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HomeArchiveThe Quest for Content

The Quest for Content

It’s no secret that there is currently a glut of email newsletters saturating the ‘Net, many of them published by small business owners attempting to establish a relationship with their customers by staying in contact through periodic emails.

It sounds easy enough. All you need is a listhost (many of which provide their services at no cost) and the ability to publish periodically or even sporadically. Then you just need to find a few subscribers and begin publishing your ezine.

At least that’s the theory. Most email publishers quickly find that it is quite difficult to juggle an Internet business, a regular publication, and — as is usually the case — a full-time job. It seems that once you’ve managed to write enough content to fill one ezine and get it out to your subscribers, the next issue has come due, and you haven’t even begun to think about how you will fill another issue. There are, of course, a few ezine publishers that are able to put the time into publishing a consistently quality ezine and to write most of their own content, but the examples are few.

Hence, the vast majority of ezine publishers are faced with trying to find quality content for their publication from other authors. They therefore agree to run outside authors’ original articles in return for running a small byline or resource box.

Yet the same articles seem to be appearing in every ezine. There’s a good reason for this: there are a only a few prolific writers out there sending publishers quality articles, and this handful of authors sends their work simultaneously to dozens and dozens of ezine publishers in the hopes of having their article reprinted as many times as possible. So your ezine ends up looking just like everyone else’s — same content, same ideas — and as a consequence, facing the same difficulty in attracting and retaining subscribers.

There are, however, several resources that have emerged on the Internet that provide a wide source of quality content — both for webmasters and ezine publishers — and that help publishers find quality content. While these resources provide just one piece of the content puzzle, they are invaluable tools for online publishers, and they complement the methods of creating your own original content that I will discuss later in this article.

First, the Worldwide Information Outlet provides dozens of articles on a variety of topics at its website, www.certificate.net/wwio/. WWIO obtains permission from each author to have his or her article reprinted freely, so online publishers need not obtain permission directly from the author.

Second, there are several online publications that link online publishers seeking content with online writers. For example, “W&PConnections Online”, exclusively features publishers’ article needs and writers’ article announcements. To subscribe, send email to writers98@aol.com. Subscribers can post announcements regarding their articles or article needs for free.

Finally, the MediaPeak! News Service is a new Internet resource that provides online publishers with reprintable content via email. The MediaPeak! News Service publishes editions up to three days per week. To subscribe, send mail here: e-wire-on@mail-list.com.

But what about creating your own content? Even if you rely on outside writers and services to provide much of the content for your ezine or website, you will still want to write a portion of your own publication to keep it fresh and distinguish it from the other websites or ezines inyour field. I recommend a 50/50 ratio: 50% original content, 50% outside content. This will save your sanity while maintaining the unique character of your ezine or website.

There are simple ways to consistently create your own content without allowing content-creation to overwhelm you or overshadow your efforts at running a website or business.

First, stay tuned in. Whenever you come across a news item or piece of information that piques your interest and that relates to your online publication in some way, quickly jot it down in a journal or email a note to yourself. Better yet, write a short description of the news item and your own reaction to it — you can usually do this in five minutes or less. Later, when it’s time to start putting together your ezine or when it comes timeto update some of the content on your website, you can simply expound uponeach item that you have written, fill in links to relevant websites that pertainto the piece, and edit it for accuracy. You’ll be suprised how much contentyou can generate in a week’s time just by staying on the lookout forinteresting news items and jotting down your ideas as they come to you.

Second, subscribe to one or more press release services. These services specialize in compiling quality press releases from companieshoping to attract media attention, and sending these releases out to thousands of publishers and journalists around the world. The Internet News Bureau, www.newsbureau.com, for example, is an excellent service that will send you dozens of press releases each week via email. Internet Wire, www.internetwire.com, is another good source of quality press releases via email. Spend two or three minutes each day scanning the press releases; if one strikes your fancy, you can follow up on it by contacting the person listedin the release as the media contact and getting more information that willenable you to write a full-size article. More often, the press release itself will provide you with more than enough informationto write a short piece or review, particularly if you visit the organization’s website to get a feel for the news or feature item that you might like to write.

Finally, let your readers help you create a community for your website or ezine. Solicit reader comments about particular topics that are of interest to your readers and publish the best comments, perhaps with your own viewpoint and/or reactions included. This requires a minimal amount of time on your part, keeps your content fresh and helps sustain your readers’ interest.

In conclusion, while original contentis the most effective way to distinguish your online publication from the thousands of others competing for your readers’ interest, a respectable mix of original and outside content will enable you to publish a quality ezine or website while still devoting adequate time to your online business.

MediaPeak is a new Internet resource that provides online publishers with reprintable content via email. The MediaPeak! News Service publishes editions up to three days per week. To subscribe, send mail here: e-wire-on@mail-list.com.


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