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The Fastest, Easiest Way To Write Your First Article…Starting From Square One
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Originally uploaded by Jon_Marshall

I can totally understand that when folks first get the idea to do article marketing that initially there is a “deer in the headlights” sort of feeling of:

“Oh no–now I’m supposed to write articles. Where do I even start?”

A lot of folks just aren’t used to writing–after all, when is the last time you were required to write a professional sounding article?

Depending on what type of work you do, you may not have had any reason to write anything of any length since leaving school.

I even have a background in English and knew I would love writing articles once I got the hang of it, but when I first started article marketing I did have an adjustment period where I was trying to get into the article writing groove.

So, if you’re considering starting article marketing or if you’ve already started and are still trying to get your sea legs, please know that what you’re experiencing is normal–any time we start doing something we’re not used to doing it’s a bit awkward at first! :-)

You can rest easy that writing an article is not brain surgery–it is very simple when you break it down into steps, which is what I’m going to do for you. If you follow these basic steps, you will be well on your way to writing a very respectable first article!

A little warning though–this is by no means the “definitive” way to write an article–I just think this is a very easy way to get started writing your first article. (I also follow this method even though I’ve written tons of articles).

Here we go…

1) Determine your article topic.

I know, this is the spot that stops lots of folks dead in their tracks! :-) The problem is that there are so many potential topics out there related to your niche that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the options.

I’m going to make it easy for you. I’m going to tell you what to write about for your first article. Here’s what I want you to write about:

What is the one question that your customers/potential customers ask you most frequently?

No matter what your business is, you will have an answer to this question. Whether your business is selling garden hoses, designing wedding gowns, or being a lawyer, you have an answer to that question.

Don’t over think it–there may be millions of top questions that pop into your head, but just pick one question (or one topic) that folks routinely ask you about in relation to your field of business.

What your target customers are asking is a HUGE insight into the types of articles you should be writing.

2) Think of a working title.

This does not have to be your final title, so there’s no pressure. Just come up with a title, and remember that your title should give some indication of what your article is about.

I know that sometimes the sheer overload of options is what stops us cold when we’re trying to be creative, so I’ll give you a guideline for writing this article title:

Let’s make this a “list” article (articles that have numerical lists in them are HOT).

Narrowing it down even further, let’s make this a “Top 5″ list article.

So, try making your title something like this, “Top 5 [insert solution to your customer's top question]“

For example, let’s say you’re a wedding dress designer, and your customer’s top question is “How do I know what style of wedding dress to get?”

The wedding dress designer’s title would be, “The Top 5 Ways to Tell What Wedding Dress is Right for You”

An interior designer’s title may be, “The Top 5 Secrets for Creating a Beach House Look (Even If You Don’t Live at the Beach!)”

You get the idea–use your customer’s frequently asked question to make a title that incorporates the words “Top 5″.

(And yes, I write my titles first before even writing one word of the article–you’ll see why in a bit…)

3) Write down some notes on what you’ll cover in your article.

See, we haven’t started writing the article yet, but we’re doing the prep work.

You’ve got a title that gives you some guidelines of what you’ll write about–you’re going to be answering a certain question that is popular with your customers, and you will be breaking your answer down into 5 parts (that’s where the “Top 5″ part comes in).

We are still brainstorming and taking notes here–what are the 5 key points you want to make in your article to answer your customer’s main question?

Here’s a tip–if you’re coming up with more than 5 key points, scale it back to just 5.

This is a big lesson with article marketing–you may not be able to tell every last thing in your article because of your word count limitations. It is just fine to make a judgement call and pick the Top 5 and leave some points out (you can cover those points in another article!).

If you can only come up with 4 points–stretch it and come up with one more to make it 5.

Why?

For some reason “Top 4″ lists are not that captivating :-) –whenever you’re doing a list, try to find a way to make it a “Top 5″ rather than a “Top 4″ list.

Really, if you dig down deep you will probably be able to come up with one more point so that you can round it out to 5, but if you can’t think of anything and you’ve totally wracked your brain, then scale it back to “Top 3″.

Yeah, I know that’s weird–for some reason readers latch on to Top 5, Top 7, Top 9, Top 10 and Top 3, but other numbers are just not as compelling.

Also, as you’re making your notes, remember that you have limited space in your article. At the very least, your article must be 400 words and at the most it can be 1500 words. Ideally though, your articles would be 700-800 words.

So, as you’re making your notes, make them short and sweet and don’t try to take on too much.

4) Start with the body of your article, rather than the intro.

Your article will be made up of 3 basic parts–

*Your introductory paragraph

*Your article body (this is where you do your main explaining and teaching)

*Your closing paragraph

As I said earlier, this is just my way of doing things, and I’ve found it to be the fastest and easiest.

Some folks may start at the very beginning with their introductory paragraph, but I don’t–I start with my article body. I think of this as “focusing on the steak and not the peas”. I have found that after I write the article body that it is sooooo much easier to write the intro and closing paragraphs.

5) Take the 5 steps that you outlined in your notes, and flesh them out.

You are writing your article first draft now, and I would like to suggest that you explain each of your 5 points as briefly as you can, with one short paragraph for each of the 5 key points.

6) Write your intro and closing paragraphs.

I always keep these short and sweet–just 1-3 sentences as a summary of what is to come (in the intro) and 1-3 sentences as a wrap up (in the closing).

With the intro you want to tell the reader a summary of what you’ll be telling them in your article. As an example, here is an intro of mine from a recent article submission:

“When you’re doing article marketing I know it’s easy to get completely stumped on what to write about, but this article will teach you 7 ways to generate interesting article topics that your readers want to read about, and publishers want to publish! (And that’s the idea, right?)”

That is 48 words, and it was my intro paragraph. (By the way, when you’re submitting an article they always ask you for an “article summary” and I just use my opening paragraph as the summary–that keeps things simple!)

And this was my closing paragraph:

“Have you got any ideas for new articles yet? Yes, you probably have at least a dozen or more new article topics in mind by now! These 7 article topic tips can be used over and over–there is no end to the number of great, thoughtful, sticky articles you can write if you use these 7 tips.

Now you’ve got no excuses–you’re ready to start writing articles TODAY!”

And that closing paragraph was just 70 words. You see what I’m saying–when you’re writing an article for online marketing you do not have to make it like a term paper :-) –this is not a doctoral thesis.

You want to be educational, but not encyclopedic.

Remember, you have limited space, and your target readers have limited time and attention spans for reading an extremely involved article.

The idea is to make your articles valuable, helpful and educational, but think of each article as being a bite sized morsel that can be easily consumed. (By bite sized, I mean ideally 700-800 words long).

7) Do a word count.

When you’re finished with the first draft of your article, use the word count feature that is available in most word processing programs.

Is your article long enough (at least 400 words)?

Is it too long (over 1500 words)?

Are you aiming for the sweet spot of 700-800 words?

If you find that you are way over or way under on your word counts, now is the time to do some tweaking–either edit down or elaborate.

For those of us who love to write and explain things in detail, we need to exercise some restraint and edit our articles until we are within the word count limits. Yes, this may mean cutting some sentences or re-phrasing things so that fewer words are used.

If you’re on the short side with words, then you need to wax poetic and elaborate some of your points. This doesn’t mean putting in filler sentences or saying the same thing over and over–it means adding more value to the article, more genuine information.

8 ) When you have your first draft done, put it aside and take a nap.

Okay, you don’t have to take a nap :-) , but just get away from the article.

Put it aside for at least 24 hours and then review it again. You’ll be surprised at the typos and spelling and grammar errors that will jump off the page when you look at it with fresh eyes.

Run it through your spell checker and grammar checker. Review your article thoroughly to be sure its just the way you want it, and then…..

9) Submit it!

If you’re using SubmitYOURArticle.com to get your article out bunches of publishers with the click of a button, then you’ll follow these steps.

If you’re not a member yet and would like to join, we’d be happy to welcome you–you can sign up here.


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23 Responses to “The Fastest, Easiest Way To Write Your First Article…Starting From Square One”

  1. Myaboutall says:

    I like the “Top 5″ tips. I will use it.

  2. Excellent article! I’m sooo guilty of not thinking I can write, but I can take a “written” article and change it so that I’m usually happy with it. That tells me I should be able to write it completely if I use the tips you published.

    Thanks!

  3. Richard says:

    Great article. Interesting that top 4 does not attract as much attention as top 3 or top 5.

  4. Christine says:

    I have been procrastinating about writing articles. This article will definitely get me back on track.

    Thanks,

    Christine

    http://www.mastersglassart.com

  5. Frank Lee says:

    Easy to understand and follow. Most importantly it is doable. Very informative. Keep them coming. Thank you!

    leefrank

  6. Charles says:

    Your articles are superb and Have “fallen in love ” with them. I started writing my own articles on profitable home based business. Keep up the good work!

    Thanks .

  7. Marvin says:

    Thanks for sharing this awesome information. i will take your advice…..

  8. Delords says:

    Great Lessons from the pro

    Thanks for sharing,really educative.

  9. Jennifer says:

    Don’t own a business – just attempting to “open-up my eyes- and have a sense of needing to re-adjust them -because, the dreams of my heart have become real.” However, no such, blessing. Still, looking for work writing. But, I wanted to thank-you for responding back. God Bless!
    Have a wonderful day!

  10. Alan Buck says:

    Steve:

    I already use all the steps outlined here. My problem is drifting away from one point and into another, or ending up with a whole new topic by the time I’m done.

    What I really want to figure out is what type of content will bring the readers to my website and then convert them into buyers and also, do I really need to keep using different variations of saying the same thing over and over to please the search engine spiders?

    That seems to cheapen my underlying message and lead to “cheap pen tricks” to find your way to publication. Isn’t there any chance to salvage any artistry in free-lance journalism or through article-essay composition by creating the perfect picture using the written word?

    Sometimes I like to think of my communicating skills as an art-form that I can offer to my readership by translating it into a language of high-definition understanding. If I can do that, I can mesmerize the pickiest reader and keep him coming back for years and products to come.

  11. Steve Shaw says:

    Hi Alan,

    I love your comment–yes, I believe that there is an artistry to writing and that applies to writing that you do for Article Marketing as well.

    It’s a delicate balance–it is helpful to be aware of SEO type issues, like your keywords and how search engines work, but first and foremost we all need to remember that we are writing for a human audience and that the whole purpose of article marketing is to drive traffic to a website.

    As you say, the articles themselves can drive traffic if when someone reads them they are inspired to look to the author’s website for more information on that topic. You can only accomplish that by writing a well-written and thoughtful article.

    I think it’s an advanced method to be able to write eloquently for your human audience while also optimizing for search engines. The place to start is to learn to write quality articles for your target market–just by doing that an author will see rewards from search engines.

    You’ve brought up many thoughtful points–I’d like to bounce a post off of your questions, because I think that others probably have the same sorts of concerns and motivations.

    Thanks so much for your input…

  12. steve says:

    Well written with helpful tips, will try a start with the body, see if it does make it easyer.

  13. Eleanor says:

    Good day,
    Wonderful insight that I will incorporate into my article writing.
    Thanks, Eleanor

  14. Mandy Allen says:

    Thank you so much for this. I have never written an article but now feel I can have a go with a certain degree of confidence (and competance!)

    Enjoy the journey.

    Mandy Allen

  15. [...] The Fastest, Easiest Way To Write Your First Article…Starting From Square One – a step-by-step guide for writing an article, starting with coming up with a topic and ending and going through writing and submitting your article. [...]

  16. bet says:

    Thanks for wonderful article. I think I may get the hang of this article writing, now.

  17. chandan says:

    Hi Steve,

    What a nice article on article writing. Really enjoyed your article. I like to use “Top 7″ as I feel 7 is more attractive…

  18. Jack says:

    Thanks for the tips. I am just starting article marketing. Still have a lot to learn.

  19. mary says:

    Should I write for specific sites or write then find a place to publish?

  20. smartsexygirl says:

    What an informative article for newbie SEO article writer like me! Thanks Sir Steve!

  21. Prakash says:

    I need to write an article as part of the writing course I am doing. But I am not able to decide on a topic. Could you please suggest some general topics?

  22. Steve Shaw says:

    @Prakash:

    Hi Prakash,

    When you’re submitting articles for article marketing, you will always write on the same general topic as your website. However, it sounds like you’re not writing articles for that purpose–it sounds like you’re writing an article for your studies and to learn.

    In that case, and if you have no other direction from your teacher, you might choose a topic that you’re very familiar with and do an instructional article, teach the reader how to do something.

    I hope that helps!

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