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Sharing Advice Can Win You Customers
1/1/2009 -

How to Write an Expert Article

Your knowledge is worth a lot to consumers. Biz Eview allows you to share your specialty with Bellingham and build-up your reputation as an expert. 

These days, consumers want more from the companies with whom they do business. A sale at the nursery may be nice, but a class in how to care for houseplants is even better. Fresh produce at the grocer is good, but recipes and cooking advice provide bonus incentives for locals to shop with you or pay for your services.

The more knowledge a vendor offers, the greater value they provide the consumer. You can offer Bellingham residents the added-value of your expertise by writing an expert column on The Eview website. Your existing customers will appreciate it, and it will even attract new business!

When preparing to write an article to submit to The Eview, follow these steps:

  1. Select an appropriate topic.

    What should you write about? Ask any writer, from Stephen King to Emily Post and they’ll tell you: Write about what you know. When you keep this number one direction in mind, writing an expert article for the Business Eview audience is easy.

    Think of the questions your customers ask you. Now, think of ones questions you get from potential customers. If you write an article answering any of these questions, you'll show yourself to be two things: a credible expert and a business person who cares about his or her customers’ questions, concerns and interests.
  2. Create an outline

    The key to writing effectively on the web is to be brief and to the point. Web readers are looking for helpful, solid information and advice. They like to get “steps” of what to do; they appreciate links to other sources of information; they like subheads that break your article up into bite-size pieces; and they like summary statements that help them remember what you’ve told them.

    How long should your article be? What comes first? How should you wrap it up? All these questions are answered with any easy-to-remember formula: “Tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em. Tell ‘em. And then tell ‘em what you told ‘em”. 

    Sounds too simple? In your article, you want to offer the public some very specific advice and you want it to be easy for them to remember. Simple is good. So create a 5-paragraph outline, like this:
    • Intro—Tell people up front what they’ll get from reading your article. State the point of your article in two or three sentences. You may want to limit what you’re going to cover to three key points.
    • Key Point 1—Cover one point in each of the following three paragraphs. Consider giving real-life examples of what you’re talking about. Reference a solution or viewpoint that only you (as a professional) would know.
    • Key Point 2… If you are writing a how-to article, describe the steps required to complete the task you are describing. Remember to validate (tell them why it’s important) and include examples (to make your point easy to digest and remember).
    • Key Point 3…Use clear language that is to the point, don’t wax on poetic. You want your audience to stay with you until the final paragraph where you will ask them to “take action”.
    • Wrap-Up—In your final paragraph, summarize what you have told the audience and be sure to stress what is most important about your advice.
      Think of this final paragraph as a launching pad where you let your audience know what to do next. Give them a “call to action” by suggesting they contact you; include a link to your e-mail or website, or include links to other sites where they can find more info.
    • The best articles are only as long as they need to be. Keep it short and sweet – there’s nothing wrong with a 400 word article, but if you need 1000 words, use them well. Feel free to add subheads for each paragraph to help make the information easy to digest, to scan, and to reference later. 
  3. Pick a voice.

    What sort of language should you use? Just write in a style that is true to you and one that you feel your audience will find approachable. Since it’s “you” offering your expert advice, try using your own speaking voice—mimic the way you would present the information face-to-face with a potential customer.  The more of yourself you include in the article, the more engaging it will be. But remember at all times to be concise and to the point so your article is easy to follow and holds interest. 
  4. Edit your article.

    Using your five-paragraph outline, write down all your thoughts and then go back and edit your article. Generally, two pages of typed content (12-point font) is too much. Half a page is too little. Aim for between one and two pages.
  5. Ask someone else to proof it.

    Nothing breaks down credibility or detracts from the point you’re trying to make like poor spelling or bad grammar. So, use a spell checker AND ask someone to proofread your article for you. Have them look for spelling and grammatical errors that you might have missed. Then set your article aside and re-read it the next day to see if you made all the points you wanted to and if it is as brief as it could be.

    Put your knowledge to work for you. Don’t give away trade secrets, but offer your public information that can help them, information that only you know. Perhaps it’s an opinion article, perhaps it’s a “how-to”. Whatever you write, relate it to your business expertise and see how many customers come knocking to learn more about your services. 

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