A Quick Guide to Getting Published

This summer has been much busier than usual, and I find that I’m struggling to get client work done, get to work in and enjoy the garden, and post to the blog as well. Something has gotta give, and the “content monster” has been going unfed. It’s a trade-off I can live with, and hopefully one which my subscribers can understand.

I’ve been meaning to provide a short post about one marketing tactic: writing articles and getting them published. This is one part of the education-based marketing strategy. It is not for everyone. You have to be able to write for the reader, not in legalese. You need to be able to reduce complex concepts to understandable narrative, without need for a million caveats and footnotes. It’s not easy.

How do you get the most bang for the buck from your writing time? How do you get published, e.g. get the opportunities?

1) Determine what audience you want to reach. Typically this is done based on some determining demographic such as income level, industry, occupation, region, and so forth.

2) Determine what publication(s) your audience reads. (More on this later.)

3) Get a few issues of the publication so that you can familiarize yourself with its style.

4) Develop a topic, and contact the editor to propose an article on the topic. Spell out what interest you believe it will generate, or what need it will satisfy. Provide a brief outline of your proposed article. Offer to provide a sample of your writing (provided you have some articles already published).

5) If you don’t get a warm welcome, mark your calendar to try again in another few months with a different idea. Be persistent. Meanwhile, shop your idea to another publication.

6) If you get an opportunity be sure to deliver your best effort by the deadline or before. Never leave an editor hanging by failing to submit your article when due, or submit something you have dashed together at the last moment which requires a lot of clean-up.

7) If you get published remember to send a thank you note to the editor expressing appreciation for your opportunity to contribute to such a “fine” issue. Mention your willingness to write again in the future. Mark your calendar to contact the editor again in the future, maybe a year later, to propose another article.

8) Get reprints of the article for inclusion in mailings and seminar packets later. Reprints from any publication are impressive to clients and prospects if professionally produced.

9) Always include a “teaser” in your article suggesting people contact you for something free. A checklist, another article, a free consultation or review; basically anything you can offer to entice a prospect to willingly contact you. The size of the response will give you some indication of how many people actually read your article. And it will help you develop a stable of prospects for additional future contact.

How do you locate the publications which can reach your target audience? Any good marketing person can turn you on (probably for a fee) to some of the excellent resources, mostly directories, available for identifying and understanding the publications available given your chosen demographics. In fact, you may choose to select your demographics based on publications, instead of vice versa.

I had the good fortune of working in the advertising / PR business for 8+ years before joining my first law firm. So I know a little about some of these resources. Bacon’s Information is one of the oldest print resources. Online resources include such massive listings as Publishers’ Catalog, MediaFinder, and smaller ones like PhysOrg.com.

Keep in mind my #1 Rule about any type of education-based marketing: Create Once, Use Many Times. What I mean by that is that any article you write can be turned into a client alert, a reprint mailing, a seminar, a blog post, or even another article, with little additional effort. The same applies to a seminar you create, or a newsletter, or blog post. Get as much mileage as you can out of each effort.


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