Starting an article with a blank page in front of you is always difficult. What if you started an article by writing a sample title on the top of piece of paper? This article will give you ideas on how to do “just that” and may bring you just a little more confidence to write your first or next article today.
IF I CAN WRITE, YOU CAN WRITE
At the end of 8th grade, I was told that I’d do better in high school if I went to summer school for my worst subjects — Math and English. I went; however, one month later I was diagnosed with pneumonia and spent the summer in intensive care at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn.
Fast forward eight years. As a way to increase bond sales among the Registered Reps at Bear Stearns, I interviewed the RRs to learn what they needed from the trading desk. (That is where I was working at the time as a Junior Trader). Out of those many conversations, I designed new marketing forms, provided more information than what was previously taken place, and wrote a short article each month. The topics of the articles were actually chosen by me from a list of questions the RRs asked me most often. My colleague, George Adell, proofread whatever I wrote.
I wrote about the nuances of municipal or government bonds. I also wrote about the operational side because, well, it’s very different than selling stocks, options, mutual funds, etc. Over time, I was asked to put all my articles into a Bond Operations Manual — a first ever at Bear Stearns. The manual was given to every new hire by their Branch Manager.
I tell you this, not to brag, but because you don’t have to be a rocket scientist or have an MBA to write an article, as I’m doing now, in 8-15 minutes.
1) Write a title and don’t worry if it’s not perfect. For your first article, write Top 5 (7 or 10) Ways To _____.
2) Write an introduction (this could be a two sentence summary up to a few paragraph, like this article).
3) Write a list of the 5 (7 or 10) topics for the subject you chose.
4) Go back and explain each of the topics in 1-3 sentences
You can use a mind map, if that helps you come up with ideas.
I’ve had clients create articles at a meeting with their team.
You can hire a hire a ghostwriter, PR, or content marketing person to do your writing for you. (Please see your compliance department for guidelines regarding using a ghostwriter to write for you.)
HOW I WROTE THE FIRST ARTICLE FOR MY BUSINESS
My coach made me to it! (Really, she did!) We were discussing ways I could market my business and since I liked teaching, we were brainstorming about ways I could teach more. She said “write and teach about what you know”. At that time, I was working on ways to reduce stress, so I wrote an article called the “Top Ten Ways to Eliminate Stress.” Later, I would go on to create a course called “Clean Sweeping Stress out Of Your Life” — a very popular topic I speak on… to this day.
In 1998, I started my first business email newsletter (ezine) by writing the answers to questions clients asked me. I learned how to “article market” (as it was called then, now it’s called content writing) on the internet, and by 2003, I was being called a pioneer of article marketing on the web. It still seems strange to me!
WHAT CONSTITUTES AN ARTICLE?
While some people write reports every time they write a blog post article, keep in mind that on average, the acceptable length of an article is 450-750 words. However, on your own blog, you can write 250-1500 words. Longer articles can be turned into checklists, eBooks, or reports.
Remember: An article is not the next best novel! Write your first article about “The Top 5 (7 or 10) Ways To “X” and go for 450 words. See the article within an article below called “15 Ideas on How To Develop a Topic For an Article”, which is located below.
WHY YOU NEED A NICHE TO WRITE ARTICLES
If you are writing as a way to bring more eyes to your business, especially your business website and blog, you really need a niche.
To attract your ideal clients, you write TO them and FOR them. It could be about a product or a service, but it can also be something your clients are passionate about (like wine, food, etc.) It could be about pain or joy that they are dealing with in their lives that you know something about.
Way too often I find advisors writing articles “just because”. They wonder why people are leaving their blogs. (They don’t see “themselves” in your writing). So, before you write an article on a topic you would like to write about, ask yourself “Is this something that would interest my ideal clients.” If not, move on. If yes, start writing.
If you don’t have a niche or want to re-fine your niche, there are articles about niching under the Marketing category of this blog. You can also view a video on niching
15 Ideas on How To Develop a Topic For an Article
- Your clients. Keep track of the questions they ask and write about those topics.
- Your clients. On the evaluation you provide to attendees of your seminars, you should have the question “what else would you like to learn about this topic” write about those topics.
- Other articles. Have you ever read an article and thought to yourself, “they left something very important out form this article”? Write about what’s missing.
- Learning. Maybe you’re reading a book or taking a course. Maybe you need to learn something new. Once learned, write about it IF it would interest your ideal clients or newsletter readers.
- Speaking. When you’re asked to speak, write an article or two on the topic and use what you’ve written as hand outs.
- Being pissed off. Maybe you see something or something happens that just ticks you off… write about it… I call it article marketing therapy.
- Social Networking. Heck, this article came from a question asked of me on Twitter. The writer asked me “how do you decide on a topic to write about”. Many other article topics come from questions asked or article posted to LinkedIn, Google Plus, etc.
- News. What is happening in the news at the local, national or global level that affects your clients lives? Write about it. The PBS News Hour or Business News is good for topic ideas.
- Research. Go to the library or Amazon to see what new books are being written about on topics of interest to your niche. Write about those topics. You can always read a book and write what you learned.
- Seasonal. Write about a story regarding a holiday. Once I took the story that I wrote about reducing stress and turned it into “50 Ways to Find Serenity During The Holidays When Serenity is the Last Thing On Your Mind” and I’ve turned the article into Serenity Cards For Business Owners.
- Life: Mix “human interest” stories in with the business articles. This allows your readers to get to know you better; after all, your clients are human, too!
- Repurpose. Take an article you wrote 5 years ago and updated it. You can even turn it into two articles or a report.
- Experience. Write about an experience you had or a lesson learned. Show people your humanness.
- Write when you’re asked to write. As you become known as an expert in your niche, you’ll receive invitations to write for magazines or newsletters.
- Proactively write. If you haven’t heard of HARO, you’re missing out on access to journalists. Learn more about HARO.
(C) 2014 Maria Marsala, Elevating Your Business.