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Three Ways to Add Versatile Content to Your Site or eZine
by: Mitchell Harper
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Introduction
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If you run a content driven web site or eZine, then I think you will agree with me when I say that finding free, quality content on the ‘Net is a pain. Sure, people are writing articles which they want published, but nine times out of ten, these articles are just “copy-pasted” or recycled from someone else’s articles, and content like this wont give your site a particularly high profile.

There are heaps of ways to add some pizzazz and glitz to your site or eZines content that will keep your visitors coming back on a regular basis. In this article I will talk about three of them: Interviews, Reviews and Books.

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Interviews
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People like reading about other people: What they do, how they do it, and most importantly, why they do it. So do you, right? Well I know I do. Have you ever thought about emailing a specific person from a company and requesting a “virtual interview” with them?

When I say virtual interview, I mean conducting the interview via a series of emailed questions. I have, and every single person that I emailed was more than happy to give me the time of day to answer some questions about them, their job role, their history, etc. When you think about it, it’s a win-win situation for both you and that person: You add more quality content to your site, and they get promos and links back to their site from your interview (This is a must, and can be the deciding factor in nailing the interview).

But just how would you go about asking for a virtual interview? And whom would you ask? Let me give you an example.

About two weeks ago, one of my editors (Tim Pabst) interviewed Markus Maki from MadOnion.com. This interview added value to our site, because in the interview Markus talked about his industry experience, the development of the 3Dmark series, as well as his opinions on technology, etc. No one else has this kind of “insider” information about Markus on their site, so it makes our virtual interview one-of-a-kind.

Here’s the email that Tim used to ask Markus to participate in our virtual interview:

Hi Markus,
My name is Time Pabst, and I am one of the editors for http://www.devarticles.com. I have been a huge fan of MadOnion.com for as long as I can remember, and I was wondering if I would be able to conduct an email-based interview with you.

This interview would consist of you answering some short questions about your life, job and experiences and simply emailing them back to me. Your questions will be compiled into an article and posted on our site.

Your interview will also include several mentions of MadOnion.com, thus creating more links back to your site. Please let me know if and when this is possible.

I look forward to your reply.
Tim Pabst

Notice how the email was short and to the point? No marketing gook, no confusing sentences, just a quick description of the who’s, what’s, when’s, why’s and how’s of the interview.

The email was a success, and the Interview questions were sent to Markus the next day. We had the interview on the site within a week. You can see it at http://www.devarticles.com/art/1/35

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Reviews
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Reviews are another great way to add some variety to your sites content. You don’t have to be a professional to review a product or web site. Reviews are merely one person’s opinion of an item with some technical babble thrown in for good measure.

I am currently in the process of reviewing Namo Web Editor 5. It is a complete web editing solution, similar to FrontPage. I decided to review this product because a lot of my visitors are newbies to the web, just learning how to start programming.

Product reviews can work well for you both content wise and financially wise: You get a new form of content on your site, but you can also link back to the product (from within your review) with your unique tracking ID. This means that for every sale that company gets from a visitor buying their product through a link from your review, you receive a percentage of that sale, usually around 5-20%.

Once again, it’s a win-win situation. The key here is to review products that your visitors will find useful and exclude any marketing hype from the review.

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Books
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Everyone reads in some-way or another: conventional books, email, the daily newspaper, eBooks, articles, etc. People feel empowered when they have read something that provides them with useful, free information. A book review can do just that.

There are hundreds of online stores that allow you to link to their books section and receive commission on a per-order basis. The most popular one is Amazon, with over 500,000 members. Their associates program (located at http://associates.amazon.com) lets you enter a books ISBN code and spits out a link and picture right back to that book on their site.

Reviewing a book is easy, but either you or someone you know must have read the book beforehand. Don’t fall into the trap of simply reading the books blurb and then writing a review on it, because you will get caught out and your visitors will loose trust in you.

When reviewing a book, let your visitors know your overall opinion of the book, as well as your favourite points and sections in the book. Include as many peoples opinion on that particular book as you can, whether they are positive or negative. Your readers will expect you to provide them with honest reviews, and there’s no point lying just so they buy the book.

You may also like to include a sample chapter from the book in your review. This lets visitors have a read of the book without actually purchasing it. If they like the sample chapter, then there’s a good chance they will click on your link to buy the book in the end. I like to review Wrox’s series of programming books, because they let you publish a sample chapter from their book on your site, just like I have at http://www.devarticles.com/art/1/38.

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Conclusion
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Don’t get stuck into the habit of posting the same type of content on your site. As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life, and this is true in the online world also. If you run a content driven site then have a brainstorm listing several companies, products and books related to your sites content that you could review.

For each company, compose an email to send using the format that I have outlined in this article. Start by writing to 2-3 companies requesting virtual interviews and see how you go.

For each product, write up a similar email requesting either a beta/full copy of the software you want to review. Because you need to actually spend time reviewing and testing the product first, you should start with just 1-2 emails and see how you go.

Books, on the other hand, are a different story. Goto http://associates.amazon.com and signup for free. Then, pick a couple of books (ones that you have read) and write a 1-2 page review on each one. Post them straight onto your site with the link provided by the Amazon associates program at the end of the review.

Until next time, I would recommend you experiment with the ideas outlined in this article. If you do everything right, then you can expect your visitor count to increase as a result.

About the Author

Mitchell Harper is the founder of http://www.devarticles.com, which provides top quality ASP, C++, Java, PHP, Visual
Basic and .NET articles for the budding web developer! Looking for some
nitfy programming tricks and tutorials that you won't find anywhere else?
Then visit us now at http://www.devarticles.com/