This is part 2 of my article marketing series. Click here for part 1 on article marketing.

While you can use article marketing strictly as a way of getting traffic directly to an affiliate link, that generally isn’t the best use. Many article directories don’t allow affiliate links in articles, so you would eliminate some of your distribution. And, if you’re going to the trouble of writing articles in the first place, why put all that SEO effort into someone else’s website?

So before you can get started with writing articles, you need a website to promote. I recommend you have a domain name, even if you’re using a free web host such as JustFree.com. That way, any link building your do is for your domain name, which allows you to switch hosts without sacrificing the benefits of articles you’ve already written.

You may be trying to promote an existing website, such as a blog. If so, you’re ready to start writing. But if you’re trying to use article marketing to promote sales through affiliate links (otherwise known as the Bum Marketing method), then you need to do a little work.

As I mentioned above, it isn’t a good idea to link directly to your affiliate link. Instead, create a website that you can point to in your article. This website could be a simple landing page, or a mini-site. The object is to take traffic to this website and convert it into clicks on your affiliate links.

The best site to create is one that provides value to the visitor. A blatant sales page will not help your efforts. Provide useful information, and also link to what you want them to buy in an appropriate way. If you’re trying to sell a particular product, consider selling some of its competitors, too. Then make your site a comparison site. These generally do quite well, since you’re providing your visitors with a comparison of benefits between the products and helping them to decide to buy one of them. You don’t care which one, since you’ll get a commission on all of them.

You can use WordPress to actually create the site. Simply use a page as your front page, and create only pages. In the sidebar you can list pages in whatever categories you want. WordPress is my favorite way of creating mini-sites.

You can also use Squidoo to create a simple landing page for free. For someone just starting out who doesn’t have a website yet, this may be an ideal option.

If you have your own domain name and web hosting, but for some reason do not want to use WordPress, you’re back to writing HTML. You can get a leg up on that chore by using a free website builder. This is basically just a custom version of NVU that comes with a bunch of page templates you can load and fill in the blanks to create a landing page.

If you want something that truly stands out, you can outsource the initial creation of your site. Workaholics4Hire.com is a professional service that will create a custom template, install appropriate pugins, and generally make the blog exactly the way you want it, leaving it ready for you to add content. You can also find freelancers yourself on various forums, like the Digital Point forums.

Now that we have a site, we’re ready to start writing. In part 3, we’ll see how to write an article about absolutely anything, even if you know nothing about the topic.

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