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09-16-2004, 01:22 AM #1
- Join Date
- Dec 2003
Are Articles an Effective Promotional Tool?
When I realised that I was going to have my first article published at SitePoint I decided to ask other people I knew if they were interested in writing an article. I knew some of them certainly had the experience to talk about some of the topics that SitePoint were looking for, but I never really expected some of the responses I received.
It was a mixed bag, some people thought it was a great idea; others were too busy or thought it was a waste of their time to write content exclusively for another site.
This got me thinking. Why exactly would it be a waste of time?
Why Write Articles for Someone Else?
To help answer the question as to why writing for another site can be seen as a waste of time, we really need to think about the motives behind writing an article, any article, in the first place. These are:-
- To inform
- To promote (yourself, your site or your company)
- To profit (from selling the information)
Some people like to make their work available to anyone wishing to publish it with the aim of promoting their presence on the Web or that of their site or company. Rabbitdog, a regular at the SitePoint forums, finds writing new material a strain at times, but feels it is worth the effort at the end of the day because she has something to add to her resume while helping others by explaining things in a more straightforward way.
Other people are happy just to write articles simply for the fame and prestige that comes with it. It doesn't matter to most that this ego boost is short lived, being able to say they've written for a well-known site or publication is enough to earn them a bit of extra respect and credibility, particularly if they can prove it with a link to the archives. Find the right place to publish your work and you'll find people will begin to recognise you, your site and your company.
If you want to write for profit, it would be a good idea to offer samples of what you offer for free; either in the form of quick tips, or an extensive article on your specialised subject. People expect to find information about any topic for free. However, if you can convince your visitors that you really know what you are talking about and know they are unlikely to find the information elsewhere, then they may be prepared to pay.
Regardless of your motive for writing an article, you will want to make sure that your work gets seen by as many people interested in your topic as possible. Even if you have a large Website, you will get more "exposure" if you publish your work (or references to it) across a range of different sites.
Is it Worth the Time and Effort?
Your attitude to the idea of sharing your time and work with another site or ezine will depend on your motivation for writing a piece and any restrictions placed on it's distribution once it is published.
- Do you already have content you can share with other sites and ezines?
- Do you regularly create your own fresh content?
- Are you, your site or your company relatively unknown?
- Are there sites or ezines out there willing to publish your already published work?
- Do the sites or ezines looking for unpublished work want the "exclusive" if they agree to publish your work? If so, how long for?
- What is the reach of the site or ezine you want to work with?
In my particular case, I decided to write a few articles for SitePoint to help get myself noticed in wider Webmaster circles. While I did take the time to write content with the intention of it being published on SitePoint, I did not feel I was putting myself out by doing so. I am always looking to expand my own Webmaster related site, so would have used the articles on my own site anyway if they were rejected.
The benefits of allowing SitePoint exclusive rights to publish my newer works extend beyond getting more people to my site. An editor reviews articles published throughout the SitePoint network. Because of this precondition to publication, the editor is in effect endorsing the content and the author that wrote it.
This review process gives a site, and the authors that are fortunate enough to be published; more credibility with those reading the content at the original site or through the network the site belongs to. If SitePoint had a feature that allowed anyone to post new articles without them being checked and reviewed, it would loose some of its credibility as the quality of content would surely suffer.
Crowe, another SitePoint forum regular tends to agree, "I like to submit to sites that have a nice editorial policy so that you know when you see your article online, paid or not, it met up to their standards. I'd much rather write articles for sites like this one "SitePoint" where they are in good company."
The Long and Short-term Effects
One of the arguments made against writing articles for other sites and ezines is that they are only a short-term way of getting traffic to your site. The idea is that once the article is "old", you loose the trickle of traffic that follow your link from the article (if there is one), and you will have to supply a steady stream of new content to maintain it. Depending on your current situation, this may not be too much of a problem.
If you choose your publication mediums carefully you will get a burst of highly targeted traffic to your site. Even if this equates to nothing more than a handful of people, they are the people most likely to bookmark your site and return to read more of what you have to say in the future. If you happen to own an ecommerce site or sell Web services, this could mean an extra sale or new Web project. Can you really afford to forego that?
The long-term benefits of publishing your work on other sites in particular should be self-evident. Providing the publishing site keeps archives, your work will be available for anyone to read long after the original publication date. While the stream of visitors will slow down, it should not dry out completely.
Then of course there are the search engines, which will find links to your site wherever you are published (assuming you requested a link as a condition for republishing the piece). This can only help your link popularity, which in turn will help your search engine rankings.
Don't forget that any publicity is good publicity, and so if you are able to get your articles published in a popular print magazine then you can tap into a whole new market. Steelsun, another SitePoint forum regular, recommends you find publications suitable to your target audience and be flexible about how you are rewarded for your effort. Not all articles he wrote have been paid for directly, but paid in kind with mentions of his site, free copies of publications that he's been featured in as well as free classifieds for his business.
Of all the site owners I've talked to with experience of writing articles for others, none had ruled it out from their future site promotion efforts altogether. Writing articles is certainly an effective way of getting attention on the net, but there is no denying the fact that who you write for plays a big part in your success or failure.
Robert Loch, deputy editor of Dotcom Scoop explains "At the end of last year I wrote an article on Salon's future business prospects, with part of the intention being to open up our site to a broader media audience. After getting posted on Media News the article was then picked up by about 30 different websites/weblogs - causing a flood of traffic. I ended up receiving over 120 emails in feedback. Forgetting the level of traffic though, the real bonus was the quality of the audience. It was as if every editor and journalist in the US read the article!".
Speaking from personal experience, I know that there are times when I can't be bothered to add new content to my own site, let alone anyone else's! It's at times like these that I go and look back at all the appreciative emails I've gotten in the past. Knowing that I've made a difference to just a few people and the fact they've acknowledged my effort is all the reward I need to inspire me to keep writing.
Weighing it up
When deciding if writing content for someone else is worth your time and effort, remember that it can bring more than just new visitors to your site. Decide what your main motives for writing are and choose your publishing partners carefully; having your article approved by an editor for a well known site means a lot to the regular visitors of that site and so will help to improve your credibility.
The challenge is not writing the articles as such, it's getting them noticed by the right group of people! By finding out where all these people are and how to get your words in front of them, you'll be one step closer to getting the quality traffic you are looking for. Your target audience is out there now, looking for your opinions and advice, so why not give them what they want? If they like what you have to offer, there is a very good chance they will visit your site to learn more.
While the bulk of the rewards for sharing your content and knowledge may be short-lived, it is your opportunity to make an impression in wider social circles. Surely the prospect of earning more respect in your profession or of developing
Author: Rosemarie Wise
09-16-2004, 10:25 AM #2
- Join Date
- Feb 2004
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04-15-2005, 01:11 PM #3
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- Oct 2004
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