by Elena Fawkner
Publish or perish. If you’re in academia, you know the expression well, I’m sure. It means that if you want to progress in your career, you will write books, articles, papers and theses and have your work published and reported in the leading journals. In other words, you are expected to make an original contribution to the body of work in your area of expertise.
The same holds true if you want to progress in your career online. If you don’t make an original contribution to the body of online material in your area of expertise, your business will never really come into its own.
You’ve heard it before: on the Internet information is king. The best website is the one with great original content. Similarly, the best ezine is the one with great original articles and other content. People flock to the Internet because they have an insatiable desire for information, and they are looking to you to provide it. If you don’t, they won’t hesitate to move on to someone who will.
Fortunately for your business’s competitive edge, there is no shortage of online “businesses” out there who fail to make the grade. There is many a website and many an ezine that makes no original contribution to the body of online information in their respective arenas. These are the websites that slap up a few affiliate banner ads and otherwise consist of little more than links to other websites that DO provide useful content. Then there are the ezines that consist of little more than a couple of articles written by other people interspersed with a few classified ads. Any idiot can do that!
You can use this unfortunate fact of Internet life to your competitive advantage by creating the website and/or the ezine that DOES contain quality original content. The backbone of such a website or ezine is the well-written, topical article. That doesn’t mean you must write articles for your website (although you may and should certainly do that). It means that you should write articles about a subject of interest to the same group of people who would be interested in your website and then submit your article to various submission points on the ‘net.
Following this approach, you don't need to worry about "driving" traffic to your site or ezine. Allow your articles to showcase your expertise and you will draw people to you. It's a "pull" rather than "push" approach to traffic generation.
Also, other websites and ezine publishers looking for fresh content for their own sites and ezines will publish your articles and, provided your article includes a resource box at the end (this is the little ‘blurb’ of 5 or 6 lines you see at the end of articles containing a bio about the author and usually a link to his or her website or own ezine), you will generate traffic to your website and/or an increased following for your ezine.
But, I hear you say, “I can’t write”, “I don’t know what to write about”, “I don’t know about anything that people would be interested in reading about.”
Rubbish. Let’s take these excuses (and that’s all they are) in turn:
1. BUT I CAN’T WRITE
If you can talk you can write. Just like if you can read you can cook. The beauty of the Internet as a communication medium is its informality. Have you noticed that writing is different online than it is off? You will rarely find writing on the net that is stilted and formal. Not if the author expects to be read, anyway. It is much more conversational in style and tone. So write how you would talk if you were speaking to your reader rather than writing to them. You’ll be surprised how quickly this becomes second nature. Just do it.
2. BUT I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT
Write about what you know, what interests you, what you are passionate about. The Internet community is V A S T. There is guaranteed to be a segment of the online community interested in any and every topic under the sun, including your passion for whatever it is that gets you going.
I read an article the other day about how to keep white clothes white. That wasn’t a topic that particularly interested ME but judging by the number of contributions made by readers of this particular ezine, many found it fascinating. Go figure! So, write about what you know and don’t try and prejudge how interested others will be. Your potential audience numbers in the hundreds of millions. You’ll be surprised how many people will be interested in reading what you write.
3. BUT I DON’T KNOW ABOUT ANYTHING THAT PEOPLE WOULD BE INTERESTED IN READING ABOUT
This excuse really follows on from the previous one. Essentially this statement says “I know what I am interested in and could write about it but it’s not very interesting so who’d want to read it?” Typically, this person is interested in the “everyday” details of life such as raising children, coping with a difficult step-daughter, the challenges of stretching the paycheck to cover this week’s grocery bill. This is the fodder of life and it’s rich, fertile ground for article topics.
If you live from paycheck to paycheck finding it a challenge to make ends meet each week, write about that. Write about the ingenious ways you stretch a dollar, how you can make a nutritious dinner for four with only $5, and how you save a fortune on children’s clothes by sewing them yourself.
If you’re a stepfather living with a hell’s angel of a step-daughter, write about your experiences, what’s worked for you, what hasn’t. If you’re a stay at home mom, write about the challenges of raising a terrible two year old and all that goes along with it.
Believe it or not, your real life, your everyday experience has a built-in audience. There are many people out there just like you and they’re always looking for information about how to improve their own lives. Be an example. Share your experiences with others. Enrich their lives.
OK, I can see I've convinced you. Now you want to know where to submit your articles, right? Good question. Here's where I submit mine:
Find Your Dream
Free Content (mailing list)
Article Announce (mailing list)
Publish In Yours (mailing list)
Once you get into the habit of writing articles about your experiences and interests you will find no end of things to write about. Make sure you capture your ideas when they occur to you. I keep a section in my diary for this purpose. Whenever I'm stuck for an article idea I just pull out my list and inspiration strikes!
On the Internet you don't have to find a publisher for your work. You publish yourself. You can make an original contribution to the body of information on the Internet today. That's pretty powerful. Never before have you been able to reach so many so easily, so inexpensively. Never before have you had such an opportunity to touch so many lives. Build your business around what you know, what you're passionate about and you can't help but succeed. But you have to start talking out loud.
So, get to it. Write your first article TODAY! Share your wealth with the Internet community and it will do the same with you.
Elena Fawkner is editor of the award-winning A Home-Based Business Online ... practical ideas, resources and strategies for your home-based or online business. http://www.fawkner.com
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