The first requirement of writing marketable articles is that you must choose a timely topic that creates a lot of interest. No matter how well you write the article, its subject must zero in on the publication’s readership. That is the primary basis on which editors judge quality marketable content—is the article of interest to the editor’s target readership?
How to create interest
Creating interest in your article depends on three elements:
1. Subject matter of the facts, events or information
2. Manner in which they are related
3. Type of reader.
Of these three, you must consider the first element as most important because of the utilitarian nature of the writing. The second element simply adds to or detracts interest of the subject matter. If you decide to freelance for a newspaper or online news site, then the third element may be beyond your control. If you decide to freelance for a magazine, trade journal, or a niche website, you can usually choose your audience and write directly to certain echelons of readers.
Nearly every person wants to feed their desire to know what is going on around them. They peruse the Internet, read the newspaper, watch T.V., and text message their friends to stay alert on current trends, events and news. They are interested in things that are happening now, or this morning, or before they go to bed.
The fact that the event “just happened” is sufficient to interest most persons. We live in the present. The events of today, or even this hour as you read this, continually crowd out yesterday’s events from our minds. One of the first elements of interest, therefore, is timeliness.
The average reader is more interested in events that take place near him than those at a distance. The fact that a burglar entered a house on your street and stole $500 worth of lingerie is much more interesting than reading about a crazy person robbing $10,000 from a bank in another city.
The wreck of a neighbor’s Rolls Royce keeps us talking much longer than a massive train wreck in Russia. The average person is more interested in things going on around him—things happening to persons he knows or near places he knows. He has little interest left for events occurring at a distance or elsewhere. The more distant the event, the less interesting it is. As you can see, distance is an important factor affecting one’s interest.
Events that “touch”
The average reader is more interested in events that take place near him largely because they touch his life somehow, in some way. In a similar way, any event, nearby or far away, that affects his life will interest him immediately. An oil spill in Iraq may interest us only mildly, but if it raises local gas prices, then we begin to talk about it at once. The event—the rise of gas prices—is not only near, but it affects us personally.
The average person is more interested in the election of a new mayor for his town than a bear attack seven states away. In the mind of this person, he views the election of a new mayor as someone who may lower taxes and re-pave the roads. Since this type of interest—”events that touch”—exists in everyone, as writers, we can interest readers with any event, near or far, that “touches” their personal lives.
Know your reader
To judge the real value or interest in any event, you need to know for whom you are writing. For example, if you were to write for business people, you wouldn’t talk about the same things writing for soccer moms; and young lawyers are not interested in the same things as car mechanics. You can best judge the value of your subjects by studying the publication for which you are writing or by studying what competing publications have been publishing. Another way is to seek subjects and events related to the things that people are talking about.