Small business owners would do well to consider writing an article a week about the solutions offered when clients do business with you. These may be published at no cost by online article syndicates, and each will have a link back to your website. Having outside links TO your site is one of the keys to improving search engine ranking.
Important: Write from a neutral point of view. You are not selling your product or service; you are selling your reputation as an expert. Do not include any pricing or offers. Write as if you were explaining something to your neighbor or someone who would never ever become your customer.
Years ago I had cartoons published in various business newsletters, and sometimes the tough part was coming up with ideas. I developed a system that worked beautifully. Instead of taking 8 hours to come up with a humorous situation and then 4 hours to draw the cartoon, I was able to get several concepts in 10 minutes, and do 2-3 cartoons in 8 hours total. Here's my system with a twist for article writing, and it works.
Do this exercise and fill in the blanks. You know _____ when _____. The first blank is a problem and the second blank is the reason or result of the problem. It's easy to come up with an idea-a-minute instead of spending late nights in tears with writer's block. Do half a dozen and then pick the best one to write your article.
You know your customers will go away when you forget to say thank you.
Next, for the outline of the article, I use a 3-step rough layout that takes the reader to the happy ending in a logical order. The skeleton can be simple phrases without complete sentences and just enough to keep your thought process on track as you work through the article.
Situation (one liner from fill in the blanks above)
Action (solution to solving the problem)
Results (describe the outcome and include stats if appropriate)
Articles need to be 500-1500 words to meet minimum requirements for article directories, so you can submit them there. I went from 150 sites linked to me in Google to 650 in less than 3 weeks. That's awesome results just writing an article a week. In NotePad 500 words is at least a full screen page and a half, so 2 full screens would be best to get closer to 750-1000 words.
Make sure to grab the reader's attention in the first line and paragraph with a "hook" (problem) that they may have experienced.
Take the one liner and expand on it to explain what could happen and why.
State the solution with action words to describe your advice to the reader.
This is really the conclusion, or outcome. People love statistics, so if you can add numbers or percentages as examples of how your advice helped someone else, all the better.
Once you have the article written, leave it for a day, and return to see if it still reads well. Before submitting to directories, you need to create a title, introduction, resource box, and list of keywords. For the title, use action words to excite the reader, and keep it short. For the intro, select a line or two from the article that will increase interest. Your resource box is the equivalent of "About the Author" and should include your company, web address, and general description of what you do.
Finally, to get published, search Google for "article directories" and you will find 1000's that will consider your articles. Submit one article a week to each of 50-100 directories, and watch your search engine ranking improve.