Writing articles is a great way to bring free traffic to your website or new subscribers to your newsletter with only a little work each month. Spending the time to sit down and write useful content can be hard work but it should pay off in the free promotion you get as a result.
Website and newsletter publishers are in constant need of fresh, new content, and you can be the one to provide it! It is surprising how few authors there really are out there considering most people know enough to write articles on subjects they know. It just requires a little planning and work.
Each article you write that gets published is like a huge advertisement for both yourself and your website or newsletter. Each one you create includes a few lines at the end called your bylines or an "about the author" section which both advertise you and anything else you want to mention. This builds free traffic for your website and builds your credibility! If people see your name a few times, or if you write an especially good article, you can become an expert overnight! At least, in their eyes.
So how do you go about writing articles for websites and newsletters?
PLAN YOUR ARTICLE
Start by deciding what it is you're going to write about. Choose a topic you know enough about to write about, there's a demand for content in almost any imaginable subject. How-to articles or articles which teach people how to do something that will help them in some way work great.
Plan what you're going to write. Once you've chosen a topic for your article, think of a title. Make it catchy, like a headline, but refrain from making it sound like an ad. Then, make a list or an outline of some sort. Not only will it help you to divide your article into logical sections, but your readers will appreciate being able to take in your information one chunk at a time.
List key points you want to cover in each section of your article. This should help you get thinking about what exactly you're going to write and get those "creative juices" going. It'll also let you know what you need to go research, if there's something you should cover but don't know quite enough about.
WRITE YOUR ARTICLE
Sit down and start writing, one section at a time. You should probably not have more than 4 or 5 sections to your article (like the "Write Your Article" section you're reading). Once you've finished writing one, move on to the next. This way you can take breaks between sections without losing track of where you were writing, and your article will stay neatly organized.
Once you've finished, set your content aside for a few hours. Return to it later, or even the next day, and reread what you've written. Expand, change your wording until it sounds its best, and eliminate run-on sentences and other grammar problems. Once you're finished and you feel your writing is at its best, run it through a spellchecker just to be sure.
Now that you're completely finished, be sure to write your 3-5 line "About the Author" section to tack on to the end of your article. This is the reward for all the hard work! Mention anything you want about yourself, but it's good to at least include your email address and website URL.
Now it's time to start sending your article to those publishers who are dying for your fresh, new content! So how do you find them, and get your article to them? There are several ways.
First, publish your work to free content mailing lists where publishers subscribe for the sole reason of receiving content. Here are a few which you can post to (these are subscribe addresses, please read their posting rules prior to posting):
There are many other free content lists and websites out there. Search around and you should find more to post your articles too, including ones dedicated to specific topics which may be more relevant for your article.
Once you've posted your article to the free content mailing lists, you need to start contacting individual publishers. Start making a list of newsletters and other publications which will accept your articles by contacting each one. It will require a little work, but many even provide an address for article submissions. Ask each if they will accept article submissions from you, what address to send them to, and be sure to allow them to remove themselves from your list if they ever want to. Build up a list of publishers over time and send your articles to them each time you write a new one.
Write articles on a consistent basis (monthly works best for most people), keep the quality of your writing up, and you should have no problem obtaining substantial free traffic from your work. Good luck!