According to Entrepreneur, “outlets are in need of articles.”
Contributed articles do not directly or indirectly promote your product or service, but instead provide useful information to professionals in your field to help them solve problems they may encounter.
Share Your Expertise
Buyers are aware of thought leaders in their industry, through both general and specialized industry publications, often shared through social channels.
According to a survey published by LinkedIn, buyers look for thought leadership – at the top of the marketing “funnel,” when they are just beginning their buyer’s journey. At this early stage, thought leadership will be best accepted from third party sources, including trade publications both digital and in print.
Target the Right Audience
Before submitting your article, Ray Hennessey, editor-at-large for Entrepreneur, recommends researching the many trade publications in your sector. Hennessey says “the key is to find out where your interest and where your story is best placed.”
Check the Editorial Calendar
Download the Editorial calendar to see specifics topics the editor has laid out for issues through the upcoming year, but also consider providing “evergreen” articles that will remain useful for a much long period of time.
Although the advertising department of your company may work with the advertising sales manager of a publication you are writing for, typically the editorial and advertising staff does not coordinate and no ad buy is required in order to accept a contributed article. One exception is that the graphic designer may [or may not] lay out your company’s ad adjacent to your article.
Carefully Plan your Byline
Your byline and/or a short blurb of one or two sentences at the end of the article will be the only overt references to your company affiliation. Carefully consider the wording in the blurb, and if allowed by the publication, provide a link back to your website or an email address where readers can reach you for more information.
Write it Right
When creating a contributed article, quality is important. According to Brian Morrissey, editor at Digiday, “most articles written by industry professionals are terrible,” both “boring and self-promotional.”
This is due to the fact that most pieces are written by PR firms, and thus are lacking passion and a point of view, Morrissey says, devoid of a deep understanding of the problem and solutions, and trying not to offend someone in the approval cycle.
On top of that, it’s hard for a marketing person to resist the urge to sneak in a plug for the product.
Entrepreneur’s Hennessey: “Audiences … want the people with whom they engage to be authentic and trustworthy. They don’t mind buying a product and service, by any means. But they don’t want to be sold to.”
Make it Skimmable
Time is a most precious commodity. Internet savvy readers need to be able to tell at a glance whether a particular article will benefit them enough to delve deep into the details.
This doesn’t mean the piece itself must be abbreviated, and in fact longer pieces are coming back into fashion. That said, short paragraphs and sentences, along with frequent subheads, will allow skimmers to grasp the big picture and find what they need to know quickly. They can then make a decision whether to invest the time to read the entire piece or save it for later when they can concentrate and take notes.
Submitting a Contributed Article
Follow the editorial guidelines for submission deadlines, word length, format, and photos or graphic illustrations. Don’t forget to include your byline and blurb, as well as all photo credits and a description of the photos to be used in a caption. The publication will typically have a graphic artist on staff to transform a rough sketch or printout into an eye-pleasing design.
- Check with the editor and/or editorial guidelines to determine if multiple submissions are acceptable.
- Use Contributed Articles in your Content Marketing
- Be sure to check the Copyright agreements on your contributed article.
Don’t forget to use your contributed article in as many different formats and platforms as possible. Most publishers will provide either a link or a digital copy (PDF version) of the published article, and some will allow the authors to upload the PDF to their website.
For quality content development & placement in industry publications, contact us today!