Finding Opportunities For Guest Articles and Blog Posts
I got a lot of great feedback on my recent podcast interview with Dorie Clark on how to get featured in major publications.
This is a strategy that anyone prepared to invest the time in creating great content and in researching and reaching out to publications can follow. Not only will it build your authority in your field, it can have an immediate impact on website traffic and email subscribers.
Shortly after publishing the podcast I got a wonderful email from PR expert Debbie Leven expanding on the interview with some very practical tips on finding relevant opportunities for guest articles, blog posts and other media appearances.
I liked Debbie's email so much that with her permission I've turned it into an article with a couple of my own tips added in. I think you'll find it really helpful in implementing the strategies Dorie and I discussed.
How To Find Opportunities For Guest Articles And Blog Posts
You can find relevant media opportunities, quickly and easily, by doing the following research:
- Competitors – as Ian mentioned in the podcast with Dorie, researching your main competitors to find out where they have already received press and media coverage is a good way to find opportunities.
- Influencers – Research the influencers in your niche as per above,
- Mock titles – type into a search engine ‘mock’ titles for the types of articles competitors and influencers might contribute to a website or blog covering your niche. So, for PR, it’s probably not a surprise that there are articles like ‘How to write a press release’ or ‘how to get your business featured in the media’ or ‘7 ways to get media coverage’ – by searching on ‘mock’ titles you can find some great niche opportunities.
- Target websites and publications – in the same way as above, list down half a dozen or so of your target websites or publications – the ones you already know and aspire to be featured on. Now, go and look at the articles that have been featured/published. Pick out the ones that have been written by a guest author or guest blogger. Those are the ones to look at in more detail to find an angle or opportunity for pitching another idea. Often, in those articles on your niche there will be a ‘gap’ that you can fill or a flip side that you can offer
- ‘Feeder’ websites – it’s worth checking out those target websites you’ve found for ‘feeder’ content. The large news based websites like Forbes, Inc and Entrepreneur.com take content from other sites to enable them to ‘publish’ a regular feed of new content. Targeting those niche, smaller, ‘feeder’ sites can be a great way to get a double whammy by being featured on two target websites for the effort of writing for one. ‘Feeder’ content will appear on those large websites with something along the lines of ‘featured on…’ or ‘first published on…’.
Ian’s tip: You can use a google search like: site:forbes.com topic “first published on” to find these (replace the word topic above with the particular topic you’re interested in writing about, and keep the words “first published on” in quotes).
It’s a good idea to capture all the information you find in a spreadsheet.
From your research you can then prioritise those media outlets which are the best ‘fit’ for you and your business. But, this is just the start and you now need to dig deeper to find the right angle to pitch.
So, how do you know what will appeal to journalists and bloggers?
I’m including bloggers in here as the research you need to do, and the process you go through with coming up with the right angles and ideas, is along similar lines. The difference is simply who you are pitching and also the style of the blog or media outlet and the particular ideas that will appeal.
So, with your priority media outlets, here are five ways to find angles/ideas to pitch:
- For online media – websites and blogs, ride on the back of popularity. As part of your research have a look to see which articles or blogs get the most shares and comments. You will probably find that themes and topics come up time and again in popular articles/posts. So, that can be a good steer on the type of content the editor or blogger will be interested in because it proves popular with their audience. But, having said that you also need to dig into who the authors are to check they are contributors rather than staff and also to assess the size of their tribe so that you do not have a skewed view of your results.
Ian’s tip: use a tool like buzzsumo.com to find out the most shared articles from a particular website.
- For opinion pieces – get in quick on the back of news stories. It’s easy enough to set up Google alerts, for relevant keywords, to ensure you become aware of new online content relevant to your niche as it appears. You can also set up the alerts, which are free, for the names of competitors and that can be a good way to track what they are doing on the media front. Google alerts simply enables you to receive free email updates on new content that appears online and includes the keywords or phrases you have specified. Then, when a relevant news story breaks you are in a good position to jump on the back of it to offer an opinion piece.
- Fill the gap. For any article that has appeared, whether that’s online or in hard copy publications, you can use that past copy or content to provide you with an idea springboard. Look at the relevant articles in detail and find something that is missing. This can often give you a quick and easy way to offer a follow up piece that you know will have appeal. So, for example, if you are a business coach and you come across articles that talk about business planning as being the key to business success then you have an opportunity to pitch the idea that business success requires the right mind set as well as the right plan.
- Add more detail and explanation. The length of online articles vary hugely but even those that are more lengthy can’t cover every aspect of a topic. So, delve in to the articles you have found and pull out mentions of ideas, processes and activity that are not given in detail. This is where you have a golden opportunity to pitch an idea for an article that offers that further insight.
Ian’s tip: you can do this with interviews and podcasts too – this article is a perfect example!
- Flip it round or provide a different angle. The flip side is simply a way in which the audience can achieve a result but by following a different route. I’ve used this myself – by searching for articles on ‘how to write a press release’. For a target media outlet where such an article appeared I simply pitched the idea that press and media attention can be gained without writing a press release, and offered an article outlining that alternative approach – and that pitch was successful and resulted in an article being published online.Here’s another example. A business coach might look at competitors and articles focusing on increasing business profits. Such an article might delve into lead generation and converting leads into sales. You could flip that idea round and pitch the editor or blogger with an idea for an article that looks at increasing profitability from a different perspective such as by decreasing costs, raising your rates or negotiating with suppliers.
So, you don’t need to rely on having news, or coming up with an endless stream of ideas, to get media profile.
In just a few minutes a day you can build up a picture of the opportunities available to you. And, with fresh content and news stories appearing all the time you’ll have no end of scope for riding on the back of that coverage to generate your own to boost your media profile, build your reputation, increase your credibility and establish your expertise.
Debbie Leven is a PR expert, currently Head of Communications and Marketing at Peace Hospice Care.