Article Shelf Life: Getting the Most Out of What You Write
I admit that the internet is definitely for the “here and now.” Always changing, what may be popular one day may be irrelevant the next. A den of “fast track fads” is what the internet has become. Still, if you are an article writer, you know that the web content you provide for your customers today must have an extended shelf life with it, otherwise your customers lose out and your reputation sinks. You can write relevant and persuasive content that doesn’t lose its sheen with time; read on and I will show you how. It is a given that if you write seasonal articles these very same articles will quickly lose their appeal once the season is over.
Few people are interested in Valentine’s Day pitches outside of January and February, but you can keep their interest strong year round by not directly focusing on products, but on the history of the holiday. I have discovered that my seasonal articles are likely to get read “out of season” if they deal more with something beyond an overt sales pitch. Give readers something to digest other than talking about chocolates and flowers; you can discuss “love” a timeless subject with universal appeal! In addition, stay away from explicit dates. If you mention something to the effect, “here in December 2005…” you will quickly age your article in no time. This can be difficult to do if you are mentioning something like current mortgage trends or recent world events.
All of those hurricane articles you read just a few months ago seem distant and certain to be ignored by readers who are focusing on current events [however, they may become valuable again when the next hurricane season rolls around]. It is okay to write current event articles, but expect them to quickly fade into oblivion once the event has passed. Typically, the subject of “shelf life” does not come up with my customers. If I am asked, I mention that each article should have at least one year’s appeal before an update might be necessary. This is reasonable length of time given the fast paced changes on the web. Naturally, if the customer wants me to do the update, they will be charged the same rate as a fresh article: in reality I provide to my customers a new article, not some cut and paste update. Finally, I never give explicit guarantees for an article’s effectiveness because once it leaves my hands, I seldom know exactly what a customer will do with it [i., place it in a newsletter, turn around and sell it, put it on their web site, etc. My customers know that what I write for them can be effective, but its ultimate impact is only as good as what they choose to do with it.
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