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Things to Consider When You Are a Contributing Writer

By Amanda Graves

Writing is a skillset that some people love, while others dread the task. However every business, no matter what industry they are in, needs to have someone who can clearly communicate their ideas and thoughts to their target audience. Therefore, the good news is if you are one of the people who loves writing and can do it well, there will always be employment opportunities. That being said, even great writers can struggle when it comes to writing for another business. It is its own skillset to be able to adapt your writing style to meet your employers needs. For example, a lifestyle magazine and a business magazine have different target audiences so how you write a story for either one will be different. Below is a list of things that will help you improve your reporting skills and make you more adaptable and marketable to a variety of different industries.

Research is Your Best Friend

Many people associate reporting with interviews and writing. However, any reporter knows the most important work starts before the interview even takes place. In order to know what questions to ask, you must have a general understanding of the topic/person you are writing about. Luckily modern technology makes this a much easier process, but it should not be rushed. Spend the time finding out as much information as you can. The goal is not to become an expert in a topic, but be informed enough to ask the right questions. While you’re researching, consider what the publications market audience is, and why they would be curious about that topic. What questions emerge in your head? What are you still confused about? These are all great prompts that will help you know what to ask in the actual interview.

Be an Active Listener

When it comes to the actual interview, the less you talk the better. The goal is to hear what the interviewee has to say and let them share their story. Some people can be nervous when first being interviewed, so your questions help give them a starting point to further explain. Make sure to listen closely and ask follow-up questions as they arise. Even if you think something is common sense, it is always better to clarify than make an assumption. You’ll be happy you asked that question when going to write the story and have all the answers you need.

What is the Purpose of the Story?

The question above might seem obvious to you when you first begin to write. It is easy to overlook because you probably have the topic when you were assigned the story. However, as transparent as it might be, while you’re writing it is easy to get off-track or completely miss the purpose entirely. Oftentimes when a writer gets “stuck” while writing it is because they’re overthinking the story. Is it supposed to be informative about a business? What is the target demographic? Going back to the original purpose can help give you direction about what details you need to include and what can get cut.

Informational Does Not Mean Boring

One of the biggest misconceptions is that as a contributing writer, unless you’re writing an Op-Ed, you shouldn’t showcase your voice at all. Of course it’s not an opinion piece and you should stay clear of inserting yourself into the story, but you don’t have to be dull with your writing. The best way to interest others and showcase your writing abilities is to think about what stood out to you during your research. Did someone say something in the interview that was memorable? Was there something you learned that you did not expect? If this is the case, then you’re probably not alone. The thing that fascinated you will probably also be of interest to the people reading the story. 


Overall, writing involves a lot more practice than people assume. Everything mentioned above is a skillset that takes effort and time to improve. The more interviews you do, and articles you write the easier it becomes and you’ll find your own style along the way.