I constantly track and measure results of any marketing tactic, and hope that you do, too.
I’ve found that writing articles is one tactic that beats Google AdWords anytime. In fact, this blog and the articles I’ve written for SitePoint have generated more traffic to my site than my investment in Google over the same time frame. That’s the equivalent of $1,500 or so.
Plus people who read my articles are more likely to buy my books and services than people who respond to Google. That’s because they know me from content that an objective third-party has agreed to publish, not from an advertisement.
If you think of your Web design or development business as a professional practice, then you should also try to write articles. If you focus on a target market, this task will be easier because you can get into targeted publications that other designers/developers don’t know about. Also, you will be able to tailor your writing to your niche market, and get better response.
The key to articles is to provide tips and information, not to make a sales pitch. Then be patient and keep at it, as people will eventually come to you for more information.
Be sure to have a way to follow up with people, for instance with a newsletter that offers to provide similar information to what you offer in your articles.
Please post examples of your success (or not) writing articles, or even serving as a columnist….If you have no examples, then consider adding writing to your marketing arsenal.