Writing articles for online newsletters and websites can be a low cost, effective and powerful way of marketing yourself to new clients.
Writing for the Web, however, is quite different from writing for other formats. For example readers tend to scan texts more. Often one search can uncover a number of relevant or not relevant articles instantly. The reader must then sift through and find the appropriate ones quickly, offering little time to actually read your article unless it passes the initial scan.
If you want to make the most of the opportunities the Internet provides, here are 12 tips on writing articles for the net:
1. Turn your knowledge into articles.
Take your unique experiences and ideas as an expert in your field and turn them into at least 10 articles. Brainstorm 10 different topics you could confidently speak or write about based on your hard won knowledge. These topics may not be related but will give you a better idea on areas you are confident on writing on.
2. Start with an informal outline of the main points.
The hardest thing about writing articles for the net is getting started! Use a blank piece of paper and a mindmap to work out key themes and points. Add detail later. Sometimes several articles will come from one brainstorm as you identify linking themes or different angles to take on a subject.
3. Research websites.
Look for websites or e-newsletters that are content hungry and will publish articles by others. Target sites matching your target audience and tailor your article to suit that audience.
4. Clarify the logistics.
Contact the editor and clarify the length, style and how much promotional material you can use in your articles. Length will vary from 200 to 2,000 words, with between 400 and 800 words being most common. Often the editor will erase any information from your articles, promotional or otherwise, if it does not fall within the boundaries of the site. It is best to know your limits to avoid having articles taken apart by another party or not posted on the site at all.
5. Keep it short, keep it simple and keep it active.
Remember people don't read computer screens they scan them. Keep your writing style simple and active. Use an active rather than passive writing style. This all starts with the subject line. When a recipient or scanner sees your subject line, you will have their attention for about 2 seconds. Make every second count. After the heading use short sentences and bullet points to keep concepts simple.
6. Use a Dictaphone or voice recognition software.
If you are really busy, use a Dictaphone or other technology to get your thoughts down. I have found this a great way to get articles written during those times you are traditionally not very productive. Use a virtual assistant or ghost writer to actually write the article. Remember it is your ideas and experience readers want, they don't care how the ideas get from your head onto the computer screen. Focus on high value work.
7. Provide solid, practical advice.
Avoid waffle and useless, irrelevant information. Focus on practical tips and ideas. Use dot points and numbering. Make your article as easy to read as possible
Use personal stories, metaphors or examples to highlight key points. They make intangible ideas more real.
Tailor your articles for key targets - for example engineers, scientists or accountants. This includes adapting language, using relevant examples and taking new angles on a subject so the market can relate to it.
Timing is everything for news and e-newsletters are no different. Use news events or seasonal angles to make your material more relevant. For example we had great feedback from an article on goal setting in January because this is a great month for planning the year ahead.
11. Be proactive.
Always spend time writing articles. It is money well spent and far more credible than advertising.
12. Use links and provide contact details.
Always provide a link back to your website and summary details on your background and how people can contact you.
Thomas Murrell MBA CSP is an international business speaker, consultant and award-winning broadcaster. Media Motivators is his regular electronic magazine read by 7,000 professionals in 15 different countries. You can subscribe by visiting http://www.8mmedia.com Thomas can be contacted directly at +6189388 6888 and is available to speak to your conference, seminar or event. Visit Tom's blog at http://www.8mmedia.blogspot.com