You know you need articles to promote your online business across the Internet-whether doing it on your own or with some help from a web design agency, and to establish yourself as an authority in your niche. But suppose you have never written an article before and don’t know how to start?

You could hire a ghostwriter. But ghostwriters charge for their services. Given that you need to produce a large number of articles to have any effect, this would really eat into your profits. So why not learn to do it yourself? It is really not as hard as you think.

Get Started Writing Articles

There are few things worse than sitting staring at a blank sheet of paper. So don’t do that. Just start. First, jot down as many topics as you can think that people want to know about in relation to your niche. For instance, if it is about growing roses, it could be planting, mulching, what varieties of rose to choose, pruning, protecting from pests, and so on. But don’t give people what you think they ought to know; give them what you know they want to know. Go to forums on your topic and sites like Yahoo Answers to find out what questions people have. Make a list of topics, choose one, and start writing.

Yes, just start. At this stage it doesn’t matter what you write — just write anything that comes into your head, even if it seems like rubbish. Just write. If you need more information, go to books on your topic, and articles on relevant websites. Never copy what anyone else has written, but it will get your ideas flowing. Just keep writing. Do it on paper or on the computer, whichever makes you feel more comfortable.

When you have scribbled down as much as you can think of, have a break – take the dog for a walk, or water the roses. That really gets your subconscious working. Then you can start to write up the article.

Get It Down

You won’t need telling that an article must have a beginning, a middle, and an end. But you would be strongly advised not to start with the beginning. The beginning needs to be an attention grabber and you will just sit chewing your pen or gazing into space. Start with the body of the article.

Imagine you are writing a letter to a friend who has written with the find a cleaning service to ask you why her roses won’t grow properly (or whatever the problem might be). She is a newbie rose-grower so you need to be simple and clear. But she is also a friend so you want to be chatty, friendly, and personal. If you can imagine a particular person you know, so much the better. Write to that person. Keep that person – that is, your reader – in mind all the time. Keep using “you”.

If you have a list of tips, don’t be afraid to make them into a bullet list. Check out Of course, you probably wouldn’t do this in a real letter to a friend, but it’s an unbeatable way to get your points across clearly. Plus, directory and eZine editors love them.

Your mythical (or possibly real) friend will almost certainly be very upset and frustrated at his/her lack of success at rose-growing, or whatever it is. Remember that people will be reading your article because they have the same problem, and they are likely to be upset and frustrated too. So show that you understand. Write as someone who has been there, though do avoid using the pronoun “I” as much as possible.

It won’t take you long to write a page along these lines. When you’ve written a page, do a word count. You will almost certainly find you have 400-500 words which is quite enough.

Now you can write your opener. It will be much easier to write an opening sentence once you have written the body of the article. But always bear in mind that it needs to be an attention grabber.

By all means start off with a question. But don’t make it a boring one like “Have you ever wondered why so many people find rose-growing difficult?” Would this grab your attention? Your readers are not interested in other people’s problems; they are interested in their own! So make sure you come up with an opener that gives your reader that “Wow! This is about me!” feeling. If you can generate a rush of excitement, so much the better. “At last! The answer I’ve been looking for!” Get straight to the point – never, whatever you do, indulge in opening waffle.

The ending is as important as the beginning, because it determines the impression the article makes. You can write the greatest article, but if it fizzles out at the end, your reader will be dissatisfied and your effort will be wasted.

Find a sentence that will pithily sum up what you have said, and reinforce that it will work. (Do not on any account use any phrase like “in summary” or “in conclusion”.) Something like “Follow these steps and your roses will be the best on the block – guaranteed!” will do.

Get A Title

You are usually best leaving the title till last. There is no need to think you have to be terribly clever – and never use puns. Just make sure your title makes it clear what problem your article solves or what benefits it contains. And don’t forget numbers are always very popular in titles. If you have bullet points or a numbered list, put the number of points in your title: “Seven Tips to Supercharge Your Roses”.

Get It Out

You have wasted all this effort if nobody can see your article. Put it on your site and submit to as many directories and eZines as you can. And then start again – the more the better!