Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for a few years, you’ve probably come across the business buzz phrase that to be truly successful, you need to become “an expert in your field.” You need to show your potential customers that you’re not just hawking a service or product—you are an expert in your chosen field and can provide the solution to their problems. A great way to establish yourself as an expert to your potential customers inexpensively is by writing business articles.
You don’t have to be a professional writer to write these articles. You only need the desire to share some knowledge with your potential customers. By following a few simple guidelines, you can write an article that gives your readers valuable knowledge and yourself publicity.
Please don’t forget that an article is not the same as an infomercial. A good article will not mention your business product or company name. Instead, it will give readers information and give them the incentive to find out more about you and what you do. Don’t be afraid that you are giving away all your hard-earned knowledge. You are just going to give away some useful information to establish yourself as the “go-to” person. After you’ve positioned yourself as an expert, who do you think readers will contact when they need your service or product?
What topics could you write about? Better yet, what topics could you write about that your customers would like to read? If you have several possibilities, jot them down. Choose your strongest topic. Create an outline with your subject and your main points. Remember, this is not going to be a book length. Usually business articles range from 500-2000 words—at most a few pages. As you write your article, keep the following points in mind:
- Follow the basic essay rules.
Every article should have an introduction, a body and a conclusion. Your intro should address the topic of the article, the body is the supporting points and the conclusion is a “call to action.” This encourages your readers to put their newfound knowledge into practice.
- Categorize your information.
Some of the most popular business article types are those that break a process down into steps or tips. If that format doesn’t work for you, at least do subheadings. That makes it less intimidating to your reader than a solid black chunk of text and it also allows your readers to scan for the main points if they don’t have time to read your whole article.
- Be subtle.
Do not mention the name of your business or product in your article. It is a turn-off to readers and tells them immediately you are only writing this article to sell them something. Instead, mention how your type of product or service can solve a problem. For example, instead of saying “If you can’t write or edit well, you need to call The Hidden Helper and Lauren Hidden will ghostwrite your articles flawlessly,�? instead, you can say something like, “writing is not in everyone’s skill set. If you don’t enjoy or don’t have time to write your own business articles, consider hiring a ghostwriter to help you get your expertise across.” See the difference? One is giving the reader a useful suggestion, the other one is a blatant ad.
- Craft an effective author box.
An author box is a brief sentence or two after your article that tells the reader a little about your background and occupation. This tells the reader why you are a qualified source for the article’s information. It also gives them your contact information. Generally speaking, an author box should be 30-50 words. When allowing others to reprint your articles, stipulate your author box be kept intact. When submitting articles online, don’t forget the link to your website. Without the author box, you will not get recognition (or business) from your work.
- Speak directly to your reader.
Use second person when writing an article. “You” is much more personal to a reader than “I” or “he or she.” Never use “I” in an article. As harsh as it sounds, people don’t care about you, they want to know how you can help them.
- Write in an active voice.
Which sentence is better, “I broke my leg playing soccer.” Or “My leg was broken in a soccer game.” Which gives you a better mental picture? The first one, because you have an actual action taking place. Remember to write in the active voice to keep your readers engaged and awake.
- Edit, Edit and Edit some more.
When you are done writing, you are actually only 2/3 done with your article. Your editing phase should take you at least half the time it took you to write the article. When editing, look for your specific writing challenges, also check for the introduction, conclusion and transitions between ideas. Read your piece out loud. Proofread it on paper. Give it to someone else to proofread. Don’t skimp on this process—readers will catch your mistakes!
Once you are convinced your article is perfect, distribute your articles to anyone who will take them. Start your own paper or electronic newsletter for your clients, offer them to websites you frequent, post it on your own website or blog, submit it online to free article sites, or to business magazines and newspapers. Don’t forget to keep a file of your articles. You might be able to pull from them someday to create a book—another great publicity tool.
Make writing articles part of your marketing plan. If you still need help, consider hiring a ghostwriter, editor, or writing coach to assist you. You can learn this skill—it’s not rocket science. With practice, you can start turning out effective articles that will enhance your name recognition and position yourself as an “expert in your field.”
All articles copyright 2011, Lauren Hidden
Articles may be reprinted, as long as they include the following author box
About the Author: Lauren Hidden is an author, a blogger, and the owner of The Hidden Helper (http://www.hiddenhelper.com), an editorial services firm. To read her blog, visit http://www.hiddenhelper.com. For more information, email her at Lauren@hiddenhelper.com.