Recently Star Lawrence wrote a negative review of EzineArticles.com in her article, “Want Tens of Thousands of Content-Hungry Publishers Feeding on You?
Ms. Lawrence –
All wet? Nah, just a little damp here and there. :-D
I think the key misconception about this issue stems from the fact that you are thinking about it from the perspective of a professional paid writer (from which view, I agree, this whole concept looks like a complete waste of time). [note to Chris: at the end of the response, I also show how looks can be deceiving :-) ]
But submitting articles to free directories isn’t about article writing. It’s about article marketing (marketing through the medium of free web articles) and the majority of article submitters aren’t professional writers, but rather business professionals writing about their professions. They do this for any number of reasons, such as creating linkbacks to boost search engine ranking and elevate their listings, establishing their expertise and point of view, offering “free article” informational resources to potential customers and that old marketing standard, creating interest in related purchasable products (this is a favorite use of the “7 Secrets to Underwater Basketweaving Revealed” genre of articles – you reveal 7 giveaway tips and then lead interest-piqued readers to your “101 Secrets to Underwater Basketweaving Success” ebook or your Underwater Basketweaving Trainers, Inc website, where they can get detailed instructions and expertise – at a price, of course). Build up a big enough listing, and you’ve also got the bones of an ebook, a training program or any related compilation IP product that can then be sold for real cash.
I am one of EzineArticles fans, and I have my own nifty little collection of articles up on their site. Why? Because at the time I started writing them, I wasn’t writing as a writer, but as a life coach. I used the articles to get my name “out there” on the web associated with the sorts of niche topics that I coached on (life planning, spiritual and personal development, life change, etc). This allowed people to see who I was, what I stood for and if my views meshed with their own. I also used it as an easy method of creating a free article library for potential and current clients, as well as colleagues and anyone else who was interested in the topics I was covering.
As far as search engine results go, I have a rather unique name, so that when you Google me (after the obligatory listing of forums and blog I’ve posted to, of course) you pretty much get a lot of my articles as posted to various websites (all with yummy link-back goodness). Yes, I did indeed get some traffic from my widely scattered articles, and some direct feedback from interested parties who enjoyed my work. Since I wasn’t doing this with the express purpose of getting more clients (which would have required a different approach in what I wrote, how I wrote it and how I targeted what I wrote), but rather as an exercise in creating informational resources, I am not in a position to say whether or not article marketing is a successful engine for creating new service industry clients, although I have come across some comments now and again from friends and colleagues that imply that it can very well be used for such purposes successfully, if (like any other marketing activity) it is properly targeted and done well.
Another reason that I did this is that during this time I became interested in becoming a professional copywriter but recognized that, having not written consistently for some time, I needed to get my skills back up to speed. Writing a hundred-plus freebie articles supported my coaching business while letting me get back into shape as a writer. I could immediately see what worked and what didn’t (based on my view stats and feedback, among other things), hone my skills and learn the basics of writing marketing-based copy “on the job,” as it were, with my coaching self as my first “client.”
I am now just beginning to make a career as a copywriter, and while wearing that hat I do not offer my content for free without a good reason (a few past reasons being that, I’ve written some informational articles about article marketing that link back to one of my writing lenses on Squidoo, and have written a few general topic articles just for the practice and to have a few “spec” examples of my web article prowess – or lack thereof, although one hopes for the former – out there where interested parties can find them). However, I still submit free articles while wearing my coaching hat, since that continues to be a productive use of my time and serves it’s purpose.
Finally, sometimes I (and others) write and submit articles for one of the most basic reasons of all, and that is just for fun of it. It’s kinda cool to see your name in print, even cooler when others pick it up and put it on their own quirky websites or blogs, and (as long as you’re not mistaking it for “real” publication) it serves as a fun shot of instant gratification for the struggling writer sorely in need of a little boost. It’s a great place to put the articles that didn’t quite cut it in the traditional publishing realm (but that you still like and want to share around). Plus, it’s a great way for the newbie writer to build up a solid library of spec pieces in an easy-to-use and access online platform without requiring them to set up separate hosting or other portfolio systems. When asked for examples of their work, they can just say “Here’s my author listing on EzineArticles, where I keep all of my samples and spec pieces.”
But in point of fact, though, this free article marketing process actually can bring in money for established writers, because for every professional out there who can writer their own articles with some skill and get good results, there is a commuter train full of professionals who want to give article marketing a spin, but who can’t write themselves out of a wet paper bag. So what do they do? They hire writers, natch. For a few hundred bucks or so, depending on the writer and their fees, the literacy-impaired businessperson can get a couple of nice 600-word article marketing pieces ghostwritten with SEO-heavy text, compelling persuasive wording and snappy writing to put up on the sites under their own name, that will hopefully bring in traffic, sell products, boost their name recognition, tweak their ego or whatever the target purpose was. Like any marketing media, from direct mail packages to web copy to online sales pages, article marketing can be a market source for professional writers, if they care to take advantage of it.
So, instead of considering article marketing sites to be a waste of a writer’s time, think of them instead as a writer’s friend. For newbies, it’s a great place to build your chops and create an online portfolio, and for established writers, it’s just one more source of potential income. They can look through article listings that match their personal writing specialties, find a few that are…well…not so hot, and contact the author to see if they or anyone they know would be interested in having their pieces written by a real professional. For a fee, of course.
[Reprinted with Permission from Soni Pitts:]
First, thanks to Soni for writing this very well-thought out response. You can learn more about Soni’s Personal Blog here: (http://sonipitts.blogdrive.com)
I think Ms. Lawrence was reviewing EzineArticles for the wrong application… much like *if* a triathlete was reviewing a bikers shoe for running. The biker shoe would fail because it’s the wrong tool for the job, yet it would succeed perfectly for the job it was designed.
I want to be very clear that you can be a professional writer and a article marketer and any mix in between. 26k+ EzineArticles expert authors can’t be wrong! :)
Ms. Lawrence asks, “Where is the writer in this equation?” My response: EzineArticles.com would not exist without writers investing their valuable time to write and submit articles if there wasn’t something in it for them. We refer tens of thousands of qualified visitors weekly to the expert authors listed in the site, not to mention the hundreds of testimonials that we’ve received from authors who tell us that we’re one of their top traffic sources, the networking potential we’ve delivered them, and so forth.