There have been a number of gurus proclaiming lately that “article marketing is dead.” They seem to believe that it is not worth the time and effort for a business owner to write articles and distribute them around the Internet to attract viewers, provide value in their niche, and drive traffic to their sites and products.
I’m wondering how you feel about this death sentence?
Let me ask you this – do people still read articles online?
Emphatically I would answer – of course they do and these articles are the lifeblood of some of the most popular web sites on the planet. All publish articles that have outgoing links to further information or the author’s web site. Here are some examples:
News Sites: Mashable, TechCrunch, cNet, Wired, ZDNet, etc
Business Sites: Forbes, CNN Money, MSN Money Central, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, The Motley Fool, CNBC, etc
Celebrity Sites: TMZ, E Online, People, Gawker, Hollywood Life, Wet Paint
What about health sites, sports sites, job sites, political sites, tech and gadget sites, travel sites, magazine sites and on and on?
Doesn’t every one of these popular Internet destinations publish articles that people read, follow, and love?
Articles are not dead by any means. And if articles aren’t dead, the marketing of these articles is not dead either!
Sure, it may be difficult for a small solo business owner to publish his own articles on some of these huge popular sites (although it has been done before.) That’s OK. These big sites are not the home of the audience that most small business niche operators should be targeting in their business.
Why can’t you market your articles on smaller niche authority sites? What about at niche portals, niche directories, niche authority blog sites, in niche forums, on product and service sites in the niche? Notice I’m not talking about article marketing at FFA sites (free for all) and general article directories. I’m talking about sites within your niche that would love to have your original, relevant, helpful articles available for their readers.
Well I’m sorry (guru’s name withheld) that your article marketing is not producing . . . but mine is doing just fine and continues to bring me subscribers and sales regularly. Maybe the problem is with your approach. I write a number of articles in several niches every week and I certainly wouldn’t continue that effort if it wasn’t paying off.
If your idea of article marketing is really “article spamming” . . . then maybe the effectiveness of that practice is dead. Maybe marketing with spammy article directories that were filled with fluff and hyperbole are dead.
A number of things go into successful article marketing including:
- choosing of appropriate topics,
- research in the marketplace,
- actually writing the article,
- setting up landing pages and autoresponders to receive incoming traffic,
- distribution of the articles to hand-picked sources,
- and pinging the articles to appropriate web sites.
I thought I’d share some tips about creating your articles. We will deal with other aspects of article marketing in other posts and threads.
Write about one very specific topic per article. Don’t generalize. Keep to the topic and don’t stray. Your focus can be to inform, to motivate, to teach, or to entertain but have a reason for writing.
Be original. Don’t just read what has already been written and summarize. This doesn’t mean you can’t quote others or comment on their ideas. Way too many writers just rehash someone else’s thinking. Do your own thinking. The more you know the subject well, the easier being original in your writing becomes.
Research the topic and include sources of your information as links in your article if appropriate. Don’t plagiarize – but do include short quotes or snippets from authorities in the niche if that helps fulfill your purpose.
Try to make the length around 1,000 -1,500 words give or take. This is just a suggestion or goal but not a hard and fast rule. You need this length to go into some detail on most subjects. If you can cover a subject well with fewer words, do it. I read somewhere that the average blog post today is around 350 words. Be different. Give your readers some meat to chew on!
Add an interesting, curious, or keyword phrase title (or a combination). Focus on making the viewer want to stop his/her browsing and read further. Be creative but truthful. Often, including the top idea/benefit/result is effective. Make a swipe file of top headlines that motivate you to read further . . . then repurpose them for your own articles.
Add one or two graphic images that are relevant. Using images that have people in them is a good idea – we relate to others’ human experiences. (It goes without saying that you need to have a license or permission to use any image.) Keep the images fairly small so they don’t “overpower” the text ideas you’re writing about. They are there to support your written words and to “break up” the text. However you format the article, keep the image to about 1/3 the total width of your text. (Imagine that your text is divided into three columns across the page – the image would fill one of those columns, usually placed right or left, not center, with text wrapped around.)
Write in conversational style – you will develop your own “voice” and persona over time. Write as though you are giving information or advice to a good friend but don’t be “preachy” or condescending.
Don’t be self serving. This is very important. Don’t make your articles seem like a sales letter for you, your brand, your product or service, or your personal agenda. This type of “article” is really more of an infomercial and most authority sites will reject it.
Take a stand and be decisive. This may sound counter-intuitive because some might be offended by your position and heaven forbid you offend anyone! No, it’s okay to take a stand. Most people who read articles for their value (not grammar Nazis, fault finders, or those who look for opportunities to argue) will appreciate being exposed to both sides of a controversy. Be civil in your arguments or talking points and accept the fact that other intelligent people will take the opposite stand.
Caution #1: Don’t be verbose (too wordy). Fluff, fat, filler, you know – the writing that is often included in an article to make it appear more comprehensive and give it more length – don’t add it in to your article. It cheapens and lessens the value of your writing for the reader. Be honest – which would you rather read – a two page article or a four page article, each saying exactly the same thing?
Caution #2: It is said, the #1 sin in copywriting is to be boring. Obviously, your readers will ultimately be the judge. If you bore your audience, it will be nigh impossible to engage with them in subsequent conversations (think of subscribers to your email list). Bored people don’t have time to hang around for more boredom.
Do have a call to action in one or more places in your article. Be careful that it doesn’t come across as a “salesy” pitch. When you’re a business person, you need to sell things. Many sellers don’t take advantage of the opportunity to direct an article reader to their web site or their list, not as a hard sell, but more as a friendly recommendation so the reader can learn more about the subject if desired.
Try some of these tips in your future article creation and see if they don’t help you to be more successful in your article marketing.
To your online business success,