“Dear Annie” Article Template

DEAR EZINEARTICLES: How do I cope with my current problem – lack of article ideas?

I saw the warning signs for a couple of months leading up to this problem and I’ve asked people around me for advice, but nothing has worked so far.

I kept using up ideas and had no great way to refill my ideas folder as I went along. This is more devastating than any case of writer’s block I’ve ever experienced. Please advise me.

– Wandering Without Any Article Ideas

DEAR WWAAI: I know you’re hurting, and I’m sorry about that. Everything is great when your article ideas folder is full, but as it empties, you need to continue generating new ideas.

Well, one of the best solutions to deal with a lack of article ideas is to start your writing with an article template, and more specifically this “Dear Annie” Article Template.

Creating a “Dear Annie” Article Template:

  1. Start With a Question – Your question may be a common one you hear about in your niche or something you already have in the FAQ section of your website. Pick a question that requires the answer of a full article of about 400-750 words. Avoid questions that have simple Yes/No answers. They won’t generate very compelling articles. Instead, pose and answer questions that ask “Why” or “How” things work.
     
  2. Answer the Question – Use a personable voice to answer the question and give the best advice you can on the situation. Use your expertise to navigate the problem and offer a solution. You can use the “Dear Annie” format with a set of questions or you can organize the content in paragraphs.
     
  3. Add Another Question – Add additional questions that fit with the same theme. Use bolding, italics or other clear labeling to distinguish between questions.
     
  4. Identify a Theme – Tie questions together with the theme they share. Once all questions you want to cover are answered, discuss the connections between each to wrap up the article. Then you can also give any extra insights you have.

Use this template today to give passionate responses to the everyday issues faced by your readership. With this template, you’ll increase the amount of care and attention felt by your followers. Leave a comment to give your own twist on this template.

42 Comments »


1

Nice one, very nice…

Comment provided March 18, 2011 at 9:52 AM

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2
Theo writes:

What a brilliant idea! Thanks for always providing useful information. I’ll be using the “Dear Abby” template often.

Comment provided March 18, 2011 at 10:17 AM

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3
Donna Duffy writes:

Great idea! Perfect for moms who have kids who are struggling in school and a great way to answer the various questions they have about how to help them through their academic challenges.

Thanks!

Comment provided March 18, 2011 at 10:31 AM

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4

@ Christopher M. Knight, This is one of the best articles i have seen on this blog. I use most of the tips discussed above and i can tell you that they work very well. If you can ask yourself a question, try to provide solution to it. You won’t even know when your article word count will get to 500 plus. It actually works for me. Why not give it a trial?

Comment provided March 18, 2011 at 11:43 AM

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5
Alan Sahu writes:

This is a good idea. But I think that utilizing keywords in this article template can be difficult for most authors.

Comment provided March 18, 2011 at 12:43 PM

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6
leon Noone writes:

G’Day,
Another great idea from youse–that’s an Aussie expression– at EzineArticles.
I’ll add it to my already valuable EzineArticles Bag of Tricks.
Thanks
Leon

Comment provided March 18, 2011 at 1:00 PM

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7
Cheryl Pickett writes:

Once you’ve been working in or advising people on a particular topic for a while, the information can become second nature to you. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what newbies don’t know/need to know and there’s the key to finding stuff to write about-ask them!

If you have subscribers, friends, followers, ask them what they’re struggling with or confused by. If you’re just starting and don’t have much of a list, ask anyone you trust to think about what they might want to know if they were trying to do whatever it is you advise people on.

Keep asking questions yourself and the ideas should flow for quite a while.

Comment provided March 18, 2011 at 3:37 PM

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8
Linda Smith writes:

I have the ideas, but there we go with that writers block. It is hard when the mind races with ideas, yet the day ends, and not one word has been written.

This template idea is great for all writers. I am not one to do outlines. This is perfect for those who hate outlining.

It is a great way to organize your article too. What a way to have an article almost completed by the time your Dear Abby template is followed. Well, I guess Dear Abby has done it again.

Comment provided March 18, 2011 at 3:55 PM

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9
Karen Wells writes:

Good idea. I am going to try that!

Comment provided March 18, 2011 at 4:01 PM

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10
Marvin White writes:

Great template. What if you run out of questions? Review blogs within your niche or writing interest. Posts and comments quite often ask questions in hopes that someone has the solution or answer.
Another method is use Yahoo’s question and answer program- http://www.answers.yahoo.com or ask.yahoo.com

Comment provided March 18, 2011 at 4:43 PM

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11
Linda writes:

Great info, will print this out and stick it on my white board.

Thanks!

Comment provided March 18, 2011 at 4:51 PM

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12
Miriam Bobroff writes:

Thanks for the great ideas and template.

Comment provided March 18, 2011 at 5:04 PM

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13

Why is it that even with all these tips people still find it difficult to write articles?

There must something more than just a lack of writing ideas, could it be fear of writing, surely it can’t be laziness.

Comment provided March 18, 2011 at 5:20 PM

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14
Samuel Amaechi writes:

Very Nice article template

Comment provided March 18, 2011 at 5:24 PM

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15
Dobbs Franks writes:

Hang on it really shouldn’t be that simple. I am very impressed with the idea and am going to try ti today. Thanks so much for pushing me around and forcing me into action. You won’t regret it.

Comment provided March 18, 2011 at 5:43 PM

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16
Robin Wright writes:

Great idea and a simple concept to execute, I will be using this in the future. To think of it you can continue asking yourself questions on your topic to add more material to your article!

Comment provided March 18, 2011 at 7:16 PM

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17
Elena Neill writes:

You know, I was just getting to that point in my articles. What a good advice. Thank you.

Comment provided March 18, 2011 at 8:15 PM

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18
Karen writes:

Asking questions is a good way to become more expert in your niche as you would have to research in more depth and details, and thus write better, unique articles. Thanks for another valuable idea.

Comment provided March 18, 2011 at 8:16 PM

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19
Mitch writes:

Excellent idea, and I’m not sure if this particular aspect of it has been mentioned or not, but what’s really excellent about this template is that it’s in a format that people immediately recognize, and fall right into with familiarity and curiosity.

It’s kind of like when you’re channel-surfing and you catch Jerry Springer and so you linger for just a second out of curiosity.

The format draws you in.

Comment provided March 18, 2011 at 8:16 PM

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20
Lance Winslow writes:

The other day, I was discussing this very issue with another online article author here. Her articles have done extremely well, and landed her interviews with major news media outlets, such as the BBC for instance. I too have been successful in that regard having been asked to do a segment on CNN, interviewed in the Wall Street Journal and countless trade journals.

We talked about how to best get our articles to pull in traffic. You see, some articles don’t get many article views but they attract the “big boys” in media to contact the author, while other articles get an absolutely insane number of article views, I have several well over 100,000 article views (single article) and it appears to me that if you want your reader to find you, then you need to get inside of their heads.

For instance, these days folks while surfing type in questions to the internet, seriously things like “now what do I do” – “what is a Super Moon” – “How low does the jetstream go” – “what foods should I eat to relieve stress and …”

Indeed, I am fortunate in many regards now that I have so many artices online, and I’ve always asked my readers to contact me with questions, concerns, and comments. In that way people send me their questions to various things, and I email them back my answers. I often use a variation of their question for my articles, often making those questions the titles.

Which begets more questions, and answers, thus, more articles. It’s hard to find something I haven’t written about in my areas of expertise, and these questions many times cause me to go on research binges to figure out the best answer, sometimes there is more than one “best answer” – ah, more than one article!

Indeed, I am glad Chris brought this up, because if you are looking for traffic, then you need to be thinking what your future clientele is thinking, and why not use actual questions for your articles, because if one person is thinking there, there are no doubt many searching for that Exact Same Information.

Thus, this is an excellent topic and a great template, you’d be wise to use it, seriously – IT WORKS!

Comment provided March 18, 2011 at 8:57 PM

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21

I loved your creative article. Apart from being a healthcare educator and intimacy coach I am an ordained rabbi. Having read your article, I feel inspired to write a column that’s a variation of your “Dear Abby” template, namely:
DearrAbbi!

Comment provided March 18, 2011 at 9:42 PM

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22
Andrey writes:

This opens up a new look at article writing. I’ve got more questions thans answers. Using this method to answer the questions will give me pages of articles. THANKS for this GOLDEN tip.

Comment provided March 19, 2011 at 2:14 AM

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23
Will Post writes:

I, on the other hand, often get too many ideas of stuff to write about and actually have to curb myself and knock sense into my thoughts.
I think it is one of these deals – the more you do, the more you want to do…

Comment provided March 19, 2011 at 5:01 AM

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Frances Cave writes:

Thanks for interesting template. I`m starting to run out of ideas too, so it`s really useful.

Comment provided March 19, 2011 at 6:37 AM

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25
Victorya Gold writes:

The best way to find new ideas is to do brainstorm. You write a page with foolish things and continue with the second page in which your mind begins to throw gems, especially to the end of the page. All these in 23 minutes.
Victorya Gold

Comment provided March 19, 2011 at 9:47 AM

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26
Glynis Jolly writes:

Excellent suggestion. I use the first question to get me going but haven’t used any more that that. I like the idea of wrapping it up at the end too.

Comment provided March 19, 2011 at 10:56 AM

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27
Sandra bey writes:

The template is a great idea, I will try it. I find that when experiencing writers block, due to so many ideas that I am thinking about, that it starts to put me in overload and renders me non-productive. It is time to step back and do something else, such as gardening, reading, cooking, whatever to give yourself a break and take the pressure off.Then the flow will start again.

Comment provided March 19, 2011 at 11:46 AM

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Glynis Jolly writes:

Exactly. It’s that feeling that which idea should I use. What idea is the best one. etc…..

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28
Art writes:

Subject line of the email promoting this “Dear Abby”
First line of the email: “Dear Abbey”
Name of the template “Dear Annie”
Consistency is important, at least in my little world.

Comment provided March 19, 2011 at 2:31 PM

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Art – It’s important in our world as well … and we really dropped the ball on that one. You’ll note on the bottom of the post that we accidentally ran afoul with the copyrighted nature of “Dear Abby” which led to some of the inconsistency you saw (but not all of it). Thanks for calling these errors to our attention as well as the attention of our entire Blog viewership. It’s a great way to ensure that they happen as little as possible. ;-)

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29
Charles Helton writes:

Great article, and great question. I’m always looking for ideas on something to write about. I haven’t done it enought to develop the mental muscle for writing. I will use these ideas also.

Comment provided March 19, 2011 at 4:26 PM

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Vera writes:

Grate, simple pattern to use for everyone.

Comment provided March 19, 2011 at 6:48 PM

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31
Jim Enterline writes:

This also looks like a good way to re-purpose old articles, rewrite parts of each into the Q & A format.

Comment provided March 20, 2011 at 8:08 AM

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32
Joan Parr writes:

How can we make sure that the question #1 related to other questions?

Comment provided March 20, 2011 at 9:24 AM

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Joan – If you can’t come up with additional questions that relate to the first, then don’t come up with additional questions! ;-) Seriously, a well-worded and in-depth answer to only one question may be more than enough to produce a high-quality article.

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33
Ray writes:

Nice article. Usually if I’m stuck I try to think about different ways to come at the niche I’m writing about. If I’ve been writing a lot of weight loss articles such as how to lose 10lbs or how to lose weight fast I’ll tackle the problem differently. Maybe tell stories such as “how my sister lost weight for her wedding”. I’ll get more spacific with my articles. For every niche there are millions of things you can write about, you just have to open your mind.

Comment provided March 20, 2011 at 11:23 AM

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34
Gemma Carbis writes:

I have only recently started off in the art of writing for my blogs etc and this was a godsend for me as it was a great direction pointer. Thank you and I will be using it often…

Comment provided March 21, 2011 at 7:37 AM

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35
Charlotte Langlois writes:

Writing articles is much like being a stand-up comedian in that you have to engage your audience by relating to their current interests and life experiences. The key word here is “relate”.

Comment provided March 21, 2011 at 9:32 AM

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36
Wayne Michaels writes:

I was looking for information like this because I am just getting started with article writing. This template is great….I’m going to give it a shot. Thanks.

Comment provided March 26, 2011 at 8:56 AM

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37
G.S.Commander writes:

Interesting idea, is there a actual template to download, or if not what software can I use to create this template?
Thanks for the idea

Comment provided May 5, 2011 at 6:04 AM

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The template is not a fill-in-the-blank template as you might expect. The template is more of recipe. The Blog post is literally the recipe for how to write an article using the given template style.

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38
Skip writes:

The purchases I make are eintrley based on these articles.

Comment provided December 3, 2011 at 8:24 PM

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