I have been a freelance writer for 4 years (or just under), and I can safely say there is a LOT to learn from writing.
I also decided to check out my competition when I was running my writing business. Companies offering a PLR SEO optimized article (500 words) for $5? Bull.
I ordered one, gave them a topic and 4 days later received what I can only describe as crap from my garden. Absolute trash.
They had essentially span an article using software, and then manually recorrected 80% of the errors. Yes, 80%. There were stupid grammatical errors that even somebody learning English would be able to spot, so I stuck with my own business.
When it came to SEO, it was traditionally stuffed. Imagine a Christmas Turkey (or Thanksgiving), now imagine that's rammed full of very bad tasting herbs. That's essentially what I was looking at, metaphorically speaking of course.
They had simply copied a single phrase (for examples sake, I'll use "Alertpay to Paypal conversion), and had placed it every 5 lines down the article. Regardless of whether it made sense of not, it was there.
So I advise that if you know English at an okay level (fluent is better!), stick to writing yourself. You'll save a ton of $$$ in the long run, improve your English ten fold and join the few people who offer a great service.
So Jamie, why isn't my article writing working?
The key to article writing is effeciency and stucture. If you're writing about a topic you know well, the content isn't an issue. You have the idea, and you just want to dive in.
Before you begin writing, go a quick search over at the Google Keyword Tool. If you haven't used it before, get used to it. It will help you a great deal, and always will!
Now, the best way to generate real traffic from article directory listings is not through the link juice. It helps, but it's not what you want primarily.
The key is HUMAN traffic. No good ever came from a bot reading your posts. They can't add their opinion, click your ads or go through to your affliate links. Sure they can rank you up, but interaction is a great way to generate income.
After using the Google Keyword Tool, start writing your article.
Let's take this for example:
Using the phrase I gave earlier on (Alertpay to Paypal conversion), I'll do a quick Keyword search to find out which term has low competition and good search volume. Here are the results:
As you can see, I have put a red box around the best keyword phrase to use.
Our original phrase alertpay to paypal conversion had so little searches that nothing came up.
as you can see from the red box, Paypal to alertpay has 18k monthly searches, and [i]low[/b] competition.
If I had written the article on Alertpay to paypal conversion, it may have been a perfect article and accepted to top directories, but it wouldn't have bought in any human traffic. Bots will pick it up and index your site along with the article, but nothing human based will be gained.
After you've writing your article, re-read it through and make sure you've included the main keyword phrase (paypal to alertpay) 3 to 4 times. Do not keyword stuff.
Remember to research everything you need before hand. If you can't read it, nobody else can. It must be readable, quality and best of all, SEO optimised.
Enjoy your new reign over your niches!