You’ve created a piece of content you love. You think it’s great and can’t wait to get it out into the online world so it will start attracting attention and drawing audiences to your website and brand.
But there is one problem… no one will publish it.
Your pitches are getting ignored. Your content is getting rejected. And, your “perfect” piece of content is sitting there collecting dust.
If this sounds all too familiar and you’re struggling with getting websites to publish your content, let’s figure out why. Here are a few reasons why no one wants to publish your content.
You Aren’t Thinking Holistically About Content Promotion
Before we get into the specific reasons why your content isn’t getting published, let’s take a minute to look at your overall approach to your content promotion plan.
If your content is collecting dust, you may have the wrong basic idea about how content promotion works. You may not be balancing your efforts so they serve everyone that is involved.
To get your content published on third-party websites, you need to equally serve three agendas.
- Your Agenda: You are promoting your content to bring benefits your brand. You want to be introduced to new audiences and draw attention to your website and organization. You have an agenda to serve yourself, but it must be balanced with serving the publisher and the reader’s agendas as well.
- The Publisher’s Agenda: The publisher’s agenda is to publish high-quality and interesting content that fits their theme, build their authority, and satisfy their readers.
- The Online Reader’s Agenda: The online reader’s only agenda is to find content that is entertaining, engaging, emotionally appealing, and/or educational.
It’s likely that if your content isn’t getting published, you are failing to focus on these three agendas equally. You may be overvaluing your agenda or failing to provide an equal balance for both readers and publishers.
The following tips will help you resolve your mistakes and find the right balance.
You Have a Problem with Your Pitch
If your content isn’t making the cut, it may not have anything to do with the content itself. It may be your pitch that is holding you back. If you’re making these mistakes with your pitch, your content doesn't have a chance at getting published.
Your subject line is weak.
Your subject line is how you get noticed in an inbox full of other outreach emails. Be sure to take the time to construct a subject line that will catch the attention of publishers. We teamed up with BuzzStream to survey over 500 top-tier publishers to find out what subject lines work best in outreach efforts, and this is what we discovered.
The best subject lines are descriptive, specific, and tailored to the editor’s beat. Don’t be ambiguous or irrelevant in your subject line. Be clear about what is included in the email.
The best subject lines aren’t sensational. Don’t try to use over-the-top language or phrases to get your email noticed. Almost 100% of our survey respondents were against sensational subject lines like, “This is incredible!”
The best subject lines are ten words or less. Seventy-five percent of our survey respondents said that ten words or less was the ideal length of pitch subject line.
You're pitching the wrong person and publication.
Another reason why your pitch may be getting quickly deleted is because it’s going to the wrong inbox. If you are pitching a person who isn't responsible for making publishing decisions or if you're pitching an editor with a topic that is irrelevant to their website, your pitch is probably going to disappear.
Use the following tips to make sure your pitch lands in the right hands.
- Target websites who have covered similar content/topics in the past.
- Make sure the publication has the same audience you’re trying target.
- Target publications that take outside contributions (so you don’t waste time pitching publishers that never publish outside content).
- For large publications, target the editor of the section you want to contribute to (instead of the editor at large).
Your pitch is weak.
Getting your pitched opened and in the right hands is a win. From there, your pitch needs to convince the publisher that you are a fit for their website. A weak pitch will end that opportunity, so make sure you aren't making the following mistakes.
Your pitch isn't personalized and feels templated. Don’t just copy and paste the same message into dozens of emails. Personalize emails by commenting on something unique to the blog or person you are pitching.
Your pitch doesn’t sell the publisher on the value to their audience. Remember the balance of agendas. Don’t highlight why publishing the content will benefit you. Instead, show the publisher why publishing your content will benefit them and their readers.
Your pitch is too long. As you build relationships, don’t go overboard with your correspondence length. Always keep your first contact brief and to the point.
You don’t have authentic relationships with the publishers.
When you identify websites you would like to pitch, start by forming relationships with the editors. In our survey of over 500 publishers, 64% of respondents told us it was of some importance to establish a personal connection with a writer before pitching.
By researching the writer’s author archives, social media accounts, and personal websites, you can establish a full picture of what resonates with that individual and connect with them based on those interests, which will increase the likelihood of making successful pitches in the future.
You Have a Problem with Your Content
The pitch is the first half of the battle of getting your content published. The other half if the quality of the content itself. If you are making these mistakes with your content, you are probably going to have a hard time finding a publisher who wants to feature your work.
Your content is too promotional.
Think about the balance of agendas. Your content can’t be all for you. It needs to please the publisher and the reader. If it is too promotional or focused on your agenda, it won’t be published.
More often than not, content marketing campaigns fail because they’re too branded, not just with the graphics, but also with the overall campaign idea.
You need to understand the type of content the third party is interested in hosting and give them what they want. Most top-tier writers aren’t interested in a story on “10 Reasons ABC Company is Better Than XYZ Company.” On the other hand, they’re more likely to cover a story on “X Trends in XYZ Industry that Will Revolutionize X.”
Your content is too bland or unoriginal.
Next to overly branded content, boring content is the fastest way to get a pass on your publishing proposal. Websites don’t want to publish drab stories with information that is available all over the internet. Publishers want content that will stand out and catch attention. So don’t give them bland, unoriginal content. Instead, give them these two types of content.
Newsworthy Content: Develop content that is related to a trending news topic. Or find a gap in a publisher’s coverage and create content that fills the void.
Exclusive Data and Research: Our study found that 85% of publishers want access to raw data for research-driven content. Give publishers your raw data or create content about your research to introduce something new that editors can’t find anywhere else.
By introducing groundbreaking research and/or focusing on the lesser-known trends in your industry, you can attract high-authority publishers to your campaigns.
Your interesting hook isn’t obvious.
Once you create interesting content, make sure its originality and value are easy to see. Publishers want content that will immediately grab readers’ attention. So if your hook is hard to see, editors aren’t going to see the value in published your story and pass on it.
Make sure you hook is obvious so publishers and readers can immediately see the value in your story by:
- Formatting content as an inverted pyramid with the most important information at the top.
- Not burying the lead. When you “burying the lead,” you place secondary details at the beginning.
- Placing less crucial information toward the bottom.
You didn’t include any actionable takeaways for the audience.
You want your audience to be able to quickly see the value in your content and then walk away with valuable information they can use. Both readers and publishers like content that includes actionable tips or solutions. If your content is too generic or not actionable, publishers will ignore it.
To improve your content, include clear conclusions. Don’t leave readers with unanswered questions. And, provide useful takeaways that the audience can put to practice.
Your content includes inaccuracies or errors.
Online readers can be your biggest advocate or your worst nightmare. Today, the most avid readers act like independent detectives, ready to call you on your BS the second they see it.
Make sure your content does not include inaccuracies, errors, or misleading information by engaging in these best practices.
- Always do at least two round of editing to remove all typos, grammar errors, etc.
- Double check and cross-reference your facts.
- Only use information from reputable sources.
- Rely on current, relevant data. At Fractl, we only use resources that have been published within the last year.
- Use sound research methodologies. Major publications will push back on questionable research methods.
- Use sample sizes of greater than 2,000 for survey data.
You didn’t connect on a visual or emotional level.
Publishers are always looking for content that will truly resonate with readers and inspire sharing. They want content that will go viral. So give them what they want by producing content that connects with readers on both a visual and emotional level. This is the type of content that is most likely to get widely shared and go viral.
Look through these campaigns to see how we have produced emotional and visual content that was welcomed by publishers and widely shared by readers.
Now, that we’ve gone through a full list of mistakes that may be holding your content back from being published, did you have any “ah ha” moments?
Did you discover that you aren’t thinking holistically about your promotions or that you are failing at pitching or creating content? Or did you find that you have a small combination of all of these problems?
If you realize you that your content promotion efforts need improvement, we can help. Learn more about how to create compelling content that publishers want by reading 16 Innovative Content Formats That Audiences and Publishers Love or contact us to see how our team can help you create digital PR campaigns that get noticed and get results.