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Wednesday, July 20 2011
 It's not that difficult to sit down and dash off an article on a topic that you think will interest your readers, especially if it's a topic you know a lot about. It's more challenging to make sure that the language, tone and style of your words resonate with the people you are writing for.

Answering a few quick questions will put you on the right track.

Who ARE your readers really?

Are your readers men or women, or both? 
Men and women respond differently to what they are reading. John Grey's book "Mars and Venus in the Workplace", although focused on dating, is full of useful information on how men and women think and behave differently from each other in business settings. I found it really enlightening and it helped me enormously both in my writing and when I'm speaking to business owners.

How sophisticated is your audience in terms of education, interests, values, beliefs? 
If you speak to them below their level, they may feel that you are "dumbing them down." If you go above their heads, they'll simply tune you out. The best way to strike a happy medium is to write in an easy, conversational tone. Imagine you're talking to your ideal client over a cup of coffee. Write as if you were having a conversation with her. Then go back and edit.

Do they all belong to a specific industry or type of business?
In that case, it's OK to use industry jargon. Jargon refers to words and expressions that are used in one particular industry. If you are a real estate agent and your audience consists of real estate agents, they will expect you to use industry vocabulary, otherwise it may look as if you don't know your field.

Similarly, while ordinary folks talk about "high blood pressure", if you're a doctor speaking to an audience of doctors, they'll expect you to use the word "hypertension".

Are you writing for a general audience?
Industry terms will run off their backs like water off a duck. You lose their attention because they have no idea what you're talking about; they're too busy scratching their heads trying to figure it out to read any further. Or they'll read on but not understand what you're saying because they missed a key concept. I recently read a piece by a real estate agent where she talked about a Trustee's Deed. Although I could guess at what this meant, I didn't understand it exactly. A one-sentence explanation for the term "Trustee's Deed" would have been sufficient to keep my attention. When you explain complicated concepts in layman's terms, your audience comes along with you.

These are just a few points that will help you determine the level and tone of your articles.

Copyright 2011 Maggie Dennison. All rights reserved.

Posted by: Maggie AT 02:17 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, December 15 2010
 Blogs and newsletters are hungry animals, always clamoring for more articles and more information. Where else to get information to feed your blog or newsletter than on the Internet? After all it's public, for everyone to read.

But this is where it gets sticky because it is NOT for everyone to use. It is protected by copyright laws that determine the ownership of a particular piece of work and how it may be used.

"But it's on the Internet. It's in the public domain and I can use it." Not necessarily true! "Public domain" is not a place. It is a specific legal term that refers to content that's old enough for its copyright protection to have expired or for some other reason does not fulfil the conditions to be protected by copyright. In that case anyone can use it. The fact that a work is publicly available does not mean it is in the "public domain."

If the copyright is still valid, you need permission to use someone else's work. Blithely lifting chunks of someone else's work off the web and using them without permission is violation of the law.

The situation is sweetened a bit by the "fair use" doctrine that allows you to use small portions of someone else's work. This part is tricky because of varying definitions of what constitutes "fair use." It may be OK to use a single quote from someone's work, and in some cases it may be OK to use a whole paragraph. An intellectual property (IP) attorney can help you determine what is "fair use" in a particular situation.

Often you'll see a notice at the end of an article saying it's OK to publish the article, IF you include certain information about the author. In this case the author has given you permission in advance to use his/her work, provided you agree to the conditions.

Check the copyright before you publish someone else's words. Get permission if you have to. If in doubt, consult an attorney who specializes in intellectual property.

For more information on this complicated topic you can visit the official government site at It's a lot of legalese: you may also need an attorney to interpret it for you but it's well worth spending a few dollars to make sure you stay on the right side of the law. You can find lots of information in more accessible language on htp://, the website of a publisher of legal books, software and forms.

Copyright 2010 Maggie Dennison

Posted by: Maggie AT 02:32 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, September 26 2010
 Once you have written an article or preferably several, it's time to use them to spread the word about your business. Articles serve to establish you as an expert, as well as offering additional food to the search engines.

How do you use articles to spread the word about your business?

Include keywords in the title and content

Relevant keywords will help your article pop up in a Google search. Work the keywords into your content so that it reads naturally, rather than trying to stuff them in anywhere they seem to fit just to load up the article. Finding the right keywords requires basic keyword research to establish which terms people are searching for. If you hire an SEO firm, they have proprietary software that helps them identify the best keywords for you. For the do-it-yourselfers, Google has a free tool called External Keyword Tool. Google it and it should pop up in first place.

Place a strong call to action at the end of the article

Let your readers know what you want them to do next and give some a strong incentive to take the action you want them to take. You can offer a complimentary resource that encourages them to go to your website and sign up for your newsletter or a consultation that jogs them into calling you.

Post your article to your website or blog.

This keeps fresh content on your site and the search engines like that.

To avoid having too much information to scroll through, you can put a couple of teaser lines of an article on one page of your site, then have a link to an inside page with the full content.

Submit your article to other newsletters andblogs

Find other professionals whose businesses compliment yours without competing, and whose clients would be interested in your topics. Contact them and offer to be a guest writer or blogger for them. Include a resource box at the end of your article: that's a few lines containing your contact information, other information you want readers to know and a strong call to action. Including your website address as well provides a backlink to your own site: that pleases Google and helps your rankings.

You can reciprocate by inviting them to submit an article for your newsletter or blog.

Post your article to article directories

The best known directory is Google "article directories" and you'll find many more. These directories are sources for people looking for articles for THEIR newsletters. I'm always amazed where my articles show up! And it's all exposure for your business.

It may seem daunting to list your article on so many sites. However there are services that will do this for you for a small monthly fee. I've been referred to but have not used them.

If, for any reason, you prefer manual submissions, delegate the task to a virtual assistant. You can find a virtual assistant through


Copyright 2010 Maggie Dennison

Posted by: AT 03:16 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, August 31 2010
 Article marketing is big right now. Why? Most people I ask tell me it's because it helps them get found and ranked by the search engines.

Yet articles can also build your reputation as an expert and increase your client base.

However, I am seeing more and more articles that are no more than keyword dumps with little substance and appear to be written ONLY for the search engines. That tactic may help your articles get found, but it will backfire in terms of the other objectives of publishing articles.

Here are three strategies you can use to make sure your articles do much more than simply helping your rankings.


    • Have a clear message

      Can you sum your message up in one or two sentences? If not, you're probably trying to include too much information. Pare it down so it's focused and use what's left for other articles. It's better to cover less ground and do it more deeply. There's so much information available that the deeper you go into your topic, the more likely it is to get attention.


    • Know who you're writing for

      Who is your reader? Is it someone in a corporation? Or a small business owner? Depending on the size of the business, there can be many different layers of decision makers and it's important to know which level you are writing for.

      Is it the financial decision maker, the operations decision maker, the owner or CEO, or the head geek from the IT department? Each one will be interested in different aspects of your products or services.

      Maybe your reader is a consumer, not a business person at all. Consumers are attracted to different information than business people, so make your articles relevant to them, if they are your market.


  1. Be clear on the type of article you want to write

    Do you want to explain how to do something, answer common questions, or tell a story? Knowing the type of article will determine the kind of information you present and will give direction to your thoughts and words. It provides a starting structure for the article so you know how you want everything to flow together.

    There are many other elements to consider when planning and writing articles, but these three alone will keep you on track and ensure that you give your readers what they want so that you establish yourself as an expert in their eyes.

    Copyright 2010 Maggie Dennison

Posted by: AT 03:01 am   |  Permalink   |  Email

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