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The Passive Income Escape Plan: Article Marketing

Escape the Rat Race

You’re in for a real treat here today with a jam packed guest post from Murray Lunn from with the first in his series of articles on Escaping the Rat Race and generating your own passive income.

This week, I heard the best description ever of a BRT Business.

“If your business isn’t making money why you’re sleeping, you don’t have a business, you have a job”Ryan Allis founder iContact

So, if you want to learn how you to start your own business to Escape the rat race, read on.

Over to you Murray:

Welcome back for another post that will free you from the grips of the rat race and help you avoid that stinky cheese at the end of the maze. Matthew, here at BigRedTomatoCompany, has graciously offered me a regular writing gig and even my own little corner on BRT about escaping the rat race; so, for those that don’t know me –I’m Murray, a young entrepreneur, blogger and online writer! Nice to meet ya.

I sat down to write this post earlier this week and it was nothing like this; in fact, this is the fourth complete post I’m writing (scrapped the others) because I couldn’t quite put my finger on what I personally could offer that would make you say ‘WOW!’.

Chances are, if you’re reading BRT than you may be well upon your way in your career or owning your own business so it was a little difficult to gauge how I could create an impact. And then it hit me, BAM, we’re all looking for extra ways to make our ends meet, right? Why not offer up a monthly article which takes you through the complete process of earning a side-income while you’re still working on your own career or business.

For those that want to escape the rat race, I think you’ll equally enjoy this because it will set you in motion to make your own happiness.

So, without further adieu, I present to you this months Passive Income Escape Plan: Article Marketing. These crash-course guides may be a little rough around the edges but they should be everything you need to take the first step toward earning a passive income online and escaping the rat race. Let’s begin…

What Is Article Marketing?

There are a lot of definitions floating around the web to explain article marketing but I like to cut through the BS buzz words and get to the point: Article marketing is writing articles for the web to promote affiliate products (or just to build backlinks – which is still technically promotion).

As a form of bum marketing, the only investment you’ll need to put into article marketing is time and effort – that means you don’t have to dilly-dally with paid marketing platforms, spend hours fiddling with your blog layout or trying to convey an idea to your team – this is a clear cut, free method to earn passive income online with a little bit of writing and research.

How Does Article Marketing Work?

When I talk about article marketing, I’m also talking about affiliate marketing because you’ll often be promoting other people’s products (you down with OPP?). Affiliate marketing is simply selling or promoting other peoples products in exchange for a commission; coupled with the traffic you can build through article marketing, you’ll be setting up a great little system to make passive income online.

Article marketing has two main uses when promoting a product:

  • Directly promote an item and send traffic to a landing page
  • Build backlinks and traffic to your own page

Each of these will be explained briefly below:

Direct promotion

Direct promotion, by far, is the easiest way to utilize your articles because you’ll be sending visitors to a crafted (optimized) sales page that’s already had the research done for you. Simple enough to wrap your head around, right? No mucking around with learning copywriting and testing page layouts.

Link building

If you already have a website than you can utilize it as a landing page; you’ll be placing a short sales letter, freebie for an opt-in, video or review of the product you’re promoting on the page. In short, you want to drive people to a landing page which gets them further excited about the product you’re promoting; the best way to do so is by actually buying the product so you can give an accurate review and additional insight they can’t find elsewhere.

Step 1: Search Engine Optimization, Keyword/Niche Research & You

My apologies now for lumping these together but these three areas of your research and are so intertwined that they are completely symbiotic of another (think those sucker fish to a sharks belly… or spiderman and venom).

Search Engine Optimization for Article Writing

Search engine optimization is a collection of methods and techniques which you can apply to your website or content to increase the chances of it doing well within search engines. Most of the time when people talk about SEO they’re implying Google SEO – as we know, Google has the lion’s share of the search engine market so most methods are crafted around getting results in Google.

SEO for article marketing not all that different from the same tactics you’d apply to content on your website, blog or other web property. The main factors are:

  • A keyword optimized title and description
  • Body content that’s natural but also includes your keywords (keyword density)
  • Keyword-rich linking strategy
  • Tagging your content and selecting the right category

I could go on for hours about all the little techniques associated with writing SEO-friendly articles but there’s so much information readily available already on the web; it’s a search away or you could always check out SEJ, SEOChat or SEOBook.

Keyword & Niche Research

These two go almost hand in hand because the information you pull out of keyword tools are often the same data you’d fine through niche research. Although, that’s not to say you shouldn’t do your own part in market research; the following suggestions will quickly get you started with determining niche topics for your articles:

Ebay Pulse (or just Ebay) – Ebay (and Pulse) is a great way to drill down deep into a category to select a niche you find an interest in writing about and promoting.

Amazon – The biggest ecommerce site in the world can’t be wrong in terms of buying power – again, drill down into categories to go micro niche this way you’ll have less competition and higher ranking articles.

Twitter (Search) – Real-time web can give you a mountain of information in relation to a niche; spend a few moments to listen in on questions people have and conversations they’re holding.

Google Keyword Tool – The granddaddy to niche research you’ve seen mentioned time and time again – plug in your keyword, research and you’ve got yourself keywords, niche and article subjects.

Google Wonderwheel – I wish people would use this more because it’s an amazing tool for finding related searches visually; plug in your keywords and check out the web of other keywords and phrases people are searching for – use that data for your next article title or as part of your niche/keyword research. [For more information on Google Wonderwheel check the post – How to Discover Your Niche]

Keyword Questions – Keyword Question is provided by Wordtracker; type in your keyword and it’ll spit out questions people are typing into search engines.

Most importantly – you want keywords which people are actually going to BUY. Information is great but in terms of article marketing, unless you’re building backlinks (which is a strategy), you’ll want to select keywords that people tend to use in order to find items to buy, such as:

  • Buy
  • Purchase
  • Sale

After doing your research, make sure you write everything down into a tidy Excel file (or other preferred document). There are additional research tips you can utilize but, again, these are quite common across the web – check out a recent post by Pat Flynn of SmartPassiveIncome to further explain niche/keyword research and your competition:

Step 2: Let’s find a product to promote!

Of course, before you begin sending traffic to any ol’ page you’ll need a product to promote. I want to stress, again, that the best way to back a product is to purchase it yourself; sure, it may mean you have to spend a bit of money before you begin making any but not only will you rest with a clear conscience but you can more easily write and convey why a visitor should check out the product.

The following are places where you can find products to promote through your article marketing:

Amazon – Amazon isn’t the best source because of the low commission but with so many people using it and the trust it’s built for online retailing, you can easily convert visitors into buyers.

Clickbank – Often cited as the first place to go when affiliating products, Clickbank has tons and tons of great information products to promote through your article marketing.

Commision Junction – is another great affiliate marketplace that has a few big name backers; you can find a lot of great products worth promoting through this marketplace.

E-Junkie – Small in size, where it lakes in overall choice it makes up in simplicity. E-Junkie is another affiliate marketplace that many people use because you don’t have the hurdles like that imposed through Clickbank or CJ.

In-house affiliates – Surprisingly, if you just contact a company about promoting their products you may find that they have an in-house affiliate program or if you ca prove your worth they may make a personalized deal with you.

Offline leads – You don’t have to always be online; you could always sell leads to offline businesses – just find someone who you can trust and you could be making some great commissions on local businesses.

Your choices are really endless online and offline because any business would like more sales; just contact people and you’ll find that they can’t say no.

Step 3: Writing some articles (finally!)

I know, I’m sorry that we had to get all the other stuff out of the way; I know that you just want to get to work and start making some passive income but its important to understand the previous key concepts because if you were to rush into writing articles you may be wasting time because of the ineffectiveness of your work.

I can only go from my own experience with writing articles which I’ve developed over the years from writing online and as part of freelance work. I know this method may sound a little gung-ho but it’s what allows me to write an average of 10 articles a night after work – and then move on to guest posts like this!

Let’s break this down into another simple 5 step process to quickly write the article (then we’ll spice it up afterward).

  1. Write your headline – I know a lot of people that write their headline afterward but I’ve always found that writing the headline first can often help me keep my mind focused on the subject – write something catchy but don’t forget to sprinkle in those valuable keywords for SEO purposes.
  2. Write the outline – Next, I would suggest you write the outline of your article – this will allow you to, again, keep focused while writing but also build cool subliminal milestones; after each “section” is complete you feel a little rush and then plow into the next. For articles in this marketing strategy, keeping 3 – 5 main points usually gets the job done – not too much but not too little.
  3. Write your introduction – Your introduction is the second most important element of your article after getting the click from your headline. You want to excite the reader, you want them to be pulled into what you have to say and continue through the end.
  4. Bang out the content – Writing the actual content can be simple if you spend the extra time to research your topic. I’ve always found that spending an hour or two to devour a subject is much easier than trying to find resources on the fly. Write everything that pops into your head, don’t edit, just get it out there – you’ll edit later.
  5. (Always Be) Closing – Unlike a post which you may be used to writing, you want to actually lead out and continue the content right into your author byline (where you can place your link). If you stop dead at the end of the article it breaks the connection and sets the reader into a logical mindset (which is less likely to click through and purchase your affiliate product).

The best way to pick up the speed in your writing is to write often, write a lot; I mean like, all the frickin’ time. Don’t worry about how it sounds in the beginning because you’ll develop your voice over time – just remember that you need to just get content out there. Which reminds me…

Quality vs. Quantity

Debate this all you want but when it comes to article marketing, sometimes quantity matters most. You see, you could spend an hour or two writing a really powerful article (that does convert well) or bang out 2 – 3x the amount in the same allotted time.

The best approach, of course, is to do a combination of the two. Remember that your articles aren’t’ going to be lengthy (usually 250 – 450 words), you don’t want to bore them to death when reading (woops, sorry Matthew for the lengthy post).

The key elements to your quantity of articles are SEO and Call-to-Action. If you can write a 250 word article that’s more impactful (and converts better) than a 450 word post – isn’t that better? Of course.

Time to spice up your articles!

You understand the concept of writing articles; good. But quick question: what is the purpose of the article? As I mentioned toward the top of this post it’s about getting a person to take action (a click) to visit your promoted product or landing page (unless you’re doing backlinks).

The biggest element is, of course, your author byline. Your author byline is where you get the place your links. Three quick tips for author bylines:

  1. Lead into it – don’t end it with “my name is blah blah blah”, get them right through it with something like “and to learn more tips visit link”.
  2. You often get to place 2 links – use one keyword rich link and the other with your full http attached – this way if you’re picked up by a website (or scraper) you’ll still have a link as they often don’t copy over the html styling.
  3. Relevant profile – This one’s subliminal but make a new name and profile pic for each article marketing campaign. If people were to look through your profile to see a ton of irrelevant links that you’ve wrote all on one account it can throw them off – keep it all in one package.

I hope that makes sense – it’s really like any kind of call-to-action: lead them into your author byline, hold their hand up to your link and then give them that little nudge to click by telling them exactly what you want them to do.

Additional comments on writing

You know, there’s just so much information already out there on the web that it’s not really within this scope to go into every fine detail; you’re a big boy (or gal), 2 seconds in Google can help you find all those tiny questions you may have such as punctuation, length and so on.

Just remember this: You can spend hours upon hours debating the minutia or you could just get it done. You decide.

Step 4: Promotion

I don’t want to sound lazy about telling you how to promote your articles online just because we’re already well over 2,500 words into to the post but the concept of promoting your links is like any other piece of content you’ve shared.

Just as a reminder, here are a few ways you can promote your articles – if you want to learn these further – remember that Google is a click away (or just check any number of blogs you already subscribe to).

Social bookmarking – Digg, Sphinn, Mixx, StumbleUpon are all ready to promote your article and build backlinks to it – I don’t really have to explain social bookmarking, do I?

Web 2.0 properties – Squidoo, Hubpages, Infobarrel and other article websites can be used to write another article and link to your other ones – you’ll be creating a nice little link wheel if you point them all to each other.

Social media – Twitter, Facebook and the countless other social networks that are out there – if you’ve got a following, great – if not, start building one and share your articles.

Forums – Find a niche forum, write a lot of helpful replies to people and place your link in your signature – simple enough.

Don’t worry – Of course, you could just not worry about it and let the search engines do their thing. If you’re writing on sites like eZine that have high PR than your content will be indexed fairly rapidly and rank well if you used SEO correctly.

There’s thousands of various ways to promote your articles; if you already have a website than you’re well aware of these methods, if not, just keep writing because trading time to fiddle with everything else cuts from the time you could bang out another article.

Final Thoughts

Wow, what a wild ride this post has been, yeh? If you’ve made it this far I apologize for the relatively off the cuff method of explaining article marketing – it’s really the core concept of the method, not so much those little details that can easily be found round the web.

If you learn anything from this post it’s this: The more you write, the better market you choose, the faster you get will all directly translate to your success with article marketing.

In the beginning you may not see much of anything happening with your articles but as you continually push for content you will see sales start to trickle in, then a flood, then an avalanche. Just keep doing what you’re doing.

The best part about the whole strategy is that your content is there to stay – as long as the article directory is online you’ll have content out there that’s bringing you in passive income year’s form now. Hell, I know a friend that still gets commissions on occasion from articles he wrote well over three years ago!

If you’re tired of the rat race, don’t want that stinky cheese and want an escape plan than consider article marketing your thing. Even at one article a night, a year from now you’ll have 365 pieces of content doing your bidding – that’s not a bad plan, is it?

If you have any questions or comments, please add them in the comment section below and I’ll do the best of my ability to answer them.

Also, stay tuned for my future posts because I’ll be giving you other methods to escape the rat race so if article marketing isn’t your thing you can expect that you’ll find one eventually.  You can connect with Murray at his webstitw or on Twitter @murlu