The Perfect Article Checklist

You've probably noticed when reading articles online; there is a considerable difference between the good and the bad. And I'm not talking about the content itself, but the writing. The writer's voice, ability to tie together points, transition smoothly between thoughts, or even spelling and grammar.

There is a lot that goes into creating a good piece of writing. And it's so easy to make mistakes from focusing on the wrong things. 

These are the main components of a great article you should keep in mind while writing.

By applying the above checklist, you will always create a great article, I promise. It is that simple; it just takes practice and persistence. Let's go through each step of the checklist.

Start With a Great Topic People Want to Read

As simple as it sounds, this is one of the most critical components of an article. You'd be surprised how difficult this can be to consider. What people want to read about will vary by topic, audience, industry, and more -- there are tons of topics out there that could be relevant for your audience.

Let's say you write for a travel blog about Tokyo. You could write about "yakiniku" (yakiniku is grilled meat, a delicious meal in Japan). You might choose to write about what yakiniku is. While it would be great information for those who don't know, the vast majority of your readers probably want just a bit of info and then places where they can find the best yakiniku to eat  -- plus stories about your wonderful experiences there.

Or take this site, for example. It's about writing articles. But as you can imagine, that isn't incredibly compelling. There are many books, courses, and more on this topic available. So what makes this site different?

Think about it for a minute. Why is the topic of this site is something people want to read? Why are you reading it right now?

You can probably guess it's the framing of the topic. It's about using AI tools to create an efficient workflow so you can craft content quickly without worrying about things like grammar or SEO -- a topic many content creators would love to learn more about, especially if they are strapped for time or trying to find an edge over the competition.

This is why it's difficult -- you have to be intimately aware of your reader and their interests. Surprisingly enough, it's easy to lose touch with the audiences you write for.

This is also where SEO keyword tools fail writers. You'll find a low competition keyword that seems to have significant search volume and jump on it. Then after probably hours of work, it's online, and nobody wants to read it. 

Before you start writing about anything, take a moment to at ask yourself, "would I want to read about this?" If yes, and you're honest with yourself, go for it. 

Have a Great Hook That Pulls the Reader In

This step is crucial as it's the first impression your work will make after the title. If you have a hook that pulls the reader in, they understand what it's about immediately and hopefully are more likely to continue into your article.

Of course, the hook is essential, but how do you write one?

It starts by looking at the title and thinking "what is the purpose of this article?" What do you think the reader expects when they land on your article for the first time?

If you answer that in a few sentences, you are well on your way. Let's take this dojo, for instance. I want to teach you how to use AI tools to quickly and efficiently create content. Right at the start is a hook, it goes something like this:

"For the small entrepreneurs, the side-hustlers... the writers, bloggers, SEO's... [...] this AI-assisted content workflow will give you content creation superpowers."

If you're here to gain content creation superpowers, this hook would grab you. This is a unique topic for the right audience.

Now, the hook is just one part of your article. It's the beginning, and it's very critical to grab a reader's attention. But you also need to follow up with equally great content focusing on your one main topic.

Focus on One Central Point

There are a few reasons why your article should focus on one main point. 

First, it makes it easier for the reader to complete your article. Having too much information can turn off some readers, so focusing on one central point and keeping it simple is the right approach. 

Second, it makes your article easier to organize. Look at that one main point and think about what else must be addressed, what might be missing, or anything else that could be relevant.

Finally, for SEO reasons. You want Google to understand precisely the topic you're writing about and not get confused... or dilute your rank. Try not to go off on tangents and keep your one main point at the forefront.

I've seen too many articles where it's practically three mini-articles with slightly different topics. At best, Google will treat each mini-article as a passage and rank it separately. Most likely, the overall article will never rank and will be unsatisfying for your readers.

Well Researched and Thoroughly Answers the Intent of the Reader

This is an essential concept to keep in mind when crafting your articles. If you don't do your research, your article won't be relevant. You won't have the right facts, stories, or examples to back up claims or gain trust. If your article doesn't answer your reader's questions, it will get low engagement and likely never be read.

The key here is matching the reader's intent, aka their expectation. From our previous example about Tokyo, if the reader is looking for delicious all-you-can-eat yakiniku restaurants in Tokyo for a family of six and your article is about "what yakiniku is," the mismatch is going to push away the reader.

Make sure your article thoroughly meets the reader's intent, and you'll improve your chances of a successful article. One way to help meet intent is to back up any claims in your writing. 

Back Up Any Claims with Facts, Studies, Stories, or Examples

While you can probably get away without doing this in your articles, you should back up your claims if you want the absolute best outcome. Give your reader a reason to trust you. 

But how do you do this?

It starts with digging deep into the topic, knowing it inside and out, and coming up with relevant facts, studies, examples, and stories. If you are knowledgeable about a topic, you can quickly back up claims. You know where to look and can even share your own stories based on real experience. 

It's important to look at the topic and find a relevant angle from which you can back up your claims. Let's go back to the Tokyo yakiniku example; if you know the area very well (and I mean like grew up there) and had been eating yakiniku for years, it's easy to come up with examples. You know where the best joints are and have stories about them.

You can also use Frase's excellent tools to insert quotes from source material in your article -- including citation -- in one click. The research side will also bring a lot of information to your fingertips; helping you use facts to backup your claims.

Up next, you need to be sure you are giving your reader actionable tasks they can take away from your article. 

Clear Takeaways for the Reader to Implement - Compassion for the Reader

This is the part of your article where you get to teach the reader something. An opportunity to share with your readers a unique solution for a problem they may be facing or recommend a product or service they can use.

This is also likely the primary reason the reader is even reading your article in the first place. They have a problem or want to learn something, and you have the solution.

Don't shroud it in a fluffy, overdressed article forcing the reader to study it like there will be an exam on it later.

If you don't have something new to teach or share, your content isn't unique and likely gets lost among other articles and information online. If there's enough excellent content online about that topic, how will yours stand out? Teaching could be in multiple forms, videos, PDFs, etc., it needs to be something that adds value to your reader's life.

And then make it a beautiful reading experience for them. 

Beautiful Use of Images/Screenshots, Video, Use of Color, Typography, White Space...

In this case, beautiful means careful. Every photo, color, spacing, font, and more have been thought through and intentionally used. 

You probably know this already, but your images can almost be as important as the article itself. The saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" comes down to considering what you write and how it relates to the imagery you're choosing to use for your articles. 

If you take the time to put together a beautiful article, it will give your reader a second glance and keep them engaged throughout. I'm sure you've appreciated a well-designed article while reading before.

There's more to it than just picking a good theme. I'll discuss this more in the publishing phase of the workflow. The most important reason for a beautiful reading experience is to make it easy to skim without missing something.

Easy to Read/Skim Through - Short, Conversational Sentences

Less is often more with design. The human eye can process more information at a glance if the content is beautifully crafted. 

Short and sweet with plenty of white space. That's what I want for every article I look at on the internet. It should be the mantra for your writing. Not that your article should be short, but the paragraphs and sentences should be quick and conversational.

This makes them easy to read, no matter the device your reader is using. And also easy to skim through. 

Pro tip: write your sub-headings as if they were stand-alone headlines. Why? Because in the future, Google will be indexing passages from articles. These sub-headings may become what is shown in the search results. A good sub-heading could improve click-throughs  improving traffic to your site.

Carefully use bold, and italics where it fits and you want to draw the reader's attention to. And don't forget to add flow by adding transitions between thoughts. 

Create Flow With Transitions Between Thoughts

Transitions are a very important step in your article. The best articles flow seamlessly from one topic to the next. This allows the reader to flow naturally with the thoughts you're putting out there and understand how they are related.

It can be as simple as adding a sentence with a keyword from the next section. Such as, interactivity is often an afterthought when writing articles.

Interactive elements to communicate with the reader

Interactive elements are tools to help your reader either engage, learn or take action. They're also great if you want to collect some data for your article. 

Most often, interactive elements are forms asking the reader for something. The key is to make them easily digestible and include a "call-to-action" that tells your reader what you want them to do next.

You should have a real reason for requesting the feedback, too — which we'll discuss from time-to-time, primarily in the publish phase of the workflow.

You'll want to make sure your article is SEO optimized and renders great on mobile devices. 

SEO optimized enough to be found online

Most of your traffic will come from search engines. It's critical to make sure your article is found online. But there is a delicate balance between what you include in your article and what might be of interest to search engines.

You want a unique and interesting article that has a lot of value to the reader. You also want it to catch the eye of a search engine.

Frase's AI research tools will take this burden off you and is built into the workflow taught in this dojo. Frase is the best way to optimize your articles for SEO. It allows you to write and gives you the keywords to mention effectively. It makes it so easy you almost don't have to worry about it.

The best way to do SEO is ... to not worry about it!

Optimized for Mobile

Finally, the checklist's last item is to make sure your site loads and runs well on small mobile screens. 

There's a good chance the majority of your readers will be coming to your site from their phones. You need to make sure the website will load fast and is easy to use on a smaller screen.

I've seen websites where the site's mobile version is a different layout and design than the desktop version.

Don't do this. It creates more work for you and probably leaves the mobile reader with less functionality.  Both the desktop and mobile versions should be essentially the same.

Because you'll be publishing all of your articles directly to WordPress, it makes it a lot easier to handle — and the theme I'll show you is already mobile-ready. 

Alright, it's time. Let's start working on that AI-assisted workflow you've heard all about. It begins with finding an idea to write about. But before that, let's go over the whole workflow real fast, then we will get into the details.