There is no better way to become an authority figure in your industry than to have your thoughts published in a highly credible publication. Being viewed as a source for your industry makes doing business easier. Adding value to your community and potential customers is, without a doubt, the best way to generate organic interest in your business.
The problem is that most business icons are not journalists or even weekend warrior bloggers, for that matter. They have industry-leading thoughts and ideas, or they wouldn’t be in the position they are in. But they’re not putting those ideas out there for others to see and learn from.
Editors are picky, and their inboxes are jam-packed with pitches from PR firms. They won’t accept articles that are poorly articulated, lack reader takeaways, or pieces that are overly promotional.
Getting published is no easy task, and it helps to have a defined strategy before you begin writing.
I’ve published over 250 articles on sites like Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Influencive, MSN Money, The Good Men Project, and others. However, long before any of my articles were accepted, I had literally dozens that were rejected.
Here’s what I’ve learned via those rejections, as well as from the articles accepted by my editors and loved by my readers.
Pitch directly to an editor
I submitted at least 12 articles to Huffington Post before I got one approved. Finally, I got the nerve to pitch directly to Ariana Huffington. Before I knew it my article was accepted and I was given publishing access to the site. Most writers send their pitches to a publication’s general submission box. I’ve found it’s much more effective to find an actual editor to pitch your article to.
Not sure where to find editors? It’s actually must easier than you might think. Use LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google to find them doing a simple keyword search using the publication name and the word “editors.” Do some research to make sure you are pitching the right editor. In other words, pitch the editor who runs the section of the publication that corresponds with what you write about.
Before pitching your story to an editor, add value to their social media posts. Most editors at publications have a public presence on Twitter where they regularly share content from their writers. Use this is an opportunity to engage with them by retweeting them, and by leaving high-level comments that will help you establish credibility. This way, once you are ready to send them an article you’ve written, they will already know you. It will be a warm pitch rather than one lumped in with the hundreds of cold pitches they receive.
Build an audience
Most editors at significant publications I’ve talked to have told me that they want to work with writers who have an established readership, because they are often paid via the number of page views that the articles they publish generate.
Before you go for your dream publication, start writing at some smaller ones. Share your articles on social media and build authentic followers there who engage with your content. Editors are smart enough to see through vanity numbers; they look for potential readers when evaluating a new writer. Demonstrating that you can bring an established reader base along with your article submission increases your chances of an editor giving you a shot.
Don’t write a boring pitch
Before you have to worry about whether an editor is going to like your article, you have to worry about whether they like your email. Writing an award-winning piece is not enough. You have to convince an editor to even read it first.
Editors are busy. They appreciate a brief and well-written pitch. If your pitch rambles on and on, chances are they will stop reading it. If your pitch bores them or the writing in your email sucks, they certainly won’t want to see one of your articles.
Make sure to mention your readership and the other places you’ve been published in your email pitch. Also mention anything else that helps establish you as an authority figure worthy of being published: founder of a company, awards you’ve won, places you’ve spoken, books you’ve written.
Send a full article, not a press release
Editors get bombarded with press releases. And the problem with press releases is they are heavy on product and company info, but light on any real reader takeaways. Instead, send them a complete article that has been professionally edited. If the article contains a lot of mistakes, the editor will most likely pass on it.
Editors want to publish articles that move and inspire their readers. And then they want articles that provide real takeaways that make their readers think and want to come back for more. Press releases offer very little of that.
When writing your article, focus on contributing unique insights and data points that can’t just be found on Google, which means your pieces need to be thoroughly researched with proper reporting. Write from the perspective of the information that the readers of the specific publication are craving more of, not necessarily what you may want to write about or think would be good for your marketing. Think about how your industry experience and expertise can contribute to a broader news story or ongoing conversation that is happening on the site.
Bring in more experts
Consider bringing in a second or third industry thought leader to be a source for the article and contribute a quote. Getting additional industry experts to add to the piece helps give your article even more credibility with a nervous editor. And if you can get a quote from a celebrity, a major- brand spokesperson, or a well-known person in business, it substantially increases your chances of being published. Also, the people you ask to contribute to your article will likely to share it on social media. So make sure to mention to the editor any additional reach your sources’ social media may provide to the article.
Take a stance
Last, don’t be afraid to take a stance. Nobody likes to read a boring middle-ground article that reads like a textbook. So, if you’re man or woman enough to do it, be opinionated! But be prepared to back it up with facts and reliable data from credible sources.
Getting your article accepted by an editor at a major publication is not easy. However, if you are strategic with your approach your chances of getting published are greatly improved.