Holiday Christmas Cards

Julia said, “I tried to find a snail mail address to send you a real hand-written Thank You note for the big tea mug. Alas, you hide behind electronics, so Thanks.”

Sorry about that… Our postal address:
c/o Chris Knight
PO Box 12740
Green Bay WI 54307 USA

We didn’t mean to hide behind electrons and the above address has been in our privacy policy page, in our email newsletter footer for the past 2 years plus it can be found in our WHOIS domain public data for the past 4 years.

What’s really amazing is that about 50% of the Platinum authors who are thanking us for the mug indicate that they use it to drink TEA, about 40% say they are drinking coffee with it, 8% say they drink soft drinks in it and 2% say they stick pencils/pens/spare coins/sharp objects or junk in them. :-)

EzineArticles in 43Things

This is a kind of neat and unusual thing to find: Turns out that EzineArticles expert Neil Walker had actually put down submitting an article and getting it accepted as one of his 43 Things that he wanted to accomplish.

Neil, we’re happy could be one of the 27 things you’ve accomplished so far on your list! :-) ok, so what are you waiting for? Submit another couple dozen articles.

Boost Readability For All Your Readers

EzineArticles Expert Author Priya Shah said this in her blog entry today:

There are two kinds of readers online – those who read an article in detail, and those who scan through it. For the sake of the latter, break up your articles into paragraphs, each of which makes a point, and use a title for the paragraph that effectively sums up the points you made in the text.

Write a catchy title for each paragraph. Keep your paragraphs short. Long riffs are difficult to read online. I usually prefer a maximum of 2 to 3 sentences per paragraph, but longer is acceptable. The use of bulleted points and numbered lists also boosts readability.

Perfect timing Priya!

Strephon Questions Article Density

In our Dense Writing Does Not Get Read thread, EzineArticles Expert Author Strephon had a series of questions that I thought would be better answered in a new blog entry:

Have you done a comparison of ezine article writing and distribution versus podcasting?

Chris Knight Answers: No, I have not.

Or, do you have stats that show at least a word-count comparison for what size and density article gets distributed the most?

Chris Knight Answers: Yes. Ready my Word Count Data-Mining Study entry where the data shows that more research will be needed to prove which word count size contributes the most to increased distribution… In other words, in my study, some statistically insignificant results were obtained, but none that have made me want to publish a more scientific report about the results.

Should we all write 250-word articles because that size gets distributed and read the most?

Chris Knight Answers: I recommend that you write articles in the 400-750 word range because that’s the range I believe the human brain can absorb easily on a few second scan of an article. Anything beyond 800+ words and the reader is now in a different mode than ‘eye scanning’…

My articles so far are around 2000 words almost, like my podcasts. I do this because this amount of words, well-written or said as well, is what it takes for me to cover a subject.

Chris Knight Answers: I can guarantee you’d get better traffic attraction results if you created (4) separate 500 word articles out of your 2,000 word article. Be sure to read Why We Are Not Article “Parts” Friendly. :-)

Maybe Dr. Wallin’s statement is considered extreme because some of us who tend to write long believe that if we get the ‘long reader’ to our site that will be the reader who is most likely to buy our books.

Chris Knight Answers: Interesting theory, and I’m sure I could make an argument that agrees with your position (a more engaged reader of an article could make for a more qualified visitor)… but your theory doesn’t work because you can only produce a small quantity of articles because of how long they are, word count wise. Go read my Page View Logic Theory article to see why article quantity is a critical component to the article writing & marketing strategy.

Is there evidence that the ‘short reader’ buys books? Why would anyone who likes to read only short articles that have a single point want to even read book-length works anymore?

Chris Knight Answers: Because your book answers their problem, COMPREHENSIVELY…whereas your article is only a teaser… a sliver of your expertise. Think hard on this: If you give your reader a 2,000 word article that answers 90% of their problem; you’ve just eliminated their need for your comprehensive solution in the form of your book or ebook.

Does she mean that dense is not just poor, hard-to-grasp, writing style, but also long or thorough writing style?

Chris Knight Answers: I think she means ‘long and thorough’ = dense.

Should I not be publishing to the Internet long books? My only down-load book, The Writer’s Interface, now starting to sell, is 92,000 words long, but it is interactive as part of the WriteItNow software platform. So it’s not a regular style paper book.

Chris Knight Answers: I’m not an ebook or book coach, but YES, I think you should be publishing LONG books online. Use short less than 800 word articles for your marketing strategy and long books that people can purchase as your comprehensive total solution strategy.

If readers to ezine articles of mostly less than 700 words are the largest body of article readers, is this the wrong group for me and other book writers?

Chris Knight Answers: Depends on what your end-outcome is. If you want to attract more traffic to your website and you want that traffic to be pre-qualified, then you found the right vehicle here.

Should we now divide our long books into six or eight shorter Reports to sell on the Internet?

Chris Knight Answers: Interesting idea… I have no idea, but in the end, the market will decide how much they will value or not value various report lengths…so, test my friend… and keep on testing until you find the right length/value proposition for your ideal client base.

Dr. Wallin’s ‘density’ statement is dramatic but it is negative. Are you both tackling the positive also: what does work, and not just what doesn’t work?

Chris Knight Answers: Yes, we tackle the positive strategies that help solve the problem that so many highly educated and highly skilled people fall into when writing articles for the web. On December 27th, I’ll share the live interview audio MP3 and PDF report that Dr. Wallin and I created. It was sent to my Article Production Strategies clients last Friday so they could have the first access to the data.

Your 10 Most Highly Viewed Articles

EzineArticles expert author Ed Howes mused in a recent blog comment:

“Maybe instead of all this speculation about what readers want, we should all analyze our ten most published articles.”

My gut opinion is that it seems very intuitive to want to draw conclusions by analyzing your most successful 10 articles; but the reality may be that you never really know what it was about them (mechanically speaking) that caused the outstanding success.

Example: Your subject matter could have been the traffic trigger; timing, search engine love, an accidental keyword density that matched a market search volume demand, some ezine publisher who promoted your article without telling you (happens daily), a high profile blogger could have highlighted your content because of a single sentence you had in it or maybe it was the compilation of thoughts you put together…

In conclusion: I think it’s a good exercise to review your top 10 most highly successful articles, but don’t become convinced that you can repeat the success by modeling what you thought worked because the truth is that you may never know what the key traffic trigger was that landed you the success in the first place. Agree/Disagree?

Aggregate Your Thin Content

Marc writes to me:

I have a website with over 1,300 original handbag reviews that I would like to submit to you, but many of the reviews are small, around 80 words. Is there any way I can get past the 200 word minimum? Id be happy to pay for an upgraded account if that lets you bypass the requirement.

First, thanks Marc for offering to submit your original handbag reviews. Sorry, the 400 word minimum is the least amount that we can accept at this time.

Recommendation: Combine every (4) handbag reviews to form (1) article. Group them by theme. By doing this, you’d still be able to put 325 articles into syndication to attract more traffic for your website.

Dense Writing Does Not Get Read

I recently interviewed EzineArticles expert author and Clinical Psychologist Dr. Pauline Wallin for a new $27 short course (MP3 and PDF) called “The 7 Biggest Mistakes That Professionals Make When Writing For The Web.” It’ll be out in less than a week and uncovers some of the critical science behind getting a higher return from your article writing & marketing efforts.

In the process of the interview, Dr. Wallin said:

“Dense writing – no matter how important or compelling, does not get read.”

Let’s think about that for a moment…

How can you make your articles more fun to read and with less eye strain for your reader?

My advice: Keep the word count under 1000 words, keep your paragraphs less than 7 sentences long and keep your sentences less than 25 words long.

What’s your best advice about how to reduce the eye strain for those who read your articles?

Become Less Conversational In Your Writing

Sometimes we write what we speak verbally but that strategy doesn’t always work because the context is often missing when writing your articles.

The challenge with writing articles that become very conversational is that it’s hard to figure out what your primary point or theme is? The solution is to GET TO THE POINT. :-)

Also, eliminate very wordy sentences such as this one: “I don’t necessariliy mean to imply that, but sometimes better than not you will find that it is true.” when you could easily say, “In most cases, you will find that it’s true.”

Also, don’t apologize to the reader. Instead, start by not insulting them with long complex and very wordy sentences. Our lives are busy enough that we don’t have time to be bogged down with a highly verbose writing style.

Another way to become less conversational: Write in shorter sentences (7-12 words max per sentence) and shorter paragraphs (3-7 sentences max per paragraph).

Lastly, go back and read what you wrote out loud and ask yourself this question: Would someone become bored with me if I was talking this way to them? If so, go back and try to figure out how to ‘get to the point’ better and in fewer words.

The Jargon Free Writing Paradox

I know most people will agree that it’s better to write articles that are jargon free of industry specific terminology, slang, lingo, buzzwords or ‘code’ but is it really right to engage your ideal target reader without using words that will make them feel that you are brethren?

Skilled professionals often use *jargon* for social power where you have to be an ‘insider’ to understand the terminology…and in business, it makes them look like they know something special… including the conscious or unconscious desire to make those outside of their industry to feel excluded from the meaning or intention of the words.

And thus the jargon-free paradox: If your articles are completely free of jargon, how will you be able to communicate your expertise to your ideal reader who would have most likely understood the jargon?

Heck, even in our little niche, the term “Article Marketing” is jargon for “article submission, distribution and qualified lead & traffic generation via article syndication”… but to an outsider, they may not know or understand the meaning of the Article Marketing term.

My article writing advice about jargon use: If you are writing your article to appeal to a very technical and specific ideal reader, go ahead and use the least amount of jargon that will accomplish a connection with the reader… but if you want to reach a mass audience, use non-jargon equivalents designed to address non-specialists within your industry.

What are your thoughts about when using jargon in articles is or is not appropriate/effective?

Article Approval Time Gap Management

Today our team of editors received a new tool designed to help them see how much time elapses between each article approval… The idea is to help make our editors aware as to how much time elapses between each article review and approval so that they can become conscious of activities that do and don’t produce results.

The tool will also help our management team to spot trends and problems. Example: Associate Editor Kirk this morning had 3 seconds between articles being approved when his running average is 4 minutes and 16 seconds per article reviewed. We can then zero in our quality assurance time to review that variance from the norms.

Another benefit of this tool is that some Associate Editors perform better in terms of quantity and quality of their article reviewing production…and this will help us identify and catch when people on our team are doing something right so that we can all learn from it…and thus enhance our overall efficiency… the end result being better service to our authors.

(Continue Reading…)

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