A sales spiel is NOT an article

October 19, 2016 •
No junk mail feature image

Every other day, someone asks me how much I charge to write articles. They don’t always call them that – they might call them newsletters or blogs – but however they label it, that’s what they mean.

Trouble is, when I ask them to show me a sample of what they’re after, quite often what they send back is just a sales spiel. Like this (a real example)…

Don’t let a leaking roof spoil your Christmas

Re-point your roof now, before the holiday rush, and relax over the Christmas break…


1 – QUICK APPLICATION: Most jobs can be completed in 1 day.

2 – PEACE OF MIND: Feel more secure with a 5-year surface guarantee and annual inspections to ensure the longevity of the work.

Yes I can quote on that. But the point is it’s NOT an article! It’s just a sales spiel. Calling it a ‘newsletter’ doesn’t change that fact.

Think about it. If someone opens an email promising a newsletter article, and they see the above, are they going to read it and think, “Hey that’s really useful. I didn’t know that! I’m going to share that with my friends on Facebook!”?

Shit no!

They’re going to say, “Oh FFS! Stop sending me this shit!”

Then they’re going to flag it as spam, and they’ll never see your emails again. Worse, they may actually share it on Facebook as an example of spam, so they can laugh about it with friends, thoroughly discrediting your brand in the process.

If you want people to read and share your articles, you have to deliver value. Tell them something they and their friends don’t already know, but which they need to know. Tell them something they’ll feel clever sharing. Like:

  • “Did you know water runs UP-hill on a tiled roof?” (then talk about capillary action in the article)
  • “Why do 48% of roof leaks occur on Christmas Day?”
  • “Re-point or re-seal: Which delivers the best results over the long term?”

As I’ve said before, I classify articles into one of three groups:

  1. Simple filler/SEO content – e.g. ‘10 simple budgeting tips for newlyweds’. This is little better than a sales spiel, and I wouldn’t recommend it. Most people will already know the ‘tips’ you’re providing, so they simply won’t bother reading. And they certainly won’t share the article.
  2. Well written, but simple, unoriginal and uninspiring – e.g. ‘How to identify what you actually spend’. This is the minimum you should be aiming for. People may not share it, but at least they’ll read it – assuming it has useful information about tools or expenses that most people overlook.
  3. Thought-provoking, memorable & share-worthy – e.g. ‘Mint vs Toshl: Which is easiest to use’ or ‘The psychology of budgeting: Why expense tracking, alone, will save you money’. This is the holy grail of articles.

No, it’s not easy coming up with ideas for useful articles. And no it’s not easy writing them. But that doesn’t mean you should just settle for doing it poorly!

And you should NEVER try to mask a sales spiel as an article.

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