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Write for Business

Gary Crum

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Write a good article and the world will beat a path to your door. Or is that build a better mousetrap? Either way, it's the bait that makes the difference.

For some, referrals, advertising, cold calls and networking are tried and true ways to build business. But, when you write informative articles, you will come to be known as an expert in your field. Consider these advantages:

  • The printed word reaches your client in their offices and homes.
  • Reprints make great handouts and mailers.
  • Many readers clip articles from the paper, saving them for future reference. You may find people responding years later.

    Convinced? Well, maybe. But keep reading. Better yet, start writing down some article ideas. For example, you may want to start with an article discussing the terminology used in your business. The next article may cover some inside information that would be useful to consumers. The next, some commonly asked questions with answers.

    You get the idea. Ask yourself what questions your clients ask you most frequently and you will have the topics for your articles. By the way, to be effective as a business development tool, be prepared to write at least three to six articles. The more readers see your name, the more they will come to identify you as an expert in your specialty.

    Now that you are all fired up and ready to start, consider where you are going to place your articles. Start by identifying your audience. Who is going to use your product, businesses or consumers?

    Knowing your audience will help you select the publication where you want your article to appear. If you are trying to develop clients locally, the first choice would be a daily newspaper. These papers usually have special sections appropriate for your information. Some are fairly obvious. Weekly Business and real estate supplements sections are great for reaching potential borrowers. The personal finance pages are an obvious place for mortgage finance articles.

    A second choice is a weekly newspaper that may be receptive to freelance material. Also consider business periodicals that provide excellent opportunities for publication. Most metropolitan areas have a “Business Journal" that records bankruptcies, foreclosure, divorce and other legal matters. On a more focused level, look for state and national magazines directed to professionals. Ask friends in various professions to give you sample copies of their trade magazines or take a trip to the local library. If you are aiming at consumers on a national level, consider national publications targeted at your audience.

    Consider publishing your article on a website article collection such as Readers use these types of sites for research by subject matter and will be able to find your article plus information about your business and website.

    A good source of information for national magazine markets is the annual “Writer's Market" published by Writer's Digest Books, Cincinnati, Ohio. Once you have selected a target publication, look on the periodical's masthead for the name of the appropriate editor. Some will be open to discussing your ideas on the telephone. Others will require a written query.

    The editor can tell you if his or her publication needs the material you want to cover. The editor will also give you an idea of the length and style of articles their publication prefers. Ask for any available writer's guidelines that can help direct your efforts.

    Once you have decided your audience and a receptive publication suited to reach that audience, you will want to prepare a professional manuscript. Correct format is important to editors and establishes the author as a professional.

    You should always start with a cover letter, summing up your conversation or correspondence with the editor and a review of the articles content. Also include a brief biography that will tell the editor why they qualify you to write your article.

    As for the manuscript itself, start by reading a book about writing articles. The book should cover the mechanics and format of successful articles. Excellent books on the subject are Magazine Writing That Sells by Don McKinney, Writer's Digest Books, Cincinnati, Ohio 1994 and Perry Wilbur's How to Write Articles That Sell, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1981.

    What if you do not have the time or inclination to write? Writing well can be time consuming and frustrating. Several alternatives can help you achieve the results you want without the frustration.

    First, you can create a rough draft and then find someone to edit and polish the article for publication. Or you can find a “ghostwriter" that can take your ideas and write a draft for you. You can then add your changes and additions to the article before a final manuscript is prepared. The writer will charge you a fee for writing the article and give you a final copy for submission to your publication of choice.

    Generally, writers expect a third of their fee up front, a third at first draft and final payment when you receive the completed manuscript. Since contract writers cannot guarantee publication, you will want to be quite sure of acceptance before going ahead.

    Writing fees can be from $150 for a short newspaper article to $3,000 and up for magazine articles. Prices vary with the writer and the complexity of the subject. Fees are usually less if several articles are involved.

    You can find names of editors and writers by contacting writing groups, such as the Florida Freelance Writers Association. Or contact your local library for the names of groups in your area. Ask the writer's group for a list of freelance writers that might be appropriate for your subject. Research articles on websites such as Here you can find what has been written about your subject. You might also find an author who can write a similar article for you.

    If you see a good article in your favorite trade journal you can contact the author through the editorial offices listed in the publication. Names and addresses of the publication and editors appear on the masthead page of all periodicals and most trade journals have websites.

    While a free lance writer's knowledge of your article subject can make your efforts easier, it is more important that the writer communicates effectively with your audience. You can provide the needed technical expertise through an interview or rough draft.

    Remember, however you write your articles, your job is to provide useful information in an entertaining manner.

    Experienced, nationally published writer with twenty five years of banking, mortgage banking, and real estate experience. Academic background as adjunct college instructor and course developer. BSBA, MBA. Former bank president and chairman of the State of Florida Investment Advisory Council.

    Publication includes multiple articles in the Christian Science Monitor, Bank Director Magazine, American Banker, Credit Union Business, Independent Banker, Financial Freedom Quarterly, National Mortgage Broker, Mortgage Originator, Mississippi, Florida Realtor, Florida Times Union, the Miami Herald, the Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel and a column in the Palm Beach Post called “Mortgage Plain Talk. " See my website for many more informative articles about mortgages:

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