Many internet marketers have heard about the traffic that article marketing can bring to a website. Yet, when they try it themselves, they find the results less than rewarding. With article marketing becoming more and more well-known as a FREE (or very cheap) way to quickly gain lots of inbound links to a website, the value of it cannot be over-emphasized.
However, as this trend grows, so does the population of articles that are available. With the inherent competition, article distributors and newsletter editors, are becoming more selective toward the articles they accept. Since they are in the driver's seat, the sensible thing to do is find out what it is they need, as well as the most efficient way to offer that to them.
Below are 9 tips that include everything from offline preparation, to Byline Do's & Don't's. Each is designed to make the process as efficient and painless as possible. Included in the byline is a link to a current list of approximately 100 submission sites and recommended submission services.
1. LIKE A GOOD SCOUT, BE PREPARED
There are several items each distributor will need regarding each article submission. Preparing these beforehand, as part of the writing process, will make the submission session flow smoothly. The list below includes everything needed to submit an article:
-- Title. Like the name of a website, a Title is, was, and shall always be the articles first advertisement. This is true for editors and distributions as much as those who will eventually read it. Though there are many articles devoted to this subject alone, the most important thing to remember is: short and to the point. The faster people can understand what the article is about, the faster they can decide if they're interested. And never, never use a deceptive Title. Though it may gain some attention, in the long run, the editors will mostly remember being disappointed by you.
-- Synopsis or Abstract. This is a short description of the article, which is usually only one or two sentences long. Many distributors even have a byte or character limit for it. Respect that limit. If your synopsis exceeds it, the system will probably just cut off the last few words. The synopsis is used by the distributor to promote the article on their article listings. It is the short "blurb" that explains a little more of the article.
-- Key words. Like the keywords for a website, these keywords must be relevant to the subject. For example, the keywords used for this article were: business writing, article marketing, internet marketing, affiliate marketing, article submission, newsletter distribution. They all relate in some meaningful way to the overall subject. There needn't be more than four or five phrases. These will be used, not only within the database searches, but with major seach engines, too.
-- Body. Most distributors also have a limit on the amount of characters/bytes for this, but are usually generous with this amount. Respect that amount. If your article exceeds these limits, edit it appropriately.
--Byline. This is the little box at the bottom of the page that is "About The Author". The reason it's called a "byline" is because this is who the article is "by", i.e., who wrote it. Keep this short, too, but be sure to include any background that is pertinent to the subject and could deem you an "expert", as well as your profession and a link to your site is needed. Again, there are limitations on these, which vary according to the distributor. Generally, if it's brief (like mine, below), no one will object.
Once all of these items are written and edited the article is ready for submission. It's also a good idea, before beginning to make a short template that includes all these items, then save it as something like, "basic_article.txt". But--
2. THE RIGHT "PROCESS"
Everyone has their own favorite word processing program. And most are fine to use with submission sites. Word is so completely ubiquitious, most sites assume writers will use this. However, while the distributors do accept these platforms, that doesn't mean they can accept all the formatting included with them.
Generally speaking, formatting should be kept to a bare minimum. I use silly old Notepad (yeah, that little WP accessory that's available in every copy of Windows). It forces me to forget about formatting. Since an article must be adaptable to many different types of formatting, keeping ITS formatting plain allows a larger amount of distributors to accept it. The last thing one should expect is for the distributor to have to take the time to re-format an article. That is not part of their job. It's part of the writer's.
Also, if using Notepad while writing an article, turn the Word Wrap feature "ON". But while submitting it, turn it "OFF". This simple step can save hours of re-formatting for each submission site and is another good reason to use Notepad. Always remember: coding-BAD.
3. DITTO WITH HTML
Though most email now accepts HTML coding and many even include it automatically, this does not mean that the programs used in article distribution are included in that equation. This is another excellent reason to use something like Notepad, since there is a minimum of unseen or invisible coding. Any type of coding may transfer poorly and cause an article to look more like a cyptogram than legible writing. Remember: Coding-BAD. No Coding-GOOD. A few distributors will not even allow such common characters as quotation marks or asterisks. One good substitute for this is CAPITALIZED words, which also work well to replace a bold or italisized word.
Up to this point, the tips have been about the preparation process. The following refer to the actual submission process.
4. THE GOOD GUYS VS. THE BAD GUYS
Especially for the ambitious writer who is always doing Google searches for new article sites, it should be noted that not ALL submission sites are reputable. For some reason, some people begrudge even a simple byline as payment for providing valuable content and will "overlook" several key essentials. Any reputable site (and most of them ARE) will offer three services to the author: a byline segment, the ability to preview the finished article as well as edit the article AFTER it has been submitted. For those who don't, for whatever reasons, a writer may include a top byline within the Title, as well as the bottom byline within the body of the article. But ONLY for those that do not provide a place for them. Otherwise, you articles will come out looking silly -- and may be passed over -- for having doubled this content.
5. PICs OF YOU
Some submission sites ask for a photograph of the author. Though many people shy away from cameras, this is an additional security measure against plagarism, especially if the photo is included with each article. So consider keeping a relatively recent photo on file on your computer. Most that do ask for this require that the photo be a relatively small file, so keep it simple.
6. AFFILIATE MARKETING OR BIZ OPPS?
Choosing the right category during the submission process is another key ingredient to success. Most newsletter editors only skim through the categories pertinent to their area of interest. If a submission site has no relevant categories, skip it and go on.
7. EMAIL INCLUDED?
Until recently, including a professional email address in the byline would be advised. However, with the increase of email address security issues, this is becoming less common. If using an email address at all, use one that is not directly associated with a privately owned website.
8. ORGANIZATION EQUALS EFFICIENCY
The first, crueling session of article submission (with the emphasis on "mission") can be daunting to a budding enewsletter author. However, if the time is spent wisely, it can be an investment that will pay for itself with each subsequent article.
When submitting to sites, create a folder in the "Favorites" or "Bookmarks" portion of your browser. For each successful submission, remember to add the link for that site to your folder. Also, edit each one, putting the username for that site and password in the link so that, when clicked on it, it also has this information available. And, to save steps later, be sure the link goes to the sign-in page (for those requiring membership) or directly to the submission site (for those without). Once this system is in place, and the article includes all necessary items, the whole process should only take a short time.
9. BYLINE DO'S AND DON'T's
DO: Adjust your byline according to the article and promotion. For instance, though my main work is now internet marketing, I've also worked extensively as a crafter. If I decided to write an article about crafting, I would revise it to include that information. Otherwise I leave it out. Also, since I represent several different companies, I choose the company most closely related to the subject. Turning that thinking around, one could also write articles that would specifically promote different sites.
DON'T: If A submission site does not allow HTML in the byline, do NOT USE it. Type the URL in its entirety. Some sites simply don't have the technology to support HTML. There are also several free services that will provide short urls or URL scramblers, if there is any concern about security.
DON'T: include more URLs than allowed. Some sites do not specifically state a limit, but most do not want to more than two or three.
DO: As an added security measure against plagarism, always put your initials right at the end of the article, as I do, below. This is an old offline writing habit, which was typically used in newspaper work to identify to the typesetter which articles belonged to which authors. Online, it prevents the plagarist from copy/pasting the text without being detected.
Finally, and above all, respect whatever rules or requirements each submission site has, for your own sake as well as theirs. Remember, as more and more people learn the value of article marketing, competition will continue to increase. So, as you submit regularly to sites and they come to count on you for good, professionally submitted content, they will appreciate you and your efforts.--mo