If you’re looking for great press on a regular basis, one of the best options may be to just join the press as a guest contributor and start publishing content yourself on a regular basis to large audiences. When I set out to attract media attention for my company, SavingsAngel.com, I made many offers to contribute on a regular basis to newspapers, radio, TV, and digital outlets.
My guest contributor story…
My first gig was a Tuesday morning radio segment on a local Christian broadcaster. I would share 3 of the best deals that listeners could get at local grocery & drug stores. The other hosts would provide color commentary and we’d have a lot of fun. I didn’t promote my company until the very end – where I simply shared where people could get the coupons I mentioned. I also didn’t heavily promote my service. My focus was to bring value to the audience.
Almost a year later, I met with the circulation department of my local newspaper. They mentioned that once a month they produced an insert and that they were looking for more content – as long as it would be valuable to readers. I started writing for it. A few months later, I was invited to start writing for the newspaper itself on a weekly basis. A year later, I was invited to write for the newspaper’s parent organization which would put me in nine newspapers (plus digital) for the entire state of Michigan. Total circulation is over 1 million readers! What an honor to serve that many readers.
While I’ve never asked to be paid for my contribution, SavingsAngel has done a great deal of business thanks to my relationship with my newspaper column audience and all the other media I do. My mission is to serve and bring value to audiences. A percentage of that audience will eventually come find other ways of how I can increase that value through visiting my site, clicking on my ads, and engaging in whatever other ways we offer.
When thinking about becoming a guest contributor, you need to ask yourself a few questions:
What is the work I will be doing?
How much work is this going to be?
Will it be a good return on investment from this effort?
Before any of these questions can be answered, you need to figure out what your goals are from this contribution. I like to tell people there arethree main goals and finding where your goals lie will help you determine if you should become a guest contributor.
1. Attracting more traffic
If you are wanting to get thousands of eyes on the content you’ve helped create, being a guest contributor might not be your best option (particularly in the early days). The reality is that you might be one of the hundreds of contributors for a news site and the turnover of information they post on their site may leave your article at the bottom of the news list in a matter of hours. In short, you might not get much exposure (or visits to your site) at all.
Big warning: Most entrepreneurs tend to overestimate how much traffic they will get from contributing to a news website – especially one that has hundreds of contributors. It’s important to think realistically and realize you might not get as many eyes on your article as you may think.
If you’re okay with that, let’s continue…
2. Build authority
If building your credibility is your goal, then contributing would be a great option for you. I like to think of it this way. Let’s say you are a guest contributor at HuffPo and you promote it well on your website and your social media, your loyal tribe of followers will see that you helped write for HuffPo and that will show them that their fearless leader is credible. It’s a huge feather in the cap for your brand to be associated with a large outlet. I’ve been writing for MLive Newspapers every week for over eight years. That position has opened a lot of doors for me. It’s helped me get great speaking gigs, podcast interviews with some large outlets, and it begets a whole lot more media.
Your authority will also improve your conversion rate for products and services. This counts for your existing audience who’s been on the fence about engaging with you – and for future visitors to your site. If you promote that you are a regular contributor for Entrepreneur Magazine on the front page of your site, this may improve your conversion rate by 4%. If you are driving lots of traffic from many sources, that’s likely worth the effort. Plus – here’s the thing…
3. Be continually moving up the ‘media cred’ ladder
Chances are, you shouldn’t bother pitching the Wall Street Journal to be a guest contributor. You can, however, earn your way there. It might take you five years and this just might be a worthy goal if you are destined to become a media celebrity. Start small… move up! This is how the game works.
If this sounds like something you want, hang in there and I will give you some tips on where to begin when wanting to be a guest contributor.
How to become a guest contributor
Once you have decided that you want to be a guest contributor, here are some tips and tricks on how you can get it done. Note: I knew of a guy selling these tips for $1200. Keep your money. You’re welcome.
Network your way in.
I have always been a proponent of the long game and networking your way into relationships. If you’d eventually like to be a guest contributor, helping out a journalist in writing an article can lead to great connections so that when you pitch for your own article, you’ll have a name of someone internally who recommended you. For larger outlets, persistence is key and will definitely play a part in how many connections you have the potential to make, just take the time to build your way up.
Create content on your own blog, LinkedIn or Medium like it’s a media outlet – and follow the format of what you’ll want to pitch. Promote it well so it’s seen by a wide audience. Seriously… get some social signals on the articles. After a couple months, you might want to approach a smaller news website like Business.com. Here’s a list of 110 websites that will pay you to write. Note – that if you have products & services to sell, I personally would take some bigger exposure over $50 – $100 for an article – but getting paid as a freelance writer is a great way to get lots of experience.
Where is your target audience?
Once you know where your audience is, be there! I like to tell people that they need to be in front of your paying audience. If you’re writing things that are being consumed by “your kinda people,” you’re in a good place.
Promotion, Promotion, Promotion
You might have written the world’s best article ever created, but if you don’t promote it well, it’s possible no one will see it. I hate to break it to you – but as I mentioned above, the website you write for may not do much to promote your work. It’s on you. If they start to see traction on your articles, they may start sending you some more love – but you should count on doing your part to promote.
Use your website and social media to show off what you’ve done. This is part of the game for larger news website like HuffPo who are pretty “liberal” with whom they allow as a writer. They count on you promoting your articles to your own audience – sending traffic to HuffPo’s site. It’s kind of a win-win.
There really is a lot of long-term value in being a guest contributor. I know I’ve done my fair share of contribution and have found countless opportunities. Patience will serve you well. Earn your stripes and you’ll be handsomely rewarded in time.
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Here are some great resources to help you take it to the next step!
Become a certified Business.com expert: https://www.business.com/experts/
How to Become a Huffington Post Blogger: http://www.carefulcents.com/get-published-on-the-huffington-post/
Pitch a blog to the Huffington Post: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScrz0kcSTcl6MrGJF-13l2MMSZJ3BBZtt6_znfxb4FwMLQiSQ/viewform
Become an Entrepreneur Contributor: https://www.entrepreneur.com/page/236106