A Dozen Tips for Writing Good Articles
With the explosion of the Internet there is an ever-growing list of websites where you can publish articles. Very few sites will pay you for your content, so why would you want to do go to all this work? For publicity reasons, to drive traffic to your website, and to increase your search-engine rankings, that's why!
Here's how it works:
You write an article about something that is within your area of expertise, e.g., if you are an expert in sales, you would write about sales topics. Then you either publish your article to a portal, distribution site, or an individual website.
Within the copy, you offer a free ebook or special report to readers who visit your website and subscribe to your ezine, and voila! you've just created a link to your website that can generate big traffic for you. Of course, you would create a special landing page on your website for this link. That allows you to track where your traffic comes from. And at the end of your article you also include a one-paragraph (5 lines or so) description of who you are and how to sign up for your free e-newsletter by visiting your website (same URL as previously).
Here are a few tips for writing a good article:
1. Write for your audience.
There's no point attracting soccer moms to your website if you don't sell anything that would interest them, right? Instead, develop the content of your article so that your best client would just love to read it. My audience is women business owners and small business owners who need marketing advice. I write three free e-newsletters that anyone can subscribe to:
- "Brainy Tidbits" is a marketing newsletter published each Tuesday by email. To sign up for this electronic newsletter, simply visit my website ( http://www.marketingideashop.com ) and subscribe in the box provided. New subscribers can download my "67 Ways to Promote Your Business" (a $9 value) as a free subscriber gift.
- "Brainy Flash" is a very short (one topic) newsletter, published on Fridays, focusing on one marketing resource or topic each week. To subscribe, send a blank email to mailto:email@example.com. New subscribers receive a free 3-chapter excerpt of the ebook "Sales Success! Strategies for Women." (a $12 value)
- Finally, my "Meet Success!" ezine will begin in September and it profiles one woman business owner each Monday, listing her top five tips for creating a successful business. New subscribers receive this special report (“A Dozen Tips for Writing Good Articles Plus the Top Sites to Publish Your Articles”) (a $9 value) when they sign up by sending a blank email to mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Tell stories whenever you can.
Stories are what interest people. Dry, boring writing puts people asleep, especially on the web. If you make it personal, you can create a rapport with your reader. They'll be nodding their heads while they read and clicking your links as they come to them. And your ultimate goal is to get people to sign up for your e-newsletter or purchase your products or services, so you want them predisposed to say, "Yes!"
Whenever I've done this, I've been much more successful. If you read the writings of the great direct-response writers, like Yanik Silver, you'll see that they do this, too. And they make bundles of money.
3. Provide useful information.
Try to provide something that is unique in your article. I know. I know. There's not a lot of original thought out there. Most things have already been invented and considered. It's very hard to be original, but everyone has "flashes of brilliance." Pay attention when you have these flashes and write an article or a special report discussing your idea! Make sure the information is helpful and will stand out in a crowd.
4. Include a summary at the beginning of the article that is enticing and "salesy." It will pump up your reader and get them to continue reading.
5. Write a great headline and compelling copy.
The purpose of the headline is to get the reader to read the next line. And that line's purpose is to get you reader to read the next one, and the next one, and so on. Be sure to use words that everyone will understand. Avoid the jargon and abbreviations!
6. Use an active voice.
Don't write stuffy, boring copy using the third person. Use "you" and "we" in the article to speak directly to your reader.
7. Make it succinct.
The fewer the words, the better...unless you are writing a sales letter. Top marketers swear that long copy, discussing every little benefit, sells better. But most people don't have time to read oodles and oodles of words, so keep your articles short and sweet.
8. And while you're at it, write in parallel tracks.
This means that you should write for the reader who likes to read every single word and know every little detail, as well as the people like me who like to simply scan an article to get the essential parts. I like bullets. The other folks like complete sentences.
9. Answer the editor's questions, "Who, what, when, where, how, and why."
Does your article give enough meat to make it worthwhile for someone to read it? Don't leave things hanging, connect the dots for your reader.
10. Proofread! Then do it again!
Typos, grammar errors and misinformation are the biggest turn offs for most readers. There's no point writing an article with terrific content if it makes you look illiterate. If you aren't a good writer or proofreader, hire someone to ghostwrite the piece for you or contract with a proofreader to review each piece you write before you distribute it. Try reading it aloud or proofreading it backwards. You'll be amazed at the errors you find.
11. Submit your article.
There are lots of places online that welcome a variety of articles. You can use Google to find more by searching on the words "submit article" (without the quotes). Another way to find places to send your articles is to do a search for articles written by your competitors. Articles they have written will lead you to sites that accept articles about your subject matter. Then write articles and submit them to the same sites that publish stories written by your competitors.
Here are a few sites that accept contributed articles (and you'll find lots of great content to read on these sites, too!):
12. Don't forget newsletters.
Another great place to submit your articles and get tons of exposure is other people's newsletters. People who write and publish weekly or monthly email newsletters are ALWAYS looking for good content. Submit short articles (generally 400 words or less) to the editors of your favorite ezines and ask them to print the articles in their newsletters. If you target your audience well, you should get lots of subscribers to your newsletters and plenty of visitors to your website.
Lois Carter Fay is the author of "Marketing Plan Essentials: Online & Off" and co-author with Jim Wilson of "52 Ready-to-Go Sales Meetings: 52 Ways to Help Your Salespeople (and Yourself) Win at the Game of Sales." Her free "BRAINY Tidbits" email newsletter is filled with tons of marketing ideas and resources and is distributed weekly to a growing list of subscribers. Immediately download "67 Ways to Promote Your Business" (a $9 value) free when you subscribe to Brainy Tidbits at http://www.marketingideashop.com
Lois Carter Fay