- By Cathy Goodwin
- Published 06/4/2009
- Writing for the Web
Independent professionals often promote their services online through article marketing. Many focus on keywords and article distribution, but in fact the content of your article will convert readers to prospects. Article marketing represents a special application of copywriting. After all, when you write articles to increase traffic, you are promoting yourself, generating leads and showcasing your expertise. Here are a few tips to create more effective article content. — Keep your article simple. Think of presenting just one idea. Be ruthless. Remove general sentences (“We all know that copywriting is a powerful marketing weapon”) and irrelevant ideas. Every phrase should contribute significant content to your message. — Use short sentences. Online readers read fast. They skim and they scan. Long sentences force your readers to go back and read twice – something that online readers resist. For example, here is a sentence from a real article, with some words changed to disguise the original topic: “The problem is that creativity influences business marketing and clear communication because it can distract readers from your message which may mean that your readers aren’t paying attention to the benefits and uniqueness of your offer.” Better:
An overdose of creativity can backfire. Readers get distracted from your message when
you switch the focus from what you say to how you say it. — Present action tips, not just information. Online readers are looking for solutions to problems. They are asking, “What can I do right now?” For example, if you are an attorney who specializes in estate planning, you may be tempted to write about three types of trusts. Instead, your online audience will respond to an article like, “Three things you must ask your attorney before you make your will.” As a skilled professional, you may find this topic simplistic. That’s why many professionals hire copywriters and ghostwriters. They realize their online articles are designed for promotion, not scholarly research. — Use stories and examples to illustrate your points. Don’t be afraid to change facts as well as names, as long as you don’t mislead readers. Many readers would feel cheated if you invent a story about helping your client make thousands of dollars. But you can change location, occupation and identifying features. You can omit unnecessary details. You can talk about what you might suggest if this person were your client.
— Relate your resource box to your article topic. Let’s say you are a business coach but you decide to write an article about weight loss. Your readers will be confused when your resource box points to a free report on starting a business. Readers searching for weight loss solutions often have no interest in business, even if you promise that their sales will increase when they lose weight.