Now that LinkedIn is in the process of rolling out to everyone the ability to publish articles, the next challenge becomes: how do I get people to read my articles?
Here's what I've learned in the process of publishing over 200 articles on LinkedIn:
1.) Headlines matter, a lot. To be safe, make yours 44 characters or less (including spaces), or it will get cut off if/when it is displayed around the site. Make it catchy, and remember that your potential readers are overwhelmed with distractions. Generic and confusing headlines don't attract readers, at all.
2.) Use a compelling picture at the top. Avoid generic clip art photos, because they don't work. It is far better to use one of your own photos, or to find a really creative image on Flickr or DeviantArt. You can only use photos with a Creative Commons license, and always credit the author at the very bottom of your piece. Do it like this... Image: John Doe/Flickr. I've found the best image size is 600 pixels wide by 325 high.
The simpler your image, the better. Pictures are really small when shown as a link to potential readers.
3.) Proof your article three times. Typos and poor grammar are the fastest ways to scare readers away. They prove you don't care. They suggest you can't think clearly. They hurt you, rather than help you. If you don't have time to proof your articles, don't bother posting them.
4.) Use other sites to draw attention to your article. I use Twitter, Slideshare and Google+ to drive readers to my LinkedIn articles. If you are depending on LinkedIn to drive all the traffic, you will be disappointed with the results. You have to prime the pump, so to speak. Once people start reading and sharing your piece, readership will grow on its own. But if no one ever notices your article, it will die a slow and lonely death.
5.) Be restrained about self-promotion. Check out the bottom of this article, and you will see how I promote myself in most pieces. I try to offer enough information so that people know what I do, but not so much that I sound like a slimy used car salesman. It is a delicate balance. Some people have started to dump three or four paragraphs of sales pitches at the end of their LinkedIn pieces; avoid these people like the plague.
6.) Help others and they will help you. Before you ask others to share your pieces, try sharing theirs. There are thousands of ways to help others; try as many as you can.
Other articles in this series:
Image: A Name Like Shields Can Make You Defensive/Flickr