Want to Be a Thought Leader in Your Industry? Our Tips for Getting Your Articles Syndicated
Blog content can be great if you’re running an e-commerce business. In fact Pooch Perks founder, Tina Vidal, ascribes much of her success to just how passionate she was about the pet industry. “It’s really important, when you start a business, that you’re doing it because you are so passionate and in love – to the point of obsession – with your industry or your product or what you’re doing,” she advises. “Become an expert in everything you do in your business and in your life; [ensure that] what you put online reflects that you’re extremely knowledgeable about your field, whatever that is.”
The way Tina chose to demonstrate that passion was through creating engaging content. Her vast array of knowledge regarding dogs, their behavior, nutrition, and safety (among other things) can be found perfectly condensed into blog and social media posts. Over time, her content is what differentiated her brand from its competitors and positioned Pooch Perks, in the eyes of consumers and media alike, as a team of Pet Experts, rather than just another subscription box.
Looking to follow in Tina’s footsteps and leverage compelling content to your advantage? First thing’s first – figure out what it is you’re hoping to gain. Maybe you think you have some pretty interesting content and getting it out there will help raise brand awareness. Or maybe, like Tina, you want to position yourself as an industry thought leader, proving to both your peers and your consumers that you know what you’re an expert in your field. Either way, aside from your website’s blog, there are a couple of ways to go about it.
- Guest Posting/Byline Opportunities: This is when you create content for a third-party publication. Note, this content may not be duplicated on your website. “People are going to want original content,” explains our Director of Public Relations and Communications, Wendy Bairos. “You can’t expect that you’ll be repurposing posts from your blog all the time.”
- Syndicated Posts: This is when you give one (or multiple) third-parties permission to repost content already available on your site or blog. In this instance, this typically means a regular column rather than a one-off deal. Keep in mind, you may have to pay for the privilege to do so and prices vary depending on the publication.
If you’re thinking, “Should I do both?” consider this: while creating original content for a byline may require a bit more work than a simple copy/paste, this tends to be a more viable avenue for business owners. The reason being that you get to set your own schedule (in that you choose when you’d like to pitch a piece to a third-party) rather than being on a set production schedule (daily, weekly, or monthly depending on the publication) in addition to potentially having to set aside the money to do so.
The real question you should be asking is why do either of these things (aside from those outlined above) and the answer is simple: It’s to get your words out to a larger audience. Wherever you end up, you’ll essentially be “piggybacking” on that publication’s readership, resulting in increased site traffic and/or brand awareness overall.
Keep in mind, you can really only be syndicated in one of three mediums: newspapers, print magazines, and online. To mitigate risk, newspapers will typically syndicate from within or pick up columns from writers they already subscribe to. Magazines, especially trade ones which don’t necessarily publish every month, typically come with a longer lead-time, which is something you may want to consider. Online is probably the fastest and easiest way to get your name and your words out into the world. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that all it takes to share is a click or two!
Keep up with the conversations happening in your industry. If you’re trying to position yourself as a thought leader, this is especially important. What are people talking about in your industry? Did anything big recently happen that you have an opinion on? Covering topical events is a great way to stay ahead of the pack – but be careful, avoid saying what everyone else is saying. How can you put a new spin on these topics or, better yet, tie them back to your business?
Do your research. Before writing your article, brainstorm a number of on or offline publications that you’d love to be featured in and learn everything you can about them. What topics do they cover and how? What’s their overall tone? Content can be drastically different from site to site, even if they are covering the same general subject matter. Case in point? Take a look at the examples below:
Note that Entrepreneur places a greater emphasis on educating pet business owners, whereas Pet Business takes on a more authoritative tone regarding the various trends and trade events in the industry.
You should also look at following other writers you admire who have written for the publication you’re looking to get into. Brush up on their latest works. Do they have a Twitter account? These are both great places to start if you want to get a feel for their voice and tone as well as what their usual “spin” or angle is on industry news.
Now that you’ve gathered enough information and/or inspiration to get to work on your own article, make sure your post fits in with theirs. Whether that means formatting, a specific word count, tone or otherwise, you want your post to fit in easily with what that publication typically publishes. Make sure to investigate any additional details around the post that you may need. Do they require a short bio, a headshot, etc? Have these ready to go even before you’ve pitched to an editor.
Speaking of bios, keep it concise, informative, don’t forget to outline your relevant accomplishments and remember to write it in the third person. Feel free to scroll down to mine or any other Hubba contributor’s bio for a quick inspiration!
After you’ve written post you’re happy with, there’s nothing left to do but pitch!
Pitching to editors
Finding a contact person can be tricky – your best bet is to start from the page’s ‘Contact’ section. You might also want to try getting a hold of someone on social media. Try sending them a direct message on Twitter or LinkedIn, that may get to them faster than an email through the website.
Once you know who you’re pitching to, make sure to tailor your outreach to suit their interests. Keep it brief (get to the point), describe the article and topic (be sure to include plenty of eye-catching statistics and other facts to back you up), and give them everything they need to make it as easy as possible to publish your work on their site (that’s where the headshot and bio come in!).
If you find cold-pitching isn’t getting you anywhere fast enough, you may want to consider self-syndicating. Buy a mailing list of editors in your industry and send them a weekly post with the headline right in the subject line. Be sure to indicate that if they want to publish your article that they they should email you back for pricing. It sounds too good to be true, but in fact, this is how many syndicated writers get started.
For syndicated articles, Wendy suggests setting a couple hundred dollars aside and investing in a yearly membership to a PR Newswire service. “That’s where all the [news] outlets fo to see what’s happening that day,” she explains.
Final word of advice
Be persistent and work smart. Know your audience well and know exactly what you want to gain from this experience. If nothing else, this exercise will help you get a better idea of exactly what conversations people are having in your industry and how that fits in with your business and goals.
Follow her at @D_isforDayana