You probably know that search rankings can have a huge impact on the number of people that come to your site.
But optimizing your site for search can take up a crazy amount of time – and often feels like throwing resources into the huge, black abyss of the internet. When there are giants out there writing about a lot of the same concepts you are, it feels like you don't stand a chance against them.
Unfortunately, this feeling is true more often than not.
On big-ticket topics, it's unlikely you'll be able to unseat sites with way more resources, a way bigger following, and much more time to invest in the SEO game.
But that doesn't mean you can't make headway using high-quality content in smaller niches.
Why? Because creating high-quality content that's in demand encourages backlinks referencing your work.
And those sorts of engaging links can really help your search ranking: Links and content are Google's #1 and #2 ranking factors, according to Brian Dean of Backlinko. And to build lots of backlinks, you want to reach outside of your own readership. How?
Enter the publication pitch.
That's right: Pitching your content to an online publisher. The bigger the publisher, the closer to your niche, the more reputable, the better. You want to write for that publication, get your work published, and get a high-quality backlink to your site in your byline.
But pitching to a major publication is absolutely nerve-wracking.
Trust me, I know. But we got over that fear, reached out, and landed that content spot with an article that's performed very well – and our site has definitely benefitted.
It took a lot of preparation, but it's absolutely worth it.
So how do you take the leap to get your content published?
Here's how to prepare to pitch to a major publication and start building high-quality backlinks:
1. Create high-quality content. (And don't even bother with generic stuff.)
For content that demonstrates your expertise or serves some other role in your business, generic articles like "5 reasons you need a brand, not just a logo" or "5 Reasons Blogging Is the Best Thing You Can Do for Your Business Marketing" are more than fine. Go right ahead. Have a ball.
But if you're prepping to reach out to major publications, you're gonna have to do better. Posts like those are a dime a dozen.
→ Instead, you need to create high-quality content that demonstrates your ability to think independently, willingness to take risks, and desire to go above and beyond run-of-the-mill posts.
That's going to mean investing some major time into high-quality articles – articles that don't already exist, that do demonstrate a well-reasoned opinion that runs against collective thought, that are clearly written and make for compelling reads.
You'll need to use high-quality articles as examples of your work, so spend time getting them right!
2. Identify publications in your field and hunt down their contact info
After creating unique, high-quality content again and again, it's time to start reaching out to publications. Remember: the bigger the publisher, the closer to your niche, the more reputable, the better.
How do you find contact info? Well, there's a chance you'll find an editorial email address somewhere on their site – like on a contact page, for example.
But if you want to pull email addresses that will go directly to individual editors and writers, not just a general inquiry address, you'll need to do a bit more digging.
In addition to simply searching through websites, we used Press Rush to pull journalists' contact info directly, and by topic. It's a monthly expense – a fairly high expense if you're a small business like us – but WORTH it if you're ready to get serious about content outreach!
3. Create a reusable email template you can adjust for each person
Now it's time to start reaching out. Cold emails are always a bit stressful, but using a structured format will make this go a WHOLE lot easier.
Include a greeting using the individual's name, a one-sentence introduction to yourself and your small business, a one-sentence pitch of WHY your content is a great fit for the publication they represent, one to three examples of recent content that fits in what you envision creating for them, and a request for their thoughts.
The important part is the WHY: If that one-sentence pitch is on target, you'll catch their eye. If not, you may be out of luck.
The WHY needs to target *both* the intersection of what you offer that's unique and what they need to make their content offering better.
4. keep Reaching out.
I can't stress this enough: You MUST keep reaching out. Again and again.
All it takes is one bite to get a good thing going – but that one bite may take hundreds of attempts to get an "in." We sent out dozens and dozens and dozens of emails before getting a response.
But we GOT that response, and since then we've been able to pick up traction – it just took one positive response! So keep going, even if you get a flurry of noes (or, even more discouragingly, complete silence).
Have you seen success pitching to major publications?
How did you decide to start reaching out, and did you find success right away? What are YOUR suggestions for getting ready to start a major pitch?
For anyone getting ready to start reaching out, good luck! Let us know how it goes!
Hoot Design Co. is a marketing, branding, and design agency located in Columbia, MO. We specialize in creating a custom and comprehensive marketing strategy centered around your business's unique strengths and educating you with the tools you need from day one. From logo design to brand identity, website design and execution, and social media marketing strategies in-person and through online courses, we're focused on your business success every step of the way.