I used to think that writing news articles for BuzzFeed was going to be a cakewalk. I mean, it’s not like covering the police beat or anything just making up some clickbait headlines and throwing together some badly sourced lists!
I was wrong. There’s more to writing for the Internet than just writing: it’s about understanding how people read online, what they want from you (and why), and how your writing fits into all of that.
This can be hard if you’re used to writing long-form non-fiction essays or even short stories but there are tricks we can learn from working in this medium that will help us improve our own writing no matter what kind of project we’re working on. So let’s talk about them now:
|1. Understanding the Buzz: Learn how to craft captivating headlines and content that resonates with BuzzFeed’s diverse audience.|
|2. Embracing Virality: Explore the factors that contribute to content going viral on BuzzFeed and how to harness the power of social sharing.|
|3. Mastering Pitching: Understand the art of pitching articles to BuzzFeed Reader and increasing the chances of getting published.|
|4. Engaging the Readers: Discover techniques to keep readers hooked and engaged throughout your news articles.|
|5. Leveraging BuzzFeed’s Platform: Learn the benefits of being a BuzzFeed contributor and how to leverage the platform to boost your writing career.|
|6. Writing for Various Topics: Gain insights into writing for different topics, including lifestyle, pop culture, news, and more, to cater to BuzzFeed’s diverse content offerings.|
|7. Monetizing Your Content: Explore opportunities to earn from your work on BuzzFeed and how to maximize your potential earnings as a contributor.|
|8. Following Editorial Guidelines: Familiarize yourself with BuzzFeed’s editorial guidelines to ensure your content aligns with the platform’s standards and style.|
|9. Building a Portfolio: Use your BuzzFeed contributions to build a compelling writing portfolio and showcase your skills to potential clients and employers.|
|10. Analyzing Performance: Learn how to analyze the performance of your BuzzFeed articles and use data-driven insights to improve future content and engagement.|
The Internet Is As Much A Mindset As It Is A Medium
It’s an idea and one that didn’t exist until recently. It’s also a way to connect people across the world with each other, breaking down barriers and allowing for communication on levels never before possible.
It’s a tool for sharing information it may not be perfect, but it does work pretty well most of the time when you need it to do so. The internet can also be used to make money but only if you know what you’re doing!
And lastly, the internet has been proven time and again to help build friendships between people who might otherwise never have met in real life due to geographical distance or other circumstances preventing them from doing so otherwise (like school).
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Everyone Online Thinks They’re The Smartest Person In The Room
For me, the most surprising thing about writing for BuzzFeed was learning that online forums are full of people who think they’re the smartest person in the room.
Compared to other platforms I used to write for (Reddit, Twitter), it seemed like a lot more people were confident enough to argue their points and make sure everyone else knew how right they were.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; however, when it comes across as being rude or condescending because someone feels like their opinion is better than yours even though you can see where this feeling stems from it’s incredibly frustrating.
When writing for sites like Reddit or Twitter, my posts always had hundreds of comments on them within mere hours.
As soon as my post went live on BuzzFeed though, I noticed something different: fewer comments overall and almost no one making rude comments about whatever topic I was covering for that week’s news article (although there were still plenty of positive ones).
Some might say this is because BuzzFeed attracts a younger audience than other sites do (and therefore attracts readers who are less likely to get into arguments);
Others might say it has something to do with being published under a larger media company’s umbrella, but then again maybe there isn’t any difference at all!
However, you look at it though: whether these differences are caused by anything specific or not doesn’t change the fact that they exist.
And while some may argue otherwise (that no matter where your content gets published online there will always be someone trying hard enough), I would highly recommend assessing yourself before submitting anything online just so you know what type of feedback you’re getting ahead
Online Readers Have Short Attention Spans
One of the first things I learned from writing news articles for BuzzFeed was that online readers have short attention spans. They don’t read at all. They scan.
Why? Readers are impatient and distracted; they don’t want to spend time reading your piece if it doesn’t have an engaging headline or a clickable image. They are too busy living their real lives to pay attention to you (or so they think).
And unless you are writing about Kim Kardashian or Donald Trump, most people aren’t interested in what you have to say anyway.
But what does this mean for your content strategy? It means we need something catchy and engaging enough that people will want to put down their phones and actually start reading and hopefully share our stories with their friends on social media so we get more traffic back!
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It’s All About The Headline
The article should have a good headline.
The headline should grab the reader’s attention and make them want to read more.
This is not just a matter of “don’t use clickbait” but also a matter of it being clear about what you’re writing about when no one knows who you are yet, what your site is called, or even what the topic is (this was an issue with my first article).
Don’t write the headline first it will just be nonsense! Write the body of your draft first, then go back and make sure it has a good title. (This might seem obvious but I didn’t follow this advice at first.)
Have someone else write the headline for you; ideally someone who isn’t involved in any part of making your article happen except for this one small step at the end where they’re responsible for coming up with something fantastic!
If people don’t care, it doesn’t matter how good your writing is.
Writing Is A Skill
And like all skills, it takes time to develop. It’s something that can be learned and improved upon, but only if you put in the hours and make an effort to do so.
And like all skills, writing is always evolving it’ll never be perfect because there will always be new ways of doing things or ways to improve what you’re already doing.
If anything, as we learn more about how our brains work (and how they process information), we might also find better ways of writing that are tailored precisely towards how those particular brains prefer things done!
So don’t worry too much about whether or not your blog posts are ever going to get read; rather focus on making them as good as possible for yourself first and foremost before sharing them with others who may or may not appreciate their efforts accordingly!
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Writing For The Internet Isn’t Just About Writing — You Have To Know How To Promote Yourself
Writing for the Internet isn’t just about writing. You also have to know how to promote yourself.
You need to be comfortable with social media, and it’s helpful if you have a blog or website of your own where you can post samples of your work.
It’s fine if you don’t most new writers start without a portfolio but it will help give us an idea of what kind of writer we’re getting into business with.
It’s also important that you know how to self-promote. We’ll expect our writers to pitch us ideas we haven’t thought of ourselves, which means they should be comfortable approaching editors and pitching themselves as well as their stories or articles.
If this sounds intimidating, don’t worry; there are plenty of resources online designed specifically for helping people learn how to pitch journalists their ideas (like this one).
It’s Not About What You Want To Say; It’s About What People Want To Read
A good news article is always written with the audience in mind. This is true of any form of writing, whether it’s a blog post or article for a magazine.
You have to know what people are interested in and write accordingly but BuzzFeed News takes this idea further than most other outlets do.
The first thing you learn when working at BuzzFeed News is that you can’t just write whatever you want to write; your editor will tell you if it isn’t going to work (and they’re right almost every time).
When writing an article for BuzzFeed News, two things matter above all else: making sure it gets shared on social media and making sure people will read it.
I’ve learned that getting your content shared on social media isn’t just about having great headlines it’s also about being aware of what people find interesting enough to share with their friends on Facebook or Twitter (or whatever platform they use), which means knowing what kinds of stories are trending online at any given moment.
At the same time–and this may seem counterintuitive–you also need to ensure that your articles look like they’ll be long enough and detailed enough so readers won’t simply click away after reading the first few paragraphs only halfway through an article (which happens more often than anyone would care to admit).
The Internet Has Lowered Our Standards For Originality, And That’s Okay
At BuzzFeed, we create content for everyone. From quizzes and lists to slideshows and videos, our goal is to make sure that you have something you want to see at any given moment.
And while we pride ourselves on making it easy for people to find what they want, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that it takes a lot of work (and originality) to be successful in this field.
There’s no denying that the Internet has lowered our standards for originality and if anything, this is something that should be celebrated rather than vilified.
The Internet allows us all as creators and consumers alike an opportunity to stand out from the crowd by breaking away from old paradigms or simply just doing whatever makes us happy without having anyone tell us otherwise!
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Your Writing Skills Are Only As Good As Your Editing Skills
Your writing skills are only as good as your editing skills. If you’re not editing your work, then you’re not a writer you’re just making stuff up and hoping someone else will clean it up for you.
In the same way that it’s impossible to over-edit an article, it’s also impossible to under-edit an article. As my editor always says: “If I read something once, I’ll forget about it; if I read something twice, I’ll remember half of what was said;
If I read something three times…” so on and so forth. Even though we writers want our readers to be swept away by the amazingness of what we’ve written (and rightly so), they won’t get there unless they understand everything they’re reading first.
No Matter How Big Or Small Your Audience Is, Assume They’re Paying Attention
The next lesson I learned is that, as a writer, it’s not your job to make sure the audience is paying attention. You can’t always be sure they’re paying attention to you or even what you’re saying.
The only thing you can do is write in such a way that makes them want to stay with your work long enough for them to learn what it was they needed to know.
If your article doesn’t have enough information for someone to understand something about it before scrolling away from the page or clicking “Done,”
Then there’s nothing left for them but confusion (and annoyance at being confused). And that’s not something anyone wants from their news article experience!
It’s Okay To Be Wrong (But Not Too Wrong)
You’ve got to be comfortable with the idea of being wrong. It’s a good thing, really: it shows that you care about what you do, that your work is important enough for you to challenge yourself and learn from it.
I remember having a discussion with one of my colleagues about what constitutes “too wrong.” The answer was easy: if everyone knows something is wrong and no one thinks it will ever change, that’s too wrong!
But there are other ways we get things wrong too like when we accidentally misquote someone in an interview or take something out of context and make it look like they said something they didn’t (or vice versa).
But those mistakes don’t feel as bad because they’re not permanent; they aren’t part of an article forever they’re just little mistakes that slip through the cracks.
And even though BuzzFeed has strict editorial guidelines on how to avoid these types of errors by making sure quotes and facts are double-checked before publication (which I think is great!), everyone still makes them sometimes.
One time I made such an egregious error while reporting on a story about China’s shadow banking system that another writer had not done her due diligence in researching her facts before writing up an article titled.
“The Shadowy World Of Chinese Banks”: she wrote “shadow banking” instead of “shadowing banking.”
If You Have Something Important To Say, Say It Loud And Say It Often
One of the most important lessons I learned from writing news articles for BuzzFeed is that if you have something important to say, say it loud and say it often.
BuzzFeed writers are expected to write with a sense of urgency, but every story we publish has an expiration date: it will only be relevant for so long before being replaced by another latest breaking story.
That’s why I took extra care to make sure all my headlines were punchy, like “This Is How To Get All The News You Need In Less Than 5 Minutes.”
In addition to this tip about appropriate levels of newsiness (i.e., making sure your stories aren’t too old or too stale), here are some other things that I learned from my time at BuzzFeed:
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Getting Information Out Now Is More Important Than Getting It Right Then (Rarely) Getting It Right Later
The most important thing I’ve learned from writing news articles for BuzzFeed is that getting information out now is more important than getting it right later. A lot of times, there’s a ton of pressure to get stories and facts correct before publishing them.
But if you’re providing your readers with valuable content, they’ll be able to forgive some inaccuracies along the way if you make up for them by correcting them soon after publication.
When we were writing these news stories, we often had a very short time frame in which we could publish: as soon as possible after getting our hands on something like a press release or press conference transcript.
Or by taking advantage of a breaking story like terrorist attacks around the world (like those in Paris), natural disasters (like Hurricane Matthew), elections and primaries (like Super Tuesday), and other big events that happen throughout the year (like award shows).
While this isn’t always feasible when writing long-form pieces or thought pieces that require more research time.
Before publication and there’s nothing wrong with waiting until all facts are confirmed it’s worth considering whether your current deadline allows enough time for thorough fact checking.
There is no such thing as “unbiased” media sources. We’re biased towards getting clicks and pageviews, but we still get accused of lying all the time.
You might have heard that there is no such thing as “unbiased” media outlets. That’s true, but we don’t have any financial incentive to lie. We’re biased toward getting clicks and pageviews, but we still get accused of lying all the time.
It’s a weird situation in which we have no financial incentive to be biased, but rather a very strong one to be biased towards getting clicks and pageviews (which means making people happy).
If you’re looking for a career as a writer, I highly recommend BuzzFeed. The Internet is an amazing place to work, and it’s full of opportunities. You just need to know how to use your skills wisely!
How to Write for BuzzFeed: A comprehensive guide on how to become a BuzzFeed contributor and write engaging content for the platform.
BuzzFeed Content Ideas: How to Keep Your Audience Hooked: Get inspired with creative content ideas to captivate your audience, just like BuzzFeed does.
How to Pitch Essays to BuzzFeed Reader: Learn the art of pitching essays to BuzzFeed Reader and increase your chances of getting published on this prestigious platform.
What are the writing guidelines for BuzzFeed contributors?
BuzzFeed contributors are encouraged to follow specific writing guidelines provided by the platform. These guidelines cover various aspects of content creation, including tone, formatting, and use of images.
Can I submit my own content ideas to BuzzFeed?
Yes, BuzzFeed accepts content submissions from contributors, including original content ideas. Make sure to pitch your ideas clearly and concisely to increase the chances of approval.
How can I increase the chances of my content going viral on BuzzFeed?
Crafting shareable content requires a good understanding of BuzzFeed’s audience and what resonates with them. Focus on creating engaging, entertaining, or informative content that sparks emotions and encourages sharing.
Does BuzzFeed pay its contributors?
Yes, BuzzFeed compensates its contributors for published articles and content. The payment structure may vary depending on factors such as the type of content and its performance.
What topics are popular on BuzzFeed?
BuzzFeed covers a wide range of topics, from entertainment and lifestyle to news and trending stories. Popular topics often include pop culture, listicles, quizzes, and stories that evoke strong emotions.
Costantine Edward is a digital marketing expert, freelance writer, and entrepreneur who helps people attain financial freedom. I’ve been working in marketing since I was 18 years old and have managed to build a successful career doing what I love.