How do some IT business owners end up with articles in major trade magazines? They must have some kind of inside connection, right?
Not necessarily. Anyone can end up having their technology article featured in a publication read by thousands of business owners, all it takes is a little ingenuity and persistence.
Having a feature published online or in print by a magazine can seem like its out of reach, but it can be a very real part of your content marketing strategy and help you position your IT company as a leader.
How to Go from Blog to Feature Article
You don’t have to be a journalist to see your name in print in the byline of an article. You just have to contribute good content.
The benefits of being published in a B2B or B2C publication are many, and include:
- Positions you and your business as an industry expert
- You gain instant credibility
- Makes a bigger impact than a paid ad
- You reach a specific target audience
- You get leads from a new source
- You can use your article features in other marketing (social media, on your website, etc.)
Most MSP business owners wouldn’t dream that having a feature in a magazine was possible for them. But if you know the steps to take you can actually be invited to contribute to a publication regularly, giving you a chance to promote your business and services to a wider audience.
All the different content marketing you do – blogs, social media, webinars, etc. – are fuel for your marketing engine. Branching out into magazine features based on your blogs can give you a type of fuel that your competition doesn’t have.
How do I know this can be done?
Because I’ve done it! I’ve had articles featured in many magazines and trade publications over the years and had publications regularly asking me to contribute features. It wasn’t because I had some inside track to the industry, it was just through good old-fashioned marketing mojo.
I’ll go through a strategy below that you can use to repurpose your blogs into feature articles that boost your brand and bring in new leads.
Find Target Publications
First, you want to do some homework. This includes locating target publications for your customer types. For example, you may look for business magazines that include technology content to reach B2B clients. For consumers, if you work a lot with seniors, target publications from organizations similar to AARP.
When looking for target publications, keep the following things in mind:
- Look for both larger and smaller local publications and trade journals.
- Look for industry specific publications (i.e. Healthcare or Accounting if you serve those industries)
- Many magazines have gone digital, which is a bonus because you get more online exposure.
- The publication may have an article submissions page on its site.
- Look for the right contact (usually the Editor) to send your article for consideration.
Do a little homework when looking for target publications and take a look at the type of content they publish.
Make this a process you only have to do once by doing the following:
- Create a publications spreadsheet (or use something like Microsoft Lists)
- Make a separate sheet or area for each publication type (i.e. B2B, Healthcare industry, B2C)
- Create columns for: Publication name, contact name, contact email, website URL, article submission form (if they have one), and additional notes
Then, each time you decide to send out an article for consideration, it will take much less time, because you already have your publications contact list created.
The reason you want to keep publications separated is because you’ll want to send different types of articles to each one to fit the readership.
Create an Article from a Blog
I’ve found that sending out a pre-written article with a pitch in an email (instead of just a pitch) can get you a foot in the door. Publications, especially local ones, are often scrambling for content and having a free article land in their lap when they need something before a deadline can be the equivalent of being in the right place at the right time.
Using one or more of your blogs gives you a base from which to build an article. Depending upon the length of the blog, you may not need to do much to evolve it into a feature article.
NOTE: You DO want to change parts of it so it’s not identical to a blog you’ve posted on your site, as publications generally like to have original content.
When using your MSP site blogs to create a feature article, you want to use a few rules of thumb for length, structure, and content:
Great Title: Use a catchy title. Sometimes publications will end up changing these later but starting with one will help you grab attention.
Aim for the Right Length: You want a length of about 1,500 – 2,500 words, then later when you’re invited to contribute, you’ll be given a word count to use. Combine two blogs on the same subject if needed.
Use an Easy-to-Read Structure: Use structure that includes headers, sub-headers, and bullet points. You want the article to be easy to read.
Don’t Make it a Sales Pitch: You want to thread the needle between a relevant mention of your business (after all this IS for marketing) and not coming off as a sales pitch (which will get the article rejected instantly).
96% of consumers don’t trust ads.
Start With Your Section Headings: A tip to help with structuring your article is to first write your section headings, then fill in the content.
Add Your Byline: Right under the title of the article add your name, title, business name, and website URL.
Cite Your Sources: When pulling in statistics or information from another source, be sure to cite your source using a notation (1), and then at the bottom of the article list the site link or reference.
If you don’t write content yourself, get help from an IT blog writing service and just note that you need a feature article. The article does need to be well-written for magazines to consider it.
There is actually no difference between how a blog and an article that you find in a magazine are written. Both are written for the audience.
You’ll want to submit the article in MS Word format, which is the most widely used for documents.
Add Complimentary Images
Articles come to life when they have images, and most publications that are requesting articles will want high resolution (300 DPI) images that they can use with the article.
Make sure these are not just stock images (unless it’s a really good stock image), and that you have rights to use it.
Be creative. You have plenty of things you can use around your shop to illustrate a point in an article.
For example, if your article has to do with backup problems and how most businesses aren’t backing up data correctly, then set up a computer to show an “out of space” warning message on the screen and take a photo of that.
Tips for article photos:
- They need to be at least 300 DPI
- 3-4 photos are a good number
- Make them a decent size (such as a minimum of 1200 x 800 px)
- Put photos in a special cloud folder that media can access and download from
- With the photos, add a text document that lists the photo source (i.e. Photos courtesy of ABC Tech) and a caption for each photo.
Photo captions that you include should be short and descriptive. Note: You can add a company name in there to get some “advertising” without it being a sales pitch. For example, for the backup warning message photo, use “Example from ABC Tech of a common backup problem.”
Here are some tips on taking and finding great images.
Never Pay for a Feature Article
One pitfall to avoid is the advertorial. These are paid ads that are made to look like articles. The goal is to get an article published because you have useful content to contribute, you shouldn’t have to pay to get published.
You’ll inevitably hit upon counter offers to your offer of a free article that include paying for an advertorial. Just move past these (unless you really want to try it) and take that publication off your master list so you won’t send a pitch to them in the future.
Put Together Your Email Pitch
Now, you should have:
- The 1,500 to 2,500-word article in MS Word format
- A downloadable selection of 3-4 photos with accompanying captions in a text document
- Your list of target publications to send your article to
Next, you’ll want to put together your email pitch that you’ll be emailing or submitting online for publications that have an online article submission form.
Here is a template you can edit and personalize:
Subject Line: Article Submission for (XYZ Magazine) – Why Do Businesses Still Make Critical Backup Mistakes?
Dear (name) or Editor,
I’ve attached below (or linked below) an article submission for consideration that I believe would be of interest to the readers of (XYZ Magazine).
The article highlights the critical backup mistakes that businesses are still making and how they can put them in a devastating data loss situation.
Included below is a link to high resolution images to accompany the article. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Thank you for your consideration,
Name, Title, Company
The goal is to be short and sweet and include enough information to pique their interest. I also recommend personalizing the subject line and first paragraph by including the publication’s name, which lets them know this isn’t spam.
Tips for Successfully Getting Published
Be Patient & Consistent
You can’t expect the first 10 publications to immediately put you in their magazine or trade journal. Just like any form of prospecting, you need to be both patient and consistent.
“Champions keep playing until they get it right.” – Billie Jean King
Don’t get discouraged if it takes a while to get that first publication to email back and say they’ll use your article. It’s normal for it to take a while, but the payoff is that you gain much more credibility through a feature article than a paid ad and can attract new leads that then convert to sales.
Keep pitches going out consistently until you get a hit. If you’ve emailed everyone you can think of and still no nibbles… try changing up the title of the article or your email message.
Give Another Option
Maybe your article on backup problems isn’t a good fit because they just covered that two months ago, but they may be interested in something else. Add another option when you send your article pitches, such as “PS: If this article isn’t a good fit, I can write on other business technology topics that you may be looking for.”
Go the Extra Mile with Media Kits
Media kits are often for advertising, but they usually include upcoming issue focuses, which is what you’re looking for.
You can improve your chances of being published if you download a media kit and target the article you send to a theme they’re doing about 2 months ahead of an issue.
Publications to Start With
Start with any local business journals in your city, county, or state. These will give you the best chance of being picked up due to the local connection.
You can also try for larger publications if you want to, especially if you offer remote services throughout the country.
Here are just a few I found from a quick B2B technology publication search to get you started:
Gain Multiple Benefits by Being Published
The trust factor that comes with being published in a magazine or trade journal can mean a big injection of marketing fuel for your business that you can leverage for years.
Have you ever had an article for your business published in a magazine? Let us know in the comments!