I've read three or four books so far on content, blogging for profit and SEO optimization. So, I think I get the core concepts.
In addition to building out the content for my blog, I understand that I need to also work on my off-page SEO efforts. Thus I intend to focus on article writing and eventually forum posting (in combination with other things) to start generating backlinks from PR3+ sites.
I tried out Article Marketing Robot and can see how it could save me a lot of time if I filtered out the broken/down/irrelevant directories that aren't around or won't accept my submissions. I've read about other article submission software and I've decided that I just can't get on board with paying any amount of money for something that (at least for now) I can do on my own.
Which finally leads me to my question for y'all: what is the best way for me to start manually a) finding and b) tracking article submission sites that I can manually submit my articles to? I'm just not content paying money until I try the hard way first. I tried searching for "article directories," "article submission spreadsheet" and the like on here and couldn't quite find what I was looking for.