Contributing to blogs, news sites and industry magazines isn’t anything new and it’s not going away even after the statement Matt Cutts said about guest blogging. That’s because guest blogging isn’t dead, being a Spammy McSpammer who only guest blogs to build links is dead.
Writing for related industry publications is a great way for your brand to get exposure. By positioning a person from the company as a leader in a particular space, you’re developing trust within a particular community. Creating trust among your target audience gets your brand in front of influencers and increases your overall reach.
But getting your outreach content published is no easy feat. From research and prospecting to creating the content and sending the pitch, there’s a lot involved in creating and pitching outreach content. Here are 8 secrets to getting your outreach content published faster.
1. Research websites and blogs
I believe it’s crucial to research and find blogs before you start thinking about topics for content. The idea is to find a site you want to get published on and write content specifically for their target audience. Once you have a target audience in mind, it’s time to search for quality sites.
Here are a few research methods I recommend:
Open Site Explorer
A great place to start your search for blogs is to do some good ol’ fashion competitor research. Open Site Explorer (OSE) is a fantastic tool for spying on your competitor’s link analysis. You don’t need to have a membership with Moz to use OSE, but you will only get a couple free searches before you’re kicked off. On OSE, it’s easy to analyze what types of sites competitors are contributing to and who is writing these articles. You can also see metrics like social shares and inbound link domain information.
GroupHigh is a blog search tool that offers a variety of functionality for outreach. With GroupHigh you can search for blogs on relevant topics and save them to lists within GroupHigh. This is helpful for creating lists based on multiple topics or clients. GroupHigh also pulls in doman authority and Compete.com traffic statistics; all great indicateros of a legit site. For quality control purposes, we like to keep our outreach targeted to sites above a Domain Authority (DA) of 30.
Twitter is a decent place to find influencers and website/blogs to target. Once you find a site that you’re interested in submitting to, look at who they’re following. Chances are you’ll find a good site that you’ll want to contribute to. Twitter search tools like Twtrland and Topsy can also expedite this process.
Link Search Tool
Another method I’ve used for finding sites about a certain topic is a free search tool by solo. Simply enter your topic and click on the links for results. This isn’t one of the strongest methods I’ve used, but I have picked up a couple keepers and it’s a nice tool to keep in your back pocket.
Getting started is exciting…
2. Look for a contributor page and read the guidelines
One way to know if the site will be interested in working with you is if they are advertising for contributors. Keep an eye out for call outs like “work with us”, “write for us” or a “submit content” tab. Usually the site owner will have some guidelines listed there, so be sure to visit and read over their requirements. If you think you can fulfill their needs, then keep that site as a “top site”.
3. Keep a spreadsheet of top blogs you want to be on
Not only is it critical to keep a list of top blogs you want to target, but it’s really important to track your progress properly. You can use GroupHigh or ToutApp to manage your entire outreach campaign, but I like to use a Google Doc spreadsheet with columns specifically for tracking who is in contact with the blog, date they were contacted, the category the blog is in (small business, lifestyle), the domain authority, URL, name of website and contact information. This is a basic setup that creates a nice workflow to get started.
4. Brainstorm a few ideas
Once you’re done doing some prospecting for sites and you’ve got your top blog list ready to go, make sure to revisit your top sites that you’ve recorded and check out their topics and headlines. I like to always be thinking of new ideas that would add value to the site as I look through their articles.
If you are fresh out of ideas, visit Quora and search under a particular subject for topic ideas. I like to bookmark a variety of blog posts and sites that offer ways to create catchy headlines or generate one for you. Next, start listing ideas with your target website/blog on your main spreadsheet.
5. Create a content standard
Before writing content, it’s important to know the difference between a blog style post, an outreach article, a feature article, and writing for public relations. The difference between an outreach article and a blog style post is that blog posts tend to be really short and not as focused around adding deeper value. Feature articles are entertainment heavy, tend to be more focused around human interest stories, and are more suited for your own company or client’s blog. Writing for public relations often requires an event to promote and requires more time and resources.
Outreach content is used to position yourself, client, or company as an industry expert in that field. The article for outreach content should not be promotional explicitly — your knowledge will be implicitly promotional.
The best outreach content is educational and entertaining. Having good grammar goes without saying; the key is to know how to write short, easy-to-read informational articles. People are inundated with information across the web, so by breaking up an article makes the content easier to read. The easier the article is to read, the more likely the publisher will accept your submission. Communicating a preferred structure helps move the process along internally by giving the writer a starting point with an end in sight.
When you’ve finally settled on a topic and a site to submit to, write an article that’s at least 400-600 words in length. I recommend not going over 800 words or under 400. Make sure you proofread and have another set of eyes to proofread your article before sending it off to the publisher.
You’re almost there…
6. Author attribution
Author bios add a nice touch to the end of an article, and you will most likely be able to mention your company site or blog there. Many sites will ask for an author bio, and some might even want a picture. I would recommend writing a brief two to three sentence blurb about yourself with a link to the website you’re promoting.
Author bio example:
Nicole Grodesky is an internet marketing professional based in San Diego. Her area of expertise in in search engine optimization, outreach, and social media marketing. Please visit Thunder SEO to read more of her articles.
If you’re working with a freelance writer, be upfront about needing a bio for authorship. When prospecting for freelance writers, I highly recommend looking to see if they are active on Google+ Profile, Twitter or LinkedIn account. This will be a good indicator that they’re familiar with the importance of a strong online presence.
7. Offering an image with the proper specs
Publishers always like to include an image into their posts, so sending them one ahead of time will cut down on making more work for them. Understanding licensing agreements when selecting an image that won’t result in an $800 fine is really important for the contributor (you) and the publisher. Publishers like it when you include images, but they don’t like it when you submit an image that requires them to do more work. Eliminate any necessary steps for them by making sure the licensing agreement is open for editorial use, formatting the image for publishing (resize the image to 600 x 400 pixels), and properly attributing the photo.
8. Putting it all together
After you’ve gone through steps 1-7, it’s time to pull everything together for the pitch.
The pitch letter
I’ve read tons of industry articles and seen templates on how to write pitch letters, but it’s definitely more of an art than a science. Let me just say: keep it simple. You don’t need to tell them that you like their blog or that you recently read one of their articles and you really liked it. Just say hello, introduce yourself, and let them know you’d like to submit an article for consideration for publication on their site.
Attaching the documents
It’s OK to send your first pitch with the full article attached. Most sites prefer you do this. Go ahead and attach the article with your accompanying image and bio.
Tracking and follow up
If you are submitting multiple articles to a variety of sites, it’s recommended that you keep track somehow. One way to do this is to use an email opening tracking system like the ToutApp or Yesware. This is a great way to actively track who you sent your pitches to and when they were sent out.
When you get an article published, it kinda feels like this:
Contributing to other publications is a great way to position your company as a thought leader in your industry. There is a lot of strategy that should be discussed prior to launching an outreach initiative, and the discussion should continue throughout the campaign. The initial setup will take some time, but once you get in a rhythm and follow a process, you will see an improvement in your success rate.
Follow these tips for getting your outreach content published faster and more frequently. If you need help with your outreach content, please let us know!