Writing Articles

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eHow is a site with instructional articles on everything from computers to gardening. eHow is owned by Demand Media, which also runs ExpertVillage and Answerbag.com

There are two types of content on eHow: articles written by eHow’s team of experts and those written by registered users. In the site’s early days, it dedicated the home page mostly to the expert articles, but now it’s building the home page according to articles’ traffic numbers.

Users can write and submit articles for free. Those who want to get paid for providing content must fill out a form at the site that includes some sensitive information (such as your SSN–for tax purposes, I’m assuming), so this alone deters a good number of people.

Once you submit an article, payment is determined both on a per-click basis and according to the ad revenue generated by that type of content.

Many writers see somewhere between $10 and $50 per article–or if your article’s a dud, you might get zilch. Those who submit more pieces have a better chance of seeing some income. And although eHow has buttons on the site to add an article to Digg and other such aggregators, most of their traffic comes from search engines.

Here are some tips for writing:

Write what you know. It may sound obvious, but stick with your strengths. Don’t write a piece on a hot topic you know nothing about to try to get clicks. The eHow editors and readers will know you’re bluffing.

Think outside the how-to box. Most users like to write articles in categories such as Food and Drink, Sports and Fitness, and so on. The sheer volume of articles in such categories, combined with the fact that these areas don’t “monetize” as well as others, puts you at a disadvantage. Categories such as Computers, Finance, Business, and Health tend to attract advertisers and Web surfers. Basically, these categories typically require a higher degree of expertise (any schmo can write a piece on how to cook a turkey or do push-ups). Special training, advanced degrees, or expert-level knowledge will set you apart from the fray.

Think like a freelance writer. Look for article opportunities in news, current events, changing seasons and holidays, and hot trends. Outwit your fellow writers by thinking ahead.

Follow the guidelines. Nothing annoys editors more than pieces that are submitted with no regard for guidelines. Follow the eHow template as closely as possible.

Make it short, but not too short. Five to seven steps is the usual, and unless you absolutely need more or less, try to stay within those boundaries.

Add photos. Many people are visual learners who also need images to clarify the instructions.

Write clear, engaging titles. This is where a little knowledge of search engine optimization (SEO) can come in handy. Make sure you have good keywords in your piece’s title, meaning the word(s) someone will search for when trying to find a how-to on that topic. Be direct and concise, not witty and punny.

Tell the whole story. Imagine following a recipe that stops just before telling you how long you need to cook the roast and at what temperature. Make sure you take the reader through the entire task, beginning to end.

As a way to contemporize eHow and hopefully garner even more readers, the site will introduce a social networking component soon.

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Written by domainbusiness

February 16, 2009 at 1:40 pm

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