Publishing on a big site can open doors. It can get your organization’s name out to people you would not reach otherwise. It can cause a big boost in awareness. And it can increase SEO.
Placing your organization’s messaging in the best place for it to reach your potential audience is an important part of content marketing. And for some pieces of content, a bigger site, like the Huffington Post, Forbes, Inc., or Entrepreneur, might be the best place.
Jason Unger, founder of Digital Ink, an online media company, says, “Content marketing -- publishing blog posts, articles, case studies and research -- establishes our expertise in our field, and while it's not meant to be directly sales-related in nature, it helps get our name out there with potential clients.”
Why does he do it? “We're a small creative and digital team without full-time marketing staff, so the ability to share our expertise on website development, graphic design and business ideas with larger audiences make contributing to publications a must,” says Unger.
Also, as a former journalist, Unger says, “I understand the ability of great content to inform and educate.”
How do you make it happen? First, you are going to have to pitch an idea. What expertise do you have to share that would be useful to the audience? What story do you have to tell that other people should hear? “The reality is that most websites are looking for unique and valuable content,” says Unger.
Read the site that you hope to publish on to see what kinds of ideas they tend to publish. Would your idea fit in, yet shine, among them?
A great pitch explains your idea clearly. Include what your sources are. Don’t just give an editor a topic; instead, show the conflict that you are addressing. And explain why it matters. And why is matter now. A news peg is always welcome.
Years ago, the application for an internship at the radio show “This American Life” asked for story ideas where the audience would feel surprise and wonder by the end of the narrative. This is a hard instruction, but it’s a great one. If an editor gets a pitch for an idea that inspires surprise and wonder, she will want the story.
Expect an editor to want revisions. And cuts. It’s part of the process and should make the article better. It should make you look good!
Jeff Bullas has a 10-step strategy for publishing on bigger sites. Bullas suggests that in your pitch you should show off your track record. If you’ve published articles elsewhere, share them in your pitch. But if you don’t have articles, bring other value to the pitch. “This might be social share numbers, hard-to-get interviews that you can obtain or industry connections you have…,” writes Bullas. “Explain your history, and how your perspective and experience means you can add value to the publication’s audience.”
Build relationships with editors. Relationships take time and effort, but, like in many fields, they are very important in publishing. Know someone who knows an editor? Ask for an introduction. “If you don't have the capacity to build your own relationships with contacts at large publications, find someone who does,” says Unger.
If you have to start from scratch, Bullas suggests engaging on social media with writers from big publications and editors. “Repost their top social media content. Comment on their blog posts. Backlink to them in your blog posts. Genuinely read their content. The goal is to make them aware of who you are and establish yourself in their circle of contacts. Building trust is key here,” writes Bullas.
Bullas also suggests sending emails instead filling in forms. And he tells folks to follow up. “I followed up with literally dozens of editorial contacts at Entrepreneur for at least five months before finally making my way through lots of forwarding and replies, to the appropriate editor,” writes Bullas.
Bullas also says to be prepared for rejection, it happens to everyone, and even to the best ideas. And once something works out, be sure to express your gratitude.
Unger belongs to a business association that has relationships with large publishers like Time.com and Forbes. “This cuts out all of the leg-work in pitching stories to publishers and working to get our content published,” says Unger. “When we have an idea for an article to share or a topic to discuss, we write it, pass it along to our association partners, and they work with the editors at the publications to get it posted.”
Unger still has to write unique and interesting articles. Like this one. Or this one. Or this one. “Don't copy things straight from your own company blog,” Unger says. “You can, and should, take ideas and topics you cover on your own blog and submit them for publication, but take the time to come up with a different angle or a new take-away.”