One of the easiest ways to advertise your business for free is to write articles for your local newspaper or industry trade magazines.That’s right. You can write one article for your local newspaper or an industry trade magazine and sometimes even get paid while advertising your business.How does that work? Trade magazines are hungry for articles as are your local newspaper, but be careful about how you approach it.Newspapers publish opinion pieces in every issue. These are called op-ed, short for opposite editorial, and they usually appear on the page opposite the editorial page. Most newspapers will pay you to publish these.Here are a few tips for getting published in your local newspaper:First, pick a topic. Preferably, the topic should be related to some aspect of your industry, but it doesn’t have to be. It does need to be something you have some knowledge about and it should be something that affects a large segment of the population, or at least a specific segment that reads the newspaper.A good example of this is an automotive shop that regularly performs emissions testing. If you live in a place where automobile emissions testing is mandatory then your topic will be of interest to everyone.Secondly, write down everything you know about the topic in one-sentence bullet statements. Then, put all statements that relate to each other together in one category.After you have done that, pick one category with several bullet statements of your knowledge and write a first draft of your article. It is always best to write about something specific. For instance, if a proposed law will require certain types of automobiles to be exempt from emissions testing then write about that topic rather than emissions testing in general. Pro and con articles are easy to write and make very popular op-ed articles.Once you have written a first draft, go back and read your article again. Does it stay on track? Did you include too much information or too little? Does it ramble or make specific points in a logical, coherent way? Next, rewrite the article to make it more readable and concise.Newspaper editors look for pieces that are well-written and address a particular topic that is relevant in such a way that it provokes thought and public discussion. If you do not consider yourself a writer you may hire someone to write the article for you and put your name on it. You can pay a freelance writer half, seventy-five percent or even the full one-hundred percent of your pay for writing the article and get free publicity for your business.The free publicity comes in when you write your bio. At the end of the article, the newspaper will publish a bio of the person who wrote the article. In this case, that will be you, even if you hire someone to write it for you. In the bio, mention that you own, or manage, XYZ Business. Be careful that you do not represent yourself; if you are not the owner, don’t claim to be. But be specific about your role within the company.You can do the same thing in a trade magazine article. In fact, you can take an op-ed article you had published in your local paper and send it to your industry trade magazine. But before you do, rewrite it so that it is written for a professional audience instead of a general audience. Car owners and automotive shop professionals will be interested in different aspects of the same topic. But they will both be interested in the topic.Trade magazines generally do not pay for articles but you will get a lot of exposure. In some cases, you’ll get more exposure than from your local newspaper.As you write your bio for the trade magazine, keep in mind that you are writing to other professionals in the same industry. If you offer a service for professionals in that industry, be sure to mention that in your bio.One word of caution, however: Keep your bio short and include only the most important, and specific, information.