Thursday, 25 October 2012

How to Write Articles for On-line Publishing 4: Making and Keeping Loyal Readers

How to Write an Article for On-line Publishing 4: Making and Keeping Loyal Readers

If you are like me, you are an independent writer with few means. Big sites and those with deep pockets can afford to hire writers to produce their content and SEO experts to market those articles and get backlinks for them. The rest of us, however, need to both write the content ourselves and perform the SEO to get visitors to our sites to view the content we have created. Internet marketers say that you should spend 1/3 of tour time writing content and 2/3 of your time promoting and marketing it. But how realistic is that? Particularly if you need to make a living? Personally, I have a large website that I need to extend and I have three blogs that need fresh content. I also write for another site and produce recipe books. It ends up that I put in at least 16 hours in an usual day and that's just to juggle everything that I have going at the current time. There is little time for extraneous things like link-building, SEO and social networking. In a normal day there's almost no time left over for these things. When it comes down to it, the best bet is to keep the people who like my content and regularly visit my sites eager to read more of what I write. The secret is to keep the readers that you already have... But how do you do that?

Earn your Readership's Respect

Let's face it, many articles written online are sheer, unadulterated, drivel. They ramble, they have no real point to them and impart no useful information. What's more they are full of spelling and grammatical errors. It's also why rates for authors are often low and why many people, particularly the on-line community do not value us. We get judged by the lowest common denominator.

But, just because the standard is so low, that is a real opportunity for any writer who takes their craft seriously. If you have standards and value the product you create then you will already stand out from the crowd. Anyone who produces well-researched, well-written and well-edited articles for on-line publication will begin to stand out, and quite quickly too.

If you are doing all the work yourself, then producing four or five top quality articles per week will give you far better returns than if you are churning out six or seven half-baked sloppy pieces every day. The poorer writing requires more SEO work to get visitors. Fine if you have the time and the team, but if you are working for yourself you will not have the opportunity. 

It difficult to earn a good name, that is true, but once you have a name for producing quality content you will also begin to get loyal readers. And loyal readers will tell their friends and other people. You will start to get a 'buzz' about your work and the advertising will be done for you.

Pay Attention to the Quality of Your Work

What distinguishes an excellent writer from a mediocre or even a good one is the overall quality of the work. It's paying attention to the small details. As a writer, everything you write and publish is a reflection of who and what you are. You should know how to spell and how to put together a sentence, even if you are writing to your friends on Facebook of sending a Tweet. The people who want to hire you will check these out.

You computer is your friend here. Always use a spell checker and if your system has a grammar checker use that as well. If English is your first language, you should always be able to write perfect, comprehensible, sentences. 

Personally, I am bilingual with English just edging into second place. This is a disadvantage in one way, as some things do not come naturally to me. It is an advantage in others, as I have a fascination for language and have taught myself to read Old, Medieval and Elizabethan English, abilities I use to their full when translating historic recipe books to modern English. This has been excellent for my overall vocabulary. 

You don't have to translate from historic English, but you should always read as much as you can and extend your vocabulary as much as possible. This means that you writing will not get stale and you can more easily re-word sentences to vary your style and make the content you produce more readable.

Making Articles You Write Your Own

There is so much content on the Internet today, that everyone faces the problem of copying from other sites. Wikipedia might be an useful resource, and it is licensed under a creative commons license, but if you copy wholesale from Wikipedia you will be found out and your reputation will suffer. 

The best way is to read several sites or content sources about a topic and then re-write the article in your own words. Personally I like to read up to 10 different sources and then I will write the article in my own words.

My personal plan of attack is this:

  1. sketch out the article
  2. research the article
  3. write a first draft of the article
  4. edit the article to a second draft
  5. leave the article over night, but re-check my research
  6. edit the article fresh the next morning
  7. edit the article to a fourth draft
  8. give the article one more check before publishing

This way I ensure that the information in the article is accurate and it's gone through sufficient steps to ensure that the article is always written in my own words.

The more knowledge you can present and the better you can present it, the more you will be known as an authority and the better your reputation will be. And a good reputation means loyal readers.

Keeping your Writing Attractive

Providing plenty of original content, all of it well written, will keep people coming back to your blog or your website. Also provide your content in an easily-digestible format. Add images where it's appropriate (Wikimedia Commons and Flickr are good sources of content that you can use as long as you give a link back to the original creator). 

If your reputation is good then you can also get images by asking for permission from other site owners. Most likely they will say yes, as long as your reputation is good and you give a link back to their site. After all, if you have a good reputation it will also reflect well on them for providing the image to you.

Keep reading, make the occasional guest posts and comment on others' blogs. This also helps maintain your reputation and gives you backlinks.

Social Networking for Increased Readership.

Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are all places where you can interact with other people and showcase your work. Some of this can be automated, but some of it requires active participation.

Blog commenting in your niche can also be an excellent place to interact socially with other writers or those who share the same interests as you. Personally I use to automatically send the content I write (via an RSS feed) to both Twitter and Facebook. I also manually add my content to Google+ and I claim my authorship of all content on Google+ so that my picture and links to my bio appear next to the content.

If you use lots of images then Pinterest is an excellent source of social networking as well. It's all about engagement. However, social networking can be an extreme time sink. So be careful how you use it. Typically I allow myself an hour in the evening to perform all the day's social marketing and networking. 

Keep Old Content Fresh

Don't let old content lapse. When you have the time look over it, re-edit and improve it and where necessary update it. Then post abut your updates. This keep old content fresh and means that it's available again for new readers.

The more of your content that you can keep current the more money, overall, you will earn. It's about making the most of your time and your effort. In addition, if you look over older content you will find errors that you did not spot before and you can fix them. This will improve your reputation and the ranking of those articles.

We all have text blindness now and again. The more familiar you are with a block of text the more your brain skims it and ignores the errors. But if you leave the content so that you forget it then you can re-examine with fresh eyes. You will be surprised at just how many errors you find. Also, the more you write the better your craft of writing will be.

See this article on keeping older content fresh for more information.

A Brief Note on SEO

If you are writing about a certain topic, then think of a short phrase that describes that topi. Those are the keywords for your article. The more you salt those keywords into your article the more chance there will be that someone searching in Google for those terms will find your article.

Ensure you use the keywords in your title and one of our subtitles. Place the keywords a couple of times in your article introduction then use the keywords again every 150 words or so in the article body.

Don't be slavish about this, it is more important that your article reads well rather than its being stuffed full of keywords.

But just think in terms of your target audience for a minute. I wrote this article as part of a series on how to write text for on-line publishing. Someone looking for such an article might use search terms like: 'writing internet articles', 'how to write internet articles', 'writing for websites', 'how to write articles', 'tips for internet articles' etc. 

If you want to perform on-page SEO then you will think of all these search terms and then place them in your article body. This will help the Search Engines know what your article is about and will help people using those terms search for your article.


Here are the main take-home messages from this articles:

  • Keep your articles fresh and well written to attract and keep a loyal readership
  • Pay attention to the quality of your articles, ensuring that your content is top notch and that your English spelling and usage are up to scratch
  • Pay attention to sentence structure and the rules of grammar
  • Expand your vocabulary to make your articles more readable
  • Plan your article, do your research then edit and re-edit before publication
  • Original work is what earns respect
  • Engage in social networking to let people know about your articles and to engage with your readership
  • Recognize the importance of keywords and how to use them
Whilst spelling and correct grammar are very important, remember that English is a global language. There are many styles and idioms of English. American and British English differ (and I have seen many Americans comment on 'incorrect' spelling in British English articles without realizing that there are differences). My own English is slightly idiosyncratic in that I use 18th century spelling for some things (use of 'ize' rather than 'ise' for example).

Indian English is different again and African use of English is very different (my wife is West African so I know the idiom well). You may be an expert in your own form of English, but do not instinctively criticise the usage of others unless you are absolutely certain.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Popular Posts