The Top 5 Things I Learned From Writing My First Article

An article by Jason S. Sullivan, 01/08/19

This article first appeared on LinkedIn.

I recently wrote and published my first article to LinkedIn. I loved doing it! It felt great to step out of my comfort zone and share. And, it was a learning experience, that’s for sure.

Here are 5 things I learned from my writing my first article.

Momentum is important

I didn’t think the second article would be harder. In my first article, I was candid and told people I wanted to be a writer. It was scary and exciting to share that!

Now, the secret is out. There’s some pressure (from myself) to keep going and do it better this time. It would easy to sit back and procrastinate.

You have to make time to write. I enjoy writing. Sometimes it’s fun. Sometimes it’s hard work.

Distractions are everywhere. Momentum is important. Don’t stop. Keep going. One word at a time.

A picture is worth a thousand words

Articles have pictures. It adds eye candy and personality. But, you can’t yank one from Google Images – or so I thought. So, right before I published this article, I learned something new.

Google makes it easy to filter images by “Usage Rights.” Some of the images on Google are “Labeled for reuse” – meaning, you can use the image.

Check out this CNET article, info from Google Support, and Creative Commons for more information.

You don’t want to steal someone else’s work. When in doubt, give proper credit to the author, photographer, or owner. People appreciate a proper shout-out.

I didn’t consider a picture in my first article. I also didn’t know how to get free pictures from the Internet – in a moral and legal way. I was in a hurry to meet a self-imposed deadline. I had to settle on an image that I found – don’t worry, I didn’t steal it.

In the future, I’d like to use my own images whenever possible.

It’s like juggling bowls of hot soup

Writing an article is more than a tweet or a blog post. It’s a different animal. It’s longer. It’s more formal. It’s move involved. I didn’t realize how many things you have to keep in mind.

Originality. Relevance. Timing. Likeability. Readability. Word choice. Word count. Headlines. Formatting. Style. Grammar. Spelling. Punctuation. Pictures. The list goes on.

It’s like juggling bowls of hot soup. My advice? Try not to spill the hot soup.

Comments, Likes, & Shares

I have to be honest – I didn’t get as many comments as I would have liked. This one might be the hardest lesson.

You want people to click on your article, read it, and engage with it. You want recognition and instant gratification. You want to be “liked.” It’s social media, after all.

It doesn’t always work that way. People are busy – and have a short attention span.

It has to be the perfect storm for people to even see it. The headline is crucial – if the headline doesn’t work, no one will click on it or read it. If they start reading it and it’s not engaging, people will lose interest and move on to something else.

And, there’s a ton of competition out there. Thousands of new articles, posts, tweets, pictures, videos, and updates on social media every day. Getting 2-3 minutes of someone’s time is hard. The Internet can be a cold, dark, wasteland of obscurity – and that’s on a good day.

It can be discouraging if you don’t get as much engagement as you would like. But, quality is better than quality. Don’t get me wrong – I got some great, great comments on my first article! Not a ton, but there were some great ones.

It takes guts

I didn’t realize how much of yourself goes into writing and sharing it with others. I’ve never published my writing to a broad audience. In fact, I haven’t shared much of my writing with anyone. Writing is personal. You put a piece of yourself out there when you write.

Whether it sinks, floats, or swims – it takes guts to put it out there. Be brave. Keep trying. Do it better next time. And, don’t give up.

Did you learn something from this article?

Share what you learned! If you didn’t learn something, give me one more chance. This type of article is called a “listicle” (combining the words list and article) – did you know that?

About the author – Jason S. Sullivan is an aspiring writer. Jason is working to build his writing, blogging, and social media experience. Connect with Jason on LinkedIn!

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