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Ten Steps to Writing a Winning Top Ten Article

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Have ever wished that there were a formula for crafting your expertise into a Top Ten article that will showcase your knowledge, cement your credibility and promote your products and services?

1. Find a problem to solve. Think back to conversations you've had with clients, potential clients, colleagues, family, friends and strangers. What are the common problems and challenges that people in your target market face? If you don't have a target market, get one!

2. Brainstorm many ideas. Get pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and rattle off as many ideas as you can think of that will solve that problem. Don't judge, filter or edit at this point, simply capture everything that comes to mind. When you think you're done, write for ten more minutes. Then, walk around for two minutes, come back and write some more.

3. Select the best. Ideally, let some time pass after you've brainstormed, so you can look at your list with fresh eyes. Now filter through all of your ideas and choose your favourite ten points.

4. Refine your writing. Be sure that you're trying to make just one clear point in each item. You can choose to stay conversational and casual with your writing, or you can opt for a more professional style. Either way, read it out loud for a sense of how naturally you've put the words together.

5. Be consistent. Make each of your items is approximately the same number of lines so it's laid out nicely on the page. Also, try and assemble your information consistently. If each point has a definition and an explanation, put them in the same order every time.

6. Make your points "pop". Choose your ten item titles carefully. Many people will only scan your article. If they like what they see in your item titles, they might take the time to read the rest of the article. If they like what they see there, they might take the time to click the link in your author information.

7. Start with a bang. Title your article. Be as clever and creative as you can, but most importantly be clear about what the reader will get by clicking through to read your article. Answer the question "why bother?"

8. Make an offer. At the end of your article, include an author information section (sometimes called a "resource box") where you offer readers the opportunity to find out more about a specific product or service. Whether it's to sign-up for your newsletter, call you for a free consultation or visit your website, be sure to spell out exactly what you'd like the reader to do next (and why they should do it).

9. Recruit new eyes. Have another set of eyes look at your article before it's published. Whether it's a professional editor or not, they may be able to point out things you wouldn't have seen, since you're so "close" to the article.

10. Walk away. While you're waiting for this feedback, give yourself a rest from the article. File it away and work on other things for a day or two. Don't let perfectionism get the better of you!

? Linda Dessau, 2005.

Linda Dessau is a writer and coach. Through her "Newsletter Assist" and "You Talk It, I'll Write It" writing services, she helps coaches and other solo professionals promote their business with email newsletters and create passive revenue streams with written information products. Find out more at:

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