In 1999, I wrote an article for Guru.com, a popular website for solo professionals, about how to publish articles as a marketing strategy. Almost immediately after it appeared, I landed a new client, was invited to submit two proposals, and added dozens of names to my mailing list. The article was later reprinted as a newsletter and included in a marketing kit. The article stayed on Guru.com for several years, and the benefits continued to roll in. The most powerful testament to the effectiveness of syndicating my articles online came when a reader who later became a client requested a proposal from my company, even though her company had almost finalized a decision to hire a competitor. “We came across your article as we were researching public relations companies, and it made all the difference,” she said. “We knew from your article that you could help us.” Placing articles on websites that reach your target market is one of the most powerful marketing techniques available. Whether you’re a management consultant, corporate executive, or masseuse, publishing articles under your byline will do wonders for your business. Websites Welcome Content Many websites have an ongoing need for content, but simply can’t produce enough themselves. Whatever your niche or area of expertise, there’s an audience out there who wants to learn more, and online publishers who are looking for free content. Online article syndication is a strategy based on writing and publishing articles on websites that reach your target market. You offer your articles for free, and in return include a short description of your business and a link to your website. People interested in topics as diverse as Java programming, retirement planning, and landscape architecture seek information on websites devoted to these subjects. The trick is to provide useful content that ultimately drives readers back to your website to see what you have to offer. Instant Credibility Prospects you’ve never met are forming opinions about your business, at the click of a mouse, twenty-four hours a day. You need to ensure that they get a positive virtual first impression. Developing this positive virtual first impression is within your control, but you must be proactive. When prospects read your articles on a trusted website, and then click back to your site, it’s the online equivalent of being introduced by a friend or associate. Moreover, articles can remain online for years and bring you thousands of visitors. Demonstrate Thought Leadership Syndicating articles online is a powerful method of establishing thought leadership in your industry. Consumers are becoming immune to marketing messages and cynical about advertising, so an informative, useful article with no pressure to buy is a welcome change. Syndicating articles builds goodwill between your business and members of your target market: it’s a way to position your business as a trusted resource by offering your expertise with no strings attached. When your articles appear all over the world via the Internet, potential clients begin to trust your name and your brand. When prospects read your article, they are likely to click back to your website for more information. Online article syndication boosts your online “findability.” By creating and distributing articles about your business expertise, you help search engines find you, which helps Web searchers learn about and, ultimately, engage your business. Anatomy of Online Articles Here are some special considerations for online articles: Write for ease of online reading. Because most people reading text on their computer screens simply skim the content, make your writing easy to read. Write headlines that catch attention. Keep paragraphs short, typically no longer than two or three sentences. Use subheadings to separate long stretches of copy, and bullet points for lists and action steps. Most websites want articles of less than 1,000 words; 500-750 words is ideal. Write for the search engines. Include keywords and phrases that are popular with searchers in your target market. Research potential keywords and phrases relevant to your business and include them in your articles. Create a compelling resource box. The resource box, which appears at the end of your article, should contain your bio, a brief overview of your business, and an incentive that encourages readers to click back to your website. Here is a resource box that I have used: Steven Van Yoder is the author of Get Slightly Famous. His company helps executives, consultants, and professional business owners become recognized thought leaders in their fields and attract more business with less effort. Visit http://www.getslightlyfamous.com for free resources and to download his free marketing guide. Not every article you write will hit the jackpot, but once you start getting your articles out to relevant websites on a regular basis, you will reap many benefits. An article published under your byline gives you instant credibility because it’s editorial matter – not advertising – and hence is endorsed by the website on which it appears.