Online publishers run the gamut. There are 18-year-old kids running successful sites out of their basements, and there are also the big names who have more editors than you can count on one hand. The important thread connecting them all is a love of quality content that's targeted toward their readers.
However, the flood of crap that fills up publishers' inboxes makes it hard for them to determine when you are trying to provide them with quality, expert content. Here are five tips to keep in mind before sending new content to your next potential publisher:
- Don't go for a ghostwriter. When did it become okay to slap your name on someone else’s work? An unbelievable amount of content is hired out or ghostwritten by assistants. Does this mean that someone should be able to get a job, and then hire someone else to "ghostwork" for them at a lower rate? Be prepared for the possibility of lower quality and less expertise. It's great when someone can polish an article with editing and content development; however, the thoughts and expertise should come directly from the expert. When a publication utilizes a contributor, it's attaching its credibility to that expert. If a publication is going to bless you as a contributor, it deserves to have your thoughts and expertise.
- The work behind a good video is worth it. The number of bad videos on the Internet far exceeds the number of good ones -- the fact that people continuously film video interviews with a MacBook camera or webcam is crazy! When anyone makes a video that lacks quality, that lack of quality is associated with the interviewee. However, the future of content is video, so why not brand yourself early? We are in a world with 1080-pixel resolution, LED lights, and microphones the size of a tack, so make it look good. If you are capable of getting high-quality video to the publisher, do it; if not, find someone who can. If you are a publisher's valued contributor, make an effort to provide what's going to help the publication grow in the future. When their credibility grows, so will yours.
- Consider your existing social media networks. Legitimate social media shares are directly correlated to the quality of the content. For example, we had a client write for the same site three times. Two of his articles received less than 100 social shares each; the third had more than 1,500. Even though these were written by the same contributor, the success came when we helped with targeting content toward what the readers were interested in. It's important to get content that is well-written and interesting, but you also want to direct it toward your audience. Combine your targeted audience with quality content, and your chances of a spread effect through social media networks are much higher. Publications usually use their own social networks to get the word out about your article, but you should also make an effort to share your contributions with as many social networks as you can. The more you develop interesting content, the more traffic the site will see -- and your audience will grow.
- Be strategic when including links. The Internet has been plagued with link builders; there's a lot of terrible content out there with links thrown in. Links should not be paid for -- they should be earned. If you create quality content, you deserve links to your name and your company. If you are adding a link within the content, make sure it adds value to the article. Google algorithms are slowly figuring out how these tactics work. If publications want to add links to the article, they have the right to because they're trading their name and credibility. They deserve to have content that doesn't have links thrown in only for the contributor's benefit. Wouldn't it be shocking if people were ranked for their quality content, rather than how much they paid for a link?
- Read the site you're pitching! This may sound revolutionary, but if you contribute to a website, you should actually read it every once in a while. Become familiar with the types of contributions the site regularly posts; this will ensure that you are sending in articles that are on-point in tone and style. The more publication-ready your articles are, the more likely they'll be used. And, of course, knowing what's already on the site will decrease the chances that your topic is simply regurgitating what other contributors have already said to the readers.
The online publishing world is a challenging one. The more time you spend thinking about your contributions before you send them, the less crap there will be crowding publishers' inboxes. And let’s be honest -- if we have happier editors, it will help us all out.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30+ proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.