People love to hear stories. They'll identify with what you have to say much more easily if you tell them an anecdote that relates to your subject matter.
The danger in using this method is that you can lose your way. Interminable, zig-zagging stories are just as boring in print as they are in real life! Keep your story under control, and it will speak to your reader.
1. Choose your subject
2. Tell your story
3. Identify the problem
4. Offer a solution
5. Draw a conclusion or call to action
6. Give your article a catchy title
7. Decide on the length. (Most ezines like articles of around 500 - 800 words.)
THE FINISHED ARTICLE
Title: From Chaos To Contentment: The Pocket Organizer
Like most people, I'm fighting a constant battle to stay organized. I have a range of clients both online and offline and projects due at different times. I'm surrounded by to-do lists, stacks of print-outs, address books, phone lists and folders. Finding something quickly is more of a challenge every day.
I was beginning to despair of ever clearing the decks - or even seeing a glimpse of the deck! Then I stumbled across a solution. Browsing around an electronics store looking for a label-maker, I walked past a display of Palm products. The Palm Zire 71 caught my eye immediately (okay, I'm a sucker for a nice-looking piece of electronic gadgetry). There it was, in an attractive blue casing with a bright, colorful screen... begging me to play!
So I played.
After ten minutes I was hooked. Yeah, I know... all of you Palm devotees are yawning and muttering: "Where has she been the last few years?" - but hey, I had one of the early Palm Pilots. The screen was hard to read and the graffiti option didn't work too well. I went back to notebooks and a rolodex.
This one was totally different. It won me in no time at all. I wandered out of the store to "think about it" - and was back within fifteen minutes handing over my credit card.
How ever did I manage without it? Now I have - all in one pocket-size organizer - a date book that stretches *decades* forward and back from today's date, an address book with customizable lists, an expense record, a calculator, a memo pad, a note pad, a to-do list, a world clock... and this little beauty even has a built-in camera. (With an expansion card it could also be an MP3 player.) I've tossed six different items out of my handbag and replaced them with just the Palm. Bliss. (Oh, and did I mention I can sit it in the accompanying cradle and back up everything to my computer?)
Don't worry, this is not an advertisement for Palm products! I'm sure there are other organizers that do all this and more. (You can now get phones that do it all, come to think of it.) The point is, since I don't work in the corporate environment, I just hadn't realized what timesavers these all-in-one products can be. Now, wherever I go I have an incredible amount of information at my fingertips. I don't sort through various folders and files in search of contact information. Heck, I don't even have to carry family snaps around in my wallet - they're all stored in the Palm!
The lesson? There are several. One: personal organizers are not just for so-called "business professionals". They can streamline anyone's life. Two: If you're losing time (and patience) because you're not organized, take the time to sit down and see what can be done. Look for a method that is easy to use and combines a number of functions. Three: browsing through electronic gadgetry is not only fun - it pays off!
=== Analysis Of The Completed Article ===
The Subject: Personal organization
The Story: How a pocket-sized organizer changed my life
The Problem: Too many diverse and unwieldy systems to store information
The Solution: A pocket-sized electronic organizer
Call to Action: Analyze your needs - choose an easy, effective method to get organized
A Catchy Title: "From Chaos to Contentment: The Pocket Organizer". The alliteration of "Chaos" and "Contentment" sounds good; the first part of the title summarizes the rewards, and the inclusion of "The Pocket Organizer" signals the subject matter.
Word Length: The finished article is 511 words: a good length for most ezines (yours or someone else's). You need to be strict with yourself here. If your article is too long, CUT IT!
Copyright 2004 Margaret McAlister
Marg McAlister's tips on writing are to the point and popular. To write great web copy, sales letters and articles, don't miss her ezine: the Web Writing Tipsheet! You'll find this and other top advice at www.writing-for-success-online.com