Spin the write web

Follow these tips to produce articles that market you effectively on the Internet

Spin the write web

WRITING articles for online newsletters, blogs and websites can be a low-cost, effective and powerful way of marketing via the Internet.

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 no-so-relevant articles instantly. The reader must then sift through them and find the appropriate ones quickly, with little time to actually read your article unless it passes the initial scan.

Determining keywords is a critical step in writing articles online for effective marketing strategy. If your twitter posts, articles, blog, eZine or website do not contain related keywords, surfers will be unable to find your articles when they conduct searches.

Visibility and credibility

To create visibility, locate terms that are popular and relevant to your target market. The optimal terms in an article should be terms that a potential customer would use when searching for an article.

In order to achieve success, your article should be optimised with terms and phrases that are descriptive, related to your content, and which receive a significant amount of searches. These need to be relevant, popular but unique to your business.

Credibility is about positioning your business right and turning your unique expertise into searchable articles.

If you want to make the most of the opportunities the Internet provides, here are valuable tips on writing effective articles for the Net:

* USE YOUR KNOWLEDGE

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 about writing on.

* START WITH AN OUTLINE

The hardest thing about writing articles for the Internet 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 brainstorming session as you identify linking themes or different angles to take on a subject.

* 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.

* 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.

* KEEP IT SIMPLE

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 two seconds. Make every second count. After the heading use short sentences and bullet points to keep concepts simple.

* FOCUS ON VALUE

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 when you are traditionally not very productive.

Use a virtual assistant or a 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.

* PROVIDE PRACTICAL ADVICE

Avoid waffle and useless, irrelevant information. Focus on practical tips and ideas. Use points and numbering. Make your article as easy to read as possible.

* PERSONALISE

Use personal stories, metaphors or examples to highlight key points. They make intangible ideas more real.

* CUSTOMISE

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

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, an article on goal setting in January is perfect because this is the month to start planning for the year ahead.

* BE PROACTIVE

Always spend time writing articles. It is money well-spent and far more credible than advertising.

* GIVE CONTACT DETAILS

Always provide a link back to your website and summary details on your background and how people can contact you.

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