The most important question to ask yourself when you create any content is who it’s for. Who is your audience? What do they hope to learn? What are they expecting you to say? What promise have you made in the title? And more than anything, what do you expect them to do as a result of having read, listened to, or watched what you’ve created.
When you write an article, you must ask yourself the same thing. Many people will tell you that you need to aim your writing at the level of an eight year old. No one will tell you if that’s because your reader can’t comprehend anything more complicated than that, or if kids of that age are so much more mature that they read at a higher level than in past generations.
In a way, it doesn’t matter. That’s because your target market may not be those who are eight years old or who are limited by that degree of understanding.
But, it does illustrate the fact that you have to decide in advance who you are writing for, rather than accepting the advice of others. You know your target market better than anyone else, and it is you who needs to think about them when you create anything for them.
There are four types of articles that you can write: those that explain what, how, why, or that offer an opinion. Which one you choose will depend more than anything else on your level of skill.
Most people start by writing “what” articles. It takes a certain amount of practice to write good articles, and writing about ““what” without any other complication is the simplest thing to do. However, you can’t allow yourself to get stuck there. Get the hang of what you’re doing, and then move on. Most people know about what to do already. It’s the “how” and the “why” that baffles them.
When you explain how to do something, you’re helping people to put into practice what you told them they needed to do. Articles like this start to separate the different levels of expertise. Many more people can explain what to do, than how to do it. And so when you offer an effective explanation, you demonstrate that you have a higher level of expertise.
“Why” questions take you to an even higher level. Most people never get around to asking why they should do anything. That’s because it requires a different level of thinking. Many people don’t care. But that’s a mistake, because to ask why amounts to the same thing; just from a different angle. Instead of saying, “I don’t care,” the article is saying, “This is why you should care.”” You can probably see the power in that.
The last type of article is an opinion piece. It’s a way of asking “why not?” Such articles show your ability to think through an idea. Even fewer people can do that, but those who can prove that they have insight. Only experts do.