How To Write Articles that Convert Like Crazy

Article Marketing is smart, profitable, and you’ll never have to worry about dying in a hail of machine gun fire after you submit them.

One of the very best ways to promote a new site, service or offer is writing articles.

Article Marketing is tedious, time consuming and mind numbingly monotonous, but it is also is just about the EASIEST way to print money straight from your keyboard. 

article marketing tipsI’ve often said that if Tony “Scarface” Montana were to have discovered article marketing in that Cuban detention center, rather than columbian gold, we would probably have watched Al Pacino work his way up the internet marketing totem pole rather than suffer the ignominious fate of a disgraced cocaine trafficker.

Article Marketing is smart, profitable, and you’ll never have to worry about dying in a hail of machine gun fire after you submit them.

But, if you’ve tried using articles in your marketing machine, you may have found less luck with their results than those people like me sing about regularly.

Let’s take a look at some potential reasons why, and how I’d fix them in your shoes.

This is EXACTLY what I do when I begin an article marketing campaign – it works for me very well….and will do the absolute same for you if you apply these simple strategies in your own.

Pick a Product:

You NEED to start here.  Don’t do your keyword research first…and then try to squeeze a relevant product into the keyword list you’ve generated.  If you are doing this – you are working ass backwards.  Go find a good, solid high converting product that you think you can write about and sell. I’m a big fan of the bum marketing stuff, as it’s simple, clean and has been shared for free…but the biggest mistake I see here is the resulting reliance on Clickbank sort of products.

Go out and sign up for CJ.com – Linkshare, etc – and get REAL products in your affiliate marketing arsenal.  Nothing says you are relegated to selling cheap E books on picking up women and teaching your dog to moo like a cow. 

Clickbank is like training wheels on a bike: Important to have when you start, but if you are still using training wheels 5 years later, you know you havent’ made it out of the neighborhood yet. Sign up for REAL affiliate programs, with national offline marketing campaigns and name recognition that you can piggy back off of to immediate profitability.

( ie – people aren’t reluctant to rent DVD’s from Blockbuster, or weight loss products from Medifast – but they very well be for high hype, low recognition product lines you’ll find on the smaller affiliate networks specializing in digital products )

Do your Keyword Research: I’d recommend you pay for your keyword research too.  I do – and it’s quicker, cleaner and easier than using all of the free tools that are available in fragmented forms in disparate spots.

I use and recommend Spyfu.

Is it perfect?  No, it’s not.  Is it worth 10 bucks a month to have a wealth of competitive intelligence at your fingertips?  Yes, it most certainly is.

Don’t write your titles like you would on a blog or website.  Blog posts are rife with “how to’s”, “top ways”, etc – this is a proven way to increase readership and generate incoming links, but it’s NOT what you want to do with articles.
If your keyword phrase for example is “write articles” – rather than title it like I have done for this blog post, you would simply bring the keywords to the front of the title – and shift the “how to” towards the end, like so:  “Write Articles that Convert Like Crazy:  3 Fast, Fun & Free Tricks That Work Like Magic!” – or – “Write Articles for Fun & Profit: Simple Success Strategies You are Going to Love”.

Always front load your title with your keywords when submitting to the directories, because the keywords, and their location in the title text is probably not only the PRIMARY driver to their position thereafter in the search engine results – it may be the SOLITARY driver as well.

(Update for 2009: Here is an 11 point article title template I added in the Spring of 2009 that many people have found helpful…….that builds on this concept in a bit more detail) Don’t mess this up, you aren’t writing link bait – stick your keywords up front. ( you can actually re-write the article for your OWN site this way and post a modified version of it there as well)

Be resourceful with your resource box.   Do write a benefit laden, eyeball pulling, collar dragging, incentivized, compelling, cajoling, coercion creating reason for them to click on your links and come face to face with your offer, free report, squeeze page, etc. Do NOT write about your personal biography, extraordinary good looks, high school cheerleading awards, don’t have a picture of yourself in sunglasses or a tank top, don’t refer to yourself in the third person, and don’t list your full resume. You aren’t looking for a job.  You only want a simple click of the mouse.  It’s quite easy to get – and once you cut out the extraneous noise in the close, you’ll find it much easier to get more.

This is a trick I’ve tried and tested repeatedly, and in MOST markets….it works like a charm.  I almost hate to share it – but here it is anyway.

Write VERY short articles.  And lots of them. Keep the articles UNDER 320 words.  Under 300 for Ezine Articles ( the granddaddy of Article directories) is best.

But…here is the trick.  Create one LONG resource box that you save in your author account.

Break it up into several paragraphs, each paragraph has a link to your offer page as above.

( Ezine will accept two links in the resource box as a matter of policy – I’ve found that more often than not – they’ll take three without complaint if you are a solid contributor to the community)

Your resource box in this example should be a STRONG close….and should APPEAR to be part of the article – ie – almost no transition between the preceeding short article and the saved resource box.

As you are allowed to “sell” in the resource box area…this simple approach will seemingly extend the article with a strong sales message, live links, and solid close, in EVERY article you submit on this topic, as this is your default signature file for each.  This works tremendously well for me, and I attribute a lot of my article marketing success to this, and this alone.

article marketing_1.jpgAs a quick point of reference and “proof” on the above method – I worked with someone privately on optimizing her article submissions over the past two weeks.

Prior to our coaching sessions, her articles were getting an average of between 20 and 100 views per month – and she was getting an abysmal CTR in the resource box – about 10% give or take, which as she and I discussed, is absolutely terrible, especially considering she is a pretty girl and had a picture of herself in the profile..:-)

We made a few of the revisions I mentioned above, added some better keyword research tools, a more compelling offer and STRONGER WRITING ( which is imperative if you want to succeed) and our views not only went through the roof…but the CTR as you can see in the screenshot is pushing 50% in many of the more popular articles of the group – and cumalatively, in a VERY expensive market ( Womens Health) this set of article submissions alone, which were ALL done in ONE day, have resulted in about 1000 new visitors to her once lonesome landing page.

Which makes me feel good – and gives her the positive reinforcement to know this CAN be done successfully after all!

Hope this was a help to you as well..:-)  Be sure to ask questions if any of the above wasn’t clear.

Update for Fall of 2009:

Please note……some of the above tactics, most notably resource box length and amount of links that are presently permissable – have been discounted for EZA as they have implemented policies on length of resource box relative to words in the article themselves.   The good news?  We still actively write and submit articles predicated on ethos above….and they still do very well!

Remember……lots of things evolve, change, morph and move over time and while you always have to be aware of these evolving best practices……if you prepare your approach on adding value and creating good content, you’ll never be chasing your tail on tactics, or having to start from scratch when one successful “strategy” disappears!

I’m NOT a big fan of retrospectively changing blog posts – as I sort of believe things should stay in the spirit in which they were shared, but this was written a few years ago, and in light of these recent changes, I thought it was appropriate!  Thanks for reading and enjoy your day.  This has been a recording.
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One LAST Revision (2013)

This article is really, really OLD….and yet still gets a lot of traffic – some of the above is now pretty dated…..and while the over-arching ethos and approach still works wonderfully well, some of the very specific recommendations are a bit circa 2009-2011.

In 2013, I still use article marketing heavily in my own content marketing campaigns – have more than 100 thousand new readers in JUST the last 6 or 7 weeks from old articles…….and you can check out the very update to date BEST practices for launching a brand, blog or business with articles on our Kindle book of the same title –

“How to Write Articles That Convert Like Crazy”

AND “Passion – How to Do What You LOVE For a Living…….& Wake up the World With Your Work!”

Both cover article marketing from a more current paradigm and perspective – AND are both priced on Amazon for the cost of a cup of coffee as well – you can read them both in one day – and have a killer business building strategy that not one in every 200 online entrepreneurs understand.

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Comments

comments

39 comments
  1. Hi, Ian
    I have had articles published on EZA and got No. 1 and/or No. 2 spot on Google. What I can’t figure is why I should tweak those articles and send them out to dozens or hundreds of other magazine directories. I mean, if they’re in a good spot on Google what else do I want for crying out loud?

  2. Excellent post! This really gets down to the way an article “should” be written. However, CJ and Linkshare affiliate programs pay like crap. Making $5 selling a $100 product is hardly worth the promotion, unless you’re doing it in MASS!

    1. Thanks, Jeff – I appreciate it. But…..unless you are picking products that pay 5% commissions on $100 products – I think you are going to find that CJ programs pay FAR better than you think..:-) Medifast – for example – as I referenced in the post above pays 20% (or did) and their EPC number when I promoted them was over 200 (meaning that on average – for every 100 visitors – an “average” affiliate could expect to make 200 bucks) There are many, many programs on CJ that have EPC numbers of 80 + – all with national (or international) name recognition, big buck branding and millions of dollars in CURRENT ad campaings (TV/radio and print) and you won’t find one Clickbank product that can say the same.

      (or said differently…..CJ programs don’t pay like crap if you pick the right programs to promote – which ain’t tough to do)

      🙂

  3. Thank you Ian.

    Please ignore my other comment about not being able to find this Post. As soon as I asked…there it was! Amazing how that works! : )

    Thank you for all this really Helpful information. Now to go read and implement it all.

    Thank you again.

    Leeann

  4. WOnderful article! I have been wanting to get busy in the article submission area. I am already a freelance writer so the writing is not the problem. I have been looking for ways to market my own products – printables and other educational resources. Hopefully this will help!

  5. Ian
    Your advice on the bio part of ezine articles now seems to have been thwarted by EZA. They have placed a limit of 15% on the size of the bio v the article itself. They recently published a pdf entitled Create and Utilize the Perfect Resource Box in which this limit is clearly stated..

    Do you see this as limiting your approach of having a small article and a large bio which other have also recommended

    1. Hi Ian – it’s a good point – and I didn’t see that change, so thanks for the heads up! I don’t expect to see any changes in click through rates, as I experiment with so many different approaches that ultimately, the best converting stuff becomes somewhat interchangable percentage wise. If you look at the most recent PDF I put up ( if you are not on my list you can find it under July 09 wrap up in the search box) I pointed out that I’ve been having articles rejected for TOO short of a resource box dating back about 6 months ago or so – so obviously this was something that they started to flag a while back. I mentioned in the PDF I prefer to write short articles……so the resource box “trick” mentioned here was substituted for something else.

      The bottom line is that ultimately, it’s all about offering compelling stuff that people want to click through to see anyway…..and while I do like playing with “tricks” occassionally – the best performing stuff in the long run is more about value than smoke and mirrors. (which this post – written about a year ago – unfortunately seemed to stress otherwise)

  6. Wow, this is fantastic stuff Ian! Just when I get to thinking that I understand affiliate and article marketing – whammo! LOL!

    Actually, I was sent to your blog by someone whose advice I admire, and now I can see why she sent me here. This is fantastic advice, and even though I have no problem getting all my articles published on eZineArticles, I obviously have a lot of work to do (especially in my bio box and shortening up the articles).

    I’m going to take your advice to heart, and hope to be able to report back some increased stats!

    Thanks again! 🙂
    Warmly,
    Kath

  7. Wally- I think you have made a mistake there? I make about $300 per month with them, and they have never seemed to have a problem with me…when I first started I didn’t make hardly anything- just a few dollars here and there, but they still seemed quite happy to have me.

    Ian, I would also love to see an example…

    1. Thanks for the comment, Debbie! ( I think Wally was a bit confused between signing up as a PUBLISHER…..versus an Advertiser)

      I’ve added tons of stuff since this post was written ( I believe well over a year ago or so) so for those who are asking for examples, I’d ask only that you look at some of the more recent stuff on here and in the pdf as well.

  8. Great post, but I have to comment on CJ.com, as it seems to be the place to go (as most people say)

    If you have not looked at the application process lately, they DEMAND that you make at least $50,000/MONTH before they will even consider you to sell any of their products.

    I’m going to be honest, if I was making 50 GRAND a month, I wouldn’t care about commission junction, or need them!

    Anyway, really good post.

    1. Thanks, Wally – But……I think you’ve misread something in the CJ protocols, they don’t have any such requirement – many of their advertisers do have a "manual" approval process, but there is no such demand as you mention – and I’ve worked with people over the past few days who have signed up for CJ for free – and have more than ample selections of product lines to promote immediately, as a complete "newbie", as well.

      ( you may want to double check the rules you are reading – I’m not quite sure where you got that from..:-) good luck!

  9. — The Thank You —

    Hi Ian. Thank you for the tips and I found a few of my articles convert double from the previous articles that I have written prior to your advice. I mean, from CTR 9% to 24%, that sure are additional traffic for my landing page Ian! However I need to tweak the resource box here and there and learn more about persuasive sentences that will convert just like the screen shot that you showed in this post (almost 50% CTR).

    —The Question about EzineArticle—

    You told me that Ezinearticle is a great platform for me to submit my articles especially when I got little time in a week to spend on marketing online. So I followed your advise. I write more articles than before and send them to EzineArticles.

    However, I found they took a long time to approve my articles. and I cant wait to see whether my articles can really deliver their jobs or not. Because I want to know where are the things that I need to improve.

    I believe they will award us platinum status which they will review our articles much faster than the Basic Plus level.

    Do you have any view on this. If you have any experience that can help us? Any recommendations on how to improve?

    1. I know that EZA can be frustrating when it comes to approval times – I actually pay for their premium service which makes approval times a non issue ( usually 15 minutes to a few hours at most) – I’m working with someone now who is just getting started and running into the same issue ( length of time it takes to approve) – there is very little you can do about this, other than wait it out. The alternative of course, is to use secondary directories, squidoo lenses, hub pages and even services like Article Marketer ( which will BLAST your articles out to numerous directories at once) while you wait to get your stuff approved and processed through EZA. Also, of course, it’s important to recognize that there are lots of different strategies to make money online, article marketing is just one of them – ( and a great one for getting started) but if you find yourself hitting a wall with waiting times, etc – I would start to look at some of the secondary directories to start building your list/blog/etc ( which will go live immediately) and just wait out EZA for the 10 days to two weeks it will take to gain some traction in their system.

  10. Fantastic stuff there. It lets me know why I’ve been sucking big time at writing articles. I can write ok, but I needed some of the other great tips you offered up.

    THANKS!!

  11. Hi I need to know what you mean when you say strong words? Could you give an example of a good bio box please…I would really appreciate it..I write really good articles which people love and then shy away from the sales part…I need help
    Thanks
    Jess

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