Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Hello. Can You Hear Me? 5 Surefire Tricks to Get Your Words Published Outside of Your Blog

Hi bloggy babes!  I assume if you're reading this post, you're a bloggy babe or a soon-to-be bloggy babe.

By now, you've probably discovered that writing is this strange little process where you do a whole lot of work and editing and then you just throw it out there into the wind and see where it lands. In most vocations, you receive feedback as you go and by the time you reach a finished product, you have a pretty fair idea of how you're doing.  

Not so with blogging. You might spend painstaking hours on an article only to have it fall completely flat (tumbleweed) or post a quick draft and see it go viral. It can feel a little bit daunting and confusing especially when you decide you might want to venture outside of your blog and start submitting work elsewhere in cyberspace.

Recently I was brainstorming with a friend about submitting writing elsewhere in cyberspace and she said, "Why don't you share this information?"

Um. Basically...
  • because I am just out here trial and erroring stuff myself. 
  • because I assumed that I was the only one working through the process of figuring it out.
  • because I'm really new to this whole business so who am I to give any advice? 
Wait... Someone else might be feeling this way? REVELATION!

 You can go google "Pitching Work to Blogs" to find in-depth expert information. I'll just tell you what's working for me. Since November, I've been featured on twice on both Babble and the Huffington Post, three times on Pregnant Chicken and on some really cool blogs that you should check out RIGHT NOW like The Blended Blog, Living for Naptime, The Lost Girls' Guide to Finding the World, and Simply Annie.  

I'm NOT an expert, but here's what's working for me. I would also like to say a huge 'thank you' for the generous advice and tips from Leslie Means, Co-founder and Owner at Her View From Home and Stacey Skrysak, a newscaster and experienced blogger.

Here are 5 Surefire Tricks to Get Your Words Published Outside of Your Blog.

1. Do Your Research. 
Figure out which websites line up with your interests and voice. 

Hey! What do you know? Here are two super helpful articles to find platforms for your work
  • This one by Chrystie at Living for Naptime is a relevant, up-to-date and comprehensive resource list of 55 blogs where you should be submitting posts! Thank you, Chrystie!!! 
  • This one is all about pitching to other blogs and has a whole resource list of websites with quotes from bloggers who've worked with them! (Shout out to the amazing Katie at Twelve & Six who shared this great post with me)

Once you've found a few places that "get you," spend some time reading published content. Even though you'll bring your own voice and ideas to the table, it's important get a vibe for the length, style, and themes that each website covers.  

Truth: So far I've had one article turned down because I submitted it without considering the fact that it didn't fit within the topic of the site. Bad move, Abbie. 

Follow the company on Twitter. Find out who the editors are. Follow them too! Tweet them! Comment on social media. Use their hashtags. It doesn't hurt to make connections if you can do so in a (non-creepy) genuine way.
Review the information provided on the submission process and FOLLOW IT. Here's what Leslie Means, Owner and Co-Founder of Her View From Home (a website averaging 400,000 monthly views) has to say about what she looks for in a guest poster: 

"I hope the writers simply follow the steps listed on our 'write for her' page (which to me means you actually took time to read it and read a couple pieces on our site, too). Yes, "viral" articles are always good (anything that catches your attention will do the same for others) but that's not as important to me as someone who has a passion to write, and wants to be a part of the online community."

Getting to know the community before you pitch your article takes time but will exponentially increase your chances of success.

2. Create a Bio & a Pitch.
It's hard to talk about yourself but important. Think of your bio almost as a Tweet on Twitter. You want it to be as short as possible with the most information possible. The facts you include may vary depending on your audience but incorporate your voice in this small statement. It's the shortest cover letter ever and is also included in your published work, so make sure it represents you.

Here's my bio from one of my articles on Pregnant Chicken, a website geared toward providing quality information for pregnant and new mothers in a sassy, humorous, sarcastic style:
Even after teaching high school French and English for the last six years, Abbie still decided to have her own kids. A self-professed mombie of two littles, she locks herself in the bathroom to therapeutically journal about mom life, mom fails and faith from the heart of winter, Saskatoon, Canada. Follow along or offer professional help at her blogFacebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
If I was writing a bio for my church's senior's group, I would likely adapt that slightly. You get the idea. 

The Pitch 
When submitting your work by email, make sure your subject line explicitly states the subject of your post, the tone, and the intended audience. For example, if I wanted to submit an article geared toward parents that is lighthearted in tone and deals with the flu season, my subject line might be "Humourous Parenting Article: 5 Steps to Planning a Playdate During Flu Season"... Hypothetically.

Within the email body, write a very polite, grammatically correct message stating who you are (your bio), what you have attached (the pitch or the finished post), several similar examples of your work, and how you can be reached. I would recommend only attaching one post for submission at a time. Pick your best work.  

TIP: Keep your post succinct. Articles between 800-1000 words are most likely to be accepted. (Hmmm. This one is way too long. Deal with it)

Here's an example of a pitch I submitted recently:
My name is Abbie Ginther and I'm a blogger at Even after teaching high school French and English for the last six years, I still decided to have my own kids. A self-professed mombie of two littles under two, I lock myself in the bathroom to therapeutically journal from behind my mom goggles in the heart of winter, Saskatoon, Canada.
Here are a few of my recent posts published outside of my blog at Babble, Pregnant Chicken, and a travel website.

I've attached a (not yet published) humourous article about navigating the flu season playdate that I think might appeal to readers such as parents and caregivers.
Thank you so much for your consideration,
Abbie Ginther
Your pitch may look completely different but sometimes it's just helpful to see an example. Tailor each pitch to the submission guidelines and themes of the publication.

3. No Job is Too Big, No Pup Publication is too Small.
Thanks Paw Patrol. I know. You want to have that awesome button on your blog that says FEATURED IN _______, but if you are interested in growing your blog, the connections you make with other bloggers and smaller websites matter because you are dealing with people, not HTML code. The more you are willing to contribute, the more you will see your personal portfolio grow, the more practice you'll get at pitching your work and the better your content will be as you hone your writing style.

Fun fact: I've had more blog traffic generated and real followers from smaller websites geared only to my target audience (cool moms) than from larger sites where I am just one of two million voices.
4. Be You
Stacey Skrysak, a newscaster and experienced blogger with articles on Her View From Home, Scary Mommy, The Mighty and HuffPost says this: "I can share what seems to work for me. The key--find your niche and stick to it and speak from your heart."  
*See bottom of post for more of Stacey's advice and story. It is compelling and constructive.*

You need to speak your own words and know who you're speaking to. You don't have to curse like a sailor or format like a graduate dissertation. It just has be genuine. It's all been said before, but NOT BY YOU.

The Nicest You.  
Remember that you're pitching to a PERSON, not a company. Be polite, prompt in replying, and respectful of deadlines because you can bet that if you're not, you likely won't be partnering with that organization again any time soon.
Can I tell you a secret? The only person that knows you're pitching your work is you and the editor receiving your email.  You might receive a rejection reply. This is tough, but likely will contain constructive criticism on improving your work. You might not receive any reply or you might just get published. If you DON'T submit it, I guarantee you won't get published. Weird. I truly believe it's not luck or fortune but being willing to put in the time, energy and effort that will help you find a platform to feature your unique perspective and voice. 

The internet is big enough for all of us. I can't wait to celebrate your success. 

Here's a little more encouragement from Co-Founder and Owner of Her View From Home, Leslie Means on the other side of the submission process:

"We can't guarantee you'll make $$$ each time you post, but we CAN promise to read it. And we're still eagerly seeking and accepting new bloggers as we want to be huge, huge, too. (That's a WIN for you!) That means - we always get back to you when you submit content (sometimes it takes longer than others) and honestly, if you have decent grammar, you share our content and you want to be a part of the community we have formed, then we want you. Simple as that. I get about 10-15 new writer requests per day... For me, I hope the writers simply follow the steps listed on our write for her page (which to me means you actually took time to read it and read a couple pieces on our site, too). Yes, "viral" articles are always good (anything that catches your attention will do the same for others) but that's not as important to me as someone who has a passion to write, and wants to be a part of the online community. Be kind and participate."

Here's Stacey's Story. I love that Stacey reiterates several of the points in this article. I'm a firm believer in hearing things twice and her journey is incredible. Check it out.

Some Background- I truly started blogging three to four years ago. It was something that I did through my TV station. I'm a local television news anchor by day, blogger and wannabe super mom at night. I really got into and created my own blog after I had my children. I became pregnant three years ago after years of infertility. I shared my experience on television and through writing (I started writing for Leslie Means' website Her View From Home). Unfortunately, I experienced several complications and delivered my triplets more than 17 weeks premature. Abby died a few hours after birth, Parker died in the Nicu at about two months old and our amazing survivor, Peyton, is a healthy two-and-a-half year old and the youngest baby to survive at our hospital (she's considered a 22 weeker). 

I have a unique situation because I already had a following through television and that grew as my story became more public. I'm so lucky to have thousands of supporters around the world--it has truly helped me through the ups and downs of child loss and raising a child that had higher needs for so long. What I found as I began to blog, was that it became my therapy. It sounds scary to open up yourself to the world and to criticism, but after my children died, I decided to pour my heart and soul out it was a way to help keep the memory of my children alive.

Stacey's Advice:

1. Find Your Niche.
My best advice for new bloggers is to find your niche and pour your heart into it. For me, it tends to be the topics of child loss, infertility, parenting and premature birth. Over time, I gained a following in those communities and it just keeps on growing. It's much easier to concentrate on one umbrellas topic, even if it's a broad one like "parenting". It's funny--every so often I'll post a recipe and it gets only a few hundred reads (compared to the thousands on the other topics). It may be shared 50 times, but it doesn't get the traction as my other posts...that's mainly because people don't think of me as a food blogger. So, I mainly stick to a plan that works for me.

2. Write With Your Heart.
By now, I know what topics go viral and I know what posts are going to do better than others. But don't sell yourself out just to get views, make sure what you're writing is truly coming from you and not what you think others will want to read. You should be blogging because you want your voice to be heard. Sometimes I'm amazed at how many views I get on some of my posts. It's usually the ones that I whip up in a matter of minutes because it's a moment that is fresh on my mind....and those are the ones that will get thousands of reads in 24 hours. Just a few weeks ago, I posted a quick moment with my daughter--She looked at a picture of her identical sister, Abby, and said "wake up". It was the sweetest, yet saddest moment as I realized that she is starting to understand she is a triplet and her siblings aren't here. It took me a few minutes to write, but it came from the heart. That post was picked up by Scary Mommy, The Mighty and is getting published on Huffington Post. 

3. Don't give up! 
Remember there are so many other writers out there submitting their work, it only takes one person to see yours and say "yes"! Keep on submitting. And for many big-time websites, search out a contact for the editor or a publisher. If you contact them directly, you will have a better chance of being considered than simply entering your post in the general submission form. I have a lot of luck in finding contacts through twitter. Search people, google for their may take a little time, but it works wonders! Also, search out organizations that pertain to your blogging style. For me, I found that "The Mighty" takes most of my articles because they are a website that's geared towards disabilities and mental/health issues. Their following on FB is hundreds of thousands, so that grows my audience. The more your article is shared, the better. You can simply search for a topic on FB and several groups will pop up. It's easy to message them to see if there is any interest in them sharing your post. This has been the single most beneficial thing for me. One time, I got a message from a friend telling me my story was on a FB page for infertility. It had been shared hundreds of times. As for posting--I'm not an every day blogger. I have a full time job, plus lots of extra activities with my daughter, so I tend to only post one new entry every week. I've learned what my audience likes and that's a couple posts a week on social media. On my "Stacey Skrysak" Facebook page, I have both blog followers and news viewers, so I keep it to one post a day on that page. 

4. Guest Posts
Oh! And one more thing--consider opening up your blog to "guest posts". I've done that a handful of times and they fare pretty well. If you can find someone with a similar writing topic, it's great cross-promotion and can help both bloggers. 
When I started blogging, I didn't expect it to go anywhere, it was more for fun. But, I've learned that I can help others through my journey and it's become a passion for me. People Magazine even did a story on my family a few months ago and my mission to help others through sharing my family's journey.

How amazing is Stacey? She's a superhero. Follow her on Facebook and on her blog Perfectly Peyton

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