Article Submissions: Do Your Homework First!By: Azriel Winnett
As I was settling down to write this article, a long-forgotten scene from my childhood suddenly flashed through my mind.
Which may seem rather queer, not only on account of the big time gap (even TV had yet to make an appearance in my country then - never mind the Internet!), but because that incident is as far removed from our present topic as chalk is to cheese.
For some reason or other, I arrived very late to school that warm summer morning. It was recess time, and I noticed that the air was charged with excitement the moment I entered the school grounds. All my schoolmates had formed up in the longest queue I had ever seen, and judging from all the jostling, many of them just couldn't wait to get to the head of it.
One of the boys explained to me what was going on. A new soft drink with an intriguing name had arrived in town. The franchise holders were offering free samples.
Today, not only are my former schoolmates undoubtedly still drinking Coca Cola, but you can bet their grandchildren are too. And maybe there IS a connection to our topic, after all... Ask ten experienced e-publishers what method they have found most effective in promoting their publications, and nine will probably tell you: "Submitting good articles and having them publishing in other ezines." Why is this?
Well, that sounds an easy one to answer. Since most e-publishers can't afford to pay for articles, they'll reward the author with a "resource box." This device is, in effect a free mini-ad, which could include info about the author's own publications.
But that's only the tip of the iceberg. If you're writing in somebody else's newsletter, you're almost certain to write in your own. And the topic of your article here is probably closely related to the subject field of your own publication.
So what it boils down to is this: you're giving away a free sample of your ezine. Hopefully, after tasting the sample, some people will want to partake of the "real thing."
If they do, they're hardly likely to be "fly by night" readers. Their act of subscribing will result from a calculated decision, rather than a sudden whim. In the terminology we used last week in setting down criteria for evaluating promotional techniques, they will be "quality" subscribers.
Now that we're sold on the incredible value of the article-submission concept, what are we waiting for? Let's don our best writing caps, dish up some really scintillating prose, and quickly shoot them them off to a few ezine editors chosen at random. It all seems so easy - or is it?
No, not really.
If you want to see results, you have to do it properly. Over the past few weeks, we already touched on some of the points I want to emphasize here, but they surely bear reiterating.
In the world of traditional media, few writers, whether experienced or novice, would dream of submitting material to any publication before carefully researching its content, image, format, the nature of its readership, and many other factors besides. Somehow, people think that e-journals are governed by different rules.
Perhaps the reason for this is a common belief that if you're an ezine publisher, you must be desperate for material to fill up your space. In some cases, that may be true, but that's no justification for sending a piece entitled "Seven Ways to Increase Your Website Profits" to a newsletter read by people without the slightest desire to own a website.
To this we may add: if the list owners you are sending to are really so hard up that they'll grab anything that comes their way, are their publications a suitable outlet for your work in the first place?
To add insult to injury, many writers mail out their articles in a way that makes it obvious that the identical piece of email is being distributed to any number of other publishers as well. Nobody enjoys receiving unsolicited messages with something like "Undisclosed Recipients" in the TO field.
If you want to build relationships, there's a right way of going about it. If you aren't interested enough in the recipients of your message to address them by name, why on earth should they take an interest in what you're sending them?
By contrast, you have everything to gain by approaching the list owners you are targeting in the right way. If you can show them that, in addition to the intrinsic merit of the article itself, they stand to benefit also in some other way, you're in a doubly strong position. Perhaps you can offer to publish something of theirs in return?
Submitting articles to other publishers remains a wonderful way of marketing your ezine - and yourself! But as with all other good marketing techniques, you have to do your homework first.
Do it well, and you're heading for an A grade.
© Copyright 2000, Azriel Winnett, Sling Shot Media, LLC
The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.