Guest writing for industry publications is a great way to establish yourself as a thought leader and even earn credible backlinks. However, building rapport with editors is easier said than done.
Writing for industry publications, whether they are journals, magazines, blogs, or news websites, has an undeniable return on investment.
Not only does it establish the writer or brand as a thought leader but it also creates the opportunity to capture a new audience and attract new clients.
From an SEO perspective, guest writing is also a valuable and organic way to earn credible backlinks and drive traffic to your website.
Essentially, it’s a win-win situation. Industry publications receive well-researched, well-written content and in return, you receive an opportunity to showcase your ideas to a relevant audience.
However, guest writing presents plenty of challenges, especially when editors and content creators cringe as soon as they read the words, “guest post.”
This aversion isn’t completely unwarranted, either. Editors and content creators across the board have experienced missed expectations and broken trust when it comes to content exchanges.
Challenges In Writing For Industry Editors
Guest writing for publication editors is a challenge because “guest posting” or “guest blogging” have been tagged with a bad reputation and with good reason.
In May of 2017, Google issued a warning about accepting guest articles from large-scale link campaigns, as it was witnessing a rise in spammy links contained within these articles.
Though, in this same warning, Google was clear that it does not discourage guest articles that “inform users, educate another site’s audience or bring awareness to your cause or company.”
Unfortunately, the first challenge of guest writing, whether it is to establish thought leadership or earn credible backlinks, is overcoming some of this poor PR.
Another challenge in writing for industry editors is simply overcoming their heuristics or cognitive biases.
Editors are constantly bombarded with contributor proposals. They receive poorly written, irrelevant, or spammy content daily, which makes for snappy decisions and short impressions.
Some also already have established writers, content calendars, and full schedules.
After looking at these challenges becoming a guest contributor may seem like a long shot, but fear not! There are three simple steps you can take when working with editors to build rapport from the very first article to becoming a regular contributor.
1. Set The Tone From The Start
In every communication with an editor, whether it be an outreach or submitting your first article, it is crucial to set the tone in your corresponding messages.
Though it may seem fundamental, these messages can shape how an editor perceives your writing ability and competency long before ever reading your first paragraph.
Here are some practical ideas for setting the tone and making a good first impression:
Be professional in tone.
Avoid language that may seem too casual or too formal, and instead, make it clear that you are interested in partnering with the editor to publish a piece.
Be concise in language.
Editors are constantly corresponding with others and will appreciate direct questions and communications that are easy to navigate visually.
Be human in approach.
Though it can be tempting to focus on professionalism in your messages, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re human. Find ways to personalize your messages, or sympathize with editors that are swamped with work.
Practice reciprocity in communications.
Make it clear that you appreciate what the editor is doing for you by reviewing and publishing your work and be sure that you are delivering high-quality content to them.
Clarify expectations when needed.
If an article is rejected, request more illumination on the editor’s requirements or expectations and where you might’ve missed the mark.
Follow through on timelines.
Regardless of whether there was a direct deadline or an agreed-upon time frame, editors do not like having to wonder where a piece of content is or track it down.
In all of your communications, you should ensure that your messages are free of errors. After all, there is no greater way to concern an editor than by sending poorly written emails.
2. Know The Relationship Stage
This is perhaps the most overlooked step in building rapport with editors.
Not all relationships with publication editors are the same, nor should they be treated as such. Some require more time, attention to detail, and communication than others.
Editors can be typically separated into these three categories based on where the relationship is at, what to expect from the relationship, and how to best cater to the editor’s expectations:
The forming stage represents sending the first article to a new editor. It is a critical stage that requires the most time and attention.
In this stage, be sure to find or clarify writer guidelines.
Some editors will have several pages of guidelines and an exact word count they would like you to follow. Others will simply say, “Send the article.”
In the latter case, it’s beneficial not to push too hard for guidelines as the editor may not have any fleshed out and pushing may lead them to believe that you will be a needy writer, which can be a turnoff.
It’s also a good idea when submitting the first article to offer to make any edits if needed. This can make editors more inclined to work with you even if your article needs a few tweaks instead of outright rejecting it.
The progressing stage occurs after your first article is accepted and published. It is representative of your relationship with an editor for the first couple of articles.
Once one article has gone live, it’s important to approach the next article without assuming the editor automatically would like to receive more content.
One way to go about this is to wait a week, thank the editor for publishing your first piece, and ask if they would be interested in receiving another. Offering to pitch new topics in this correspondence can help alleviate concerns if the editor is particularly hesitant.
As you begin sending more articles, be sure to keep notes on the editor’s preferences.
If the editor has any concerns about the format, a certain type of resource, or topic angles, take note and adapt your content to match.
The establishing stage represents becoming a regular contributor to a publication. At this point, you should be familiar with the editor’s preferences and content standards.
In return, the editor typically becomes more familiar with you and your writing style. While this stage requires the least amount of time and communication of the three, a simple “thank you” goes a long way.
Thank editors when your articles go live because ultimately, they are not required to publish your content and this action serves to establish mutual respect and appreciation.
At this stage, if an article is rejected or if you run into disagreements surrounding resources or writing nuances, be sure to choose your battles wisely and avoid unnecessary pushback.
Essentially, your priorities should be to continue sending consistent, quality content and maintaining the integrity of your relationship.
3. Deliver Undeniable Value
When it comes to building rapport with editors at any point in the relationship, delivering value cannot be overstated.
As a guest writer, you are being invited to publish content on someone else’s publication or website. This act of trust should always be met with the piece of quality content it warrants.
To do this, be sure to keep the publication audience at the forefront of topic ideation. It can be easy after writing for a publication for a while to become complacent and lose sight of its original audience.
Be sure to also stay informed on industry trends and news. We live in a dynamic world, and editors are more likely to accept and appreciate a piece of content that speaks to relevant issues of today as opposed to an over-saturated, well-established topic.
Finally, be reliable. Editors have a lot on their plates, and if you establish yourself as a thought leader who provides consistent, well-written content, then you will be highly valued by a variety of publication editors.
To sum it up, building rapport with publication editors is no easy task.
It requires passing plenty of trials to exceed an editor’s expectations and to bypass any biases they may have.
However, when done well, building relationships with various industry publications and submitting quality content has a high return on investment.
It can establish you or your brand as a thought leader within your industry, showcase your expertise in front of a relevant audience, win organic backlinks to your website, lead to networking opportunities, and more.
So when it comes to building trust and relationships with editors, do not overlook these three steps.
Featured image: Shutterstock/fizkes