Want to blog for Minted? HGTV? Martha Stewart? This panel was all about finding and working with the big-wigs. Landing a contributor position can be killer for your personal business, landing you more clients or readers for your blog — but you need to do some legwork and have some skills beforehand. Panelists were Melanie Blodgett, Victoria Hudgins, Chelsea Andrews, and Capree Kimball!
How do you get jobs?
Often times companies will have a call for contributors, so keep and eye out and respond promptly. Other times, you could be approached by the company directly — nice, but rare. If you feel like doing some legwork and there isn’t anyone knocking on your door yet, ask for introductions by friends who have connections into the big-name companies. For this, it’s pretty crucial to have a large network, so grow it as early as possible by commenting on people’s blogs or through social media — make those connections now!
Cold calls can be terrifying, but could work — email the appropriate person and ask about contributing. Be politely persistant: if you don’t get a response, email again after a week or so.
How to be approachable
Find your own authentic voice — companies are looking for uniqueness. This ties in nicely with the whole of Alt Summit, which emphasized having a niche and unique blog so you can stand out.
Engage with other bloggers, both large as well as small — you don’t know where the opportunity could come from. Don’t be afraid to build up your portfolio by writing for your friends and small blogs.
The art of the pitch
Get to know people one-on-one, in person and at conferences. For example, Alt Summit was great because there were a lot of big names looking for their next partners. If you can’t attend an Alt Summit, network as much as possible at other events to build those connections. Be confident, be persistent, and be tough. When emailing, either through cold-calls or with a new connection, keep your emails short and visual.
What to expect
Did you land a job? Awesome! Make sure you’re comfortable with many blogging platforms — not everyone uses WordPress or Blogger. Keep in mind that many companies have traffic goals or other expectations, and every company is different. You’re there to bring them traffic. That said, they don’t care if you only have 5 followers on Pinterest — if your content is awesome and you bring awesome traffic, then you’re golden.
Keep a good working relationship by keeping to your deadlines, having great communication, and being professional.
What editors are looking for:
- A unique perspective
- Good writing skills
- Bonus: Photography skills
Need to produce fresh ideas? Always look for inspiration and make sure to stay original. Set hard deadlines for yourself, and also, know your limits.
Balancing content between sites
Did you land two jobs? Rock on! Make sure to keep a hard separation between the two sites in terms of topics — it’ll make things easier for you. That also applies to your own personal blog: think about topics that you’re knowledgable about that aren’t already covered on your own site.
Obviously the easiest job to land is a free job. Is it worth it for you? Will they send you enough traffic that makes it worth it? Consider agreeing to a trial period, so you don’t get locked into a writing agreement that isn’t providing any benefit for you. And if you’re providing free posts, make sure you have enough time around your paying job to provide it. Always track your traffic, and you can put these positions on your resume: “Contributor to So-and-So Company”. That said, sometimes offering a free post is a great way to get your foot in the door that’ll lead to paid posts.
If you’re getting paid, make sure to negotiate your payments — don’t take the first offer you get. Talk numbers with confidence and make sure to value your work. Have a contract: put the pay, the length, how many posts, how long (6 months? once?), and who owns the copyright to the posts. Keep in mind that you can also negotiate a flat rate plus a bonus if it does very well.
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