There are many websites that will host your articles on the Internet. Some small, some large, some with guidelines, some without, some support streams of topics, some have a limited focus, some charge a fee and some are free.
With so many places to post your articles how can you maximize distribution with the least amount of effort? You can do so by being selective. Post your articles only on sites that support your topic, have integrity, and have a win/win approach. Since no two websites are alike. Here are a few features to watch for when considering your articles for submission:
1. Search capabilities. When you are at the website is there a search feature visitors can use to find a certain topic? If the page or pages list articles one after the other down a long page readers will not get past the first 20 names. Actually they will not even read that many. Web viewers do not have the patience to scroll through rows of titles trying to find the right subject.
2. How user friendly is the website? If the article section is buried inside a website and you have difficulty figuring out how to submit your article you will want to consider submitting your articles to this site.
3. What is the purpose of the website? Is that purpose supportive of your article, topic, and purpose or detrimental? Is it a sales page just trying to drive up search engine optimization under false pretenses? don't be fooled there are many of them out there. Is the host of the website apparent or nonexistent? Can you find a phone number or location -- city, state or country?
4. Submission guidelines. Some websites stipulate a word count, minimum, maximum or range. If your article doesn't meet their word count stipulations your article will normally not get published. Take them seriously and take the time to read them. More importantly find a system to track these. I have a rating system I use with 1 being the perfect submission site on up to 15 being an absolutely no. I keep track of the no website sites so that when I'm looking for new sites I know which ones I have already reviewed.
Since website owners change, just as we do as we learn and grow with our skills, guidelines change occasionally as well. I recommend reviewing the guidelines either every three months or at least ever six. Some sites have gotten sneaky and post good guidelines and then change to "we have the copyright now" sites when you are least expecting it.
There are also a few sneaky submission sites that are counting on you not reading their guidelines. These sites stipulate in their guidelines that upon submission the author gives up their copyright on the article. Some are blatantly labeled while others are hidden inside obscure legalize.
Some sites stipulate that you give them permission to use your material in anything they print or publish. This means that they can accumulate articles on a certain subject, and this is their usual intention, put them together in an ebook and sell the ebook. While some of you will not mind this and consider it viral marketing there are some dangers in this. And this author knows because this has occurred to her materials before she became wise to the secret purpose.
5. Statistics. There are very few websites that provide reader statistics. I love the websites that tell me how many people read the article. I want to know if a particular topic is well read. Many sites prefer not to post reader statistics. I suspect it is because writers would see that there is a very low count and submitting their articles. Voting on the article is a nice feature, however, it is not really a vital statistic counter. Maybe 1 out of 10 to 15 views will someone take the time to vote. If the voting feature is remotely positioned viewers never know of its existence. Even if this feature is position well on the page -- above the article to let readers know its there and immediately below the article -- readers will rarely vote unless the article was awful.
Article hosting and posting is a joint venture -- view it as such -- and you will maximize your time and effort.
Copyright 2005, Catherine Franz.