The heart of any article marketing strategy is the creation of quality content. It can also be the hardest part of the process if you don't know the shortcuts and tricks of the trade. Here are a few inspirations and idea sparkers to help you build a large library of article marketing goodness.
1. It's all in the list
Top Ten lists, check lists, to-do lists - people love lists. And lists are easy to create. Just choose a topic (say, tax preparation) and an angle (mistakes people make) and get started writing down examples. Fill out each list item with a paragraph or two of advice, and then jazz it up with an attention-getting title, such as "Top 5 Mistakes People Make When Doing Their Own Taxes." Before you know it, you've got a winner.
One trick when it comes to lists is to stick with odd numbers, especially 5, 7 and 9. For some reason, the human mind seems to view odd numbers as exciting and attractive, while even numbers come across as flat or incomplete. Less than five seems skimpy, while more than 9 points is simply too much information for one article to cover - in fact, I'd stick with 5 and 7 just to be on the safe side. If you have more vital list items than that, break them up into an article series.
2. Questionable material
Another shortcut to writing an article is to pose a question in the opening paragraph, then use the remainder of the article to answer it. Maybe your friends and colleagues are always asking the same questions about your topic. If so, make a note and use them to spur article ideas. Jot down questions you get from customers, too. These are the best source for business-related Q&A articles.
Also, this is a good time to go through your website's FAQ. In many cases, the questions you have there regarding your business could each be the foundation for an individual article or even a series of articles, depending on how complicated the answer is.
3. Step by step
How-to or other instructional articles are also popular, and easy to write if you know your stuff. Make a quick outline of steps involved in the process, note any tips or hints that might save your reader time and frustration and get to writing. Just to make sure you haven't overlooked anything, ask a friend or colleague who is unfamiliar with your topic review the piece and see if your instructions are clear, complete and easy to understand.
4. Turn on the news
Keep your eye on the news, both in your subject and in general. What is going on in your field of interest? What effect will news items have on your subject? What changes are taking place in the world that will impact your topic?
Look outside the immediate scope of your topic - changes and trends in one industry, field or process can often be applied to others. This is a great opportunity for creative and innovative idea cross-pollination, and doing this will automatically brand you as a cutting-edge thinker in your field of interest.
5. Play it again, Sam
Finally, look around you and see what you can repurpose from existing content. Your blogs, ebooks, workshops and other existing IP (intellectual property) are great sources of inspiration and even directly repurposed content for articles. I'll talk more about this process in Article Marketing Bootcamp: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Your Content, but the core of the issue is this - why create your article content from scratch when the chances are good that you have enough material laying around you right now to get a great head start with just a little cutting, pasting and editing?
One of the hardest questions for writers to answer is also the most common - where do you get your ideas? Hopefully this article will help give you the inspiration you need to begin creating your own stock of article marketing content. Of course, there are as many ways to come up with content ideas as there are writers, and no doubt you'll stumble upon a few of your own as you gain experience. But these examples should provide you with enough to get you started on the road to successful article marketing.
Soni Pitts is a professional freelance writer and editor, with experience that ranges from short web articles to full-length ebooks and beyond.
"Need professional quality writing, but hate to write - or just don't have the time to do it all yourself? Don't let less-than-perfect writing skills or a tight schedule leave you at a loss for words. Query writer [at] sonipitts.com for a free consultation, samples and a quote."