example of how formatting can make an article more interesting than you believed to be possible.

You can make a catchy subtitle.

Make a sentence bold. Or italic.

Say something inspirational.

“Or borrow words from someone else.”

These tools are implemented in Medium and other sites like Vocal Media. All you need to do is highlight the text you want to change.

2. Titles

Photo by Johnson Wang on Unsplash

A solid title is what reels your audience in. Some believe this is the most crucial part of an article, and for a good reason. If you want someone to read your work, you must first get them interested.

How do you make a good title?

If you want a quick guide, check out this article by Dream Grow. The rest is going to be personal opinion.

Here are my top stories on Medium this month.

There are three things you notice immediately:

  • They all contain the word “I”
  • They are all story-based
  • They teach the reader something

Many people believe that Medium is pushing for articles with a personal story behind them. Whether that is true, I cannot say.

Here are my following articles.

Both of these aim to:

  • Help the reader
  • Teach them something
  • Focus on “you” instead of “I”

I’ve noticed the article titles that do the best are either focused on a personal story that informs the reader or a research-based article that helps them.

3. Photographs

Photo by Imansyah Muhamad Putera on Unsplash

Words, words, and more words. Even with proper formatting, it can make the reader unstimulated and lose focus. Adding a photograph to your article can add the extra balance you need to keep the reader’s attention.

All you need to do is click on an empty paragraph line and pick the magnifying glass. This gives you access to limitless free photographs on Unsplash. It also credits the photographer automatically — which is a bonus.

4. Quotes

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Nothing backs an excellent article more than wise words from the greats. It helps break up the monotony and helps the reader feel your meaning.

I get my quotes from Goodreads Quotes.

To style a quote in your article, click the quotation mark. Clicking it twice will change the look again.

Here are the two ways your quotes can look:

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero

“We accept the love we think we deserve.”
Stephen Chbosky

5. Shortcuts

Photo by Status Brew

Shortcuts will keep you from spending two hours on a short article. Once you master the basics, the rest will come quickly.

Zoe Chew wrote an article on shortcuts that helped me learn to use Medium more efficiently.

6. Simplicity

Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

The best piece of advice I read — I cannot remember where — was that you should not write for Medium like you’re writing to impress your English teacher. While I’m a geek for a good metaphor, most people want a short article they can digest in their free time.

Try to be as concise as possible while still getting your point across.

7. Tone

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

How are you speaking to your reader? Are you trying to be encouraging or informative? Let this bleed through your writing.

For example:

  • If you’re tired, you should sleep

V.S.

  • If you’re exhausted from a long day at work, then you owe it to yourself to relax and get some rest

The second statement helps relate to the reader, letting them imagine their long day and almost feel the exhaustion creeping upon them.

Auctor Quick wrote an article that helped me tremendously with tone.

8. Research

Photo by UX Indonesia on Unsplash

Not everyone will take your word at face value, and — without the proper research — you may be spouting meaningless “facts” that have no factual basis.

Websites like Clinical Trials and PubMed are like armor to your writing.

For example…

If I wrote an article titled 10 Ways Exercise Improves Memory in Older Adults, I could search “exercise” and “memory” and receive results like this.

This is a study found on PubMed.

And this is a trial found on Clinical Trials.

Using resources like this makes my writing more believable and helps limit the spread of misinformation.

9. Tools

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

I recently made a list of my most used writing tools.

This can range from writing courses to software that improves your writing.

Out of the 18 tools in that article, here are my favorites.

10. Tags

Photo by Angèle Kamp on Unsplash

Tagging your work is crucial for getting it discovered. On top of that, if you frequent a tag on Medium and receive enough attention, you can become a Top Writer in that category.

Some Medium articles tell you the best tags to use, but I prefer to do this…

  1. Pick a topic. We’re going to choose Life Lessons.
  2. Go to that tag.
  3. Check the related topics.

4. Now, go to the tags section of your article before it is published and type a tag into the box.

This will show you the popularity of that tag.

11. Advertise

Photo by Kate Trysh on Unsplash

Making a living on Medium alone is not a reality for many. That is why it’s great to advertise your work.

Tips

  • Mention an article relevant to your work

Remember this?

I recently made a list of my most used writing tools.

Since this was helpful to the reader, the article was more informative rather than aggressive while giving other articles more read time.

  • Adding a post-article line

You will see this at the end of all of my articles…

Followed by a…

This adds a unique signature and clear separation at the end of the article, which gives me room to advertise without interrupting the article itself.

The dotted line is found here:

After the dotted line, it usually looks like this…

If you want to subscribe to Medium, consider supporting me through this link.

Check out my e-books!

Then, I add a couple of my recent articles relevant to the reader.

This allows a clean space to advertise my work in different ways and gives the reader an option to support me — without being in their face.

You can see a put-together example at the end of this article.

12. Reading

Photo by Maxim Ilyahov on Unsplash

This is last because I find it to be the most important to writing articles: reading other articles.

And I’m not talking about passive reading — where you skim over the text and exit out. Try actively reading the article and notice little things about their writing style that you like and dislike.

For example…

  • How often did they use photos to break up paragraphs?
  • Was their article too short or too long?
  • Did they use subtitles creatively throughout their work?
  • What are the popular writers making articles about?

Try not to be too critical, but use it as a roadmap to improving your work and becoming the writer you have always wanted to be.

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”

Jack Kerouac

Thanks for reading.

--

--

--

Evidence-based articles for self-help nerds.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Soda

Soda

Evidence-based articles for self-help nerds.

More from Medium

Write or not to write

5 Things Writers Can Do to Stay Motivated

31-Day Writing Challenge, Day 9: Five Reasons to Learn a Foreign Language

How To Make And Execute Your Plans This Year 2022.