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Your Readers are Publishers Too


Too often we charge ahead and treat the web as if it were just like any other medium. We know it isn't, but somehow we just can't resist retaining complete control of the creation and publication of our website and newsletter content.

Meanwhile, our readers are writing blogs, participating in discussion lists, writing book and video reviews, adding their opinions on shopping comparison sites, completing online surveys and so on.

Our readers are also online publishers. They are creating valuable, interesting content every day.

There are two opportunities here.

First, you can have your readers contribute content for your site and your newsletters. Take a look at Amazon.com. They have thousands of pages of content written by their customers. Imagine the cost saving of having their customers write all those reviews.

And it's not just about saving money. It's also about recognizing that the aggregate knowledge of all your customers is a great deal larger than that of any individual writer. When you invite your readers to participate in the creation of content, you are tapping into an extraordinarily broad base of knowledge and experience.

Also, when you get your customers and subscribers involved in writing, you are building content that is directly relevant to the interests of your readers. As editors and marketers it is sometimes tempting to create the content that *we* think is best. Invite your readers to contribute, and all of a sudden you'll start building content that is much better attuned to the interests of the people who come to your site.

In addition, you increase the credibility of all your content. You are no longer perceived as just another publisher who pushes their views and marketing messages. Slowly, that perception will shift. You will be seen as a company or organization that has the courage to open the doors and publish outside views and opinions. Even contrary views and opinions.

And there's more. This is where the second opportunity lies. When you include reader-created content to your site and newsletters, you are transforming the nature of the relationship between yourself and your customers or subscribers.

Your site and newsletters cease to be *your* places, they become a shared space. When your readers become participants in the creation of content, they take on a small element of ownership. And when your site or newsletter becomes a shared place, the perceptions of all your readers will begin to shift.

Those who have made contributions will want to come back more often, will want to contribute more often. And word of mouth will spread faster too. If someone has found their review, question, interview or opinions posted on your site or in your newsletters, you can be sure that they will be more likely to tell their friends and colleagues.

Word of mouth is a primary driver in the growth of community and network sites and lists.

Include your readers in the creation of your content. Share the burden of writing. Invite your readers to become participants in the growth of your business. Increase the credibility of all of your content. And watch the power of word of mouth increase your site traffic and newsletter subscriber base.

Nick Usborne is a copywriter, author, speaker and advocat of good writing. You can access all his archived newsletter articles on copywriting and writing for the web at his Excess Voice site. You'll find more articles and resources on how to make money as a freelance writer at his Freelance Writing Success site.


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