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6 Steps to Successful Guest Writing

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Serving as a guest writer for key publications helps build personal brand and get your name known to industry peers and executive recruiters. In addition, taking the time to write an article will refresh your written communication skills and the research will broaden your knowledge. So how do you make sure your work is published for others to see?

To ensure success, follow the action plan below!

1.       Know your audience

In any PR or marketing program, before you publish anything you must find out what your audience wants. Read the publications you want to be published in and note down the writing style, topics and headlines. Join industry focused linkedin groups and visit popular websites to see what topics have the most views or comments.

Reading blogs and scanning social media websites such as LinkedIn or Twitter are the best ways to keep your finger on the pulse. Match what is most popular with your expertise, and research new areas.

2.       Create a list of titles

Knowing what you want to write will dramatically speed up your writing process and is essential when dealing with potential publishers.

The best articles are those that offer answers to popular questions and give readers something to take away. Other approaches include commenting on popular events, discussing business trends or offering innovative approaches to new/old ideas. Use the research completed in step one as the basis for your article titles.

3.       Contact decision makers

Using your list of target online and print publications, send personalised contact to each one offering yourself as a guest writer. Describe your expertise and offer article suggestions tailored to each publication. It is best if you can highlight published examples of your writing along with your resume / profile attached.

If you are yet to be published, attach a document with a sample. Blogs are the best place to start because it is the most open form of communication and blog editors/writers are usually the easiest to contact. However, industry focused websites or magazines usually offer better exposure but it is sometimes harder to form relationships with those in control. Print and large news outlets are the ultimate goal but often journalists like to come to you, not the other way round. That is why number 4 and 5 are important.

4.       Online Brand

Having a strong online brand is the best way to achieve guest writing spots because you offer to return exposure to your personal audience, and as an online ‘expert’, additional credibility to their publication. In addition, once you have a strong base of followers to your twitter, LinkedIn or blog, you can offer a place for them to post their articles with links back to them as an exchange.

In addition, a blog will offer you a place to publish your writing and serve as a portfolio for potential guest writing opportunities. Not to mention overall personal brand benefits, and exposure to executive recruiters and journalists.

5.       Networking and follow up

Networking your way to guest writing is often more successful than unsolicited emails. Journalists can often be found at annual conferences and events, while industry groups often have their own publication and a number of members who blog. You can also ask industry groups for some PR contacts.

Online, the usual rules apply. Make connections on LinkedIn and look out for those publishing to the article and comment section. Always approach each contact as a two way process – what does your guest writing offer? - Great content that will be strongly appreciated by their readers.  Remember your offering increases dramatically if you have a strong online presence to provide exposure in return.

Once you have had success with one contact, maintain your relationship to secure future articles.

6.       Web vs Print Writing

It is also important to understand your medium. Web writing is often shorter, is list or short section orientated, has shorter paragraphs and is full of keywords. Blogging often allows a degree of flexibility in tone, while industry websites, journals or print publications require a more formal, fact based approach. Again, refer to your research to see what the most popular writing styles are and note differences in tone. Considering online publication is becoming more important than print, you may notice writing styles converging.

As Christophe de Callatay highlighted in ‘5 Ways to Get Noticed by Industry Leaders‘, guest writing is like a personal PR campaign that requires regular mentions, and when you are published, make sure all your contacts know. Post the link to your LinkedIn, Facebook and twitter profiles, and send the article to close contacts and ask them to post to their profiles – a great way to spread your content that is often neglected!

Finally, ensure each piece of your writing has a well written biography with email contact, and make sure you have a professional photograph at hand. Now enjoy the process and watch your network grow!

   

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This article was written by Christian Pielow from the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC).

BlueSteps is the exclusive service of the AESC that puts senior executives on the radar screen of over 6,000 executive search professionals in over 70 countries. Be visible, and be considered for up to 50,000 opportunities handled by AESC search firms every year. Find out more at www.BlueSteps.com.

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