One of the most important skills to develop for anyone interested in building an online business is the art of creating a readable and interesting article. Learning to write articles not only helps to engage your reader, it it helps to make your name known far and wide and is a powerful tool for building traffic to your website.
It need not be lengthy. We're not talking about "War And Peace" here! 500 - 1,000 words is adequate for most purposes.
Let's look at an easy and productive way of writing that article.
1. Aim to be interesting, polished and informative. It isn't necessary to aim for a Pulitzer Prize - not at this stage, anyway. Aiming to produce competent work rather than a masterpiece helps to lift some of the burden.
2. Remove your limits
Reduce your subject to a single core word and then brainstorm around it. For example, if you're trying to write about "Study Skills", expand your thinking to "School". Now jot down everything that comes to mind when you think about School, and when you run out of ideas start asking yourself open questions around the subject and noting your answers.
What did I enjoy about school?
What scared me?
What did I wish I'd known from Day 1?
This will help you get back into the mindset of someone struggling with school issues of all kinds and you'll start to get a feel for their concerns and worries.
3. Restore your focus
Once you've started to understand the general feelings of your readers, allow your mind to focus back on your original topic of Study Skills. From your new perspective, what questions would you ask? What would you want to know? Is this really a "Studying" issue or is it more about Time Management or being able to work without distractions or being paralyzed by the fear of not doing well?
4. Be your audience
Write each question on a separate sheet of paper; don't stop until you have at least ten and preferably more. Stay in the mindset of your readers until you feel you've asked every major question that concerns them.
5. Take a step back
Put your pile of question aside for a few hours, overnight if possible. Don't consciously think about them; just go about your day as usual. Give your subconscious time to process them without any further prompting from you. If new questions come to mind jot them down somewhere safe and then forget about them.
6. Get out your pen and write
When you're ready, sit down with your pages of questions and simply start to answer them. Writing your answers by hand can give you access to ideas that might be missed if you type them. Don't edit yourself at this stage. Using Speech to Text software or a digital recorder can also be helpful in bypassing the internal editor.
Imagine someone sitting in front of you asking for advice and just talk to them. Keep your tone natural and conversational and stay with the question-and-answer format.
7. Edit lightly
Trust your first instincts. Proof-read and correct any obvious errors, but don't do any major editing until your piece has had time to "sit" for a while. Again, leaving it overnight will give you a fresh perspective the next time you look at it, but even if your deadline doesn't allow for that it's important to give yourself a break from it.
When you're pushed for time, writing several articles at one sitting can create enough change of focus to make you "forget" the one you've just written.
8. Polish it up
Short articles are unlikely to need major editing if you've written them as described here. They will flow easily and naturally already and having each Q & A on a separate sheet makes it easier to select only the ones you want. Your job now is to put them in a reasonably logical sequence and make sure they're understandable and that the reader is led smoothly from one question and answer to the next.
9. Top and tail it
Write a brief introductory paragraph as a "teaser" for the main article. Many article directories now put the first paragraph of each piece into RSS feeds which are picked up by other websites, so you'll want to make sure that your two or three major keywords appear at least once in that first paragraph.
Write another short paragraph to summarize the major points of the article and provide some ideas for the reader to explore the subject further. Don't of course forget your own resource box: use the format [a href="http://www.yourwebsite.com"]Your Website Name[/a] (replace the square brackets with angle brackets) for your link, so when your article is converted to html your link will automatically be live.
10. Submit it!
This can often be the most tedious part of the exercise - distributing your article to interested directories and special interest groups. To do this manually can take many hours. If you intend to do your own distribution, focus on the major article directories to make best use of the time you have available. Alternatively, obtain a copy of submission software, such as Article Submitter Pro, which will partially automate the procedure. The most cost and time effective way is probably to use an article submission service, such as Article Marketer, who will distribute the article for you for a small fee.
Ivan Kelly managed a Direct Mail business with extensive mailing lists for ten years and has designed and promoted many websites. He also provides quality f'ree courses on key internet marketing subjects. A list of these f'ree courses is available at: http://www.WebStartAdvisor.com/info.html