As a virtual assistant, you may be wondering how article marketing can help you and your career. Isn’t article marketing just for experts and authors? The short answer is that article marketing is for anyone who wants to establish themselves as a leader in their field and drive more traffic to their website. So, as the owner of your own VA business, article marketing can help YOU.

So, let’s take a quick look at what exactly article marketing is. In a nutshell, it’s the process of using short articles for publication and distribution by other websites and off-line publishers, typically free of charge.

The first question that occurs to you is most likely, “Why would anyone give away their expertise and content for free?” There are three main reasons:

Exposure. The more places your market can find you, the more routes to your website, the higher your traffic will be. Each article you write creates a separate trail someone can follow back to you – and become your customer.

Expert Status. When you put quality information out into the marketplace, you will establish yourself as the go-to expert that people can come to for advice and information. Don’t stop yourself just because you feel like you might not know every single thing about your topic. You need to know enough to provide value to your potential market and give them what they’re looking for. That will put the level of an expert in their eyes.

Stamp of Approval. When another website or blogger publishes your article, this serves as a recommendation or “stamp of approval.” This validation serves as an introduction to that person’s audience, making them more receptive to your message. If you don’t put your content out there, this can’t happen.

Article marketing isn’t just for authors or information product marketers. Article marketing is for any business owner who wants to drive more traffic to their site, establish themselves as head and shoulders above their competition, and gain access to new audiences. Your potential clients are out there looking for help, make sure you show up in the right place at the right time by creating great articles and sprinkling them throughout the web.

How to Get Targeted Traffic from Your Article Marketing

Before you sit down and start pumping out as much content as your fingers can type you need to really understand how to attract and capture targeted traffic from your article marketing. This all starts with a good plan and an understanding of just what you want those visitors to do once they get to your website.

Want to get good results with your article marketing? Follow these steps:

  1. Choose your topics carefully. Make sure your articles are talking about the problems your potential clients have. Things like “How to get a membership site up and running FAST”, or “How to attract visitors who buy from you”. These are the kind of topics that will catch a potential clients attention.
  2. Keep your writing short and punchy. When reading online, people like to skim quickly rather than read word-by-word. As a result, providing clear, short sentences and paragraphs, headlines, bolding, italics and plenty of bullet points will help move your readers’ eyes to the bottom of the page. Make sure you use them appropriately by highlighting important points throughout your content.
  3. Have a clear message. Got a really meaty topic? You’re much better off creating three articles of 400 words, each with a concise, tight theme, rather than one longer piece of 1200 words. Being more targeted allows online publishers to choose the pieces that resonate best with their audiences. A better message-to-market match means a stronger connection and more likelihood the reader will want additional information from you.
  4. Have a strong call-to-action. Don’t leave your readers hanging at the bottom of your article. Tell them clearly what you want them to do next, whether it’s to sign up for your mailing list, request a free report or consultation, read another one of your articles or even hire you directly. Leave them with no doubt in their mind about where to go next. Actually, you should probably know what your call to action is before you even start writing your article.

When writing articles you need to always be putting yourself in the shoes of the reader. Ask yourself; What value will they find in this? What will they need next? What questions will they have? Creating a clear plan for your article and making sure you lead the reader through to taking action will allow you to build your potential client leads and turn those leads into paying clients.

Article Topics for Virtual Assistants

One of the biggest challenges for new article marketers is coming up with topics to write about. The key to developing great article topics is to ask yourself the right questions. Pull out a sheet of paper and a pen, set aside 15 minutes to brainstorm, and jot down answers to the following questions:

  1. What are the five most common questions people ask you about being a VA?
  2. What are the top five things you wish all your new clients knew about working with a VA?
  3. What are the five biggest lessons you’ve learned about working with your clients?
  4. What are the top five tasks or jobs that you can help your clients with?
  5. What are the five biggest benefits of working with a VA?
  6. What are the five biggest challenges to working with a VA?
  7. What are five things every new VA needs to know?
  8. What five things will make it easier for a business owner to work with a VA?
  9. What five tools does every VA need to have?
  10. What five questions should every business owner ask when evaluating or interviewing a VA?
  11. What five questions should every VA ask before taking on a new client?
  12. What are the five biggest mistakes business owners make when hiring a VA?

At the end of 15 minutes, you should have a list of at least a dozen article ideas. But don’t stop there! Remember, articles for submission to article directories typically average around 300-500 words, so each one of the five answers in each question above can be turned into an article. Another easy way to generate article ideas is to keep a notebook by your computer, and every time someone asks you a question, write it down. At the end of the week or month, look through your list for additional article topics.

By keeping your eyes open in your everyday life as you go through your own VA responsibilities and tasks, you’ll soon have a huge supply of fodder for your article marketing.

Don’t Make These Mistakes

Here are the top mistakes article marketers make, and how to avoid them:

  1. Failing to proofread your work. As a VA, you want to demonstrate your attention to detail and professionalism. Not thoroughly editing your work for spelling, grammar and comprehension makes you look sloppy and disorganized – not the image you want to portray as a top-notch VA! Most article directories will not edit for you, so make sure you take the time to do this step yourself.
  2. Not including a powerful resource box. The resource box is the section at the bottom of the article where you can market yourself. As a minimum, it should include a link to your main website and a call to action to your reader, such as “For more tips on saving money while working with VAs, go to YOUR WEBSITE.” The most important part of this resource box is the call-to-action, NOT the part where you tell everyone all about you. They want to know what you can do for them first, they’ll find out your name and qualifications later.
  3. Writing with no personality. Make it compelling and interesting to read, not boring and dull. Sparkle sells!
  4. Not telling people about your articles. Once you publish an article, you should be telling people about it. Include a section on your website that directs people to your articles, mention your latest articles on Twitter and Facebook, and send out links to your email list. Keep the ball rolling.
  5. Failing to reuse your work. As a small business owner, you should be looking for ways to leverage all your work. Submit articles to more than one directory. Adapt an article and make it into a blog post, add slides to it and release it as a video, or record it as an audio podcast. Combine several articles together into a short report to give away or sell… the possibilities are endless.

Keep these principles in mind as you create articles and you’ll be well on your way to article marketing expertise!

How to Help your Clients with their Article Marketing

Now that you know how simple and effective article marketing can be, you are in a great position to help your clients with their own article marketing. Here are five ways you can help your clients with article marketing:

  1. Tell them how article marketing can help them achieve their goals. What does your client want? Additional traffic, greater expert status, and validation from others? Explain the basics of article marketing, including why it’s a good fit with their particular business.
  2. Brainstorm a list of article ideas. One of the biggest sticking points for article marketing is knowing what to write about. Research what others in your client’s industry are writing on, and prepare a list of 10-20 article topics.
  3.  Write articles for them. It’s very common for business owners to outsource their article marketing efforts. Sometimes this tactic doesn’t work well because the writer isn’t familiar enough with the business owner to create appropriate content, but you have a leg up. You have inside knowledge on the client’s business, the market, and the owner’s personality, so you can create personalized content more easily than can a generic outsourcer.
  4.  Submit articles for them. After you’ve learned how to work with the numerous article directories online, you can easily use your skills on behalf of your clients. Help them develop profiles and submit their articles (don’t forget to continue to submit your own, too!).
  5. Test and track results. A critical component of any marketing effort is the testing of alternatives and the tracking of results. You can help your client work out what topics are the most widely read and published, and which resource boxes result in the best click-through rates. Use this information to constantly upgrade your client’s efforts.

One of the best things about being a VA is that any new skill you learn for the benefit of your clients, you can apply to your own business. Of course, the reverse is also true; now that you are an expert article marketer, you can use your new skills on behalf of your clients. It’s definitely a win-win!