Friday, February 02, 2007

Article Marketing: How to Write Articles People Want to Read

If you want to attract a loyal readership – who turn into subscribers who eventually turn into paying customers – try the following when you sit down to write an article:

1. Use Sources: Many times when I’m surfing the Internet, I will click on an article, read it, and want to know more about the subject. Usually, I have to go searching for myself because there are no sources cited.

Using sources does three things: i) it gives your article more validity; ii) it gives the reader some place to start investigating if they want to know more; and iii) it makes your piece appear more professional.

If you've cited sources (eg, quotes, statistics - even if it's only one), it shows the reader that you've really thought about them, not just hastily threw something together off the top of your head (which IS okay sometimes).

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Finding Sources: How to Do It

Your favorite search engine is an excellent place to find a quote, a stat and/or a companion article to refute or support whatever you may be working on.

For example, what would be an interesting stat for this article? I thought answering the question of how many pages are on the web. Why? Because this article is about how to write articles people want to read.

This is really about the competition of being found on the web. So, in the interest of letting readers know just how hard this is, finding a statistic of how many pages are on the web can give them an idea of what they're up against.

FYI, according to the 2004 Google press release, "Google Achieves Search Milestone With Immediate Access To More Than 6 Billion Items," they indexed more than 6 billion items, eg, "Google's collection of 6 billion items comprises 4.28 billion web pages, 880 million images, 845 million Usenet messages, and a growing collection of book-related information pages."

Now, this gives you a place to start investigating. While researching can be time-consuming, doing this on even a semi-regular basis will give you a body of work you can be proud of.

NOTE: Most professional outlets, eg, magazines, newspapers, major publishers, etc., look for well-researched topics. Before submitting, for example, a 750-word piece, most will want one to two verifiable sources.

So, if one of these is your career aspiration, let your article writing serve a double purpose - pick up a bit of cash, while building a professional body of work you can use to open other professional doors.

2. Get Personal: Most of my articles are written in the first person. That's because I'm usually writing about something I know intimately. I like reading about personal experiences.

It not only lends validity to the author, but is usually a much more entertaining read. I've even find myself reading articles that I have no particular interest in. But, I get sucked in sometimes because of a great headline.

If a writer grabs me with some personal insight pretty quickly, I usually settle in and read the whole piece.

You don't have to reveal your whole life story, but putting a little of yourself out there not only makes your articles more interesting, it might just allow you to purge a little of what's going on inside.

I can't tell you how many times I've had moments of self-discovery while writing. Sometimes the subconscious guides what's on the page.

3. Say Something Different: In every piece I write, I try not to regurgitate what is already out there. I try to give at least one nugget of information that is outside the box.

I can always tell when someone wrote something just to get paid. It's almost as if they read another article, reworded the major points and hit submit.

To avoid this, respect your audience enough to want to leave them with a new piece of information and/or a different way of thinking. Over time, it'll pay off in a loyal readership who looks forward to your next piece.
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