Every week I receive many submissions from people wanting to write for Flying Solo. This is hugely exciting for me. I love being able to give small business owners and soloists a chance to both show off their expertise to our large readership and grow their profile as well. Many of our writers have gone on to write for other large online publications, further expanding their reach and influence.
I also love the variety of lived experiences our readers are able to access via writers who are hugely generous when it comes to being vulnerable about the challenges they’ve faced.
But I also know that for every person who submits an article to us for consideration, there are another 10 people out there thinking I’d love to write for Flying Solo, but:
- I’m too scared of being rejected.
- I’m not a good enough writer.
- I don’t have anything interesting to say.
So, today, I’d love to ease your mind. I’m going to lay out exactly what we’re looking for when it comes to contributions. And if you have an idea for an article, I’m even going to give you a template to write to.
What we’re looking for
The main things we want to access are our writers’ lived experiences as a business owner.
- Have you recovered from a major business disaster?
- Did you make mistakes that cost your business a lot of money?
- Did you take a risk and learn something about yourself in the process.
In other words, have you learned a thing or two over the course of your business life (no matter how short or long)? Would fellow soloists and small business owners benefit from those things you’ve learned? Then we’d love you to write an article sharing those things.
How do you write such an article?
Here’s a template for how the most popular articles on our website tend to be structured:
- A HEADLINE that hooks the reader
Other writers might argue this point, but I truly believe crafting a great headline from the outset makes writing your article much easier than starting with no headline at all. Why? Because a great headline makes a promise your article needs to deliver on, and in doing so, creates boundaries. Without the boundaries provided by that great headline, you could write about … anything, really. And you will find that paralysing.
How do you write a great headline?
These two great articles give more tips that I could ever outline here:
• 30+ Ultimate Headline Formulas for Tweets, Posts, Articles, and Emails (via Buffer)
• 10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work (via Copyblogger)
- An INTRODUCTION that keeps them reading
So you’ve gotten the reader to go beyond the headline (something only 20% of readers ever do) and they’re reading your article. Congrats! But now you’re on borrowed time. Your intro has to hook them in, get them interested and convince them it’s going to be worth their while to keep reading.
The best way to do the above? Tell a story.
When I wrote the article Busy but broke: why don’t I have any money? I kicked off by sharing about the years my business never had any money in the bank despite the fact that we were flat out all the time. Many small business owners and soloists connected with the ‘pain’ of that story because it’s their pain too. And thus, they kept reading in the hope that I’d found an answer to that problem!
- A BODY that delivers a big payoff
So you’ve made your big promise (headline) and convinced the reader that you’ve both experienced the same pain as them, and have an antidote for that pain (via your introduction). Now it’s time to deliver the payoff for the reader.
The main body of your article will usually outline a number of tips, delivered via a sub-heading followed by an explanatory paragraph. If you refer to my Busy but broke article you’ll see I offer three sub-headings explaining where my business was going wrong, and each sub-head was accompanied by a highly practical paragraph sharing ‘how I fixed things’.
For an article to really hit it out of the park, it’s so important to show the reader how you did something rather than tell them to do it. For example, instead of telling the readers of my Busy but broke article ‘you need to make your business model more viable’, it was much more powerful that I showed them exactly how we made our business model viable.
For the main body of your article to truly pay off for the reader, they should be nodding at each point you make and thinking ‘Yes, I can see how I can put that into action in my own business’.
- A CONCLUSION that inspires them to action
I’ll admit, this bit is almost harder than the introduction to write. But it’s worth spending some time on because if the reader finishes your article and feels immediately inspired to go and do the things you’ve suggested, chances are they’ll want to share your article with friends who are experiencing the same struggles.
The good news is, you don’t have to go all Tony Robbins on people to inspire them to action. I finish my Busy but broke article by gently reminding the reader that:
It’s very disheartening to be working your butt off day in, day out and not see this reflected in your bank account. I hope the above has provided you with some food for thought, and also some very practical ideas you can activate quick smart.
And that’s it. A proven formula for writing articles that connect deeply with the reader
But … what if you’re not a very good writer?
I’ve always believed that if you can talk, then you can write.
If you’ve taken the time to build an article that fits the structure I’ve outlined above, and it’s something that will benefit our readers, I’m always willing to take the time needed to help you refine it 🙂
So what have you got to lose?
Then get busy putting pen to paper. I can’t wait to share your valuable experiences with our readers!
Some additional resources that might come in handy:
- Great general writing tips from Sam Leader
- The guest post I wrote for Copyblogger that outlines the steps I take when assessing articles.
- The Busy but broke article I referenced above, marked up to highlight some of the key points mentioned above.