So you want to get published?
Maybe you're a business owner looking for a little extra publicity. Maybe you're looking to become a thought leader in your field.
When I was 24 years old, I was told the "old way" of getting published: Submit work and hope for the best.
Instead, I went my own way, and within a year I had been published in TIME, Inc., Forbes, Fortune, Business Insider, Huffington Post, and more.
Here is how I did it, and how you can too:
If you aren't already on Quora, you need to start immediately. For those that don't know, Quora is a question/answer site--everything that Yahoo Answers should have been. What makes Quora such a unique platform is that it houses some big names of people who spend a lot of time answering people's questions: entrepreneur and investor David Rose, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, blogger and investor extraordinaire James Altucher, to name a few.
The secret that nobody knows about Quora is that their team of moderators have direct relationships to teams at many of the top digital publications. Every week, Quora moderators scour the site for really great answers posted to people's questions, and pitch them to these publications. The publication teams review the pitches, hand-pick a few, and then republish these same answers as blogs on their own site. It's a clear and direct shot straight to the top, as long as you are providing great content.
Here's why else this is amazing:
- When these publications repost an answer from Quora as a blog, they leave just about every link intact. So if in the middle of your answer you linked to say, your blog, then when that answer gets republished on TIME or Inc., you now have a major website pointing straight to your website, creating a very strong backlink and drastically improving your blog's SEO.
- Once someone picks up a Quora answer of yours, you now have a resource within Quora that you can continue to pitch. Think of them as your "agent." Every week, take your 2-3 best answers, send them a direct message, and let them know which publications you think those answers might work well for. You are making their life easier! You are giving them the content they are looking for on a silver platter--and you are making it simpler for them to publish your work.
2. Social Media
The second (and obvious) avenue to getting published is to use social media. But where a lot of people go wrong is they send out direct messages with no rhyme or reason. As Gary Vaynerchuck would say (or yell), "Jab, Jab, Jab, THEN Right Hook."
If you are going to reach out to someone on social media, here is the recipe you need to follow:
- Find a fellow writer of a publication you would like to be published in (don't go straight for the editor, unless you have the credentials to back it up) and reach out to them, complimenting their work.
- Over the next few weeks, follow that writer's activity. 'Like' their posts. Comment frequently. Re-tweet their work. But most importantly, respond with feedback.
- Follow up with frequent direct messages providing value. Too many people think social media is about tossing around a bunch of plastic and public tweets saying things like, "Hey! Loved your post! Nice work!" It's not. We all know what you're doing. If you're going to respond publicly, say something of value. But the real value is in the private messages you continue to send as follow ups. Offer some ideas you think they could write about that would go over well with their audience. Offer to promote them on your blog. Make that person your friend and show them you want to help them. Provide value!
- Now, you have a friend at a big publication. After some time has gone by, ask them how they became a writer in the first place. Ask if they would be able to make an e-mail introduction to their editor. Step onto their path and learn how they did it, and then follow the same footsteps.
3. Climb The Blogs
Ryan Holiday talks about this in his book Trust Me, I'm Lying, but I've been doing this since I was 17 years old blogging on the Internet.
The big secret to climbing the blog world is to get in on the ground floor, trade up. Get in on the second floor, trade up. Get in on the third floor, trade up. And so on.
Here's the recipe:
- Let's say you are a thought leader in the Innovation space. Maybe you are an entrepreneur with a really great story, but nobody knows who you are. Reach out to the small blogs first (social media, via e-mail, etc.) and say, "Hey, I love your blog and the value you provide your readers. I have a very similar story and I would love to provide even more value to you and your readers. Would you be open to collaborating on a guest blog post?" Just about every small blog will be open to something like this, especially if you have some sort of credential to your name.
- Get a handful of these guest blogs on the smaller sites under your belt. You now have a sample pool of proof--you've been published (sort of)! Take these few blogs, and start reaching out to blogs with slightly larger followings. When you reach out, mention that you've "Already been published in a few other blogs here, and the response has been really great." This shows that other people have vetted you, which reduces the "risk" a slightly larger blog might have in publishing someone new.
- Repeat. Take the slightly larger blogs and now reach out to bigger blogs.
- Keep doing this until you are knocking on the doors of the big publications, with a long list of blogs that came before you proving your success.
What's interesting about "trading up" in the blog world is how fast it can move. Be prepared.