Monday, November 06, 2006

Article Marketing Case Study: Reader Q&A

An overworked freelancer, I decided to try and create more passive income. My mode of trying to accomplish this is article marketing. Why article marketing?

I’d read so much about it and had used it to promote past businesses with some success (a little bit of time yielded pretty good results). So, from October 18th thru November 18th, I decided to study article marketing in detail to learn as much about it as I could.

For details on the beginning of the experiment, see the 10/26/06 post on InkwellEditorial.blogspot.com. Following are reader questions about my findings to date.

POST CONTINUED BELOW
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QUESTIONS FROM READERS ABOUT ARTICLE MARKETING

Question: Since your site has been around a while, do you think that's why you've been so successful with your experiment. My site is new, what do you think my chances are?

Answer: I’m sure my site’s popularity has something to do with the success of the case study, however, I think it has more to do with the topic and the in-depth information provided.

I think the following three things have been the main reason for the success of this case study:

1. In my opinion, any time you undertake a venture that no one else has put significant time into – and it is a fairly popular topic that a lot of people want to know about -- it will garner interest.

2. The internet makes it easier to reach a wide audience quickly; and

3. It is a “live experiment with instant results.” We live in an information age where people want to know – and they want to know TODAY.

Question: How much money are you actually making? Can you give specifics?

Answer: The Google Adsense program prohibits giving specifics, but as I said in one of my recently published pieces, I was making basically entertainment money (barhopping with friends kind of cash), car payment money, etc. My earnings have a little more than doubled since I started this experiment.

What I want everyone to realize is that the more money you make, the harder it is to double that. So, it’s not like I what I was making was terribly difficult to double – I’m just surprised that by pumping in a few extra hours per day that I was able to see such a big difference.

The whole point of the experiment is to see if this was viable – if article marketing was really what the experts were touting. It’s taken a good deal of work, but I needed to know if it would be worth my time to pursue it to any degree. So far, I have to say that for me, it definitely is.

Question: Can you recommend any article submission software?

Answer:
Nope, not at this point. I’m manually submitting articles to the directories. BUT, I will be purchasing some article submission software once this experiment is done. I have my eye on a couple, but as I haven’t used any, I hesitate to recommend any. Spend a few days researching this on the web before you put out any money. And if anyone has any feedback they can pass along, I’d be happy to share it.

Question: Are you consciously changing articles from posts on your blog to avoid duplicate content penalties?

Answer:
No, I’m not. That would be way to time consuming for me. I queried Chris Knight, who manages perhaps the number one article directory on the net (EzineArticles.com), about duplicate content penalties.

My question to him was: **To Whom It May Concern: I would like to ask Mr. Knight a question about being penalized for submitting the same article to many directories. Specifically, if you do this, are you penalized by the likes of Google? Does it hurt your site's ranking?**

Christopher Knight’s response: To answer your question, unfortunately, I have no idea what Google will do or won't do. Me personally? I wouldn't submit to hundreds of directories because that doesn't seem like a good return on your time.

I know that it's better to submit 100 articles to 1 directory than submitting 1 article to 100 directories; especially when that 1 directory is EzineArticles.com! :-)

Try that experiment for yourself and I bet you'd find the same conclusion I did. The bigger issue is do you really want to manage 100 different trust relationships with your article or just a handful? Best of luck with the study. *End of response.*

I did a little more research and found arguments on both sides. All I can say is, from my efforts so far, the following has happened:

Google Search Results: A Google search of my name before this study returned 700-800 results. As of today, 11/6/06, it returns 15,100 results.

Alexa Rankings: My site's (InkwellEditorial.com) Alexa ranking was over 6,000,000 right before the beginning of this experiment (10/18/06). As of today, it’s 3,320,982.

PR Ranking: My PR ranking has stayed at 5, but I’ve gotten links from sites that have PR ranks of 6 (eg, www.entrepreneurs-journey.com) and 7 (http://problogger.net) – which, ostensibly, will only add to my PR ranking in the future.

Will I be penalized somewhere down the road for this? As I’m an SEO (search engine optimization) neophyte, I have no idea. I plan on doing a lot more in the way of SEO. This whole study has made me realize the importance of learning more about this.

Question: How do you decide what topic to write on?

Answer:
I write what interests me, what others are asking about, issues I think need to be addressed, etc. I don’t have a process, so to speak, I just – write.

Q: An abbreviated version of a question a reader sent in is as follows: Wondering if I'd be able to pick your brains slightly. I write business plans for clients but at the moment it has been practically impossible for me to get any work . . . I would love to write articles but my problem has been:

Question a) Actually finding things to write about let alone a 700-900 word article scares me to bits! What sort of analysis tool do you use to find topics without much competition?

Answer:
Angela, I don’t do any analysis to find topics to write about; I get ideas from reading other articles, questions from readers of my material, addressing issue that are bugging me (my reasoning is, if I’m having a problem with it, others are too – practically nothing under the sun is unique to only one individual); issues in the news; etc.

I don’t mean to be too vague or general – but I find that if you write from a position of truly wanting to help others – and not from a desire to optimize a site for "x" key word or to “just” make money – you will always have a wellspring of ideas from which to pull.

Question b) Writers block (I find it very difficult to write). I constantly rewrite my business plans. Any tips?

Answer: When I first started my blog, my fear too was that I wouldn’t be able to fill it with fresh, interesting content on a consistent basis. BUT, I’ve found that the more I write, the more ideas I flesh out. Focus on detailed articles (solving one problem of one issue), not general ones, and you will most likely find that you have to CUT your word count, not struggle to increase it.

As for your difficulty writing, my advice is – just write. Initially, don’t worry about grammar, word count, organization, etc. Just get your ideas down on paper. Then, go back and flesh out pertinent points. One written “rambling” may contain seeds for several articles.

Question c) I'd love to start a blog but generating content causes a) and b)!

Answer:
Save a copy of your written ramblings. Thinking that you will remember an idea is folly – it will invariably escape you. I have a document on my computer entitled “Article Ideas.” I constantly add to this as new ideas pop into my head. On those days when the idea well runs dry (it happens to the best of us), it comes in handy.

Question c) Are there resources (a quick course in creative writing) that can help me?

Answer:
There are so many on the web, they are too numerous to name. I hesitate to recommend one, because I haven’t taken any. But, go with recognized names in the freelance industry.

To research sources, go to noted sites like WritersDigest.com and WritersMarkets.com. Also, frequent writing forums. Ask questions and/or read feedback from those who have taken courses.

Shameless Plug! My e-course, Launch a Profitable Freelance Writing Career in 30 Days or Less -- Guaranteed! will be available in January.

FREE E-BOOK: There is so much more that I want to address about this topic based on the findings to date. I’m sure there’ll be more after this experiment ends on 11/18/06.

So, I will be doing a final, in-depth case study analysis. The findings will be published in a FREE e-book and will be available the second week of December. If you’d like a copy of this, subscribe by sending your email address to info[at]InkwellEditorial.com (replace [at] with @).

Tomorrow’s Post: A Proposed Minimum Wage for Freelance Writers (yep folks, we’re going to get political – after all, tomorrow is election day. Remember to VOTE and stay tuned!)
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1 comment:

IMAutoPilot said...

For what it's worth, we run an article submission service and are constantly looking for quality freelance writers. It's a great time to be an English major!