What the Right Articles Can Do to Improve Your Publication
Articles are one of the most important assets a publication can have. However, most people overlook this fact because their focus is only on making money by selling ad space.
But anyone can publish an ad sheet that contains page after page of pasted-up ads. There are even some so-called publications that contain nothing but ads. (Publications of this type are only print and mail services. They do not qualify as a publication in my opinion.)
But if you want to step-up from a print and mail company and become a publisher you must recognize the importance of the articles you allow to be printed in your publication.
Articles are show stoppers. If you don't believe me, the next time you are in the waiting room at the doctor's office, watch how people read magazines. They flip to the articles, read the headlines and only read the article if the headline is of interest.
The second thing the reader looks for are the full-page ads. It's easier to flip through the pages and read a full-page ad, then to spend a lot of time on one page reading the smaller ads. Again, if they find something of interest, they will dig deeper into the publication and perhaps read every page.
As a publisher, why should you care that someone reads every page? Because you should be working for your advertisers. Remember, if they don't get a response from their ad, they won't advertise with you again. Besides, when you place an advertisement in a magazine, newspaper, tabloid or ad sheet, do you advertise in it again when you don't get any response? Of course not. So why should your advertiser feel any differently?
Therefore, your articles should be selected with as much care as you give full-page ads. Here are some steps to determine if an article is okay for your particular publication:
Read the article in it's entirety. If you don't have the time to read it now, put it aside. DO NOT print the article until you read it and determine if it would be interesting to others. How would you know this? If you like the article and learned something from it, the chances are good that your readers will too. (Remember, your reader will judge your publication by the articles you allow to be printed in it.)
Never print an article just because someone else wants you to. Remember: you are in control of your publication. It is your baby and you have the power to print whatever you deem necessary. If anyone tries to force you to print their article (and you don't want to), tell them you'll print it if they pay your standard advertising price for the space the article will take up. That will force them to put their money where their mouth is.
If an article is too long but the content is good, don't be afraid to send it back to the writer and ask them to revise it. For The Pay Day Tabloid, John allows 800-1,000 words maximum for articles that I typeset for him. If an article is too long, I simply send it back and the writer will reformat it and send it to me. (This is standard business practice and in no way hurts the writer's feelings.) Another option would be to run the article in two separate issues. Split the article at a point that is extremely interesting. (Think about how Soap Operas on television get you to tune in and watch the next day. They do it by stopping in the middle of something very interesting. Then, you have to tune in the next day to see what happens.) When you split your article to run in two issues of your publication, the first one should stop at a very interesting point so the reader will want to get next month's copy to read the ending.
Be very careful about printing the same articles that everyone else if printing. It's okay to have a few overlapping with another publication, but if the majority of your articles are not written exclusively for your publication, you will be defeating your purpose and offending your readers. (Don't believe me? Go to the newsstand and pick up a copy of Home Office Computing and Entrepreneur Magazine. Compare them. You will never find the same article appearing in each one.)
Finding Good Writers
There is absolutely no reason of any kind that you should be stuck running the same articles that every other publication is running. It's a bad habit that needs to be broken. There are literally millions of writers that are unknown and looking for a break. They would jump at the chance to write articles just for your publication. Most of them can be found on the Internet by doing a search under the words authors or writers or by looking through a copy of Writer's Digest.
Typesetting The Article
It may seem too picky to some publishers to point out that ALL articles appearing in your publication should be typed in the SAME font. Pick up a newsstand publication the next time you are in a grocery store. You will never find articles looking different from other articles by varying font styles. Instead, they all look uniform. (Most of them are typeset in Times Roman.)
However, many publications will have articles typeset in a 10-point type, another in 12-point and another in 8-point. One greedy publisher I have witnessed always typesets his articles in a 7-point type that is so hard to read you have to have a magnifying glass. This clearly demonstrates that the publisher has no idea about the marketing benefits of articles. He immediately appears greedy and solid, professional writers would never submit anything of value to him.
If you do not have the ability to typeset your articles, ask the writer to format them properly before sending them to you. Any article in any publication should be a minimum of 12-point (you can get away with 11-point sometimes) and preferably in a Times Roman font. Leading (the space between the lines of the text) can often be reduced and enlarged to take up less or more space without sacrificing the size of the font.
Some people may not actually realize the power and necessity of publications. They are the lifeblood that brings the advertiser and customer together. That's right! Every time you paste-up or typeset an advertisement to appear in your publication, it's another business you have partial control in prospering or destroying.
Articles though become YOUR lifeblood that keeps readers coming back for more. They are the entertainment for your readers. They keep your readers turning pages and contribute to keeping them in the mood to buy from your advertisers. They are really that important! All you have to do is pay attention to your articles just like you would a paid advertisement and you should do well.
Publishers have a powerful responsibility that more of them need to understand so they can grow, prosper and make more money.
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