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There's a How-to in You
by Jennifer Brown Banks
As a creative writing instructor, one of the most common complaints I get from scribes of all levels and backgrounds, is a lack of new ideas for generating marketable articles.
And lets face itno matter how well you write, a bout of writers block can definitely block your cash flow.
An often overlooked avenue for creating material is the ever popular how-to, also known as the service piece. Contrary to opinion, one does not have to be a designated expert in a chosen field, nor have initials behind a name to qualify. And I should know; Ive been producing how-tos for years, on everything from matters of the heart, to time management, to decorating, to getting the most from money. Once I even earned a cool forty bucks for an article on how-to tips for getting along with in-laws!
Consider this. We live in the information age, and peoples need-to-know has created tremendous opportunity for todays skilled writer. Like other businesses, its a simple law of supply and demand. Ehow.com, for instance, is a site totally dedicated to providing a wide range of instructional articles on everything under the sun for inquiring minds. They offer a writers compensation program that allows scribes to reap the rewards of their experience in the way of short tutorials.
Here are seven ways to cash in on this ever-growing market:
- Take inventory. What do you do better than the average Joe? Start with a hobby. Take into consideration the things that others often compliment you on too. Come on, dont be modest here. Make a list. Heres mine: time management, shopping and budgeting, business management, secrets of making a mean meat loaf, decorating on a dime, relationship wisdom.
- Dont stop there. Take a look at your survival skills as other areas of potential expertise. Have you survived unemployment? Managed a mid-life crisis? Gone back to college as an adult? Defied the odds of divorce? Dealt with interracial dating? Cared for an elderly parent or sick child? Been victorious over a bad boss? Chances are, others want to know your insiders tips, coping strategies, and the secrets to your success.
- Pare your list down to 2-3 viable topics worth exploring.
- Start writing. Then rewrite and flesh out ideas until you come up with something that fills a need and provides take away value for your readers. Think tips and tools.
- Make sure to break your ideas into logical, sequential order. Present your instructions as if you were telling a story.
- If possible use photos or illustrations as visual aids. As the expression goes A picture is worth a thousand words. One site to look into for an array of images is stockXchng.com.
- Provide additional resources or related links to reinforce your lessons.
By sharing what you know, youll greatly enhance the lives of others, and enhance your bottom line in the process. And youll also discover that everybodys an expert at something!
© Copyright 2008, Jennifer Brown Banks
Jennifer Brown Banks is the former senior editor of Mahogany Magazine. She holds a B.A. in Business Management and blogs at Penandprosper.blogspot.com
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