Promoting with articles has long been one of my favorite book marketing strategies, though the rules have changed over the years due to changes with Google. You used to be able to take an article and submit it to dozens of article content directories, such as http://ezinearticles.com, and your article would be picked up for reprint by other websites, blogs, and newsletters. While this can still work to bring you some additional exposure for your work, it doesn’t generate as much traffic as it used to. Google doesn’t like seeing the same content on multiple websites, so it will only serve up one instance of an article in search results. For example, if you wrote an article called “How to Care for Your Chihuahua,” and then submitted it to several websites, when you searched for that article on Google the article would only appear one time—most likely from either the site that featured the article first or the site with the highest Google ranking. The bottom line: articles submitted to directories no longer generate the link juice they used to.
However, there are still some great opportunities to write content for other websites, and specifically for those that reach your target audience of readers. When you write for an industry site (an expert on vegan living could write for a health site) or a popular media site (like Huffingtonpost.com), you can build your brand with readers, spur book sales, and bring traffic back to your site, thanks to the bio that is included at the end of your post.
Here’s how to get started:
1. Research and identify industry websites that reach your target audience. Ideally you should look for popular, high-traffic sites.
2. Search for submission guidelines since many sites offer guidelines for contributing. If you can’t fine these, contact the content editor or site owner and send a pitch. Let him/her know that you are an authority on your subject matter and that you’d like to contribute articles to the site. Note that most sites will not pay you for content, and instead offer exposure for you through your bio on the site.
3. Understand the guidelines. Many sites will require “first rights,” which mean the article you contribute cannot have been previously published elsewhere. In many cases, there is some kind of time limit—30 or 60 days—and after that you can re-publish the article on your own site or elsewhere. If the site requires “exclusive rights,” that means that you cannot repurpose the article anywhere else. Typically only the very large media sites require exclusive rights, and in exchange you should be paid for those. If a small, lesser known site requests exclusive rights, consider whether or not that is worth it to you. You should have the right to repurpose your content unless you are getting paid.
4. Write really great content and article headlines. Follow any guidelines provided by the site, and be sure to include a single paragraph bio at the end that explains who you are, includes your book title, and a link to your website. As an added bonus, posting your articles online adds links pointing back to your website. This can be great for search engine optimization since Google wants to see lots of incoming links to your website.
5. Don’t be afraid to pitch to the major media sites (the online version of your favorite magazine)—they need content too! Start by asking friends and peers if they know any editorial contacts at the site since referrals always help. If that doesn’t work, do some research to figure out who manages the blog content for the site, or for a certain category on the site. Then take a deep breath and send a dazzling pitch. Let the editor know about your expertise and provide a few links to view samples of your work, whether on other media sites (ideally) or on your own blog. Also, suggest some topics you’d like to write about, especially topics that are particularly timely. For example, if you want to write for a major business magazine website and you have experience with the latest social media trend, suggest that as your first article topic. You’ll never know until you ask.
If you like this blog post, you’ll love our Author Toolkit covering websites, blogging and social media for authors. Check it out!