Content Marketing: How to Create a Self-Publishing Practice
Many companies are starting to hire journalists, or experienced columnists with domain knowledge, to help them increase the appetite for and influence of their corporate blogs. Without a doubt, your storylines must be of interest to your target audience and contain meaningful substance within your editorial text. Yes, this is a no-brainer. But there are other things you can do to increase your reach if you’re a big company, or get noticed if you’re a small company. Consider guest blogging. Better yet, consider self-publishing on major media sites.
Huh? Guest blogging just means that you plug into an already existing blog on a third-party site. Self-publishing on major media sites is a different animal. The Service Provider Marketing organization at Cisco has been using a hybrid model of offering traditional press releases to editors and self-published content themselves for about a year. “It’s not paid media and it’s not a typical blog post”, says David Deans (@dhdeans), the champion of self publishing in Cisco’s Service Provider Marketing group. Then what is it?
1. Feel the Love: Trade Publications, Self Publishers and Social Media
Several of the more progressive trade publications are starting to realize that opening up their platform to third-party content is a good thing. Why? Because by allowing credible third-party sources to participate in content publishing, not only are they able to provide more content, and therefore, more reasons to their readers to return to their pages, but they can also take advantage of self publishers’ efforts to draw new traffic to the publication – at zero cost to the publisher.
The key task for companies new to this approach is developing their talent-pool of credible authors. Therefore, don’t assume the trade media will invite you to publish your own content — first you’ll need to show them that you produce quality content and play by their rules. Clearly, they don’t want you to spam their readers. In return, what do companies have to gain? “It gives you the opportunity to publish content without any delay. It’s agile publishing, it meets readers’ needs and the embedded backlinks to your corporate website will improve your search engine ranking”, says David.
2. Play on THEIR Turf: Reaching Your Audience in a Familiar Environment
The great thing about participating on an established third-party media site is that you know that your preferred audience is already there — so you don’t need to worry about whether or not you’re reaching the right people. By publishing your content there, you have already pre-qualified your prospective reader. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have considered buying advertising space on those sites, would you?
This is also a great solution from the reader’s perspective. You’re not asking them to do anything differently from what they’re already doing. They visit the site they normally visit, and your relevant and substantive thought leadership content is presented to them in a familiar and trusted environment.
3. Write through the Reader’s Eyes: Presenting Your Content from THEIR Perspective
When you’re writing as a guest on another platform, keep in mind that people are not there to read your marketing pitch. They can go to your web site for that. Change the way you craft your content and make it fit the style of the publication. For example, in the opening, you may want to provide some industry information or high-level topics instead of jumping straight to your product announcement. Or, you may want to put your customer front and center and how they’re solving an industry problem instead of leading with the promotion of your latest and greatest technology.
There are other ways to tie your editorial piece back to your company or solution. You can do so by making your offering part of the solution to a high-profile industry problem and by providing backlinks related to your related content assets. Value-add insights and unique points of view will help you increase readership. As you write, imagine your reader thinking “please tell me something that I don’t already know.” That way you’ll truly earn a loyal and engaged following.
4. Title and Tag Your Content Wisely: Optimizing for SEO
Don’t forget to choose your topic title words carefully and tag your body content wisely. Help your SEO ranking by thinking about your content strategically — and as part of the greater good. Keep in mind the bigger purpose your content is there to serve others. Incorporate words and phrases that your customers would likely use to search on your chosen topic.
Lessons Learned: when creating content as a guest contributor for major media sites, invest the time to fully understand that publication’s target reader needs and wants. You must fit the editorial style of the publication and earn their readers’ attention. So, always put their perspectives and careabouts first. (This should always be the case, but especially with publishing on third-party media sites). And lastly, before you plan to buy more traditional advertising space on a trade media site, determine if a no-cost content self-published model would be a more effective way to achieve your goals.