A brand-new year is just around the corner. And though, here at ETR, we firmly believe that you can make major changes in your life at ANY time, January always feels like the perfect time to set some new goals for yourself.

We want to help you kick off the year right. So for the next 12 days, a dozen ETR experts will be suggesting specific resolutions that could make 2009 your happiest, most productive, healthiest, and most prosperous year yet.

To get the ball rolling, I have a simple one for you: Become a writer in 2009. And today, I’m going to explain why this should be on your list of resolutions for 2009 – and then show you a surprisingly easy way to accomplish that goal.

First things first. Writing can…

• Help you get your business off the ground. Writing an e-mail newsletter is an inexpensive way to market a fledgling business. Michael Masterson began Early to Rise with around $1,000, a simple website, and a newsletter. Originally, it was sent only to his friends and colleagues. But it grew. Now, ETR is a $26 million business with over 440,000 readers.

• Help you become wealthy. I’m not suggesting that you’ll be the next J.K. Rowling. Most fiction writers struggle to get published, let alone make a living. But copywriting is a career path that can really rack up the cash. Clayton Makepeace, Bob Bly, Paul Hollingshead, Don Mahoney – each one of these men makes hundreds of thousands of dollars each year by writing sales copy.

• Move you up to the top of your company. This is another way to make copywriting pay off for you. After all, as Michael Masterson has pointed out in ETR many times, the best way to get promoted is to get into the profit centers of your company. Writing copy that helps directly bring in money is one of the quickest ways to do it.

• Help you find a job – in any economy. A recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found that the number one thing employers look for in new employees is “communication skills.” And a 2006 survey of 431 human resource officials indicated that those skills aren’t easy to find. Forty-seven percent reported that their employees who were graduates of two-year colleges were deficient in written communications, and 81 percent reported that their high-school-graduate employees had the same deficiency.

So if you know how to write, you’ll give yourself a big lead over other people competing for the job you want. Not convinced? My ability to write is what got me a job at ETR – fresh out of grad school, with very little work experience. And it helped me become Managing Editor in six short months.

• Help your business grow. The more traffic you get to your website, the more chances you have to find paying customers. And filling your website with high-quality content is a great way to get Google’s attention… and start attracting visitors.

Julie Broad, a member of ETR’s Internet Money Club, started her Internet business around this time last year. Then she started writing articles on real estate investing for ETR. (In fact, we have an article by Julie in this issue.) Soon afterward, her site’s traffic had increased 10 times. All because she was exposing her ideas and expertise – through writing – to ETR’s subscribers.

• Help build your credibility. Writing articles about your area of expertise can establish your credibility and help you get published in top publications in your industry.

Bob Bly shares this observation on the subject from E.U., a successful publisher: “It is simply amazing the reverence people have for the printed word. Simply because a person has written a book about a subject, people think he has something to say about it.”

And those are just a few reasons.

But it seems to me that a lot of people are intimidated by the idea of becoming a writer. If that’s the way you feel, I have (as I said at the beginning of this article) a super-easy way for you to do it:

Just get started.

If you don’t start writing, you won’t ever become a writer.

I know a very smart, very experienced marketing expert we’ll call “Alec.” He has thousands of good ideas and a brain full of useful advice. But as soon as he tries to put it down on paper, he gets stuck.

He’s been invited to be a guest writer for a well-known marketing publication. And appearing in that publication’s pages could enhance his reputation, help him reach hundreds of thousands of new prospective customers, and get the attention of industry giants who could propel him to greater success.

But because he can’t even bring himself to start writing down his ideas… he’s missing out on all that potential.

This first step is very important. (And it works for any type of writing – articles, sales copy, fiction.) You simply choose an idea – one small idea that you’d like to share. And you write it down.

Then you give it to three people to read – even if those three people are your spouse, your best friend, and your grandmother. Or you post it to your blog, save it on your computer, put it in your journal. Just get it out of your head and onto the page.

And you do the same thing the next day… and the next day… and the next day.

Don’t worry about grammar. Don’t worry about spelling. Or whether you expressed yourself well. You can hone your writing skills later. (And, by the way, ETR has tons of great advice on that subject. To access it, all you have to do is a quick search through our Archives.)

Side Note: Many successful writers – including Clayton Makepeace, Michael Masterson, Charlie Byrne, and John Forde (to name a few) – write beautifully. So it’s worthwhile to learn what it takes to be a fine writer. But when you’re just starting out, doing the actual writing is much more important than crafting elegant sentences and paragraphs.

The thing is, if you wait until you can write like Jane Austen… or if you wait until you have a big list of potential subscribers to your not-yet-launched newsletter… or if you wait until you “get inspired” – you will never get started. You will NEVER become a good writer. And you won’t get any of the benefits that come with being a good writer either. So don’t wait. Start right now.

Michael Masterson has said it hundreds of times: Ready, Fire, Aim. You’ve already got the experience or the passion or the ideas. So you’re Ready. Now it’s time to Fire – to start writing about it. And then you can work on the Aiming/improving.

Pick up a pencil or open up a Word document and write something down. Right now. It’s as simple as that. If you can’t think of anything else, do this: Write an e-mail to us at ETR telling us what you think we can do better. Then send it to us at AskETR@ETRFeedback.com. We’re always eager to hear from our readers.

[Ed. Note: Writing down your ideas is a great way to start an e-mail newsletter. And starting an e-mail newsletter is the perfect low-cost way to get your Internet business up and running. For more advice about creating your own e-newsletter – plus step-by-step guides to product creation, marketing, website development, and much more – join ETR’s Internet Money Club. Our team of experts will walk you through everything you need to know to start a business that could earn $100,000 to $25 million a year. Space is limited, so find out now if you can still enroll in the “Class” of 2009.]