I write a lot of articles in “list” format – but I want to try something new. How can I shake things up a little?
A. Try a Q&A format! Answering questions is one way to establish or raise your credibility in your chosen area. A question-and-answer format delivers valuable information and is easier to read than paragraph after paragraph of copy.
You can frame a Q&A article in many ways such as “Top 10 Questions about Body-Building” or “Frequently Asked Questions about Mortgage Financing.”
Q. Where do I get the questions?
A. If you’ve been in business for a while, you’ve probably heard clients, customers or prospects ask the same questions over and over. Start with these.
If not, invent your own questions. Think back to when you were new to your niche and had many questions about what things meant, or the right way to do business. Or, think of questions people should ask but don’t?
Q. What’s the trick to formatting a Q&A article?
A. There’s no trick, but these tips will help you create a readable and informative article:
- Be sure the questions stand out from the answers. For example, in this blog post, we kept the questions simple, devoted one paragraph to each question and highlighted each question in both. These make the questions stand out and attract attention.
- You can also italicize your questions, but italics can be hard to read if your publication uses a serif typeface. This means the letters have tag-like details on the ends, like Roman letters. This blog uses a sans-serif typeface, whose letters have plain endings.
- Keep the answers relatively short. The Q&A format builds in white space and makes your information delivery easier to read, but you have to make sure you don’t write long blocks of copy in your answer. Use numbers or bullet points to make your points stand out.
- Frame questions the way the average person might ask.
- Avoid self-serving questions such as “How did you achieve such success in so short a time?”
Do this exercise: Grab a pencil and a piece of paper (or start a new document in your word-processing program). Set a timer for 10 minutes. Can you come up with 5 to 10 questions that you can answer easily and confidently in an article?
Try it today, and see how quickly you can write useful, attention-getting articles with this simple, yet effective, template! Then come back here and leave a comment to let us know how it worked for you.