Are You A News Writer Or An Article Marketer?
Fresh out of journalism school over 20 years ago, one of my first jobs was with The New York Times (D.C. Office), where I had the opportunity to work for some of the most talented and celebrated journalists of today (Maureen Dowd, Gwen Ifill, Thomas Friedman). I learned a great deal about writing and editing news articles (I went to a lot of congressional meetings:), and understood on a more meaningful level the art of news reporting.
Fast forward ten years later. I was married and had a child with another one on the way and I was trying to transition my career as a psychotherapist into one that I could do online because I wanted to stay home with my children. At first I didn't know how I was going to make that successfully happen, so I thought the easiest thing I could do while I figured things out was to write.
As I wrote more articles for the web, I began to realize that how I was trained to write was not going to get me the results I was looking for - for people to actually read the articles!
The two styles of writing are completely different and you need to be really clear about what kind of writer you are when looking for results on the web.
1. News reporting means that there is an issue or an event that a reporter (writer) is going to investigate, research, and report about. There are no opinions in news reporting - just facts.
In article marketing, there can be a variety of article types. There can be fact reporting, opinion, how-to and many more approaches to the writing. There are no rules on the type of articles you will read on the web. In fact, more often than not you will read an article that has a unique perspective on a topic of interest.
2. News reporting is timely. It is not evergreen. You typically cannot read a news article that was written last year and it still be relevant the following year.
Good article marketing articles are evergreen. This means that the articles apply to today and will remain relevant the next year and even longer. While this is not always the case, for the most part, this is a good standard to write by for the web.
3. Good news reporting requires a great deal of research. In fact I would say that 70% of the work of a news article is the research that goes into it. The other 30% is the energy and talent that it takes to pull all that information together into a cohesive and interesting article that people will read. Needless to say this takes a lot of time. Research has to be searched for, found, and then validated.
On the other hand, article marketing requires less "research" on your part. While there may be some initial research for content you may want to add to your articles, the real purpose of article marketing is to educate or entertain the reader about a topic that you specialize in. You shouldn't have to do a lot of research and fact checking. In fact, people are more interested in your perspective and your opinion on the topic -- not just "the facts".
4. News articles typically begin with a lead (the point of the article), the facts (supporting information), and then the background information (background info and interviews). This is pretty standard among most publications.
Web articles used for article marketing do not have to fit the same stringent criteria as news articles.You can discuss a point you are trying to make using storytelling. You can build to your "point of the article". You also do not have to include a lot of background information, etc. because you don't have a lot of time or words to get your point across to your reader.
People who read The Times know that they have to devote at least 10-15 minutes to an article. They are use to it and have been conditioned to expect that. Web readers do not have that type of attention span.You have to get to the point quickly and succinctly. No more looking to "fill" your articles with stuff. Just talk about the things that people really care about and move onto the next article.
5. News articles tend to be copy heavy for the reasons I've already stated above. Long, in-depth articles are expected.
It is the opposite on the web. Dense articles can give readers headaches and a reason to click away. Readers need white space and visual breaks between paragraphs.
Web articles are read on computers, tablets, and smartphones. Also again there is the attention span issue. Readers have less and less time these days. If they are reading you at all -- it's better not to bore them to death with too many paragraphs of filler and fluff.
6. News articles do not have a resource box at the end of their articles. The writer is given a byline and maybe a blurb if it's a news column.
What makes article marketing unique is the use of the resource box. The key to a good article marketing strategy is to use a resource box to give the reader a call to action to follow after they've finished reading your article.
7. Finally and probably most importantly is the fact that people who pick up a newspaper are reading to find out what the news is of the day. What's going on in the world or in their communities.
The readers on the web are looking for solutions. They are looking for answers to specific questions. So if you are an article marketer, make sure that you write articles that solve problems for people in your niche, because that is what will ultimately separate you from a writer just reporting the facts. Your Expertise.