Guest posting is an essential part of any content marketing strategy, but it’s not an easy job. When it comes to this type of content, there are two key players involved: publication editors and guest contributors.
Publications and contributors utilize guest content for many reasons. Whether their objective is to optimize their organic search results or to establish trust with a wider audience, guest posting can help them mutually achieve both — but only if the content performs well.
As in any successful relationship, communication is key, and compromise is inevitable. Publication editors are looking for contributors who can provide quality content for their readers, and contributors are looking to place their content in online publications that their audience members actually read. In order for those things to happen, both sides have to understand each other’s needs and work together to meet them.
In a nutshell, publications benefit from having a variety of guest contributors on their sites. They need to publish more content than their staff writers can create, and because more content means more traffic to their site, they seek expertise from credible outside authors.
Without the help of contributors, publications would lack the diverse, high-quality content they need in order to stay relevant. In order for contributors to create the top-notch content that publications are looking for, they need to know what editors want.
We’re here to let down the veil.
If you’re hoping to win over an editor so you can get your guest content published, keep these tips in mind while crafting your pitch:
Ensure that you’re familiar with your target publications’ guidelines, the kind of content they typically publish, and whom they target with that content. Getting familiar with their guidelines is crucial if you want to be able to create content that meets their needs. Doing so will in turn make your content more appealing to their audience, as most publications compile their guidelines based on what they know resonates well with their readers. Learning what publications want will increase the likelihood of your content actually being published.
Tailor your pitch so that it’s personalized for the editor who is most likely to review it. Check out the staff page to figure out whom you need to address your pitch to, and keep in mind that editors’ inboxes get flooded with emails daily, so it’s crucial that you address them directly and do what you can to grab their attention. Using a personable approach will help establish a stronger connection. It’s also smart to call out compelling points your content will address so you can show editors you’re attempting to meet their expectations. Editors don’t owe you anything, and if they feel that your pitch doesn’t convey what they need, they’ll most likely reject your submission and take note of it (which could hurt your chances of working with them in the future).
Editors are looking for unique content that is of value to them and their audience, so be sure you can provide expertise and insights that are new and informative. Read what the publication has already covered, and choose a topic that is relevant and fresh. It all comes down the publication’s readers and what they find appealing, which ultimately dictates the success of your content.
On the publication’s side, successful thought leadership content results in an increased number of readers who are likely to go back to the publication for more content in the future. On the contributor’s side, thought leadership content causes readers to identify the contributor as an industry expert. This could lead to increased traffic on the contributor’s (or his or her company’s) site as well, allowing him or her to gain exposure in front of the right people.
Don’t write a novel because editors don’t have time to read one. From our experience of working with publications, “Get straight to the point” is the feedback we’ve seen the most from editors. All you need is a descriptive headline that catches their attention, a clear reason for why you’re the person to write an article, and a few sentences on what your content will cover — no jargon or fluff.
Once you’ve sent your pitch, show the editor that you can follow through. Even if you’ve worked with him or her before, continue to prove that you can be responsible and helpful. Ideally, editors will get back to contributors within a week or two, but that’s not always the case. If find yourself still waiting for a response, send a quick follow-up email to check on the status of your pitch. Don’t be impatient or pushy, though. Nagging a publication editor is a quick way to get blocked.
Guest-contributed content is a two-way street, and contributors have needs, too. If you’re a publication editor, use these tips to establish strong relationships with your guest contributors so you can get the top-drawer content you’re looking for:
A lot of hope goes into those email pitches. Even if the content isn’t what you’re looking for, providing feedback on what the contributor can fix will benefit both of you in the future. With your critique, contributors can better tailor their content to fit your needs and give you the content you seek.
Honesty is always the best policy. No one ever really knows what’s happening on the other side of the screen. If your workload is heavy, let contributors know. Be transparent about your timeline and set those expectations from the start. Don’t leave them hanging. That way, you can avoid receiving even more emails regarding the status of their pitch.
Even if contributors don’t have an agency like Influence & Co. helping them create their content, they could be diamonds in the rough. Guest posting is on the rise, and many marketers are making their first venture into the world of guest content. Their transition might not be the smoothest, but their insights could still be valuable to your publication if you’re willing to take the chance.
Although their roles differ, editors and contributors share similar objectives. They utilize guest-contributed articles for various reasons, and many of them align. Identifying those shared goals is the key to creating quality content.
Search engine optimization. Just like contributors, publications want to build their SEO around certain topics. Contributors need to be willing to write content that fits within those objectives (while not totally neglecting their own SEO strategies). Finding a topic that allows contributors to scratch both itches will steer the content creation process and result in valuable content that contributes to each party’s online searchability.
Growth. Publication editors and contributors use this type of content as a way to extend their reach. Both sides can benefit from each other’s audiences, so it’s important that they work together to distribute the published content and reach as many people as they can. If you want to increase your page views and raise your engagement, you need to spread the word. The best way to do this is to collaborate equally on promotional efforts so that both sides can achieve their goals.
Building trust. Reaching a wider audience is a task in itself, but earning audience members’ trust is a whole other ball game. The only way to achieve this is by providing high-quality content that is of value to them. Editors and contributors each bring something to the table, so it’s crucial to capitalize on those strengths. Explore what each side has to offer and collaborate to create content that showcases credibility on both sides.
Guest-contributed content is a joint effort, so publication editors and guest contributors need to meet each other halfway. In order for editors to receive good content and for contributors to get published, both parties need to have a clear understanding of each other’s goals and find a way to bring them together. In the dance of content marketing, it takes two to tango.
I'm a senior publication strategist at Influence & Co. I love eating popcorn and snuggling with my puppy, and I truly believe that happiness can be found in a good book. Chocolate makes my day even better.