EzineArticles Expert Author Roger C. Parker is in today’s Author Spotlight. Roger is a best-selling author, coach, and consultant who helps others write books, find new readers, and sell more books. He encourages everyone to develop their writing skills: “Writing is everyone’s second job!”
At EzineArticles, we’re always preaching about the need for balancing quantity and quality with your article marketing strategy. Our recommendation is to write and submit a lot of really valuable material.
It would seem that Roger truly took our advice to heart… at least in this interview! His responses to our questions contain a lot of really valuable information – each one could easily be a stand-alone article.
So even though this particular Author Spotlight is longer than usual, we decided against editing it down for length because we didn’t want to lose even one nugget of his sage advice.
Invest a few minutes to read what Roger has to say. We promise it will be worth every second.
- Roger, when it comes to writing, you’re all about simplifying. Can you tell us more about that philosophy?
Simplifying begins when a writer asks: “What’s the basic information that readers need to solve a problem or achieve a goal?” Writers tend to want to tell too much; they want to communicate every detail, they go off on tangents emphasizing exceptions rather than core knowledge or core ideas. By focusing on core concepts rather than writing an encyclopedia, writers can do a better job for their readers.
While writing, chunking can play a major role in simplifying and communicating complex topics. Chunking refers to breaking up articles (and books, etc.) into manageable, bite-sized chunks. The two easiest, and most powerful, chunking tools are:
- Subheads – Subheads inserted between paragraphs organize complexity and make it simple. Subheads provide a context for the information that follows. Subheads advertise the content that follows and focus the reader’s attention on one idea at a time.
- Bulleted and Numbered Lists – Whenever possible, I encourage my coaching clients to replace information in sentences and paragraphs with lists. Like subheads, lists help readers focus on one idea at a time.
Planning ahead is a writer’s easiest and most powerful simplifying tool. Planning before writing takes the stress out of writing. Whether you use outlines or mind maps, once you know the main ideas you want to communicate, “filling in the blanks” becomes relatively easy.
SUMMARY: Plan ahead and determine the basic information your readers need from the article. Then “chunk” it into bite-size parts.
- Which EzineArticles tools do you commonly use? Why?
The most important tool I use is the “draft” feature. When I started, I would write my articles online and immediately publish them. Now, I start articles and save them as drafts, for completion at a later date.
The advantages of creating drafts is that it cures my perfectionist tendencies. I tend to write quickly, creating a framework containing the premise, three or four main points, and a conclusion for each article as quickly as possible.
I return to the draft during a second, “polishing,” phase. Separating “framework” and “getting started” from polishing and self-editing has really made a difference for me. I wish I had realized the importance of the EzineArticles draft feature much earlier.
Another EzineArticles tool that has made a big difference for me is the Insert Word feature which strips out unwanted formatting information from articles originally written in Microsoft Word. Word formatting can cause strange line-spacing and other problems that can result in wasted time trying to make everything look right.
SUMMARY: Use the Draft feature to overcome perfectionism, and the Insert Word feature to strip Microsoft Word formatting.
- Your articles on EzineArticles.com have received close to 19,000 views. What does that translate to for you (i.e. click-throughs and sales)?
It’s hard to know what is more important; the 19,000 views, the search engine visibility that they have created, or the fact that the process of writing my articles makes it easy for me to add “tangibility” to ideas rattling around inside my head.
Perhaps EzineArticle’s most important role is in helping writers convert ideas and intentions into action. EzineArticles makes it very easy for individuals who have never written to discover the joys and benefits of writing without sending query letters to magazines or setting up a blog or website. EzineArticles makes it practical for authors to create an online platform, or visibility, that paves the way for their future success.
In my case, EzineArticles has provided me with a training ground and way of measuring my website conversions and sales. I now have a much greater appreciation for the “marketing funnel” approach, and am in the process of creating a new series of landing pages and other incentives to better convert EzineArticles readers into coaching clients, e-book readers, and teleseminar/webinar attendees.
SUMMARY: Use EzineArticles.com as a training ground for writing, measuring and evaluating the effectiveness of your content. Then use that information to constantly improve your conversion rate.
- You say writing is everybody’s second job. How would that apply to article authorship and marketing?
As Ken Roman wrote in Writing that Works, most people form their impressions of you from your writing. Relatively few spend face-to-face time with you, but your ability to convincingly communicate in writing effects everyone: bosses, co-workers, prospects, potential partners, etc.
The problem, of course, is that you can’t “take a pill” and learn to write. Writing is a learned skill. Except for a handful of grammatical tips and writing shortcuts, to learn to write you have to write! You can buy all the “how to” writing books you want, but until you write, you won’t learn how to write.
Articles are the perfect training ground for writing books, blog posts, newsletters, proposals, white papers, etc. EzineArticles provides a great service by offering a platform that allows anyone to learn how to write better, at no cost or obligation. I stress “write better,” because–by analyzing the reader statistics that EzineArticles provides–authors can learn what works and what doesn’t, in terms of titles, topics, and article content. By comparing their best-read to their least-read topics, EzineArticles provides valuable feedback that writers can learn from.
I’ve seen the impact that EzineArticles has had on several of my clients who, previous to writing for EzineArticles, had little or absolutely no SEO visibility and no writing background. By helping them identify a simple theme for their articles, several have changed their lives. One client, for example, has “run with the ball” and has written over 70 articles in less than 90 days. They have also discovered how easy writing articles can be when you have a system.
SUMMARY: The best way to learn how to write is to… write! Develop a writing system that allows you to write more and write better articles – evaluate effectiveness and improve constantly.
- In your eyes, what makes you unique as an article marketer?
First, I’ve always been an insatiable reader. My favorite “childhood adults” had shelf after shelf of Reader’s Digests and I would read them by the hour.
When I graduated to the New Yorker, I was amazed by the ability of article writers like Berton Rouche and John McPhee to capture and maintain my attention for dozens of pages on topics that I wasn’t really interested in, but continued to read about. At an early age I began trying to analyze where their mysterious power comes from.
Likewise, when reading books like the late Ed McBain’s 47th Precinct series, I was spellbound by his ability to “lock you in” with the first sentence of the first paragraph.
Secondly, I’m a frustrated teacher. I wanted to be a college history professor, I wanted to be “Mr. Chips.” Until, of course, I realized the realities teaching; pay, meetings, rules, committees, parents, grading papers, etc. Writing articles and mentoring other article writers allows me the pleasures of teaching without the need to dress up in a tuxedo to attend an alumni tea at the college president’s house, etc.
Finally, and this just occurred to me, I want to know how things work. My grandmother used to give me clocks to take apart. I have always been interested in “processes.” I followed the building of the St. Lawrence Seaway and I remained fascinated by the Air Traffic Control system that brings order out of chaos. My interest in “order” and “why” was reflected in my books about WordPerfect and Microsoft Office, because I wanted to share a simpler approach to software mastery than the usual “information overkill” combined with “lack of relevance” for those who were “Dummies.”
I received a great deal of pleasure, incidentally, from writing the “…for Dummies” books that I wrote.
SUMMARY: Embrace a writing style and niche that excites you. Be an insatiable reader and discover the subtle ways authors in your field of interest grab the reader’s attention. Avoid information overkill and lack of relevance.
- You’ve sold over 1.6 million copies of your 38 books, yet you only have 37 articles on our site. Even more ironic is the fact that with an average of over 500 views each, your articles obviously work! What’s up with that?
Wow! You don’t pull any punches, do you!? ;-)
Unfortunately, unexpected events have a way of interfering with plans. I was quite excited by Jeff Herring’s “100 Articles in 100 Days” challenge, and was writing one a day when my wife had a heart attack and had to have bypass surgery. The weeks that followed were a blur, and–probably as a reaction to stress–I was unable to write as much as I had hoped during the month that followed.
I was especially frustrated because, as part of the direction that EzineArticles and Jeff Herring provides, I had completely revised my approach to articles. Basically, in order to meet the 100 Articles in 100 Days challenge, I had to completely change the way I approached article writing. Instead of the long articles I have been writing most of my life, I learned how to write faster and more concisely. I forced myself to chunk my previous “omnibus” approach to articles into shorter, more focused articles. I was doing well, until I “fell off the wagon” in April.
Now that I realize the power of short, focused articles, and have become more efficient in my writing habits, I plan to reach my 100 articles goal and continue to develop ideas and promote them on EzineArticles.
But, for now, my biggest satisfaction and reward has been observing how my writing and coaching clients have benefited from EzineArticles. Ask me again in 60-90 days, and I’ll have a different story to tell!
SUMMARY: Realize the power of short, focused articles. Become efficient in your writing. Take up challenges like the 100 Articles in 100 Days Article Challenge and others.
You’re reading this sentence, so obviously you’ve invested the time to read all of Roger’s extremely insightful interview. Now make that investment pay off today by writing and submitting a few more high-quality, original articles that embrace some of his philosophies.
While you’re at it, why not leave a comment about what you’ve discovered in today’s Author Spotlight!