How to Write a Report or E-course

With planning, research and creativity, writing a report can establish you as a writer, expert, and trusted information source, so follow these simple instructions and then spread it around.

You could write a report or e-course as a short bonus item or full blown, paid, product. You may find the very thought of writing these intimidating, so I’ll help you get started.

I’m assuming you are working with a website or product in a well-defined niche area, one in which you are at least somewhat knowledgeable. I’ll also assume you have been reading or writing web copy, articles and/or sales letters. You’ve already generated lots of information.

Whatever you are planning to write, always start with what you know. The easiest way to get started with that blank page is to make a list. So make a list of what you already know about your topic. Do this quickly; it should be easy because you can just write down the titles of articles you’ve already written or read.

I’ll talk about writing a report, but the only difference between that and an e-course is that an e-course is a step-by-step process. If your information lends itself to that format, then use it instead of the report, which simply provides information; a course leads you through action steps.

I’ll use my favorite golden retriever example. You’ve decided to write a report about finding the right puppy. You’ve already read or written articles about puppy mills, SPCA and other animal shelters, pet shops and breeders. What haven’t you written about – maybe it’s classified ads from unknown owners, golden retriever rescue leagues and buying pure bred vs. a mixed breed. You also haven’t written about any diseases or other physical disorders common to the breed, which will come into consideration when deciding what puppy to get. There’s your list, open to being edited, of course.

That’s what you know. The next step is to research and fill in some details. You’ll also be looking out for things you’ve forgotten about and important things you don’t know, which should be included.

You’ve gotten about 5 pages in writing already done (your articles), you should write a 10-page report at least. You may want to add a few pictures, charts or diagrams, so it may end up being a 15-page report, including cover, table of contents, and resource page.

It’s good practice to add something to your articles that you’ve already written, so start your research there. You may find a picture of a puppy mill and an article by someone else that you can add a reference to, giving it’s author full credit. You can add links to the SPCA and rescue leagues, and call up a friend who works in a reputable pet shop to ask him a few questions. Quotes from experts also make valuable additions, as do new research findings or news articles.

You then tackle each of the additional subjects one at a time. Inevitably, reading about each topic jogs things in your memory that you already know. Write them down quickly. It helps when you’re doing the final editing and writing to have as much as possible already in your own words.

Alright, you’ve got the subject matter of your report done, but it’s all for naught if you haven’t got some structural elements in place as well. Use plenty of white space, this gives the reader’s eye a rest. Choose an attractive font that is also easy to read. Then focus on what I call the interest-catchers. You can have the most interesting report on the planet, but if your title and cover isn’t provocative, creative, intriguing, or otherwise captivating, no one will download and read it.

Also, your chapter headings, which will be read in the table of contents, must be engaging. And finally, assuming that somewhere in the report you are promoting yourself, your webpage, your newsletter, your e-book, some action that you want your reader to take…promote with pizzazz. Ask yourself, why would someone feel they HAVE TO click on your link? Make it so.

Whether you give it away on it’s own, use it as a bonus, or sell it, you will be amazed at how it enhances your online presence and ultimately, profits.[ad#in-post]