Christopher Knight is the CEO & publisher of the wildly popular EzineArticles.com, a community of over 140,000 expert authors in 600+ niche markets who have written over 1 million quality articles that receive traffic from tens of millions of monthly visitors to the site. We caught up with Christopher via email:
What was the last job you had working for someone else?
It’s a misnomer that working “for yourself” is like not having a boss and that you only report to yourself. Instead, being an entrepreneur means that I serve thousands of clients, hundreds of thousands of members, and millions of people who use our site monthly. Technically, my last job as an employee was working for Internet.com as a Managing Editor.
Do you have any crystal-ball predictions for the future of email marketing?
Every year some social media zealot will declare the “end of email” while simultaneously every email marketer and entrepreneur will know that there is no higher return communication vehicle than permission-based email marketing and publishing. Expect to continue to see an INCREASE in the use of email to communicate, but a DECREASE in tracking, due to the desire to create trust and not participate in deception. Many email programs will alert their users that a white hat tracking link is an attempt to deceive and this lowers the users’ trust in clicking. Phishing attacks are to blame.
I expect we’ll continue to see an increase in the use of event-triggered personalized email that is designed to be helpful throughout the buying cycle. I also expect we’ll see an increase in the use of sequenced email (also known as autoresponders) to decrease sales cycles, deliver training, and improve client/member retention and engagement.
Where do you see the online content model that EzineArticles uses going?
That’s like asking, which projects that are not live yet are currently receiving lots of internal funding? Sorry, I’d prefer to show with our actions what I think our model is evolving into, rather than discuss where we’re investing heavily right now. Expect more tools, stats, and insider information designed to accelerate the traffic, exposure, and return on investment from article writing and submitting activities.
Any chance we could hear what a few of the top EzineArticles’ keywords are right now?
With 15 million monthly unique visitors and 20 million total visitors surfing more than a million articles, our top keywords are not much different than any major search engine. We’re in 604 markets as of right now, each with its own unique set of top keywords and key phrases.
We prefer members who don’t do what we call “keyword ambulance chasing,” that is, write articles based only on whatever today’s top keyword is. It’s better to write for the head, middle, and long tail subsection of keywords for your niche and area of expertise.
Tell me about a few of the most successful writers on EzineArticles.com, and what it is that makes them successful. What are the characteristics of a successful article?
Most successful EzineArticles members have mastered the ability to write authentically high quality, unique articles that are submitted every month (consistency being a key). Getting the quality right is pretty easy, but most struggle with getting the ‘quantity’ aspect right. It takes a serious quantity of high quality articles in your niche to succeed on a high level.
A successful article is one that is easy to scan/read, includes bullet points or numbered lists, is between 450-750 words, and delivers real value in the body of the article based on the promise made in the article title. Think “how to” and strategy/tips articles that don’t include the same re-hashed tips everyone else gives. Use your unique perspective and experience to educate your ideal customer on something that gives value before you expect to receive anything in return.
What are some of the most common mistakes or overlooked items by writers?
Simple spelling errors could be minimized if everyone just used FireFox with built-in spell check. The most common error made by the marketer type of writer is being too promotional or salesy in the article body. The article body is the GIVE; the resource box is the TAKE.
Is print media dead?
Of course not. People still want to physically touch their content. If they didn’t need that, we’d remove the PRINT ARTICLE tool.
If you had never gotten online, what would you be doing right now?
I’d probably be a race car driver or I’d be the guy organizing a team to invent the Internet.
What excites and motivates you?
Positively impacting MILLIONS of people monthly excites and motivates me. I’ll be even more excited when we’re able to impact millions of people per day instead of per month. EzineArticles is our vehicle for creating value, so anything that increases the value delivered is something that motivates me.
I also like innovating, obsessing on the user experience, and figuring out how to significantly increase the speed with which our clients, members, and users are able to use our web platform.
If I wasn’t doing that, then I’d be enjoying working on conversion analysis, getting baseline metrics, and working with our team to make better data-driven decisions.
Editor’s Note: This interview was originally published in March 2009 in the print version of the Top One Report. Since then the number of authors, visitors, etc. has drastically increased, in some cases even doubling.