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Guidelines for Writing Articles

REVIEW THE CLIENT’S WEBSITE!

Not only is it important to understand what the client is about, it’s important to understand exactly who they are. Find out exactly how they refer to themselves, how they spell their name, whether they abbreviate it. The name provided on the assignment form is largely for record keeping (and file naming). It is not safe to assume that this is the client’s actual business name. Be sure to adhere to whatever name the client uses on their site.

Name Files Properly

This is one of the most important ones for me on a day to day basis. Many, many articles come in each day, which must then be sorted, saved and sent off to be posted. Saving articles as described in your first assignment makes this a much, much easier process, as all articles then fall into neat groups and are easy to package up and send off. To remind you, they should be saved as follows:

Client Name – [url removed, login to view]

They should be in standard Word format and not .docx format, as most clients are using Word 2003 or earlier. This mainly applies if you are using Word 2007, which saves articles as .docx.

So for the keyword “Roadrunner Traps” for the client “Acme Sales”, save as:

“Acme Sales – Roadrunner Traps.doc”

Additionally, if you get a keyword that you’ve had to rearrange so that it makes sense, please save the file according to the original jumbled order. While this might seem like a strange request, the people who process these articles and mark them received will sometimes not notice that the corrected order applies to the original keyword (to be fair, they are often processing hundreds of articles at a time, and probably not actually parsing the keyword).

Do Not Plagiarize

This can’t be stressed enough. Plagiarism is simply unacceptable.

Stay Positive

Even when we’re dealing with some potentially negative issues, it’s important to maintain a generally positive tone. DUI, for example, is a fairly dark and negative topic, but try to focus on the positives – such as the fact that Lawyer X can help. Articles should also remain fairly detached and neutral – while it’s sometimes tempting to try to appeal to the reader’s emotional side, it’s usually not appropriate for this type of work.

Stay Professional

Avoid references to yourself, and avoid referring to your personal experiences. Resist the urge to incorporate tongue-in-cheek humor or use overly creative writing techniques.

Stick to the Facts

At the very least, stick to the facts presented on the client’s site. If they make specific claims on their site, then by all means, use them in the article. But resist the urge to make dubious claims, no matter how wonderful, in an article. If you’re not sure whether it’s true, err on the side of caution, and leave it out altogether.

Do Not Sell the Competition

This is a tricky one. Often, clients will request articles for keywords that actually relate to their competitors, in an effort to catch the attention of web users that are searching on a competing brand or service. When this happens, the easiest way to safely incorporate the term is in a comparison to the client (with the client coming out on top, of course). For example, if the keyword is “iTunes” and the client is “Napster”, you could say:

“Where iTunes generally only works with a few select devices, Napster’s music service works with a wide variety of mp3 players…”

Conversely, the following would not be acceptable:

“There are many great music services out there. iTunes, Napster, Yahoo Music…”

However, also avoid openly disparaging the competition. Refrain from using something like:

“iTunes is overpriced, and their musical selection is terrible. Napster rawks.” (Ok, avoid using the word “rawks” in any sentence…)

The importance of this cannot be stressed enough. We recently lost a client because an article not only referred to the competition

Skills: Article Writing, Copywriting, Travel Writing

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