Posts Tagged ‘Writing Tips’

Writing Great Headlines for AC: A Refresher

In Writing for AC, Writing Tips on June 25, 2009 at 10:00 am

Writing compelling, click-worthy headlines is an important part of publishing articles on Associated Content. According to, 8 out of 10 people will read the headline copy and only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.

If you’re determined to get those pageviews, paying attention to your headline will help you get more clicks. A high-impact, keyword rich headline will attract readers when it’s listed in a feed or posted anywhere else on the web, and also has the potential to rank high in the search engines.

You don’t need to  do keyword kung fu or use over-the-top statements to write some great headlines, but you will need to think about keyword placement, and choose certain words that attract clicks. Here’s a refresher on writing great headlines for AC articles:

1. Keep it Simple and State the Obvious

Let your creative side run free when writing your article, and stick with a direct, no-nonsense approach when creating the headline. The headline needs to tell the reader exactly what’s in store, so avoid using clichés or creative phrases. However, don’t be afraid to use superlatives to emphasize your point. You can keep your headline simple but make it more effective when you add words such as ‘best’, ‘worst’, or ‘most effective ways’ to the sentence.

2. Pose a Question

Readers like to have their questions answered directly, and an article that answers a specific question might just help you get more clicks. Rephrase a declarative statement used in your headline as if you were a reader looking for answers. What type of questions would they be asking? Use one of these questions as your headline to pique a prospective reader’s interest.

3. Generate a List Read the rest of this entry »


Writing Tips: 5 Ways to Power Up Those Headlines

In Writing for AC, Writing Tips on February 6, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Writing attention-grabbing headlines is a critical part of your article’s success.  Many avid readers are using RSS feeds and other readers to keep up with your latest published articles, you need a great ‘hook’ to encourage a click.

Here are five simple strategies for powering up those headlines:

1.  Tempt them with a number.Six Ways to Lose Weight This Month’, ’11 Tips for Decorating the Living Room’ and ‘5 Ways to Power Up Those Headlines’ give the reader an idea about what to expect.  Numbers simply work; try them in your next article!

2. Command an action. Making the title an imperative resonates with the reader looking for solutions.  ‘Learn to Speak French Like a Native’, ‘Discover the Secret of Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies’ and ‘Improve Your Fitness Level in 7 Days’ spell out a definite purpose for your articles.

3. Reveal a secret. Make a promise to deliver the ‘truth’ to make your headline more compelling.  ‘What X Didn’t Tell You About…’ or ‘What Car Manufacturers Know About…’ adds a feeling of intrigue or mystery to your title.  This doesn’t work for every niche, but if you can find a way to use it and weave in your keywords, the headline can be very powerful.

4.  Keep it short and sweet. The ‘perfect’ headline is only 65 characters long.  That’s about 5-6, one and two-syllable words.  Read the headline out loud or visualize it on the front page of your favorite newspaper; would you want to read more if it caught your eye on the newsstand?

5. Use power words. Marketers have a long list of persuasive words that encourage action. Some of the most effective include:  win, inspire, lose, earn, learn, find, compete, sell, surprise and avoid. Can you use any of these as the lead to your headline?

Play around with your headlines this week to freshen up your article and attract more attention.  Have any tips of your own?  Share them below!

Question of the Week: What’s Your Writing Goal for February?

In Writing for AC on February 1, 2009 at 9:00 am

How many articles do you plan to write this month?  Have you set a goal, or are you waiting for the creative engines to kick in?

I’m a big supporter of mapping out my goals each week so I can visualize exactly what I want to accomplish.  This strategy helps me focus at the beginning of each day and turns the project into a priority task.

My February goal:  at least 35 articles (non-C4C or Partner Content)

How many are you going to publish this month?

Share your goal in the comments below!

AC Nuggets: Fun February Holidays

In AC Nuggets, Writing Tips on January 22, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Having trouble coming up with unique article ideas?

Set your sights on any of these fun holidays coming up in February; get them in now so they enter the queue well before the end of the month!

February Is…

Making the Most of the AC Community

In Writing for AC on August 10, 2008 at 6:00 am

The AC Community is a great place to share your ideas, pick up tips on writing for AC and promote your work.  If you’re not already active on the forums, you can head over to the ‘General Discussions’ and ‘The Workshop’ for some great insights and input from veteran CPs. 

Checking in with the AC Community at least once per week will keep you in touch with the latest news on AC, feedback from content managers and give you a chance to learn from other CPs. 

Here are some other ways to make the most of the AC Community:

  1. Introduce yourself!  If you’ve recently joined AC, don’t be shy about introducing yourself in the ‘Newbie’ section.   Get involved with the AC community with a positive start, and post some information about yourself.  Many CPs will post back for your official ‘AC Welcome!’
  2. Engage in constructive criticism.  Avoid getting caught in negativity on the forums, especially if you’re just starting out.  If you have some constructive criticism to share, feel free to post but be prepared for sometimes ‘too honest’ feedback on your work as well.  
  3. Tune in for Sam’s Happy Hour.
    Read the rest of this entry »

AC Nuggets – Article Ideas List for the ‘Best of AC’ Awards

In AC Nuggets on August 6, 2008 at 6:00 am

AC’s recent announcement of the Best of AC Awards has hundreds of CPs researching away on the month’s key topics:  Back to School, Entertainment and the Olympics 2008. 

If you’re anxious to win but can’t drum up any article ideas, here’ s a list of topics and headlines to help you get started with the Back to School and Entertainment categories:

Back to School Topics

  1. Tips on Buying Back to School Supplies in (your city)
  2. How to Prepare Your Child for their First Back to School Season
  3. Ways to Get Up Early for Back to School Season
  4. Top Ten Ways to Save Money on Back to School Shopping
  5. How to Avoid the Crowds for Back to School Shopping in (your city)
  6. Top Fashion Trends for Tweens – Back to School 2008
  7. Top Fashion Trends for Teenage Boys – Back to School 2008
  8. How to Prepare Preschoolers for Back to School Season
  9. Healthy Lunch Choices for Back to School Season
  10. How to Save Money on Back to School Clothing

Entertainment Topics

  1. Top Five Family Comedy Shows for Fall 2008
  2. Top 10 New Shows on NBC for Fall 2008
  3. Top 10 New Shows on CBS for Fall 2008
  4. Top 10 New Shows on ABC for Fall 2008
  5. Best Disney Movie Releases for Fall 2008
  6. Best Cartoon Movie Releases for Fall and Winter 2008
  7. Top Six Reality TV Shows to Look Out for in Fall 2008
  8. Where to Find an IMAX Theater in (your town)
  9. Where to Catch Broadway Shows in (your town)
  10. Top Fashion Trends from High School Musical

Make sure your article is searchable and uses at least 2-3 keywords or keyphrases related to your topic; it’s an easy way to snag a spot on the front page of features!

More information about the Awards can be found here:  The Best of AC Awards



Writing Tips – 7 Reasons Why Twitter is a Great Tool for Writers

In Writing Tips on August 2, 2008 at 8:00 am

Have you joined the Twitterati yet?

Twitter has become an increasingly popular social media application that lets you post nuggets of information – your ‘Tweets’ – at random moments of the day.

If you’re already blogging, you’ll find Twitter to be a great addition to your online publishing antics.

If you’re a newbie to Twitter’s micro-blogging service, give it a whirl and sharpen your writing skills in the process.


Read up on the Seven Reasons Why Twitter is a Great Tool for Writers.

You can also join me on Twitter at

Go on, Tweet your heart out 🙂

Writing Tips: Staying Motivated to Keep On, Keeping On…

In Writing Tips on April 8, 2008 at 6:00 am

Some days the words just flow and you fill up those pages with plenty of great ideas. Other days may leave you with a blank page and a blinking cursor waiting in anticipation for that next clever word.

If you need some motivation to keep on, keeping on, turn to the writing masters of days gone by for a few pointers.

Here are some quotes from a few notable writers; scribble them down or commit them to memory and give your creative spirit a nudge:

“It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.” Robert Benchley

“Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it, and above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light.”Joseph Pulitzer

“The act of writing is the act of discovering what you believe.”David Hare

“To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music that words make.”Truman Capote

“What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.” Samuel Johnson

“When I sit down at my writing desk, time seems to vanish. I think it’s a wonderful way to spend one’s life.” -Erica Jong

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” – Rudyard Kipling

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”Ben Franklin

“Write only if you cannot live without writing. Write only what you alone can write.”Elie Wiesel

“I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at nine o’clock every morning.” Peter de Vries, writer and satirist for the New Yorker

Have a quote of your own to share? Post it below!

Writing Tips: Finding Unique Topics to Write About

In AC Nuggets, Writing Tips on February 21, 2008 at 7:00 am

Unless you’re sitting down with a list of topics you want to tackle, it can be challenging to come up with unique and interesting article ideas – especially those that haven’t already been covered on the web, or on Associated Content.

It’s always a good idea to do a simple ‘search’ on AC AND Google to find out which angles have already been covered. This not only lowers the risk of plagiarized copy, but also makes it easier to take a completely fresh approach to your idea. You can still read other people’s work to pick up key points, but you’ll need to come up with something entirely different after that.

Here are some simple ways to brainstorm that list of read-worthy titles:

Read the rest of this entry »

Writing Tips: 11 Rules of Writing + Brushing Up on Grammar

In Writing Tips on February 3, 2008 at 6:00 am

Struggling with colons, commas, and that challenging participial phrase?

Still don’t know what a participial phrase is?

Read up on the 11 Rules of Writing from Junket Studies, a quick primer on writing basics. You can click on each rule to see some great examples on the most common mistakes made in writing both online and offline.

And if you need to brush up on some grammar, check out Webgrammar’s insights on using ‘who’, ‘whom’, and how to diagram those pesky sentences.

Of course, there’s also a fun way of getting your lessons. Read up on everything you need to know with the Top Ten Schoolhouse Rock Videos, courtesy of Roy Barnes.