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What in the world should you write about?
By Carl Caton

It has been an incredible blessing to work with so many wonderful Christian authors. Thank you for your work and ministry!

Recently, I've been asked to share information about 'what people are looking for' on the internet. Let me begin by explaining more about what I do.

First of all, I'm not a writer. That's not my gift. I would describe myself more as a researcher. I love to study human behavior on the internet. I find it rewarding to learn and understand the habits, desires, and needs of the average 'web surfer'. I study this from a traditional, Christian worldview. In short, I want to reach people for Christ through this powerful medium we call the Internet.

As you begin to consider topics for your writing ministry, I think it is vitally important to understand a basic principle. You should consider the 'supply/demand' relationship for the topics you choose to write on. Let me explain, while there may be a huge demand for articles on a particular subject, there may be an even larger 'supply' of articles available. For example, there is a huge amount of interest (sadly) on the topic of divorce. This certainly seems like an area where ministry could take place. The problem is, there is a vast amount of content on the web on this theme. Your wonderful article on divorce will drown in a sea of millions of articles related to the subject. Instead, I discovered that there was very little content on the internet relating to strategies to 'prevent divorce'. As such, I published a website called www.preventingdivorce.com. If you search Google on the terms preventing divorce, the site will rank fairly well in the results because there's not many people out there wanting to stop divorces... mostly attorneys who would like to "help" you get the process done.

It's also important that you develop a 'razor sharp focus' with your articles. It's generally thought that people begin searching for information using single words like 'marriage'. The search engine brings back nine million results. People quickly realize they need to narrow their search. So, if they are Christians, they might next search the terms 'Christian marriage'. That narrows their scope dramatically and creates a list of articles that are more relevant to their world view. You need to understand the 'key words' that people are searching for. One great place to find this information is at the key word suggestion tool at Overture. Experiment with this tool to learn more about search activity. And when you do, look more to the key words that contain two or three terms, or possibly a phrase. Those key words are a great source of ideas for your articles. In other words, you can study those words to discover what people are looking for.

Think about your writing from a 'marketing' perspective. Sony became a major force in the electronics industry, not because they make the very best electronics, but because they realized that people wanted really good electronics at a fair price. Learn more about what readers are looking for. Begin with the end in mind.  And as you do, keep a 'razor sharp focus' on your theme. Be specific and target those multiple key words or phrases that are more specific in nature.

When I first discovered the Overture key word tool, I published web pages that targeted the words with a huge number of searches.  The results were disappointing and I've seen had much better results in targeting some of the less searched words where I might have less competition.

Now that you know the key words people are typing into search engines, make sure you use those key words and phrases in your articles. But don't go overboard. Sometimes, people will repeat those words so many times that it will reduce the value of their work as well as raise suspicion by search engines that you are practicing an undesired act called 'key word stuffing'. Be aware of the key words you are targeting and use them several times in your title and article.

Finally, let me suggest that you keep articles fairly brief. Or if you have a longer piece, break it up into two or three parts. But create each article in a way that it will stand on its own. Remember, web surfers are very impatient people. They want information... fast. If you strike a chord with them and build some rapport, then they are willing to read the long version of your work.

Ok, let's get specific now. Using the general guidelines above, what are some specific topics you could write on? Here's my list of suggestions:

There is a HUGE amount of interest in movie reviews. Parents are seeking to gain more knowledge about what their kids are seeing in theatres. As such, there is a huge interest in parental resources and reviews 'from a traditional family perspective'. Most parents are concerned about morals and values and are aware of the tremendous influence of movies. While there are a lot of folks writing about the movies, your specialty could be in bringing a Christian world-view to your work.  I'm publishing a website called www.familymoviereview.com and I'm always struggling to find content.

There is also a large amount of interest in growing genre of Contemporary Christian music. Good quality articles on bands, concerts, and Christian music reviews are rare.

Almost everyone is aware that people are looking for content on 'physical intimacy'. (That's the safe word for the more common three letter spelling.) A recent major publication reported that almost one-third of all images on the internet fall into a category we will call addictive and unwholesome. So why in the world would we want to target that audience? Simply because God has His own plan for physical intimacy. People are experiencing great pain in this area. God's plan for intimacy brings joy to a relationship. The world's plan brings disease, heartache, and suffering. Knowing this, I published a site called www.marriageintimacy.com. The traffic on that site has been quite surprising. The site is simple, civil, safe, and respectful. Here are a few tips about writing on this topic. Make sure you don't use the common terms and words that would be banned by internet filters. Don't venture into any area that should be addressed by a licensed, professional counselor unless you are qualified. Keep the tone of your article dignified and respectful. Bring glory to God for His masterful plan.

Here's a funny one that surprised me: kids crafts.  There is an amazing amount of search for things like 'Thanksgiving crafts, Christmas crafts, Father's Day Crafts, etc."  I publish a site called www.ChristianFathers.com.  It wasn't getting much traffic until I put a simple drawing on the site and labeled it 'fathers day craft'.  I had no idea that it would double the amount of traffic to the site and become the number one requested page.  I'm embarrassed how many people are coming to the website looking for a father's day craft and find my amateur drawing.  I'm scrambling to find and create something better to offer.

Other areas getting a large amount of search activity include family traditions, family reunions, scrapbooking, journaling, family vacations, internet and spam filters, Christian dating, kids crafts for special holidays, and clean humor.

As I close, can I tell you a little about the People of Faith website? One discovery I've made in the internet arena is that 'bigger is better'. And while there are tens of thousands of Christian ministry websites on the web, very few seem to be performing satisfactorily. As such, I've been pursuing a strategy for several years of 'aggregating' Christian content. For instance, many independent Christian writers find it difficult to get their work out on the internet. This was the reason behind the formation of the People of Faith website. This site is a place where people who write on the subject of faith and family can get their work published. Authors offer their content for free. We publish articles that we find suitable for the website. In return, we build a link to the author's website. By 'aggregating' this content, we've seen the traffic grow substantially over the past months. From January through October of 2005, we've had more than two million "hits", which is not bad for a little Christian website. What's more important is that we've noticed that people seem to be spending more time on our site. They come to the site having searched a particular subject and they seem to be spending more time reading numerous other articles during their visit. That's they key measure of performance, and the most important factor in helping Christian authors.

If you would like to submit an article for publication within our site, please click here to review our guidelines for acceptance.  If you find these terms acceptable, we suggest that you consider submitting your article to a free content site such as www.Family-Content.com.  We have no relation to this website and suggest you carefully review to all of the terms and conditions of the publishing there.  If you do publish your article there, please email us so that we can download and use it on one of our collection of sites.

Again, thank you for your work and ministry.  I have a habit of reading every article before I publish it.  As such, I have been so blessed by your work!  May God richly bless your family and ministry!

Carl Caton

 

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