Saturday, 30 July 2011

Article Marketing For Affiliates: Article Structure

Article Structure is an important factor
If you're new to article writing, then you'll be wanting to know the structure of your articles. What they should look like, How they should read. When to introduce the product that you're promoting. Having a structure that works is important so we're going to break it down - paragraph by paragraph. By extension, the article structure that I'm about to share could also be applied to email marketing and other forms of Internet Marketing too - the concept is the same.

First and foremost, the biggest mistakes new article writing affiliates make is trying too hard. Yeah I know! It's not fair. None of these super affiliates are trying any harder than you. They don't want it more. They aren't losing any more sleep or staying up later than you are. You work your guts out for what?

So let's get this right before we go and talk about structure. Affiliates are dealing with pre-sell. NOT writing a sales page. You are roping people in from the search engines and warming them up for the sales page. You do this by giving them valuable and relevant info.

You are the match maker. You are matching people's problems with a solution.

Think about it this way. If somebody you loved came to you with a problem, you would not jump down their throat and say

"Hey! I know this great eBook that can fix that problem. It's only $29 and you get this bonus and this bonus and this bonus and a free bonus BUT there's only 109 copies left so you have to act right now or you will never be able to solve this problem on you own."

You wouldn't have many loved one's left if that's the way dealt with family crisis. Let's break it down...

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
People decide in seconds whether or not they are on the "right" page - if you can't convince them that they are, they are going to hit the back button and head back to the search results for another try.

For this reason, a picture is a great way to introduce your article. This picture should be related to the resolved problem. If someone is trying to get their rocky marriage back on track, a happy couple will serve well. If you're talking to someone with fertility problems, a relieved looking mother and newborn will serve well.

They have a problem, you need to let them know that you have a solution. Easy, right?

FIRST PARAGRAPH
Once again, you need to convince you reader very early on that you have that solution. The first paragraph needs to be enticing and encourage the reader down the page and through the article. You need to introduce your keyword early on (in the first sentence when appropriate). Feel free to highlight your long tail keyword or the solution that you're going to share in bold.

THE SECOND PARAGRAPH
Should expand on the first providing the reader with knowledge. Valuable, relevant information. Think about the type of things you would tell your daughter if she came to you with this problem. You would sympathize with her. Talk about the different problems people with this issue encounter.

If you cannot imagine being in that situation -- because if you haven't spent the past 7yrs trying and failing to get pregnant, trying every fertility treatment available, (holistic, voodoo or western med's), watched friend after family member get pregnant, refinanced your home or sold your second car just to come up with the $10 000 for one cycle of IVF and six cycles later your still not pregnant...you cannot in your wildest dreams imagine what that's like. Hell...I deal with these women most days of the week and I like to think I understand (I had a little trouble conceiving my second) but in actuality...I don't have a clue -- if you haven't walked that mile, don't claim to "know what it's like."

Unless you know what it's like to be living the dream life one day and the have your whole world turned upside down the next because your wife is having an affair...or your boyfriend suddenly dumps you...or your child is diagnosed with ADHD...

There's somethings that you cannot hope to understand.

People are very perceptive to lies - say something like:
  • If my daughter was facing this problem then this is what I would tell her...
  • When my best friend had this problem, this is what we talked about...
  • When I talked to my Doctor about this, this is what he/she recommended...
  • I won't have another chance to tell my [deceased or long lost] [friend, lover or relative] these words that I want to share with you...
Honesty is your best policy here.

Your second paragraph is dedicated to forming some trust, building that reader/writer relationship and passing on the facts about the problem.

THIRD PARAGRAPH
Now you can introduce your solution - you need to play it cool, keep your wits about you. Remember what we said about having this conversation with you daughter? You're not going to force this down your readers throat. Many people(and I'm one of them) love shopping but hate being marketed. Does that make sense?

I want info about my fave hobbies or interests, I want to know where I can get the best deal but I don't want some spammy letter in my Inbox telling me to buy this or be unhappy forever.

So you're still writing with an air of neutrality and you're not bursting with excitement. Informative - you might even mention the drawbacks (if it's appropriate). If you're hooking up a workmate on a blind date, they need talking into it. You don't say:

"Hey, I've got the perfect match for you. Stop looking. I've found him - you guys are going to be so happy, you're going to get married and make babies and buy a little block of land in the 'burbs and live happily ever after,"


But you might say:

"I might know one person you would be interested in. He got XYZ in common with you, he's cute and he has his own house, drives a nice car. He's got his head screwed on straight but he does have his own business and it takes him on the road sometimes...I don't know if that's fits into your grand plan or not."

You see me do the same things here. I'll tell you straight up if I think something I'm promoting is ideal for beginners or you need to have some experience to get the most out of it.

You don't need to write a laundry list of flaws...but you don't need to rant on about the product like it's the perfect, faultless solution to world hunger either. That's your challenge - finding that balance.

THE FOURTH PARAGRAPH
Here's where you might like to mention some reviews from other websites or other customers have provided. Most sales pages have a few words or success stories that you can paraphrase:


"Take Jennifer for example. She was a working Mum who could never find the time to do [XYZ]. After making a few small changes and actually applying the advice that [product XYZ] outlines, she was able to [accomplish her (and the readers) goal]."

Or

"[Product XYZ] was voted best buy from [this reliable source or well established website]."

THE FIFTH PARAGRAPH
If you are going to mention it anywhere, this is where you can mention the value or compare this product to the cost of others. Include the bonuses or freebies.

I do NOT recommend you do this unless you are a gifted writer or are actually writing a review article.

As far as I'm concerned, let the sales page justify the price.

THE SIXTH PARAGRAPH
This is where you need to throw your support behind the product. This is where you recommend the reader goes and watches the video on the sales page (many affiliates don't use the tools they have - if your sales page has a video or a newsletter or a free "mini course" or free anything...use it) or checks out these weight loss recipes or read more about Jennifer's story.

Your recommendation. And a strong call to action. Affiliate link. (Or..if you have a blog or website, you can send readers there instead)

By 'strong call to action' I do NOT mean "Do this or positively die." Two things more than any other make people click through - curiosity and humor. If you can use both in the same call to action then good for you (I struggle with this one...I think it's much easier in theory).


SO YOU HAVE A FORMAT, 
A SYSTEM THAT WORKS...NOW WHAT?
Rinse and repeat. If you've written an article that converts, well done. Now study it. Pick it to pieces. What have you done in that article that you haven't done on others? You've found something that works so repeat it and double your earnings, triple them, quadruple them...rise and repeat.

Let me take this opportunity to remind you that you didn't learn how to drive a car without a few lessons. You didn't learn how to read without years at school...

You won't make you first sale with your first article.

These skills need learning over time - Article Writing For Newbies can help you get there a little bit faster - and once you have them, you need to refine them over time. I sincerely struggle with the thought that we are happy to spend $35 on Mc Donalds for the kids one night and yet we are reluctant to spend $7 on something that can give us an article writing education and further our knowledge, refine our skills and give us long lasting results (this knowledge is certainly going to hang around longer that a Mc Happy Meal!).

For $7 you're buying a lasting education
So that's my little recommendation to you. If you're new to writing or new to affiliate marketing (or both) then you are going to benefit enormously from learning how successful article writers do their stuff. Article Writing For Newbies ($7) is just that - designed to teach new writers how to enter a highly competitive and cut throat business of article marketing and come out on top.

Good luck folks, I hope I was able to shed some light on how articles are structured. =)

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