- Aim to perform an in depth investigation into a topic – trying to expose facts which will generate a reaction from your readers
- Unearthing sensational facts can be difficult, expensive and time consuming. It is wise to concentrate on a blog style article which, if you can find fresh information and write about it in a sensational manner, will capture your reader’s attention.
- Remember the importance of good taste – make sure your article would not anger racial, religious or vulnerable groups.
- Try and include anecdotes, quotes or statistics
- Remember to write from a factual point of view, rather than your own opinion.
- When writing explanatory articles follow the following guideline – state your point, expand upon this with supportive evidence and conclude with a summary relating to your initial statement.
A core underpinning of Crowdpondent is the idea that anyone with a smartphone, or even without, can become a journalist. However, this is a duty that carries a great deal of responsibility. And although we wanted to create a platform open to everyone, the content still needs to be great and reliable journalism.
So how will we ensure quality while also retaining openness? Crowdpondent College.
Currently, our educational institution has three main components. Firstly, aside from our extensive written guides, we are producing a series of informative yet concise video tutorials. These cover all aspects of the journalistic process and teach writers how to achieve the standard of content we are after. This is secondly in tandem with rigorous and personalised feedback from our Crowdpondent Support team. And lastly, we have a fantastic and international community of writers who share tips and advice.
But this is a fraction of what we wish to achieve. In conjunction with our app, we will be able to have a much more comprehensive, and, most importantly, compulsory training course. People we will only be able to publish once they have passed our assessments and thoroughly understand the type of content we demand, our code of conduct and our ethical standards. All for absolutely free, of course. Anyone will be able to sign up.
Everyone wants to harvest the ripe fruits of quality journalism, but few are willing to plant the seeds. It is this long-term vision that shall help us crowdsource consistent, reliable and high quality content from across the planet. With this model, we have no limit.
The Crowdpondent Writer's Guide
As you may be aware, our website is open to everyone – whether you’re an experienced journalist, a keen blogger or you just want to get your message out there. We simply ask that your pieces don’t exceed 300 words, don’t plagiarise others and don’t contain any expletives or abusive language. The rest is up to you.
In order to make the most out of these 300 words, however, we have created this guide that is also under 300 words. These quick tips should help you refine your writing and become an excellent crowdpondent. So remember to:
Be clear. Would you want to read a badly written article? We obviously don’t expect Nobel prize-winning literature (it would be nice though) but clarity is essential. When writing, think to yourself: What am I trying to say? Have I expressed myself clearly? Rereading your work out loud is surprisingly helpful.
Be snappy. There is no time for rambling or irrelevant content. Get straight to the point.
Be structured. Capture your reader’s interest first, then expand on your content and end with a persuasive conclusion. Don’t loose your idea to bad structure.
Be original. Always cite the original source of quotes and don’t be afraid to get your own. Just tell them you are writing for Crowdpondent. Your readers deserve high quality and original content.
Be fair. We do not want slanderous or petty journalism. You should never distort the facts or incite an unfair opinion against someone. Before writing anything, always be sure the truth is on your side.
Remember this advice and your articles will thrive. For an interesting piece on writing clarity, read George Orwell’s essay Politics and the English Language. Now go and write about any topic, in any format!
Images are crucial for attracting readers and visualising important aspects of your article. They can even help with search engine optimisation. But how can you get the best one?
Choosing an image: Your image will be what represents your article on Crowdpondent. It must therefore be relevant, good quality and, if possible, interesting. Try and pick an interesting element of your article that visualises well. Avoid using just a flag or logo. If you have a photo you have taken, and it is relevant, then preferably use that. Be sure, however, that the photo you select is at least 700 pixels wide and 500 pixels tall. And unless you purchase the copyright, it must also be licensed for reuse.
Finding an image: It is surprisingly easy to find high quality, copyright friendly images online. Flickr and Wikipedia, for instance, have a wealth of such images. But rather than looking for one manually, simply use Google Images. Just enter what you are searching for, then go to Search tools, click on Usage rights and select ‘Labeled for reuse’. Then your image search will be refined to images you are free to republish elsewhere.
Captioning your image: If the licensing requires you to credit someone, then do it in the caption (not the title). You should also briefly describe the image in this. This helps explains the image to your reader and can improve performance on search engines.
Uploading your image: Be sure to give your image file an appropriate name, with all the relevant words. This also helps with your performance on search engines. Then enter the caption in ‘Caption’ section of the image upload interface.
Finding the right image can be tricky at first, but you will soon get the hang of it
Here are some tips to help you maximise your the readership of your articles.
Sharing on your personal social media: This first step is pretty obvious. You should share it with your ‘offline’ friends and social media companions. Don’t just make generic Facebook posts - say why you wrote the article. Be sure to remind people to rate your piece as well. Indeed, if any friends have a particular interest in the subject you have written about, personally ask them to read it and give you their thoughts!
Sharing on forums and reader communities: Reddit has over eighty billion hits every month, with thousand ‘subreddits’ about specific topics. Most people are there to look at interesting content so why not give them some? The others are there to debate and engage in an issue. Why not give them something to talk about? There are thousands of other such social media platforms, and depending on the topic, you should get as involved as possible. You may already be members of forums and other websites. Be sure not to spam them, however, simply engage them with your article.
Search Engine friendly titles: People have dedicate their entire careers to SEO, you don’t need to be one of them. Just be sure your title has relevant keywords from your article. For instance, some recent articles spoke about UNESCO and Israel, so it is crucial that those words appear in the title. It may seem self-explanatory, but it needs to be done regardless. Try and minimise words like ‘a’ and ‘the’ - Google doesn’t care for such words!
Write articles that people want to share: One of the most overlooked ways of boosting your hits is simply writing a good article. It doesn’t always work on its own, but your article definitely won’t perform well if it’s dull or badly written. But you shouldn’t just pander to the most common public opinion - such is the dirty work of politicians. Follow your instinct, your belief, and write a well written and convincing article. This is the absolute foundation of any respectable and successful online piece. And the foundation of a successful and respectable website for that matter. The better you do, the better we do. And the better we do, the better you do.
Below is a small guide on how to write different types of articles. Do let us know if you need help or want more information on the following types or if there is something else you want us to add.
Entitled ‘How to…’ ‘What to…’ ‘When to…etc – perhaps informal, casual style but giving instruction
- Choose one of the above and introduce it, explaining to the reader the purpose of the text – How to choose a dinner wine, for example.
- Get straight to the point. Avoid long sentences. Perhaps use bullet points or numbering or even embolden phrases you wish to highlight. Keep it simple. Avoid ‘flowery’ language.
- Consider different ways of conveying a point – Eg statistics, percentages rather than just writing ‘a lot’ or ‘many.’ This keeps a reader’s interest.
- Be clear, yet specific without generalising. (Eg talking about red meat for our dinner wine example – identify them, beef, lamb etc)
- Conclude by summarising your piece – what the reader should have learnt – reinforce your message
A CRITICAL REVIEW
Analysing the effectiveness of someone else’s article / book / film etc
- Is the original piece – logical / credible / appealing to emotion – does it portray these effectively?
- Focus your piece on one of the above three themes or examine the author’s overall performance – is it structured / well researched?
- Provide a balanced argument –positives and negatives
- Do not write in an active voice, eg I think…
- Conclude with a final judgement
OPINION ARTICLES - YOUR VIEWS
Expressing YOUR views on a topical event or item of news.
- Get straight to the point – Make the reader care for your cause and sum up what you think needs to be done.
- Try and give the reader a focus to remember, an interest – perhaps back up a statement with an interesting fact or example
- Make sure your facts are accurate and relevant
- Convince the reader as to why he should care about your topic – try and be persuasive
- Use an active voice rather than a passive one – Eg, I think…
- Provide a solution / conclusion to your article – a strong outcome
Possibly a ‘how to…’ but with a more personal feel – “How to become more confident, for example. Think – encourage –motivation – give hope – lift spirits
- Keep the reader interested with a simple, personal and honest account – you need to portray strong emotional feeling
- Play up the significance of key moments – pluck at reader’s heart strings
- Tailor your message to no more than 300 words – make it relevant
- Use engaging language –descriptive words rather than rambling statements. Help your readers visualise the scene
- End with a message – either a simple lesson, a moral, (the importance of family and friends, for example) – something enlightening the readers can take away
HUMAN INTEREST ARTICLES
An article about a person or issues which attracts people’s interest in a general way – perhaps poignant – written in an emotional manner
- Focus on a person or animal concentrating on the emotion behind the situation they’re in. Example – a lady who has run 20 marathons in one month – why? What makes her tick?
- Identify the emotion you wish to convey. Is it a motivational piece or recounting a tragedy perhaps?
- Think about why you wish to write the piece – Do you wish to highlight an injustice, create sympathy or bring attention to an important issue?
- Keep your narrative clear, factual and without bias
- Choose your words carefully –avoid industry specific jargon
- Use descriptive story telling language – (Eg – The setting sun painted the sky with beautiful red, orange and yellow hues – sounds better than the sun was setting. In other words, appeal to your reader, allow him to imagine he was there.
- Conclude with a summary of your story – either the emotional punch or the end result of the emotional story elements – (Eg a mother being reunited with her lost daughter after her efforts to find her following a disaster)
Similar to our guide on informative articles – See Point 3 – but concentrating on an historical event.
- Consider what you want your article to do? Do you wish to provide an explanation as to why an event happened (or didn’t happen)? Do you wish to evaluate an event and provide a judgement? Do you wish to argue a debate and justify it?
- Set the scene with a strong first sentence – create the interest and outline the purpose of your article
- Make sure your article has a clear structure – points follow on logically and link well as opposed to sounding like a list of events.
- Check your facts. Ensure times, dates, places are accurate, nothing is ambiguous and don’t confuse secondary information (reported information from others) In short, take time to check that evidence you submit is true, accurate and factual.
- Conclude your article by summarising your argument and key points. Make sure your conclusion reflects the outline in your introduction.
HUMOROUS OR SATIRICAL ARTICLES
Satire means bringing attention to an issue by combining criticism and humour. It can be a difficult type of writing to get right as a) will readers share your sense of humour? and b) it’s more difficult to convey satire through writing than in speech as with speech you can interact with an audience, gesture and promote body language.
- Choose a topical current event / celebrity interview / news item and try and highlight inconsistencies / hypocrisy / something that gets you angry.
- Help your readers see things from a different point of view by poking fun ie, using words and humour to encourage people to change the way they think or act.
- Try and make the reader laugh – use irony – (highlight a difference between what is said and meant)
- Understand the difference between poking fun at someone or something and being offensive. Good taste is essential here, ie make sure your writing would not anger racial, religious or vulnerable groups. Remember our rule about not using expletives or offensive language.
A piece of writing which aims to explain or expose – perhaps providing a surprise, a shock or revelation. For example – “FIFA officials took £55 million in bribes,” would be a topical issue which could provide a relevant article Expository articles could also be similar to informative articles, eg, How to… See Point 3