LearnShareProsper logo Boosting Business_Performance Adele Sommers
by Adele Sommers, Ph.D.
 www.LearnShareProsper.com Adele@LearnShareProsper.com 
In This Issue

February 2016
Volume 12, Issue 2

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Below find this month's newsletter, hot off the press!

  • Special Message: A Quick, Effective Way to Discover What Your Audience Wants to Know

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Note from the Author

Articles Make Terrific "Dough Balls"

Baker kneading dough
Do you like to fix ingredients ahead of time
and then freeze them for future use? If so, I'll hope you'll savor my time-tested recipe for "cooking up content." You might even say it came straight out of an episode of "Thirty-Minute Meals"!

Yes, I'm one of those people who preps in advance, and then assembles on the fly. Who has time to do anything else? I hate to cook under pressure. So by doing all of the mixing, rolling, and kneading ahead of time, and then storing my "dough balls" in batches, I can thaw them out and use them one by one, on a moment's notice.

I'm talking about content — the essential makings of newsletters, presentations, products, e-learning, training, and so on. It all starts in my "inner kitchen" (otherwise known as my office). Whenever I have the germ of an idea that I want to take to another level, I begin the process by writing an article.

Articles are among the most versatile ingredients, as they constitute the basis for nearly every other concoction I make. They're a compact way to preserve an idea for future use. Once thawed, they can easily be shaped, seasoned, and formed into just about anything else I produce!

That's why today's newsletter is about cooking with articles — my all-time favorite kitchen staple. I hope you enjoy this month’s features, and please join the conversation by leaving your comments on my Facebook page!

Here’s to your business prosperity,

Adele
Adele Sommers, Ph.D., business improvement specialist, author, educator, and award-winning instructional designer

P.S. If you missed any previous issue, please visit the newsletter archive!

Special Message

A Quick, Effective Way to Discover
What Your Audience Wants to Know


Let's say you're writing an article or creating another kind of production about one of your areas of interest. But you're just not sure how to fine-tune the content to speak to your audience's deeper needs — such as their challenges, problems, fears, worries, hopes, aspirations, goals, and dreams — because you don't know precisely who will be engaging with the finished product.

Or, perhaps the audience consists of the kinds of people you know well, but you might be taking them for granted by assuming you know exactly what motivates and inspires them to act. In either case, you'll want to find out in advance what's going on in their heads before you expend too much effort on building out your material.

In these situations, consider pre-surveying your audience to collect clarifying insights. By using a no-cost, online service like SurveyMonkey or eSurveysPro, you can easily produce a questionnaire to post online or send via e-mail. If you decide to try this effective data-gathering approach, here are some important design tips:

Happy online survey-taker1) Use only a few relevant questions; not a long list. (People are busy!)

2) Keep it simple, non-intimidating, and engaging. (If it feels like a nosy "test," people won't respond!)

3) Include a powerful, open-ended query like, "What is your top-most burning question or issue related to [the subject]?" (Look for any patterns of hot-button issues in your audience's responses!)

Ideally, the survey results will shed invaluable light on what your audience really wants to know. Armed with that input, you can focus like a laser beam on their top-priority issues in your articles and productions.

Feature Article

Ten Tips for Writing Outstanding Business Articles
by Adele Sommers

How do you communicate your passion, knowledge, wisdom, and interests to the people you wish to influence? What sets you apart from others in your profession or industry? How do you create a rapport with people you don't know, who may include potential prospects, clients, customers, or community members?

Pen and paperThe answer is to give people a way to get to know, like, and trust you, then become excited about your message, and ultimately, spread the word to others or take another type of meaningful follow-up action.

Your goal is to position yourself as a "maven" in your chosen subject. That's someone whom others view as the "go-to person" for ideas and information in that domain (however wide or narrow it may be), even if you are more of an advocate than an expert in it.

One way to achieve this goal is by using an article-writing campaign. You may be surprised to learn that there are effective ways to publish your articles online at no cost whatsoever, without needing a Web site, newsletter, or blog of your own.

This article explains a step-by-step formula for writing and publishing articles on the Web. The more high-quality articles you produce, the better!



Follow These 10 Steps for Writing Great Articles

Below are ten guidelines for producing excellent results, every time!

  1. Identify the subject and slant of your article. For example, "tips" and "how-to" articles are extremely popular, and could focus on anything from training a pet to cultivating roses to hiring employees. In a very different vein, you could tell a compelling story about something you've done that will inspire others. Other slants (of the many possibilities) include a comparison of two or more products, ideas, philosophies, or approaches; a book review; a profile of a well-known person; or a clear, down-to-earth explanation of how something works to help lay people understand it.

  2. Choose a role for authoring your articles. For example, you could be:

    InterviewerA subject matter expert, where you are presenting your own knowledge in a given arena. This role is especially gratifying if you have years of experience in a profession or a hobby.

    A student of the subject, where you research, interview, or otherwise learn about the subject from others or from an educational program. You then enlighten your readers by explaining what you've discovered through this process.

  3. Brainstorm the specific article topics and subtopics. These could include tips or strategies on something you know how to do well, or the main points of a gripping story you want to tell. To start off, try jotting down your ideas on notepads, index cards, sticky notes, or using your keyboard. Simply capture the ideas and don't be concerned about the order just yet.

  4. Develop the sequence for your article. Next, proceed to arrange the ideas from your brainstorming exercise above into a topic–subtopic flow that most effectively organizes your material. Start with introductory ideas and proceed into the "meat" of the matter. Be aware that you ultimately may need to pare down the topics or content to meet word-count limitations, as explained later.

  5. Work on developing the body. Fill in details as you go. Don't worry about getting it perfect on the first try. You can always move ideas and information around as you write! Unless there is a need to use a more formal corporate or academic voice, a conversational tone for most articles works best. If you can imagine having a discussion across the kitchen table from someone you know, you can explain even complex ideas in a clear and engaging way.

  6. Write your lead-in paragraph. It could be just a sentence or two depending on the overall article length. For example, engage your readers' interest with a leading question, such as, "Have you ever wondered why dogs don't sing?"

    Toward the end of the lead-in paragraph, explain what your article covers, such as, "This article explain five tips on how to teach your dog to sing." That way, your readers will know exactly what they're going to learn.

  7. Insert subheadings in strategic places. This very effective technique will
    help "chunk" your material and make it easier for people to scan your article. Even if people don't have time to read the whole thing, they can quickly skim the subheadings to absorb a great deal.

  8. Woman thinking with pad and paperWrite a short summary or concluding paragraph. Your summary reinforces your ideas and reminds your readers why they read the article. For example, one of your summary sentences might be, "By using these five simple tips, you can turn your canine into Caruso!"

  9. Hone, tweak, and polish your article. Be aware that your first drafts may be much longer than your target publication will allow. So, as you fine-tune, work on reducing the word count to the desired number.

    For instance, aim for just 300-500 words for very short articles, and about 600-1,000 words for longer articles. A thousand words, or about three typed pages, is often the maximum that many newsletters and article directories will accept.

  10. Don't forget a compelling title! After pouring so much energy into your article, give it a snappy, memorable name. One popular approach for how-to articles is to refer to the number of topics you're sharing, such as, "Five Tips for Teaching Your Dog to Sing," or "The Ten Worst Mistakes People Make When They Do XYZ."


Next, You Can Submit Your Article to Online Directories

After writing your article, consider submitting it to one or more no-cost article directories. These directories will then make your content available for others to disseminate through their own channels, subject to explicit rules, permissions, and limitations that are designed to protect your material from plagiarism. Your articles retain full copyright under your byline, regardless of where they are republished.

Article directories can thereby help circulate your name and material on many Web sites, newsletters, and even print publications, such as magazines and newspapers around the globe. The main reason why these article directories exist is that editors are always looking for good content! I've seen my own articles republished in a wide variety of formats in Singapore, Dubai, Australia, and in countless other locations.

Box of file foldersBe certain to include a "resource box" at the end of each article. This term refers to a few sentences that describe you, your business, or profession, and contain a link back to your Web site, blog, or other destination, if you have one. Ideally, when people read your articles, their next impulse will be to follow the links to wherever they can learn more about what you offer.

To locate article directories, do an Internet search. One example of a well-respected archive is EzineArticles.com, which accepts articles on many subjects. Select a few that encompass your area of interest, and then sign up as an author. You usually do not need to have any special credentials to do this. However, most sites will want to review any articles you submit to be sure the articles comply with their publication guidelines.

In conclusion, writing articles for Internet publication can be a highly rewarding experience that reaps benefits for months or years to come. You become known to readers worldwide as your content circulates, your visibility increases, and interested visitors follow your "resource box" links to consume more of your content!


Copyright 2016 Adele Sommers

About the Author

"Straight Talk" Special Report
"Straight Talk" Workbook

Adele Sommers, Ph.D. is the author of “Straight Talk on Boosting Business Performance” — an award-winning Special Report and Workbook program.

If you liked today’s issue, you’ll love this down-to-earth overview of how 12 potent business-boosting strategies can reenergize the morale and productivity of your enterprise, tame unruly projects, and attract loyal, satisfied customers. It’s accompanied by a step-by-step workbook designed to help you easily create your own success action plan. Browse the table of contents and reader reviews on the description page.

Adele also offers no-cost articles and resources to help small businesses and large organizations accelerate productivity and increase profitability. Learn more at LearnShareProsper.com.

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