Article marketing is a long term marketing strategy that helps position you as an expert in your niche and generate more traffic to your website. There are a number of guidelines to follow when writing and submitting articles, and although it is not difficult, it is a multi-step process and having a checklist in place is a helpful tool.

Here is your 'getting started' checklist to help you prepare to market your articles:

[ ] Create your author resource box of about 50 words in length. This is what will appear at the end of your articles stating who you are, what you do, the service or product and benefits you provide and a call to action inviting the reader to your website to sign up for your free report, newsletter or other offering. The resource box should be written in third person.

[ ] Create your author bio of up to about 150 words in length. Some of the article directories require a bio in addition to a resource box. Your bio will be based on your skills, experience and achievements and should also be written in third person.

[ ] Choose an author image that you will upload when creating your profiles. Most article directories will ask for one. Your photo will help people connect with you and should be professional looking.

[ ] Create a list of directories you are going to submit to. Start small with about 3 directories. Try EzineArticles, Article Dashboard, and GoArticles to start. You can add more later. Just Google “article submission directory” to find more sites.

[ ] Sign up for accounts with these directories and record the Name of the directory, Login URL, User Name, Password and any specific guidelines. For example one site only allows articles with a minimum of 500 words.

[ ] Create an Article Marketing Tracking document in the form of a spreadsheet to track the above directory information, articles submitted and dates submitted.

[ ] Create an Article Template for your writing. Article directories work best with text based articles. Just use plain text, no formatting, no tables etc. by creating and saving your articles in Notepad or another text based editor. Within each file include the Title, Category, Word Count, Key Words and Summary. You will need to enter this information with each article submission.

[ ] Decide on topics based on your market & your expertise and create an ideas file.

[ ] Write your first 400 - 700 word article and start submitting!

Most of the above steps are to be set up once and left. When you have everything in place, make sure you write and submit your articles regularly. If you write an ezine or newsletter you can repurpose these works. Once your subscribers have received their copy, start submitting to the article directories. You can also rework chapters of a book or ebook you have written into shorter articles.

If the above sounds like a great marketing tactic but you lack the time, consider hiring a Virtual Assistant to set you up with the accounts, edit your writing and submit your articles. All you need to do is provide the content and watch your website's placement in the search results increase.

Author's Bio: 

As a Business Support Specialist, Jennifer Hazlett provides offsite administrative help from her home based office to business owners with a multitude of office management and technical tasks, giving clients the expertise they need and more time to focus on growing their business. Sign up at Jennifer's website, Alternate Admin for your complimentary report "101 Ways to Boost Business with a Virtual Assistant".