A few months back, we saw a spate of articles in a certain class of newsletters on a rather unusual subject: how other publishers could or should generate “content” for their OWN newsletters and ezines. This topic still pops up frequently.
The advice often given is that publishers should try hard to offer “original” content, which is interpreted to mean content that they write themselves. What the writers giving this counsel don’t usually make clear, is why something I write myself is necessarily original, or why something that others write for me is not.
To be fair, we have to look at the trends that prompted these authors to bring up the subject in the first place.
Many writers submit their articles to a number of publications simultaneously. The receiving publishers are often only too happy to find something to fill up space in their newsletters, particularly when they don’t have to pay for it! Several of them will then use the same article all around the same time.
Since all these publications deal with the same subject area, quite a few people will subscribe to all or most of them, and they’re not too impressed to be exposed to the same articles all over again!
In the world of traditional print media, it’s not uncommon, of course, for newspapers in different regions and countries to use the same syndicated material. But the situation’s rather different with a medium that penetrates all geographic boundaries in an instant.
Many novice publishers are so carried away by enthusiasm when launching newsletters, that they hardly give a thought to their future content needs.
But while nothing can match sound advance planning, the cause is never lost.
You CAN, if you want, give your readers the original content they deserve, and you don’t necessarily have to write it yourself. If it’s already late in the day, you have to work harder. But with the right approach, it can be done.
For your purposes, there’s no earthly reason why the word “original” has to refer to material that has never seen the light of day before. What it SHOULD mean is that your own readers have not been exposed to it.
In fact, the prime criterion for good material is not originality, but VALUE. Sure, originality is one of the components of the quality of value (facts are hardly valuable to those that know them already), but not the only one or even the most important one.
So how do you go about finding content that’s both original and valuable, when it’s not practical to create it yourself - and you can’t afford to hire someone to do it for you?
The secret is this: if you can’t create content, create relationships!
Let’s use a practical example to explain what I mean by this.
Imagine that you’re the publisher of a newsletter about gardening. You know of another publication on a topic not quite identical, but certainly complementary, to your own specialty. You drop off a note to the other publisher, as follows:
>I've been an avid reader of "Outdoor Living" for some
>timeI enjoy your light-hearted style and have often used
>your practical tips to good advantage.
>I've just completed a new article entitled "How a Garden
>Can Help to Reduce Stress". I was wondering whether
>you'd like to use it for "Outdoor Living"?
>Since the subject of this article is so intriguing and it's
>well suited for your readership profile, your readers are
>bound to find it interesting and entertaining. Until I hear
>from you, I won't offer it to anyone else. If you publish
>it, please give me a little publicity by including the
>"resource box" at the end.
>I'd be delighted to return the favor by publishing a
>suitable article of yours in "Country Gardening." To tell
>you the truth, you might be doing ME a favor. The kind of
>quality stuff I need is hard to come by, and as I said, I
>know you write well.
>Publisher, "Country Gardening."
Let’s hope that this is the beginning of a working arrangement between Joan and Steve that will serve them both well for many years.
And let’s hope that this little illustration will speak louder than (other) words!