Writing articles and submitting them to ezine publishers and webmasters for reprint has proven to be my number one business marketing tactic. And it costs nothing except my time!
Granted, I'm a professional writer who has been writing for nearly 20 years. I've been published in a number of print magazines and newspapers, and have been paid well for my writing. But you don't have to be a professional to write for the Web!
Writing for the Internet is much more casual and less rigid than writing for print. Most anyone with a basic understanding of English can craft helpful, readable content for use in ezines and on Websites. Here are some things to keep in mind as you do so...
1. Keep your sentences and paragraphs short. Readers, especially online, like small "bytes" of information. Don't "choke" them with too much at once.
2. Don't fill your page too full, either. White space makes for a visually short, quick read and time is certainly a high-priced commodity in today's world. Someone scanning the page to decide if it's worth his/her time will be much more likely to read your article if s/he sees plenty of white space surrounding the words.
3. Bulleted paragraphs provide a quick outline that will attract the reader's eye to the most important points you want to make. Bullet points are also easy to scan and make for quick reading by breaking up the copy in smaller pieces.
4. Numbering your paragraphs is another way to break up the page. Be sure you number your paragraphs when your title demands it, as in "10 Tips for Writing Better Articles."
5. Proofread carefully! This is crucial when writing anything - for online publishing or print. As a novice writer, no one expects you to know the proper placement of every comma (few professionals would), but you ARE expected to do your best to eliminate spelling errors and blatant mistakes in your writing.
6. Don't overdo the punctuation. It's better to use too few exclamation marks (!), asterisks (*) or UPPERCASE letters than to use too many. Let the strength of your statements be in the words you choose.
7. Decide what you want to say BEFORE you start to write! I've found myself many times writing an article with no idea of how it should end, only to write a full page and give up in frustration because I didn't know what I wanted to say. Don't waste your time sitting down to write until you know what where your writing is headed.
8. With that said, keep in mind the well-known maxim about making a speech that says, "Tell them what you're going to tell them; Tell them; Tell them what you told them." The same format works well for an article.
Give a short summary of what the article is about; give the "meat" of the article, then recap the main points for emphasis. You'll have a concise, well-targeted read that focuses on what you intended to say.
9. Along the same lines, stick to your topic throughout your article. Don't try to write about more than one thing in one article. Stay on target and save the off-topic information for the next time.
10. Don't talk down to your readers! Share the information or tips you know, and share them well. But do so without giving the impression that you believe yourself to be an expert on the subject. Allow your readers to make that judgment for themselves. If what you've written is worthwhile, they'll appreciate your honesty and humility, and will eagerly await your next article.
Writing for the Internet is different than writing for print, but it needn't be more difficult. And it's a tremendous tool for increasing exposure for your Website or products online.