From My Desk to Yours – 3rd Edition

By: Penny, EzineArticles Managing Editor

Definition: Substantive Articles – Articles that contribute to your niche. These include suggestions, ideas, sources of information, insights into the topic and almost anything that will stir discussion.

Your readers should want more! They should comment on your article and offer you suggestions for more articles. If you’re getting this already, you know the meaning of substantive … Keep up the good work!

If you’re not having this dynamic conversation with your readers, then here are some tips that will help you achieve this:

  • It’s Not OK to be Short and Sweet – Saying something is a cool idea without adding the WHY does nothing for the reader. This is not quality – this is easy writing. Your readers will see right through it. Good writing takes hard work and research.
  • Relate Yourself to Your Work – Readers want to know how this has affected you and why it works. Add YOU to the topic by offering tips and further exploring why the tip works. People want MEAT. They want to know they can trust you. You’re the expert, so show them you are. Give them the MEAT.
  • Make Connections with Your Audience – Do your research and ask them what they want. Then deliver this value in articles. This is worthwhile stuff. Readers want to know what they will find valuable TODAY. They don’t want to know what happened in the news last year. Think EVERGREEN!
  • Think 400-600 Words as Your Quality Base – Don’t fill your article body with FLUFF just to reach this word count, but rather allow yourself enough room to explore the topic.
  • You Won’t Know Until You Try – Perfection should always be your goal, but remember to submit and learn along the way. Trust me, you’ll get better with time.

Remember, writing high-quality, original content is not an overnight process – it’s hard work. Keep going, and you’ll get there in time.

I promise. :-)

If you have other suggestions for promoting a dynamic conversation with your readers, please share them with the rest of us by leaving a comment below.


Ethan writes:

Penny, wouldn’t it benefit article authors to move the minimum word count required by EzineArticles up from 250 words to 400 words? Wouldn’t this make it significantly more clear to article authors that a “quality base” for an article begins at 400 words, not 250 words?

You’re introducing an important and meaningful issue — what constitutes a “quality base” for an article. Unfortunately, your comment is at odds with what the EzineArticles article submission infrastructure requires.

Please don’t misinterpret my comment in a negative way — I’m just trying to push EzineArticles in the direction of being a bit more consistent and uniform insofar as what is expected of authors. Many of us actually enjoy the fun and challenge of submitting articles and getting our names out there — but it becomes less fun and more nerve wracking when we see one set of rules posted on the EzineArticles website (like a 250 minimum word requirement for an article) and then see a blog post by EZA’s managing editor that EzineArticles actually considers the “quality base” of an article to be a minimum of 400 words.

Help us better understand what is required so we can fulfill our end of the bargain and continue submitting article content that EzineArticles considers meaningful.

Thanks! :-)

Comment provided October 22, 2009 at 9:58 AM


This might be an idea, unfortunately it bothers me somewhat because I take 75 online email newsletters and note the articles getting shorter, same with MSN’s Small Home Business articles, most are 300 and under. Additionally, I’ve noted that if the article gets too long and people have to scroll too much they often click out, because they are scanning, not actually reading.

The average Internet surfer studies show 18 seconds per page, and click. So you want them to scan or read your article and then click on your link at the bottom to get more information. Most people cannot write 200-300 word articles very well, but some decent writers can, thus, raising the limits can be a problem, unjust rather for those writers who can do it. I suppose it takes a good deal of practice, but these days with so many laid-off reporters, well many have gone free-lance and I’ve seen quite a few here who can turn-a-phrase and do an excellent job in under 300 words.

So, with regards to online ezine publishers wanting shorter articles formatted a certain way, and with online trends dummying down our reader base, and with Internet Surfer attention spans, these are all issues. Personally, I find that 350 is a good length for me to say what I need to say, but my writing styles packs in lots of references and compound sentences, so I am able to say more in a shorter space. That didn’t happen right away, it took 1000s of articles to get there.

Still, those 1200-2500 word articles I did in the beginning, I wish I never posted, I should have broken them down into 350-400 word articles. Some food for thought, as this is a hot topic.


Oh, as a quick example that last post was 291 words. So, if I tightened it up, which would edit it down 50-words it would be 241 words, and if I added a three sentence lead in and three sentence conclusion to it, it would be back up around 290 words. And it’s title will be:

Should Online Article Directories Require 400-word Articles Minimums?

So, you see, I could very easily add in a fluffy paragraph, but I’ve said all I need to say, so, if someone can write compactly, then they should if they have the ability to, and believe me it takes time. So, concentrate on your writing write until you’ve completed and stop. Generally, for most folks it will be 400 words or more. But some of these really kick-butt journalist majors and reporters, well, I’d hate to have a rule that forced them to insert fluff just to make the word counts.

Anyway, case in point. But Ethan does bring up that point, and it should be discussed, because otherwise folks who purposely write thinly to begin with, end up getting away with murder and their articles stink.



You bring up a good point and it’s one that we have internally struggled with making. Lance is right, good writers can pack some quality meat in 250-300. It’s very difficult, but it can be done. We don’t want to punish those authors who have done a great job in delivering them.

One of the main reasons we have not changed the word count is fear that articles will still come in thin but be 400 words of fluff rather than 250 words of fluff. Where’s the win in this?

Our decision has not yet been made if this word count will change but it is up for discussion. Know that if you are delivering quality in your articles, you should have nothing to worry about.

If you have not reached the writing level of delivering great quality in 250-300 words, then don’t. It looks bad for you and your readers are not too forgiving. If you know you need more, then thicken the article by adding more quality meat to the package.

Don’t judge your article by the number of words it contains, judge it by the quality of those words. Numbers shouldn’t matter when your intent is to deliver quality.

Time and thousands of article reviews has taught us that a good threshold is in 400-600 words. I’ll bring this discussion to the table again for reconsideration on word count minimums.

Thanks for your input.


I see the dilemma here, it’s almost as if it is an individual thing? Maybe 300-words might help or be temporary compromise. Or 400 words at basic Level and down to 300 after 50 articles? Although, I’ve seen folks with 1,000 articles with 260 words of absolute nonsense, as in; “What the heck are they doing with or trying to prove with that article?”

I can recall when the word count was 200-words and things were not working out because some authors would write a sentence, make a new paragraph, write a sentence, make a new pargraph until they had 15-16 lines of text and call it an article at 201 words? That didn’t work. Occasionally there was a decent article with 210 words, but not often, but every once in a while, which is why I have changed my thinking.

In the beginning I was writing 1500 word articles and Chris was nice enough to send me a personal email, asking why I was writing such long articles, this was back in 2005 and there were not many people on the site, I think only 2000 authors or so, most with only 1-20 aritcles, but that is how it started, so it’s been a long road, and a lot of work as I can see, very humble beginnings and EzineArticles has sure done an incredible thing, I look back and say “wow!”

Articles are also an interesting thing, because some popular or famous quotes can make us really think for hours and they are only two-lines. Great Poetry is often like this, it puts a world of information and everlasting insight into 80 words or less often enough. Sometimes it is the message you convey, and that doesn’t really have much to do with the word count.

Of course, if folks are trying to “pump out” articles with catchy titles, and as many as humanly or computer generated possible, then the go to the word count and often abruptly end the article, leaving the reader to think “WTH” and more importantly thinking “why did I waste my time?” And that is a travesty to all article authors on this site and the future potential revenue stream to all the authors, and too much of that will get major search engines to down-grade and that would be horrible.



Thanks to your blog comment we did a study of the word count in all problem articles not accepted yet.

Watch for a new blog post coming soon that will share our findings.

41% of all articles currently rejected are under 399 words. As the word count climbs into the 750-800+ word count range, the percent rejected goes into the single low digits! No surprise there.



One suggestion I would make is to keep a Thesaurus by your desk so you can quickly flip through the pages. If you use the same words over and over again, you will look stupid in the eyes of the reader, plus you might trigger the “keyword Stuffing” feature while posting.

Additionally, by using a Thesaurus you’ll note new possible titles for future articles, and you can play around with aliteration a little for cool titles which will also help with page views. I’ve noted that cool titles with proper key words and good aliteration, get more hits.

Another tip; Take Google Alerts for your topics, read what’s going on, use those topics to help you remember stories or events that happened to you in the business or industry, these make great articles. Also, when news events occur, you can relate it to “future trends for 2010” or past events that are repeating in the industry, those historical comments in your article give good value and gain your readers attention.

Another tip: Subscribe to other article authors in your subject or semi-related subjects, if they write an article but fail to address something, then you should address it. Or if their opinion is counter to your experience write an article and discuss this; “Some folks in the industry believe this, however let me explain why that may not always be the case.”

If you’d like to discuss your industry with me and think up titles to articles or article ideas, or how to get your reader thinking about your Specific Niche, then shoot me an email. I love to discuss these topics and it gives me ideas for additional articles, which I must have to keep going, you understand.

Comment provided October 22, 2009 at 10:20 AM


Ntathu Allen writes:

Lance, thats an excellent idea – using google alerts and I like the idea of “filling in the gaps” from other articles. Yes, I would be interested in discussing/bouncing ideas for my niche. Thx. stay Blessed and keep on writing. Ntathu



For another suggestion regarding the importance of relating your expertise, experience, knowledge, and observations to your article. If you are an online article marketer and you have no experience, I’d like to point out that it is somewhat unfair to write articles that you have no-experience in, without at least studying up on the topic, like reading a book about the topic, going online and downloading some research papers at Google Scholar (go to Google click on More, scroll down to scholar and type in the subject) many of the white papers, reports, research can be read in HTML, or some you can down load in .pdf – Seriously, you’d be amazed at what you can learn.

Also, why not go to and look into your topic and join a Blog Network on your topic, participate in the forums, discussions, yes, even debates. Read blog posts. Go to and subscribe to an industry magazine, in paper form, or emailed to you. You’ll be able to stay up on your topic and give value to your reader.

It’s only fair, you should be giving good information, not just perusing WikiPedia and regurgitating information, which I’ve seen many article writers do. Be an Article Author, no just an article writer. See the difference! Treat this site like you would an online publishing site, get your articles published, not just posted. Think about it in a different way.

Let’s say your articles on content value and quality are a (5) on a 1-10 scale, that’s passable, but does it really stand out? Why not bump it up, one to two notches, shoot for improvement – constantly bettering yourself. Find the top authors, not by quantity but by quality in your niche here, use the category section for top authors and do some reading, pick one that you believe to be the best of breed here, then work to reach that level, and then to surpass them. This way you can gain respect from the reader, but more importantly yourself, knowing that your articles are worthy and must be read because they contain EXCELLENT information.

Comment provided October 22, 2009 at 11:01 AM


Diana Kipka writes:

Even though your topics are not in my field, I still follow your writing because you provoke and inspire myself, and I’m sure, many of your fellow writers to greater heights!

Do you have an ebook or report available on writing articles or brainstorming for ideas? You should! In these few responses that you made to Penny’s blog, I have picked-up several valuable points to better my writing as well as additional areas of material reference and idea sourcing. THANK YOU…THANK YOU…THANK YOU!

Many thanks also to Penny for her insights and direction on delivering the best writing and articles that we can aspire to.

Keep it coming…both of you



Thank you Diana, I am glad you enjoy my sometimes fairly controversial articles and various suggestion comments because I work so hard to produce content. I have not produced an eBook on the brainstorming for articles, but as soon as I hit 20,000 I am going to make an eBook and give it away to anyone who wants it on how to write articles and have a chapter on brainstorming for article topics. So, once that is done, I will shoot you a copy. If you would like more “ideas” email me, because, I cannot turn off my mind and so, I may as well use it to help you. I like Penny’s advice because, I keep reading her columns and am nodding my head; yes, yes, that’s right, exactly, yes, yep, that’s it, absolutely. She keeps reminding me to focus and always work to make it a little better. I’ve really improved a lot, seriously. My original articles were not very good, at the time I was doing what I thought was good, but I look back and feel like I should go re-write a lot of them. Thanks for the encouragement Diana, you made my day, now I am going to go see that new movie; Gamer!


Pamela Bradley writes:

Hi Penny

Thank you for these tips. Although all my travel articles are based on personal experience, I have been trying to keep the ‘I’ and ‘me’ out of it while still giving the feel of someone who knows. It would be nice sometime to add a more personal touch although I do this on my website. Could you please comment on this question of the sometime dreaded ‘I’.



Comment provided October 22, 2009 at 3:51 PM




“I” is OK. Where it becomes bad is when the article is only about you and all we read is, I did this, and I did that…thus the point of the article is drowned out by the “look at me” factor that replaced the value.

We don’t turn away articles that name drop, speak in first point, or say things like, “From my point of view, or I recently tried this and it worked…” as long as your article offers value.

Add your personal stamp to your articles. It will be what makes them yours and different from everyone else.

Here is a perfect example, an author who writes on nutrition, offers this language in his article:

“In my recent studies and testing of herbal remedies, I found that the following remedies worked best for cold/flu symptoms:”

And then goes on to offer the remedies, tips on exercise that will help in prevention, and overall health patterns that were common triggers.

He is offering nuggets of value by bringing what he knows to the table in the form of tips. He also said, “I” and “my” and it worked.

Great question Pam.

Comment provided October 22, 2009 at 4:34 PM


Bob writes:

Hi Penny,

I write on dog problem curing solutions, some of which I have found to work but I have not tried to “personalise” my articles as I have never had all the problems I research.
My hope is that some of the problem cures will help someone with that particular worry and help them to live a happy existance with their dog.
I would not like to suggest to readers that I am a life long expert but do have forty or so years of dog ownership so have had my fair share of experience with my canine friends and know how frustrating these animals can be but there is usually a remedy if you only look for it, new dog owners do not always think of this and continue with the frustration.
So the point of this is, are you suggesting that I should be more personal in my articles and thus reach more readers?



Comment provided October 23, 2009 at 6:34 AM


Bob, this is very cool. One idea would be to put in your byline, at least one of the sentences;

“Bob has been a dog owner for over 40-years”

Just, kind-of throwing out that idea. By the way, what a cool niche. Also, there is a section here on Book Reviews and sub-category “Pets” so if you are doing research, you should also write up the book reviews, as they will bring in traffic due to the all the canine cee-words.


wayne curate writes:

thanks penny,

i like how you take the time to help author’s like myself to know the meaning of article writing. you give us confident to keep writing better article.

Comment provided October 23, 2009 at 9:36 PM


wayne curate writes:

Hi penny,

i believe you are doing a good job for us authors’ to get our work establish.

it’s our confidence level and our nerves that get the best of us.

some of us are still new to writing and publishing articles.

even though i am still making some mistakes, i am confident to know their are real people evaluating my work.

some of your ideas, tips and options are making it easier to write and we should all thank the editorial staff.

“some of the work i do, i need to see through them thoroughly; then, i will become the genius i want to be”.

keep up the good work…EZA


Coach Bud writes:

You are so “right on”. People do not like to be “sold”, they want to be informed. Anyone who thinks they can mask a subtle “sales pitch” in an article is delusional. Today, people are too savvy and have endless information with the click of a mouse to be “snowed” Win their trust by being an expert on your topic and give them something of value that they can use in their personal and/or business life.

Comment provided October 25, 2009 at 11:01 AM


Joe writes:

I think one of the keys is to somehow dig deep into ourselves and uncover how we really feel about a subject. Everybody has a unique perspective to an extent and yet we also have the same perspective to an extent. When you are able to communicate either of these things to others in words, you are either relating to or identifying with, your reader.

They say you should write about what you are passionate about. What your strongest emotions are, is what others are curious about, that’s where the beef is. Converting emotions into words then becomes the art of explaining your deepest feelings in a linear fashion.

Comment provided October 30, 2009 at 10:27 AM


RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

Please read our comment policy before commenting.