How would you like a steady stream of prospective clients to call and write to you, asking for your services?
In today's hotly competitive marketplace, almost anyone with a phone, fax and computer can appear to be a qualified service provider. In the midst of all the apparent choices, how do your prospective buyers make their decision? One of the most common reasons cited by buyers for contacting a specific provider is "I've read her articles".
Buyers are searching for some signal of credibility. They want to know that you know what you're talking about. There is great comfort in buying from someone who you know, or at least have heard of. By writing an article about your field of specialty, your credibility will soar.
Let's examine the two main issues. First is writing the article. The second is getting it published.
Writing an article is not as daunting as you might think. First of all, most publications want fairly short articles. You don't need to create the Great American Novel. Two or three pages will do the trick.
How about the topic? Remember the purpose of the article is to let potential clients see that you are "an expert". The topic should be something you know a lot about. It should also be a topic of interest to your potential customers.
For example: let's say you are a financial planner and your best potential clients are wealthy people who are concerned about taxes. You could write an article about "the ten best ways to reduce your tax burden". If you are a graphics designer who wants to attract magazine publishers, your article could be about "how to design your magazine so advertisers line up to buy ad space".
When you select your topic, start with a brief outline. Include a few notes on:
The main message of the article
The three to five main points to cover
Some thoughts on each of the main points
Your opening and your closing call to action
A possible title for the article
From here, you can expand your thoughts on each of the main points of your article as if you were explaining them to an interested friend. The nice part about working from an outline is that you can write these sections in any sequence, then piece them together
later in a logical order. Three or four paragraphs on each of the main points should work out great.
The opening of your article is designed to catch your readers' attention. They will decide within the first three sentences if they're interested in reading the rest of the article. Therefore, the first three sentences should promise a benefit to readers for reading your article and let them see if the article applies to them.
The closing paragraph of the article is where you summarize your main message and issue a call to action. Usually one or two sentences will suffice for the summary, then one or two sentences for your challenge to the reader to take action.
Along the way in writing your article, you will likely come up with a catchy title. The title should be short and command attention. Think of the title as the headline for your article or the cover of a book. People will often decide to read or not depending on whether the title hooks them.
You're not quite finished yet. Your article needs editing. Have someone else read your article looking for spelling errors, questionable grammar, rambling sentences or unclear writing. If you don't know someone who can edit your article for you, call the local college. Often, you can hire someone in the English department or Journalism department to edit your article for a small fee.
Now that you have an article ready, you need to get it published. You have lots of possibilities for this. With over 10,000 periodicals in the U.S., plus countless newsletters, informational Internet sites and other publications, you will find outlets for your article.
Start by contacting the editors of your local chamber publications. Also contact business journals in your area. Try the publications issued by the associations where your potential customers are members. Search the Internet for publications and websites that cater to your desired potential clients.
When you contact these people about publishing your article, ask if they would welcome an informative article from an expert in the field. Generally, these editors and publishers will want to see your article or at least a brief synopsis before they decide to use it in their publication. You can't blame them for this. They receive lots of crummy articles and articles that are nothing more than a thinly disguised sales pitch for somebody's product or service.
Many publications prefer to print your photo with your article. Be prepared to include a photograph of yourself when you send in your article. Best if this photo is professionally done. Tell the photographer how you will be using the photo. They'll know what type of shot you'll need.
Write a couple of sentences about yourself that can be printed at the end of your article. Some publications will print only your name and a phone number. Others will print as much as three or four sentences. Be sure to ask what is acceptable for each publication. Sometimes publishers will edit your contact information to fit the space they have available. Best if you write your contact section so that the most important information is first. That way, if a publication shortens it, you'll still get the good stuff printed.
Once your article is published, get reprints made. These make great marketing pieces to send to other potential customers, hand out at your store or office, or use in your media kit.
There you have it. With a few hours of work, you can write an article that will allow your potential customers to get to know you as someone they would like to do business with. Write several articles and you have the makings of a booklet or pamphlet for even more
exposure and credibility. Several more articles and you are well on your way to writing a book that will attract buyers to you like bees to honey.