Having one online article published is great, but having multiple articles published is awesome. And, often, the latter has less to do with your writing skills, and more to do with how you handle your articles before and after publication.
That’s not to say that writing skills don’t have their place, of course. If you want to make a living as an online writer or blogger, you should, at the very least, know how to write. This may seem obvious, but judging from the usual quality of online content, it’s surprising – not to mention alarming – how many people ignore this basic fact.
Anyway, let’s get back on topic. Suppose you are, in fact, one of those writers who can effortlessly churn out beautiful prose with your eyes closed. That’s all well and good… except there are also thousands of writers around the world who can do the same thing. Which begs the question: How do you stand out in such an enormous crowd, especially on a place like the Internet where everyone’s doing their best to attract attention? Glad you asked!
Recommended Reading: Useful Tips And Guidelines To Freelance Writing
Find Websites In Your Niche
Your first order of business is to figure out what you want to write. What do you like to think about first thing in the morning, and before you go to sleep? What topic(s) can you go on and on about for hours without getting exhausted? Do you have any experience, skills, and/or knowledge unique to you?
Once you have a definite answer to those questions, that’s the time you start searching for websites to write for. Use keyword combinations like "(your favorite topic)" + "write for us" or "(your favorite topic)" + "guest post". During your search, you’ll notice that many of the websites turning up won’t pay for contributions. If you want to write for more than just the "exposure", you can add the word "paid" to the keyword combinations suggested above.
If you’re a generalist, or someone with multiple interests, think about one or two topics you can imagine yourself writing about at least once every day. Because, hey, if you’re going to write about things for a living, you might as well love what you’re writing about, right?
Read The Guidelines Carefully
If you want to know what kind of submissions a website accepts, the easiest way to do so is to read their writer’s guidelines. Here, they’ll specify what they’re looking for, what they’re not looking for, payment terms (if applicable), rights, and other policies.
Sometimes, a website posts its editorial calendar. Be sure to check that one out in order to come up with a timely pitch. Oh, and don’t forget to look up their reading period, which is usually specified in the writer’s guidelines as well.
If they don’t have a calendar, and you’re not sure whether your pitch is what they’re looking for at the moment, you can also…
Be A "Ninja"
Even after reading the guidelines, you’ll want to check out the site’s archived articles. They’ll give you an idea of the types of articles that resonate the most with the site’s target readers, and why. With that information, it’ll be easier for you to tailor your submission accordingly and increase your chances of getting accepted.
So how do you identify the old articles that "click" with readers? Look for the ones with the most number of shares on social networking sites, as well as those with the most active discussions in the comments section.
These numbers may not be the most accurate measures of whether those articles are "good", but in any case, they indicate an ability to engage readers, which is the main reason those articles were published in the first place.
Be Familiar With The Site & Audience
If that seems like too much work, you can always browse through the ones labeled "Trending", "Top Articles", "What’s Hot", "Popular Now", etc., and observe what they all have in common. You can also subscribe to their social media pages and/or e-newsletter.
Through these, you can:
- Assess what kind of audience the website has;
- See "patterns" in the type of content they’ve been publishing recently;
- Evaluate their online marketing strategy, and the effectiveness thereof;
- Based on the criteria above, decide for yourself whether they’re worth writing for; and
- Learn something new on a regular basis. (What could be cooler than that?)
If you have friends who are online writers/bloggers, and are in the same niche you want to break into, you can ask them for feedback on the best/worst sites to write for. This is a good option if you don’t have the time or the energy to search for target sites on your own.
Remember that the guidelines are there to help relay information to you before you have even made contact with the people behind the site. Rather than skim through the guidelines, analyze what the site is looking for before you make your pitch (which is another title on its own; don’t worry, it’s coming) so you can show them that as a writer, you really did do the homework required.
Coming soon, how to make a proper pitch of what you want to write, coming to terms with the site and what to do after your post has been published (to make sure you can get more writing jobs).