Posting a Story
Publishing your story to NowPublic is easy once you've understood how we define news, keywords and trends, our Top 10 Must-dos, and a few of the other finer points of the biz. In case you're the kind of person who likes a bit more detail, we've also gone the extra mile below to spell out exactly how we'd like to see the story present from top to bottom.
Not to belabour the point, but did we mention that Web readers have the attention span of a gnat and therefore if your lead paragraph is a whole lot of throat clearing and backing into the subject and more about you than what they're looking for, they'll be out of there faster than you can say "missed opportunity"? Our point is, get to the point and make sure the keywords in your title and subtitle appear here too, otherwise the headlines won't connect with the material that follows.
If you were riding an elevator and someone said, "What is your article about?" and you had two floors to answer, what would you say? That's the lede. We know you'll want to set the scene and offer some background, but resist that urge. If you boiled the 600 words down to 50 what would they be? Now write that.
Make them want to read it. Hit the highlights and imply there is more valuable information coming that can't be missed. "Burying the lead" is when you spend 5 paragraphs talking about a resort location and its amenities and the menu and then in the 6th paragraph tell readers it was blown up today by militant terrorists killing 100 people and no transit in or out of the country is possible due to a lockdown. That's the lede.
Articles should be minimum 250 words in length, but that's really short and more to accompany a video or slideshow, so we'd prefer at least 400 and we won't let you post anything longer than 600 in order to save you from yourself and loss of focus. Online readers rarely stick with something longer than this, or go to a subsequent page, so think small and interlinked rather than long and scroll-happy.
Remember the keywords lesson? We weren't kidding. Articles should be targeted around one or two keyword phrases to optimize the likelihood of being found by readers searching with them. You may be saying to yourself, "How can I, an artist, and serious journalist, be expected to write a story in such cramped quarters?" Trust us, you can do it.
This is haiku journalism - small brushstrokes, big impact. Just as the short story is harder to write than the novel due to its smaller canvas, so too is the concise and focused article so don't take on the history of the western world, write an article on the history of a single building in that world. Under promise and over deliver. Oh, and keep paragraphs to 3 sentences or about 50 words. Don't write in huge blocks of intimidating text as this tends to put off the visually-challenged Web reader. Besides, you're usually on to a new idea by that time anyway.
Oh, and one more thing, don't write an article just to have an excuse to drive traffic to your own website by linking to it - this is flagrant self-promotion and our least favourite kind of faux-journalism. If you've written something really solid, readers will click your byline and see your website listed on your profile page.
Linking to other articles you've written on the same subject just makes common sense if you know your readers are interested in the subject matter. This does not mean linking to everything you've ever published on the subject on NowPublic or elsewhere, but directing your readers to the right page is like holding the door open for someone who's going down the same hall you are, it's just courteous.
Creating "content hubs" can be one of the best ways to increase your traffic. Think of articles like spokes in an umbrella that all connect in an arc to embrace what's beneath it. These hubs tell spiders and readers that you've got a hefty amount of information on every aspect of the subject and you're not afraid to share it.
When you are thinking about what words will become the link, ie the anchor text that the reader will click, be judicious. Don't go crazy - 1-3 words at most. Use nouns that describe what a reader will find there and verbs for what they'll do there. Vary the terms of your anchor text. Creating heaps of links with identical anchor text will quickly be detected as a link-building effort (i.e. not natural) and spiders hate it when you do this.
If your link-to-text ratio is off the charts, the page will be cluttered and will distract readers from the real content and the most valuable links. If you have a 600-word article, 5 links is plenty. It would be nice if you linked on NowPublic (internal) if we had relevant content to make the site "sticky," but there are one or two sites out there (external) that offer more than we can so link to the best and hopefully they'll return the favour some day.
To create a link to another page or an email address, highlight the text that will be underlined, ie your anchor text, and click on the globe-and-chain icon in your text editor toolbar above the body window. A new window will open allowing you to choose the link type, either the url or email format, from the drop-down menu. Next fill in the www address for the url or the email address with an @.
Formatting Your Story
The text editor tool bar sits above the body window and inputs code for links, bold, italics, and bulleted or numbered lists. Everything else will be stripped out before posting so don't even think about it. This is to insure design and brand continuity and to avoid going blind when looking at a grab bag of fonts and colours. The system is designed to put in paragraph breaks automatically. All you need to do is press your "enter/return" key to create a new paragraph.
To bold text simply highlight the designated text with your cursor and click the "B" on the tool bar. To italicize text, highlight the designated text with your cursor and click the "I" on the tool bar. To create a numbered list, highlight the block of designated text with your cursor and click the icon with 1, 2, 3 vertically in a square on the tool bar. This will add the numbers wherever you have separated items by one line return, ie a paragraph break. To create a bulleted list, highlight the block of designated text with your cursor and click the icon with three vertical bullets in a square on the tool bar. This will insert the bullets as above.
Previewing and Editing Stories
Copyediting and proofreading is a gift really. Not everyone can do it, and if you've just spent an hour writing, chances are you're going to miss the mistakes because your eye skips over them like a speed reader filling in the blanks. If you can lure someone over to the screen to read it for you and check spelling, grammar, and punctuation and typos, that's the way to go.
If your story looks good to go, hit Publish and you’re done! If you want to make changes, you can save a Draft or click the Edit Text tab. If you navigate away from your story or if something technically interrupts the publishing process, your story will be automatically saved as a draft. Click your most recent Stories, Photos, and Videos on your member page to retrieve, edit, and publish auto-saved drafts.
Most Discussed Forum Topics
- Status of Anon or "not verified" participants? in Promotion, Career & Community
13 recommendations | 42 posts
- We are launching a new flagging system in Editorial Policies, Guidelines & Advice
14 recommendations | 34 posts
- New Channel and Feature Pages in Editorial Policies, Guidelines & Advice
10 recommendations | 26 posts
- Highlight Masterclass in Technical Help
0 recommendations | 25 posts
- Downloading the new highlight tool in FireFox in Technical Help
0 recommendations | 22 posts