5 Step process for business writing

5 Steps to Writing a Business Article Like a Pro

Does the prospect of writing a business article make you nervous? Business writing can feel daunting, but if you break down the process into steps, you will realize that writing a business article is like writing for any other genre.

What is a Business Article?

A business article is any content you write with the intent of directly or indirectly sharing information about a business. The different types of business writing include blogs, news releases, newsletters, brochure, flyers, emailers, and presentations.

business-writing-2-1-current-although

Business writing involves a variety of writing styles.

The writing style will vary with the type of business content you have been asked to write. For instance, compared to a blog, an emailer must have a more succinct pitch. Similarly, a flyer will have to sell an idea very quickly, while in a business brochure you have the luxury of being more descriptive.

I have been writing for small and medium-sized businesses for almost seven years now. In that time frame, I have written business articles on myriad industries, such as business technology, software development, renewable energy, educational consultancy, childcare service, virtual assistant service, and medical billing.

Over the hundreds of articles written, I have developed a business article writing methodology that I’d like to share with you today.  My method of researching and writing a business article may not work for you, but it is one you could certainly use as a start point to create your own version of a writing system.

For this post, I am going to stick to the preparation, researching, structuring, writing, and editing stages of writing a business article.

So here goes.

5 Steps to Writing a Business Article

5 Step process for business writing

Let’s paint a beautiful picture…but with words.

STEP 1: PREPARE – Understanding What is Expected From You

Let’s assume that you are working for a client for the first time and you have been given a topic ‘X Reasons to Have a Blog.’  As soon as you take on this assignment, you need to get answers to the following questions:

1. Who is the target audience of your client?

target audience

Understand who you are writing for and what the client wants

Is your client targetting individuals or businesses? The target audience will affect the way you write. For instance, a business targetting individual buyers will prefer a writing style that is more conversational, personal, and maybe even laced with humor. On the other hand, a B2B client may want an article that is informative and highlights the business’s expertise.

Of course, when we say business article, don’t assume that you need to write content that sounds like a management book extract. Today, every content you write has to be easy to read and must communicate the benefit the reader will derive from the ten minutes they spend reading what you have written.

2. Does the client have keywords in mind for the article?
In my experience, most clients will be happy to let you take charge of this and decide the best keyword phrases for an article. Once you have chosen the keywords, ensure that you include them in the article heading, subheadings ( where possible), and at a frequency of three to four times every 500 words of the article.

3. Expected format and style of the article
Most clients will share a sample of the kind of article they want to write. If they do not, then look at previous posts on their website and clarify if the client wants you to maintain a similar writing style.
Also, agree on the format of submission. For instance, a client that I have been writing for a long time is a virtual service provider called Virtasktik. All blogs submitted to the client must contain a meta description, as well as content for social media posts on the article for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google+.

STEP 2: RESEARCH – Evaluate the Available Information and Extract the Pertinent Bits

Online research

You must be a master at both looking for information online and picking the most relevant bits.

As you begin researching the topic think about the two to three key points your article must include. These ideas then become the start point for research on search engines.

Alternatively, type different phrases related to the blog topic you have been given. For example, for the topic ‘X reasons to blog,’ your search phrases could be –

  • Benefits of business blog
  • X Reasons why every business should have a blog
  • Statistics/ Data on the benefits of having a business blog

As you scan through the relevant articles, Google ( or other search engines) will throw up suggestions on other similar search phrases;  look at those as well.

While researching the information available online, I recommend doing the following:

  1. Stay current: Reference articles published no later than three years ago. Since knowledge and technology are evolving rapidly, you must publish content that is relevant and forward-looking.
  2. Use credible sources: Extract your content from reputed websites or blogs of established companies in the industry.
  3. Give credit: It’s important to give credit where credit is due, so include at least one or two links to reputed websites within the article.
  4. Include data: Where possible look for recent developments, industry statistics, or infographics relevant to your topic.
  5. Extract as you read: Highlight or extract the most relevant portion of content as you read the articles. Some writers use tools like Evernote to do this, but I like to do it the old-fashioned way and paste all the relevant content into a single word file. Let’s call this the ‘base document.’
  6. Read multiple articles: As a thumb rule research at least 5 to 6 credible sources of information for every page of 500 words that you need to write.
  7. Include a quote: Depending on whom you are writing for, adding a genuine quote for your article is a great idea.

So for an article on blogging, you can approach popular bloggers for their advice, or reach out to internet marketing specialists for a contribution to your article. You can contact them through their website, via email, or even their Facebook business page.

Tell them who you are, the client you are writing for, the topic, that you are looking for a 2 or 3 line quote, and by when do you need the revert. I often use this strategy and have a 25 to 30 percent success rate, which means I approach at least 4 potential contributors to get a single quote. The research phase will take you anywhere between one to one hour thirty minutes.

STEP 3: STRUCTURE – The Information and Your Thoughts

article writing

Identify key points and decide which piece of information goes where.

If you are writing a 1000 word article, by the time you have researched the information, you should have at least a base document of 2500 to 3000 words. Once convinced that you have gathered all the relevant information, start reading your base document.

Having gone through the document, open another word file and begin writing the key points, or must have information for your article. I like to rearrange and highlight the content in the base document using different colors. For example, the material that I want to include in the opening para is highlighted in yellow, the main body in pink, and article recommendations in green. So what you are doing at this stage is structuring the information and your thoughts before you begin writing.

By the time you are done, you will have your article skeleton – opening, subheadings, bullet points under each, and takeaways from your article ( or the concluding paragraph), as well as the information that needs to come under each section.

If you are working with a word limit of say 1000 words, you can decide to write  150 words for the article opening, 800 words on the main body, and another 100 for writing the conclusion. Of course, its advisable to write the first draft of about 1200 to 1300 words, because as you improve the content during the editing stage, the word count will automatically be reduced.

Structuring the article before you begin writing will take you 25 to 30 minutes.

So you have by this time already spent 2 hours on your article.

Now, let’s begin writing.

STEP 4: WRITING – Write, Don’t Edit

Just+Write

It’s time to just write. Write as you think and speak.

The number one tip at this stage is to write as you think. Write as fast as you can type but keep referencing the base document to see the sub-points and the information you want under each point. Be careful as to not ‘copy-paste’ content from your base file.

As you write the first article draft, I highly recommend that you use a distraction-free text editor such as Write Box to help you write without distractions.

Here some additional tips on writing a business article:

1. Share the article purpose in the opening para: Write an engaging opening paragraph which indicates the central question the article is going to answer. In other words, why should someone read your blog? As an example, here’s an opening I wrote for an article on task delegation:

“Are you a star at delegating things to do in your business? Or are you one of the many small business owners who shy’s away from task delegation because you fear work won’t happen as expected, or that you won’t’ know how things are progressing once you have handed off the task?”

2. Include keywords: As you write, try to include the key phrase(s) where possible, but especially in the article opening paragraph, subheadings of the article, and within the content with a frequency of about 3 to 4 repetitions for every 400 to 500 words.

3. Include external and internal links: Add two to three hyperlinks to articles published on other reputed websites, as well as links to related content within your client’s website. When you add links, use relevant ‘anchor phrases’ to describe them. Instead of saying ‘click here for more information’, add the links within your text.

4. Encourage readers to take action: Close with a takeaway paragraph of what the reader should learn or the final thought you want to leave with the reader. For instance, you could invite readers to register for a monthly business newsletter, leave a comment on their own experiences/ knowledge of the topic, or fill the sales contact form.

5. U.S vs. U.K English: Write in U.S or U.K English depending on which country your client is based.

6. Write in active voice: Minimize the use of passive sentences, write in ‘active voice’ to the extent possible.

Writing a 1000 word article can take about 2 hours. At this stage, depending on your research and writing efficiency, you have already spent between 3 to 4 hours on your article.

STEP 5: EDITING – The Most Important Part of the Writing Process.

polish

Editing is essential to producing a quality article, much like polishing a diamond to bring the shine.

Think of your article ( written so far) as a rough diamond that needs polishing. Spending considerable effort in editing an item is essential to producing quality work that will make your clients coming back for more.

Paste the content from the text file to an MSWord file. Read through the article you have written so far. I find that reading the content aloud yourself or using the ‘Read Aloud Speech’ feature under the Review tab in Microsoft Word, is helpful in identifying sentences that must be re-written or re-arranged to improve the article flow.

Once you are satisfied that the article flow is good, check your content on content editing tools such as Grammarly or  Hemingway App to improve readability. For instance, these apps can help identify passive sentences (which you may want to rephrase in an active voice), identify phrases with a more straightforward expression, or rectify the incorrect use of punctuation. You can reduce wordiness – for example ‘ you have to make a decision’ can be written more concisely as ‘ you must make a decision’.

Cross-check the effectiveness of the article header using tools such as Coschedule’s Headline Analyzer.  When you find yourself stuck for ideas on writing a compelling headline, try the blog title generator by SEOPressor.

Paying attention to the smallest details at the editing stage will make it a time-consuming process, but the end the result will be worth it. For a 1000 word article, I can easily spend an hour trying to edit and improve it. On the other hand, there is no end to the amount of editing you can do in an article. So beyond a point, you must decide if the present version of the article is good to go.  Before you publish your business article or submit it to the client, ensure that you do a plagiarism check. I prefer to use Copyscape.

So there you have it, my tell-all post on writing business articles, and would you know it, it also happens to be the longest post ever published on my blog.

Was the reading time worth it? Do leave your feedback in the comments below.

Adios!

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EBook Launched on Amazon Kindle: How to Choose a Home Business Idea and Become a Homepreneur

Home business

My new eBook called ” How to Choose a Home Business Idea and Become a Homepreneur”, was launched on Amazon on 2nd May 2018.  The date is special because it’s my father’s birthday as well my parents’ marriage anniversary.

Truly speaking, I didn’ t know I had the second eBook in me.  My first book in April 2016 called, ‘ Guide to Becoming a Freelance Writer’,  was pretty much a capsule of my transition to freelance writing and the lessons that others could learn from my experience.

The germination of ‘How to Choose a Home Business Idea and Become a Homepreneur – Plus 50 Home Business Ideas’ came about when a good friend starting consulting with me on starting her boutique business two years ago. I flew down to the Indian city of Dehradun to thrash ideas for every aspect of her fashion brand called ‘IndyHue’.  We used mindmaps to define her customer, her product proposition, distribution, and promotion strategy, and even wrote a basic business plan. She continued to consult me as she started getting customer and began facing operational issues.

My background as a banker and business writer helped me advise her at every stage and as of date, she has successfully moved on to become a shop owner.

So who is the eBook for?

It’s for every man, woman, and young adult who wants to start a home business and make money operating a part-time venture or a full-blown business.  If you are an aspiring homepreneur, or if you have just started a home business, this eBook has loads of tips on getting started and avoiding common new business mistakes.

It is not a know-all business guide, but it will certainly compel you to think strategically about your home business.

Hope you, or someone you know, can benefit from this guide.

Thanks for reading my blog.  animated-thank-you-image-0041

Until we meet again 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Launching Soon – eBook “How to Choose a Home Business Idea and Become a Homepreneur. Plus 50 Home Business Ideas”

I transitioned to freelance writing after working in the banking industry for fourteen years. The decision to change tracks was both professionally and personally motivated, but it is one that I have rarely regretted. I shared my experience of starting as a freelancer in my first eBook called ‘Guide to Becoming a Freelance Writer – How to Use Freelancing Websites to Source Jobs and Make Money from Home, which was published on Amazon Kindle in April 2016.

Being a freelancer has taught me so much about managing a business, cause that’s how you have to view any money-making venture. In my case, the key decisions to be made were deciding what type of content writing I was good at, which clients I should work with and where do I find them, how much to charge for my writing services, and which online channels I could use to promote myself.

In addition, over the last six years, I have read and written loads of content on starting a business, the challenges of being a business owner, and the technologies available to manage and promote a business. A couple of friends have also sought my guidance on freelancing and starting their business.

Second ebookMy experience as a former corporate employee,  business writer, and an adviser to friends, led me to write my second eBook. The eBook is tentatively titled,  ‘How to Choose a Home Business Idea and Become a Homepreneur. Plus 50 Home Business Ideas’ and should be available on Amazon Kindle within the month.

What’s the eBook About?

Most of us would love to give up the drudgery of a job and become a home business owner. But the transition from employment to becoming a homepreneur, as you probably already realize, is not an easy one.

For many aspiring home business entrepreneur or homepreneurs, the biggest roadblock is their inability to decide which business venture to pursue. After all, potential business ideas are a dime to a dozen.

You will find loads of business ideas on the internet. You could draw inspiration from your personal interests or professional experience. Perhaps you have learned of a business opportunity from a friend. A personal problem that you faced, may offer insight into the idea for a new business.

But which home business idea is right for you?

And once you decide the business idea, how do you make a start?

img_1648.jpgIf you too are grappling to find answers to these questions, then my second eBook is just what you need. ‘How to Choose a Home Business Idea and Become a Homepreneur’ has been written specifically to help you choose a home business idea and take the first steps towards actualizing your home business idea.

The eBook will give you food for thought on how you need to think strategically about every aspect of your home business. It will help you –

  • Assess whether you are ready to become a home business owner.
  • Understand the advantages of home business ownership.
  • Understand how to overcome the disadvantages of managing a home business.
  • Evaluate which home business idea works best for you.
  • Create a workable business plan to get started.
  • Understand what it takes to succeed as a home-business owner.

As a homepreneur, you are about to embark on one of the more rewarding phases of your life. Not having a boss to answer to, the joy of making all the decisions and growing your business from scratch, and the possibility of becoming an employment generator, the path to becoming a home business owner is certainly exciting.

A home business may be a small-sized venture, but starting it will require all the time, energy, positive attitude, resources, and creativity you can muster. As an entrepreneur, the stakes are always high, especially if you are the primary bread- earner of the family, or if you plan to dig into your savings to fund the business.

The transition to becoming a homepreneur must, therefore, be made with a clear understanding of what your business stands for, who are your customers, how will you sell, and how will you ultimately build a sustainable business.

The eBook is about 10500 words spread over eight chapters. Good friend Hazel Kamath @ TangleWithHazel has graciously agreed to provide doodles for the eBook. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the images.

 

 

 

 

5 Internet Based Home Business Ideas

In India, many Hindus celebrate a day called the ” Vishwakarma Puja“, wherein tools and machinery are worshiped as a mark of gratitude for the livelihood earned through the functioning of these pieces of equipment. In my opinion, this concept should be extended to the internet as well. Thanks to the internet, millions of freelancers are able to do business with clients located globally.

I know it is probably an obvious statement to make, but I am grateful to be born in the time of the internet. Most women of the generation before us, especially those who were married to men with transferable jobs, did not have this flexibility. They were either restricted to being full-time housewives or teaching in schools where they earned far below their potential.

An internet-based home business is an ideal option for young mothers ( like myself) who often find themselves with limited spare time and energy. It provides flexibility of working hours, whilst giving the opportunity to put your professional skills to good use.

Of course, as with any other career, it is not easy to make money via the web. To get work through the web, you must be well-trained in the service you are providing. You must be a thorough professional. For instance, in the way you communicate with clients, negotiate pricing and meet committed delivery dates.

internet jobs

As a freelancer, I am often approached by acquaintances for information on home-business ideas that could work for them. This prompted me to start writing my next eBook, which is tentatively titled, “How to Choose a Home Business Idea and Become a Homepreneur. Plus – 50 Home Business Ideas!”

Here is an extract from the eBook on internet-based home business ideas. I hope you will find the information useful.

  1. Online Tutoring or home tuitions: If you have an interest in the education space, starting a home-based coaching centre is ideal. You can also expand your reach by enrolling with online tuition platforms such as My Private Tutor,  Udemy, and Eduboard.
  2. Online content writer: Start sourcing online content jobs through sites such as Upwork, Freelancer, and Guru. My first eBook ” Guide to Becoming a Freelance Writer – Use Freelancing Websites to Source Content Writing Jobs and Make Money from Home” is a ready reckoner for anyone looking to become a freelancer using websites such as Upwork.
  3. Editor: If you are good at identifying a badly written sentence, an editing business could be for you. There are two types of editing work- the first is copyediting, where you are checking for accuracy of grammar, spelling, punctuation, and other writing style issues. The other is developmental editing, where in addition to copyediting, you also add, change, or delete content to improve readability. Apart from a good understanding of grammar, punctuation, you need to be familiar with the different international writing styles.
  4. Blogging: If you are passionate about a topic, start blogging. The key is to write just not what you know, but write blogs that answer questions/ concerns that people may have about your passion. Before you begin a blog, learn the technical aspects of blogging such as using the right keywords, and how to search-engine optimize your blog (to make it more searchable).
  5. Virtual task provider: Small business owners often lack the time, the resources, or the skill to handle routine tasks of their business. Depending on your skills, you can start a remote assistance business that handles these business tasks such as social media marketing, responding to customer emails, calling a customer base, data entry, writing blogs, creating powerpoint presentations, and writing standard operating procedures.

Apart from the above five, the other freelancing options that are in great demand on the internet are website design, mobile app design,  graphic design, social media marketing and SEO services.  If you have skills in these areas of work, you can pitch for international projects on freelancing websites such as Upwork and Freelancer.

New year resolutions

6 Ways To Improve as a Beginner Freelance Writer

Happy New Year

The year New Year is here, and it’s a good time as any to kick-start your freelance writing career. If you want to improve your writing skills and become a professional freelance writer this year, here’s what you need to do.

1. Read books on Writing – I recommend that you read these three books on writing:

Improve as a Freelance WriterWhen I first started as a freelance writer, The Yahoo Style Guide was extremely helpful in building an understanding of how to write content for the internet. I read the other two books several months later when I realized that I must sharpen my freelance writing skills to meet international standards.

Even when you aren’t working on paid assignments, spend time honing your writing skills by writing your blog, or reading other blogs. One person whom I enjoy reading is Henneke Duistermaat whose website is Enchanting Marketing.  Another blog that I followed closely in the initial stages was the ProBlogger.

2. Start a professional website/ blog: As a freelance writer its imperative that you have a platform that shows your writing skills, as well as contains details of your writing services and experience.

You can create a website or a blog for free on sites like WordPress; although you will have to pay a small amount to have a unique domain name.

To create blog content, list at least twenty potential target blog titles, and then start writing. You don’t necessarily have to write on topics that you know.  Your success as a freelance writer will depend on being able to research information and write informative articles; so do the same for your blog. You could pick three or four broad blog categories and then list titles under each.

List your writing services clearly, along with an ‘about me’ page that tells potential clients who you are, especially your academic/ professional background, and your writing expertise. Include a link to your social media sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook ( especially, if you have a Facebook page dedicated to your writing work)

Finally, include a ‘contact us’ form or just share your contact details on the website so potential clients can reach you.

If you don’t have the skills or the inclination to start a website, you can also create an article portfolio on Contently, and then share the link in your project proposals submitted to clients. But you still need to create and upload content here.

3. Write what the reader wants to know, and not what you know: When you write posts for your blog, or for clients, don’t ramble on because you have all these creative ideas and information that you want to share.The question is, does your reader have the time or the inclination to read your content?

Is your blog post or article informative, entertaining, relevant, or pathbreaking? Only content that falls in any of these four categories will succeed in engaging the reader.

Apart from writing quality content, ensure that your content is easy to read. Here are some basic writing guidelines:

  • Have a catchy headline. Blog titles with numbers ( e.g., X Tips, X ways) are a great way to communicate a real benefit of reading an article. Another way is to create a sense of urgency (e.g., include phrases such as ‘Need to know’ ).
  • List one or two keyword phrases, and include the keywords all through the article, including the blog title, first paragraph, and several times throughout the article. Also, include the keyword in the post’s meta description.
  • Divide the article into easy to scan through sections, with subheadings and bullet points. While this style may not work for every client, it is the preferred style of writing for the internet.

4. Seek a writing mentor: Approach a content writer who has more experience doing what you aspire to do. Suggest how you can be of help to them and inquire if they would be willing to work with you as a writing coach.

Even if you can’t identify anyone to help you develop your craft, don’t fret. It may take you a little longer to learn the ropes but the on-the-job experience is the greatest teacher. The more you write, the better you will get.

5. Use technology as an aid – Use online tools to make you a better content writer. The FREE writing apps that I frequently use are: Writing tips

  • Writebox – A distraction-free text editor that allows you to type without worrying about grammar or spelling errors, which you can correct later in the editing stage.
  • Hemingway Editor – An app that you can use to improve the readability of your article by identifying sentences which are too long or in the passive voice, as well as by suggesting removal of unnecessary words.
  • Grammarly – Another grammar and spelling check app, which apart from checking your content, can also be integrated with your email account to ensure that your business emails are error free.
  • Coscheduler – To analyze the effectiveness of your blog/article title
  • Blog Title Generator – To generate potential blog tiles when you are stuck for ideas

6. Test your skills as a writer by pitching for freelance writing jobs – Use websites such as Upwork to source content writing jobs ( there are plenty of creative and non-fiction writing jobs) and test your skills as a writer.

You will find loads of tips on my blog on creating a profile and bidding for jobs. For a more detailed update, you could also see my eBook and video series on using freelancing websites to source content writing jobs and make money from home.

As a final tip, if you want to succeed as a freelance writer, it’s imperative that you are professional to the core. Apart from being a good writer, you must be a reliable writer. Maintain a project tracker ( a simple excel sheet would do, or use Google calendar) to plan your article submission dates and to ensure that you never miss a client deadline.

Only commit to a deadline that you can keep. If the deadline promised to a client is 15th January, then try to complete the job by 13th at the latest; this will ensure that the client gets a final product by the promised date.

Now that you have made the resolve to be a better writer, all you need is a disciplined approach to get there, and hopefully, the above tips will help.

New year resolutions

Happy New Year.

( P.S Don’t miss my writing tips on Quora)