Thursday, April 23, 2009

Article Marketing: 5 Steps To Writing A Killer 'How To' Article

by Steve Shaw

Educational articles should be your bread and butter when you're doing article marketing, so why not write a 'how to' article?

'How to' articles provide your readers with information they find valuable, help inspire customer confidence (if you're able to teach them something, obviously you know what you're talking about), and make for reader friendly content.

On top of all those perks, 'how to' articles are some of the easiest articles to write, but to get the most bang for your buck you need to keep a few guidelines in mind.

In order to write a 'how to' article that delivers on all of these perks, just follow these 5 simple steps:

1) What will you instruct readers how to do?

Whether you're a banker, a physical trainer, a landscape designer, or whatever, you have specialized knowledge that readers would like to learn.

When trying to decide what to write, think about questions that your customers routinely ask you--if customers are asking those questions, then it's a good sign that a topic will be useful to your target market.

2) What are the steps involved?

Write your steps down and then explain them.

Every 'how to' can be broken down into a series of steps. Before trying to write your article, it's often helpful to first jot down your steps in order.

I would encourage you, if at all possible, to write 'how to' articles that have 3, 5, 7, 9, or 10 steps. (This is for use later on in your title)

Why?

Well, a 'how to' article is a list article, meaning that the items in the article are numbered. For some reason, list articles that contain certain numbers are more popular than others. For example, a title like "How To Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets in 5 Easy Steps" sounds better than 4 steps.

3) Write a paragraph that introduces your 'how to' and also a paragraph that wraps up your article.

Once you have your steps in place, it may be tempting just to leave the article as it is, but you really need an introductory and concluding paragraph. In fact, some publishers will outright refuse an article that does not have an introductory paragraph. It doesn't have to be long--it could even be just a sentence or two that tells the reader what your topic is and gently leads them into the instructional part of your article.

The concluding paragraph is a wrap-up of the article and can be just a sentence or two as well. The concluding paragraph can also help transition into the resource box--it's nice to leave the reader with a final thought rather than just abruptly cutting off and then launching into your resource box (the author bio that sits below your article).

4) Put your steps in sequential order and number them.

To take full advantage of the perks of 'how to' articles, I encourage you to actually number all of your steps, putting 1, 2, 3, etc in front of each step. It is possible to have an instructional article without number each step, but numbering makes for easier reading and helps lead your audience through your article.

Spacing is also important--be sure that you have ample spacing in between your steps and in between paragraphs to make your article as reader friendly as possible. Break big paragraphs into several smaller ones, and your readers will appreciate it!

5) Create a title that reflects what you're teaching (and include the number of steps in the title if you like)

As always, your title should tell the reader what your article is about, and with a 'how to' article you have the opportunity to also capture a reader's eye by revealing in the title how many steps are in your tutorial.

For example, at title like "How to Groom Your Poodle Like a Pro in 7 Easy Steps" will convey to the reader:

*What you're teaching

*How involved the instructions are (7 steps)

*That the process is easy and you shouldn't be daunted ("easy steps")

Your title is the first thing that a reader will see. Your title will appear in search engine results and on article directory summary pages, and your title is what catches a reader's eye and makes them want to read your full article. You've taken a good bit of time to craft your article--take the final step and craft a thoughtful title.

And that's it!

'How to' articles are ideal for article marketing, especially when you optimize them by following the steps above. Now you're ready to start teaching your target market, giving them the valuable educational information that they're looking for.

About the Author

After you've written your 'How To' article you need to get your article to as many publishers as possible. Best bet is to use an article submission service - for more information on how to do this go to=> http://www.SubmitYOURArticle.com