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Write an Article!
By Dr. Robert Sullivan
Some time ago I placed an advertisement in a periodical
with national circulation. It cost a few hundred dollars
for a "1-column inch" display. I'm sure you have seen
these type of advertisements many times. We sent our
artwork, paid the bill, and got ready to fill the hundreds
of orders we expected. We were advertising a business book.
We received three orders!! A few months later I had an
article published in the same periodical which resulted
in hundreds of sales. Why?
When you consider it, the answer is obvious. How do you
react when reading an advertisement versus an article? You
are suspicious of the advertisement but reading about the
same product or service in the body of an article gives it
instant credibility. Clearly the author is an "expert."
Furthermore, it appears that the publication itself is
actually endorsing the product. Publications want your
articles and will generally include a short byline (your
advertisement!) at the end of the article.
I get the impression that many people are as fearful of
writing as they are of speaking in front of a group. Don't
be - the process is easy and painless. Getting "published"
is easy. Remember that virtually every magazine editor is
always looking for content - especially quality content
that is free. This is win-win. The magazine gets an article
that may attract readership and you get free advertising.
Let's write an article -by the numbers:
1. Identify magazines and other periodicals that
relate to your product or service and would be interested
in related subject matter. Do this by visiting your local
library and asking at the reference desk for a copy of
"Standard Periodical Directory" by Oxbridge Communications.
This fantastic reference lists every periodical currently
being published. There is a handy index that lists periodicals
by subject type. Copy the pertinent information including name
of editor, address, telephone and fax numbers. Visit a local
large book store with a good selection of periodicals (I like
Barnes and Noble) and quickly review any of the periodicals
you previously identified.
2. While reviewing the articles, note the writing
"style." Is it humorous? Academic? For periodicals you cannot
find, call the magazine and ask for a sample issue and a copy
of their writing guidelines. Call (or e-mail) the remaining
magazines on your list and ask for their writing guidelines.
3. Reviewing the content of the various publications
will give you many ideas for topics and possible articles.
4. It's time to write! Get over any "fear" you have of
writing. The process is easy and rewarding. Begin writing
your article for the most likely candidate from your list
of periodicals and attempt to follow their style of writing.
Keep these writing guidelines in mind:
* Pick a subject and organize your thoughts on paper.
* Start with a quick outline to help you stay focused
* Write using short sentences and paragraphs .
* Don't use big words - you are not trying to impress
anyone - you are teaching.
* The first paragraph should quickly identify the
purpose and content of the article.
* The last paragraph should be a call for action or a
* Write each paragraph deductively. That is, make your
point immediately and follow up with supporting
* Don't be verbose. Read any legal or insurance
document for an example of how NOT to write.
* Carefully check grammar and spelling (do NOT rely on
your word processor spell checker - remember those
checkers still cannot correct "there" to "their" if
* Have an associate review your work and ask for critical
comments. Wait a couple of days and review your work
yourself. Correct as necessary.
5. Think carefully about your "byline" -the information
that you want included at the end of your article. This byline
should be a sneaky "sales message" and give some indication of
your expertise. As an example, here is a byline I frequently
Robert Sullivan is the author of "The Small Business Start-Up
Guide" and "United States Government - New Customer! Either may
be ordered toll-free by calling (800) 375 8439. Also, check the
Small Business Advisor at http://www.isquare.com
Even a short byline can contain a lot of information. Mine
includes my name, the fact that I am an author (an "expert"),
lists a couple of my books, provides an 800 order number for
these books and references my website.
6. Give your article an effective title (use a subtitle
if it makes sense). Print your article using 1.5 or double
spacing with large (at least 1-inch) margins (or refer to the
magazines guidelines, if any). Include your byline at the end
of the article. If submitting by e-mail, use single spacing.
7. Submit your article to EVERY periodical you have found
(even though you have written your article in the "style" of
one of the selected periodicals). Your package should include
* A copy of the article
* A cover letter briefly describing the article (include
the number of words) and the fact that you are not requesting
payment but only require that your byline be included. You
should also request a copy of the issue that will include
your article. (Think positive!)
* A small photo of yourself (a head shot). Color or black
and white is okay but it should be glossy. Many publications
like to include a picture of the author.
8. Follow-up each submittal. E-mail is always best, if
9. Don't get discouraged. Keep writing and submitting.
Incidentally, you can maximize results by having an 800 order
line and the ability to accept payment via credit cards. In our
case, 95% of our orders are via credit card.
The more you publish, the easier it gets. Writing can be fun
and, as we have noted, it is absolutely the best form of
"advertising." Give it a try. If you write an article that
relates to small business, send it to us for possible use in
our monthly newsletter or our Internet website. We have only
one guideline - submittal via e-mail only.
This article is an excerpt from "The Small Business Start-Up
Guide" by Robert Sullivan, which is available from the
publisher, Information International, Box 579, Great Falls,
VA 22066, at $16.95 plus $3.50s/h. 800 375 8439. Visit
"The Small Business Advisor" at http://www.isquare.com
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