How Authors Can Sell More Books with Article Marketing: Sourcing Content

by | Jun 28, 2010

This article continues the series How Self-Publishers Can Sell More Books with Article Marketing that I started last week with: Part I: The Big Plan and Part II: The Submission Process

Most of the time we talk about how much content there is online, how we’re all drowning in content. So it’s reasonable to wonder whether there’s any point to adding to the deluge.

But from my point of view there really isn’t enough good content online.

Why? Think about it. How often have you gone off searching for information you need for a report, for a piece of writing, or to make an informed decision. I know when I do these kinds of searches I’m often frustrated by what I find:

  • sham content, sites that simply aggregate links or bits of text from other sites
  • articles that read like they came out of a language mashing machine
  • articles that are so vague and general as to be useless
  • “floating” information with no attribution, no way to tell the authority or knowledge of the author

This rather sorry situation might actually work to our benefit. If you find a lot of material like this in researching your own field online, it may be wide open to an author who can provide better information, provide it with clarity and in a focused, helpful way that directly addresses the reason the reader went searching in the first place.

The problem is, how are you going to generate all this new content?

Where Am I Going to Get All this Content?

Everyone I know who does business online, be it authors, book designers, publicists, marketers, you name it, has one complaint—we’re just too busy. I get that, because I’m just too busy too.

So how are we supposed to find time to develop content for this article marketing experiment? We’d like the traffic to help build our community, gain authority in our specialty area, and sell more books.

We’ve also got books to write, blogs to feed, newsletters awaiting completion, guest posts we’ve been invited to submit. And writing for yourself, without any thought of publication is something I also find necessary just to keep my head screwed on straight.

10 Sources of Content You Might Know You Have

I’ve been digging into this question for a couple of months, because I know I have to find content somewhere to have any hope of completing my aim to get 100 articles up on (Progress report: currently at 21 articles)

If you can create content for a blog, for a book you’ve written, for any number of purposes, you can re-purpose this content to help with your own marketing goals.

Here are 10 sources for content for authors to get you started. If you’ve got other ideas to add to this list, please leave them in the comments: I’m probably going to need them all to get to my 100 article goal.

  1. Blog posts—This is the way I’ve gotten started. You just can’t lift old blog posts and dump them into your article format. For one thing, the article guidelines are much more restrictive than the way your write for your blog. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use them at all. Take a blog post, change the headline, shorten it if need be to 400-600 words, rewrite any subheads, re-write the first paragraph and take out any links or references to events happening at a particular time (like “next week my friend John is launching his ebook”). Although there’s some work involved, it’s a lot less than coming up with a new article.
  2. Guest posts—Have you ever written a guest post for someone else’s blog, for a newsletter or articles for a magazine? You’ll need to make sure that you retained the rights to re-use your article, but these are great sources for your project.
  3. Books—If you’ve published a book, or have one in manuscript, you may be able to “chunk” out 400-600 word elements to use as articles. With the same kind of rewriting that is used on blog posts, these are excellent. Scan through your manuscript reading the subheads to get article ideas.
  4. Old or discarded projects—Many authors have old projects that seemed to show promise at one time, only to be abandoned. But we’re only looking for a coherent 400-600 words, so look for sections that can be used as articles.
  5. Old notebooks and journals—nonfiction writers often have stacks of notebooks from research or field notes on their particular subject. There might be quite a few articles in there. Have you looked?
  6. Email—This is one of my reliable sources of content. Getting a question from a client or a colleague, I sit down and can easily write 300 or 400 words in explanation to answer their question. Others probably have this question, why not turn it into an article?
  7. Old newsletters—years ago I wrote a quarterly newsletter, and I recently dug them out of a carton in the garage. Although I no longer have the files, re-typing them is a lot easier than writing all new content
  8. Notes from workshops or trainings in which you’ve participated. Writing these up into 400-600 word articles will provide lots of content on a tightly focused subject area.
  9. Transcripts of talks in your subject area. This is a fertile area for articles and article ideas. Usually very little editing is needed to generate a series of closely related articles from a lecture or your part in a panel discussion.
  10. White papers or reports written for your employment. Although the rights to these reports may be held by the company for which you worked when you created them, you’re free to re-write them for your article campaign.

How to Make Your Articles Stand Out

Whenever you’re creating content, remember that you want to be the author of articles that stand out. And they will if you see to it that:

  • Your article is relevant to the needs of people who are searching for information on your area.
  • Your article is based on your own real-world experience, and
  • Your article contains information that can be put into action to help solve the problem that caused the search in the first place.

I’m convinced that no matter where they came from, your articles will be successful if they meet these criteria.

Now that we have plenty of content, we need to know how you can target these articles to your ideal reader, and how to construct them to get the most benefit from your article marketing efforts. Stay tuned, and help me out here: Can you think of other sources for articles?


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