One of my favorite methods of marketing (for my business and for many of my clients’ businesses) is article marketing. Here’s a checklist to make them more effective for your business.
Articles give you backlinks, they help you to rank for keywords, and you appear more often in search results. I also like article marketing because good articles can effectively draw people into your sales funnel. Creating good articles requires good planning. It’s not as easy as sitting down to jam out words.
Here’s an article marketing checklist to help you create great articles over and over. Just make sure you’re covering all the points listed below for each article, and they’ll keep sending you quality traffic.
- Research requirements and restrictions of the article site – Each article site has its own publishing parameters — requirements and restrictions that its article-providers must adhere to. For example, some sites will only allow a certain number of in-article links to your site. Other sites have minimum and maximum word counts. Take note of what the requirements and restrictions are. Don’t forget to also take note of the publishing timelines. Some sites will publish your articles right away, others will keep you waiting for weeks.
- Describe the purpose of the article – At the top of the document where you’ll write the article, write down the purpose of your article. For example: “Generate more Leads” or “To generate lots of backlinks” or “To publish something I can later point for my portfolio”. Even though you’re writing it here, it won’t show up in your article. But it’s nice to have it in your face the whole time you’re writing.
- Describe your audience – You may already know your audience (of course), but writing out a sentence or two about them is truly helpful here. More importantly, write something related to how they will come to this article. Where will they have found it? What will they typically be looking for when they read the article? What questions will they have? What doubts will they have? What hot buttons will they respond to?
- Describe the role of the article in your sales funnel – Every piece of marketing you do plays into your sales funnel. Briefly describe what stage this article will be for, what step it is accomplishing in the stage, and what action you want your sales funnel contact to do as a result of the article.
- Create an outline – Jot down the basic 2-5 points you want to cover. (Since most articles are about 400 to 650 words, you probably won’t be able to cover more than 5 points, and you probably shouldn’t try to cover fewer than 2 points). This is the skeleton of your article and you’ll build in it shortly. But first, you should put it aside and spend time on a few other things before you write…
- List keywords to be embedded in article – List the keywords you want to use. If I have a specific group of keywords or number of keywords I want to use in each section of my article, I’ll put them right into my outline.
- List keywords to accompany article – Some sites give you a place to list several keywords to accompany your article.
- Create article meta-data – This is a catch-all term for things like tags, categories, topics, and any other fields the site might provide.
- Write the author Bio (in text and html) – Write your bio. Keep it short (and be sure to adhere to the article publishing site parameters). Write both the text and html version of your bio.
- Add sub-points – Earlier, you wrote out the skeleton of your article and then put it aside to do some other steps. Now, pick it up again and add sub-points to each point in your outline. These subpoints should cover the basic “movement” of the point from start to finish. Think of them as just a couple of words that summarize a paragraph.
- Rearrange (if necessary) – In my experience, there is a very strong likelihood that you’ll need to rearrange some of your points or subpoints here. But skip this step if everything feels like it’s in the right place.
- Write the article!!! – It’s FINALLY time to write your article! Write a paragraph around each sub-point. (That’s just a good rule of thumb, although you might find that you need to write a couple of paragraphs for one sub-point while one paragraph will suffice for a couple of sub-points).
- Plus the article – To “plus” something means to make it better. This is the fun part! Take a break then come back to the article and look for a place to really wow your audience. Add something special. Create new insight. Draw deeper conclusions. Move your audience to a frothy state.
- Fact-check – Review your work to make sure that all of the ideas are your own or are appropriately attributed. If you state a fact, double-check it to make sure you’re correct.
- Review for flow – Look over your article for the basic flow of ideas. Is it smooth? Does each idea move clearly into the next idea?
- Review for the sales funnel, audience, and purpose – Earlier, you listed how this article functions in your sales funnel, who your audience is, and what the purpose of this article is. Now it’s time to re-read your article to make sure that you still cover these things.
- Add introduction and conclusion – Now that you’ve created a great article that does exactly what it is supposed to do, you can add an introduction and conclusion. Make sure they are similar (for a sense of completeness), make sure the introduction draws your reader in, and make sure the conclusion offers a clear next-step for them to take.
- Edit – Edit, edit, edit. Your content doesn’t have to be letter perfect every time (mine certainly isn’t) but the less control you have over editing it later, the more you should edit it now. Edit for grammar, spelling, and style.
- Write an article synopsis (if necessary) – Finally, add an article synopsis if the article publishing site calls for it. (Some do, some don’t).
You’re looking at this list and thinking that it is a huge checklist!
It is. However, you’ll find that going through each of these steps when you write an article might slow down your article writing slightly, but you’ll produce very high-quality content that will add people to your sales funnel for a long time to come.