Alas and Alack; The Bear Is Dead.

On February 14, 2011, in Article Marketing, by lesley
It was a fraught weekend. After crossing the stones of desolation we trekked across the southern wastelands – entirely barren apart from a cave system we discovered. Inside we were able to piece together a stone which showed the rise of Ethermaw, a formidable dragon, whose battle with his peers, over a thousand years before, had laid waste to half a continent.

Despite the knowledge we gained, we were ambushed by slob goblins as we rushed to cross the narrow landbridge between the wasteland and Kuk, the Southern continent. The Bear, with the rest of his team, held off the attackers while we made our escape, and although I tried hard to rescue him with my magic spear, lengua afilado, he failed to grasp it in time, and was swept away.

It was a sad moment, and as I’ve mentioned before, we like to have a sound track for our adventures. Here’s the theme we played to honour The Bear.

Now you’re probably wondering what on earth this has to do with you. Not everyone finds it easy to relate to Dungeons and Dragons, but believe me there is a point to this.

I believe firmly in article marketing. As a method of web site promotion it works for many reasons, but an increasing number of people are telling they don’t want to do it in case their articles are stolen.

Seriously. And I suppose you don’t want to access the internet in case you find there’s porn out there.

In other words, yes of course your articles will be stolen. Unless they’re rubbish, or about something noone is interested in.

I can remember when I had the odd worry about that, but now, frankly I’m more worried when they’re not, ‘cos it means they’re not very good.

Last year I wrote an article making business predictions about 2010. Nothing Earth shattering, but it is one of my more popular articles and it has been in the ezine index for over a year now. Yesterday I checked with google and found the first few lines on almost 60 websites. There are far more if I look for just the title, people lift the article and put it through a spinner to produce some of the funniest prose you are likely to find. Believe me you don’t WANT your name and web address attached to that.

Most peculiar is the fact that ezine shows that particular article hasn’t been republished at all, yet you can find it word for word on a number of other sites, some even include my name, but alas, no backlink. (I would name names here, but I don’t want to give them a link they don’t deserve)

Yes, this is irritating, but does it mean that article marketing doesn’t work? No.

I have lots ofl articles in the ezine directory which have been published, the legitimate way, many times. And each one provides one or even two links back to my site.

Those that have never been published by anyone, still provide links back to my site from the ezine directory.

If you do find that you can’t live with the situation don’t get worked up about it. There is a procedure you can follow. Here’s a link to an article which will tell you how to do it – guess where I found it?

Ezinearticles.com.

So don’t be like The Bear and miss your opportunity. Grab it with both hands, get those articles out  there, boost your ranking, drive some traffic and wherever you can, promote the use of article spinners. The more people who steal your stuff, spin it into rubbish and publish, the better it is for those who write good content, because then we really will stand out from the crowd.

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Duplicate Content

On October 29, 2010, in Article Marketing, Content Creation, by lesley
CGrose
Image via Wikipedia

There’s a lot of rubbish talked about the problems of duplicate content and whether Google penalizes for it. The real concern is that most article directories, or other sources of backlinks (such as hubpages, squidoo etc), demand that you produce original content, so when you think about all the different pieces you have to produce, the list looks endless. But is that the actual problem?

When you get right down to it, what’s the most difficult thing to do, find an idea to write about, or actually do the writing? Now I know a lot of people will say ‘both’ but sit and think a minute. Isn’t it really finding something to write about that is the biggest challenge?

But that’s not a problem for you, because you have a future features calendar and you have a number of topics all mapped out. If not, you know what you have to do! Once you have those topics you can work in many different ways. Here’s just one.

Let’s say your topic is something you don’t know too much about right now. All you have a is a short piece of advice. For a hypothetical example lets say you have a shop selling silk flowers. You want to write about those flowers to promote your shop, so you sit down and come up with some topics. One is that it’s a good idea to choose flowers to suit your personality, or if you’re giving them as a gift, to suit the personality of the person you are giving them to.

There’s not much in that is contentious, it’s just another way of saying ‘Choose flowers you like’, so what could you do with something like that?

First of all you could simply enlarge on the point. Write a paragraph about it, just 250 words, and you have a (short) ezine article. Now you’ve started to write, you’ll find you actually do have a view. There are some flowers you don’t like much and others you don’t think would look very good in your room. Think about that a while. Is there a way you can predict what sort of flowers someone likes? Does it have something to do with their personality? Take a look at some other websites and see how they categorise the flowers. You’ll see bowls of bright daisies which look like fun. You’ll see expensive tropical flowers which are very bright, colorful and dramatic. You’ll see bouquets of white flowers which looks fabulous in any setting and of course red roses for the romantics. And that’s just at first glance.

A pattern begins to emerge, so you can reuse the idea to write something a little longer for a squidoo lens where you can talk about different flower personalities and add pictures of some of the items you sell.

But writing isn’t just about articles. Using the same idea you can write an introduction and create a quiz using hubpages where readers can answer questions to find out what their ‘flower personality’ is. End by recommending a flower or set of flowers for each personality type.

So far, one idea has generated one article, one lens and one hub. But we’re not done yet. You’ve got a lot more material now and it’s time to write up something for your blog. Here you can reuse the words if you like, simply take the blog article and pop it in your newsletter (or have software like aweber or mad mimi do it for you.) You developed a quiz, so turn the questions into a survey and add this to your newsletter. Your readers will love something interactive and their answers will give you useful information. Once again, there’s more.

Takes the results of your survey and publish it. It’s news, so now you have a press release. You could even write it up as for ezinearticles.com

Remember how this started? With a simple 250 word article. Well now you’ve had a chance to explore the topic, you even know how your customers feel about it. Now it’s time to write your list article. How many flower personalities did you find? There must be at least five, probably more. Then you have at least ‘Silk Flowers: Five ways to find the perfect arrangement’  You might even be able to enlarge it to ten, ‘Silk Flowers and You, Ten Questions to Help You Find Your Flower Personality’ Once you’ve written that article (around 600 words) take each point separately and turn it into one shorter article, for example ‘Silk Flowers: Choosing Flowers with Drama’ or Silk Flowers: Classic flowers for Classic Rooms’.

List articles make great power point presentations, so create your power point slides and add pictures of your products. Then turn the powerpoint into a video and add it to youtube.  If you’re happy to appear on camera you can record yourself talking to the camera. Why make one video when you could make two, or even more?

Now you’ve had lots of time to think and write about the subject, it’s time to write THE blog post, the one blogs all over the net will want to refer to. One thousand, fifteen hundred words or even more. But that’s not a problem because by now you’re an expert in the subject and you’ve got a lot to say. Remember this is a blog post, it should have personality. If some of the answers to your survey have you mystified, if you don’t understand why some people like A while others like B, then say so. The comments which result may provide an education!

So a few days down the line we have 6-12 ezinearticles, one press release, one hub, one newsletter, one lens, at least one youtube video and two blog posts, one of which is a major work.  Store them all away, because in a couple of months you can reuse them. Not, not on your blog; if you choose your topics carefully you can build your content into an e-book or other info product, and since you’ve already created a survey and a quiz, you’ve had feedback from your customers which will help you hone that product and make it something they want, whether you intend to sell it for profit or make it a give away incentive to join your email list.

Content isn’t the problem, getting ideas for content is the problem. The rest is just time and words.

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The New York Sun
Image via Wikipedia

There’s a lot of rubbish on the web.
Some of it stems from mistakes.
Some of it comes from bad writing and inadequate research.
Some of it is a collection of outright lies.
Which means the web is no different to the real world. One of my College text books was called ‘How to Lie With Statistics’ and I remember how, after reading it, I found every survey or news report a source of fascination.

Over 40% of readers say this is the best thing since sliced bread’ sounds good until you realize it means most people don’t.

Psychologists have shown that we search for and retain more information that confirms our existing view. One result of this is that we hold on to our cherished beliefs even after they have been discredited.

So my question – and it is a question because I don’t know the answer, is how important is the truth? If you are starting a web based business, is it OK to lie to bring customers to your site?

How do you interpret those  ‘standard’ calls to action and ideal headlines – the ones that promise  the universe in exchange for your email address? Has anyone ever really given you the ONE THING you need to know to make money online? Or told you the Seven Secrets of Successful Blogging?

So, why am I writing about this today? Believe it or not there is a reason. On August 25th 1835, the Sun, the a recently opened New York newspaper,  published a series of articles detailing discoveries made by the eminent astronomer Sir John Herschel.  Over the next few days the articles, taken from the ‘Supplement to the Edinburgh Journal of Science’,  described the discovery of a civilization on the moon, complete with buildings, animals and finally, people. Not people like you and me, people with wings and fur, a bit like bats.

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Article Summaries – How To Write One

On August 10, 2010, in Article Marketing, by lesley
A photo of a cup of coffee.
Image via Wikipedia

Do you find that the article summary is something you write last, just as you’re about to submit the article? Do you put much thought into it? Believe it or not this ‘afterthought’ paragraph is pretty important and can make a dig difference to the success of your article marketing campaign, so grab a cup of coffee and I’ll give you my ideas on the subject, I hope you’ll add yours as comments to this post.

Most article directories require writers to submit something called a summary with their article. It is this ‘summary’, which shows up in searches of the directory when publishers are looking for articles to use. A well-crafted summary is essential if you want your article to be picked up by blogs and e-zine’s across the Web.

One word of warning. An article summary is not a summary in the true sense of the word. A true summary or précis is a brief statement of all the information in the article. In the article marketing world this would be counterproductive; a summary which contains all the information in the article, however brief, would be a good substitute for the article, not a good reason to publish it.

So what should your ‘summary’ look like?

Most article directories have strict rules, so in some ways it’s easier to say what an article summary should not contain

  • A restatement of the article title. This is just a waste of words.
  • A true summary of the article. Then there will be no need to publish the article.
  • Less than three sentences. If your summary is too short some directories ignore it and publish your first paragraph instead.
  • More than 100 words. If you go beyond the word limit your summary will be truncated.
  • The authors name. Sadly most article directories do not allow you to include your name – in any search it is probably also on the screen as author anme.
  • HTML. No html is allowed.
  • ‘How’ information. Save that for the article itself.

The summary should be devoted to promoting the article. Not you, not your business. It’s sole purpose is to get people to read or publish the main article.

Be sure to include

  • Keywords – to make sure your article is found.
  • Reasons to read more. Tell the reader or publisher what’s in it for them if they read more or publish your article. What will they learn?

Once successful strategy is to pose a question your reader wants to have answered and indicate that the article contains that answer. Of course if you do, you have to deliver on your promise.

The article summary is very like a movie trailer. It’s not there to summarize the article, it’s there to whet the appetite and build anticipation for the main event, the article itself. You can develop the summary and the article independently, you can even have them written by different people.
Many article directories like Ezeinarticles.com take a very strict view of the article summary. If the summary you submit doesn’t meet their guidelines they will use the first paragraph of your article instead. So don’t loose control over this very valuable piece of directory real estate. Make sure your summary fits their guidelines. I found this out from bitter experience. I put some summaries together only to have them ignored, ezine didnt use them because they were too short. The result – my carefully considered words junked and replaced by my first paragraph, and most interesting of all, they didn’t tell me.

Prospective publishers see the headline and the summary and will often choose to publish an article on that basis alone. Your article summary is not an after thought. It’s worthy of your time and consideration.  Just as a bad movie trailer can result in a good movie being released to a silent cinema and deserted box office, a bad summary wont do justice to the effort you put into your article. Once you’ve spent the time writing you want to get the best return you can for that time, so go just a bit further, don’t throw the summary together at the end, craft it carefully so all your efforts will be read.

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The economic success of the United States allo...
Image via Wikipedia

For as long as I can remember I have been a space nerd, and I was a lucky space nerd, because when I grew up, I got my dream job working with NASA, but don’t let me ramble, that’s a story for another day.

Today, I’m thinking about space because all those years ago, July 16th 1969, Apollo 11 lifted off on the journey to the moon, and that’s a day I’ll always remember. Visiting the space center now (my kids are convinced it’s the only reason we came to live in Florida) I can see that the Saturn Five was even more awesome than it seemed on TV.  Over 360 ft tall the enormous rocket dwarfs the cramped capsule at the top which carried three men on such an amazing adventure. Would there be a fire in the capsule before launch, as happened in test?

Would the launch be successful, would the spacecraft reach the enormous speed required to escape the Earth’s gravity, and once it had, would the engines fire to bring it back around the moon, ready for landing and the voyage home?

All these years later, it’s still exciting.
So I have to be honest and say that I mourn the days of the great adventure, the days when we really did go where no man has gone before, and didn’t just do it on TV.

Did it just get too expensive or do we lack the vision of the generation which really explored the final frontier?

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The Key is Diversity

On July 15, 2010, in Content Creation, by lesley
The Rosetta Stone in the British Museum.
Image via Wikipedia

Two hundred and eleven years ago, Scientist/archeologists accompanying Napoleon in his conquest of Egypt, discovered a big black stone.  They were no doubt hot and dusty. The stone was large. Its quite amazing, in many ways that they bothered with it at all, especially since in weighs over 1,700 lbs, but bother they did and as a result the ancient world of the Egyptians, once a complete mystery began to open up. In 1801, British troops chasing the French from Egypt took possession of the stone and sent it to it’s current home in the British Museum where it has become the most visited exhibit of all, and possibly the most famous single stone in history. I’m talking, of course, about the Rosetta Stone.

The stone was discovered by troops repairing the walls of an old fort. The quickly recognized that it was important and dragged it out, sending it to Cairo for study. Napoleon himself came to see it, and when the French surrendered to the British in Egypt, the stone was just one of many antiquities which were the subjects of major dispute. The French refused to hand them over, the British refused to accept anything less. French historians and scientists were so outraged by the British claim to all their discoveries that they threatened to detroy them all if they were not allowed to take them to France.

As a result, there was a compromise. Scientists were entitled to retain some of their finds (especially the biological specimens) as personal property, and the French attempted to retain the Rosetta Stone the same way, however by some means the British got hold of it and it was taken to England to be presented to the King, displayed in the British Museum and of course copied. Plaster casts were then sent to the principal Universities; Oxford,  Cambridge, Edinburgh and Trinity College in Dublin and the real work began; what exactly did the Stone say?

All this is far from Content creation for websites, or even article marketing, but the Rosetta Stone does have something to tell us, almost 2000 years after it was written.

The stone is famous because it contains a single inscription not in one language, but in three; ancient Greek, demotic and hieroglyphic. Scholars understanding of the first two, gave them the key to the third, the language of an ancient civilization which until that time, had been lost for around 1500 years.  By writing in three, different languages, the scribes had ensured the script was understood by all. The stone dates from a time when Greek was the official language of the Egyptian government, but demotic was the language of Egyptian documents, and hieroglyphics the ‘language of the Gods’. The stone had inscriptions in all three languages in order to address three different audiences, and that is something we can learn from.

Article marketing is a way to bring visitors to your web site. It is also a way to build a reputation for expertise. But there are other important audiences you need to address, and other forms of writing to use. Blogs, such as this one, are an important way of maintaining a dialogue, finding out what interests people and letting them get to know you. Newsletters are a vital component of your business as they keep you in touch with existing customers who are often the best source of business. Tweets and Facebook pages are another way of spreading the word about what you do.

There is no one type of writing, there is no one place to post articles there is no single strategy to follow. The world is more complex; the world is more fun than that. Learn from the ancients and devise a strategy to address a wider audience by talking to them in different ways. Never in history had it been so easy to do so. You don’t need a team of scribes or a huge block of black granite to get yuor message out. Just sit down at your keyboard, write and be read.

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Easy Article Creation

On June 17, 2010, in Article Marketing, by lesley
c. 50
Image via Wikipedia

Many people shrink from the idea of writing articles in horror, but the truth is that the longer you’ve been in business and the more expert you are, the easier and quicker they are to write. You don’t really need any special knowledge and there are several simple techniques you can use to get your articles out there.

If you are looking to have your article picked up by a lot of sites, it makes sense to write something people will be interested in.  Articles are like books, you don’t know you want them till after you’ve read them, but as an author you need to convince people to buy without reading. Fortunately most article directories allow you to create a synopsis or teaser and this is what anyone conducting a manual search of the directory will read. A word of warning. Writing a teaser which does not deliver in the body of the article is not a good idea. Don’t forget the purpose of the exercise is to get a link to your site. The title of the article is also important. Think what people will be looking for, and give it to them.

One simple way to do this is to think of the questions you are asked about your business. Is there one question that gets asked more than the others? That’s your first article, and your second and your third. Believe it or not writing articles in threes (or even more) can be easier.

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Take A Wider View

On June 6, 2010, in Article Marketing, by lesley
A Christmas card from 1870
Image via Wikipedia

Just as a successful marketer thinks more about the benefits than the features of his product, the successful Article marketer thinks about the usability of his articles. Not just in terms of length or readability (though both are important), but in terms of topicality. It may seem wrong to write an article which has a shelf-life, but anyone scanning the directory at ezinearticles.com, for example, is likely to find many potential articles. There are two ways to make sure yours are chosen more than other people’s;

write well
write topically

So if it was December and you were looking for an article for your blog, on, say juicers, which article would you choose; ‘Benefits of citrus juicers’ or ‘The Five Best Presents for Juicing Enthusiasts.’?

The second of course, because that is what your readers want to know at that time of year. What’s more your article might be picked up by a site that is not in your niche, purely because of the seasonal subject matter. The result? More traffic for you.
Of course for the writer, the downside is that once Christmas is passed, no-one will want the article, so it’s never a good idea to write ALL your articles on seasonal topics, but since you can also use the same text in your blog and your newsletter, it may be wise to go half and half.  After all if you write the article carefully, you’ll be able to bring it out next year.

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Knowledge, mural by Robert Lewis Reid. Second ...

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I was feeling a little down the other day, so I did something I shouldn’t. I asked one of my clients why they had hired me.

I was pretty sure I knew the answer and that it would make me feel good. Surely they had hired me for my knowledge, my wit, my personal charm? Even perhaps for my ability to turn a nice phrase? It was none of those things.

My client  revealed that  she hired me because I could think of topics to write about related to her business.  She couldn’t.

Like everyone else, I have days when I stare at the computer screen devoid of any idea how to proceed. As I earn money from this I can’t let it stop me, so my ‘secret’ if you like, is just to start typing. I type out the first thing that comes into my head. Sometimes it’s useful, sometimes not. If there truly is nothing in my head, I type out the first lines of the Walrus and the Carpenter; ‘The sun was shining on the sea, shining with all its might‘. About that point something usually turns up.
There are some subjects which are more difficult than others, but generally one simple formula will get you started in writing articles for any particular business.

Think of the last three (or five) queries you had from your customers. Discard stuff like ‘how much does it cost’ and find out what it is they think it’s important to know. Make the question your title and in the first paragraph state the answer, as briefly as possible.  Then write a paragraph which elaborates on your answer.  When you start with a question a real customer really asked you know you’re in the ideal space, you’re looking at things from the customer’s point of view. The answer is something potential customers will be interested in.

If that approach doesn’t work for you how about looking at your product or service from the customers points of view?

What problem does your product solve for them?  Write a paragraph about the problem and about a customer who had it. Then describe how your product solved the problem and what the result was.

If your product is a blender think why your customers have bought a blender. It’s most probably to do with health.  A blender is a small kitchen appliance and most of these are bought by women. A woman’s chief concern is not usually her own health, but her childrens, so don’t write an article about how great blenders are, write a an article about customer X whose children wouldn’t eat their fruit and veg, till customer X bought a blender and created smoothies for them. Kids eat smoothies, kids now get their fruit and veg.

It’s important to understand the typical customer for your product. For example if the product above had been a juicer, most of these are bought by men whose main interest is their own personal fitness. A different article altogether.

The most important aspect of your writing is to turn all the features of your product or service into benefits to your customer. Then you’ll have given them a compelling reason to buy.

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