A local newspaper has asked me to contribute regular articles. Help! What do I do next?
I had a call from a fitpro today who was asking for my urgent advice. Months ago, he’d contacted various local newspapers and magazines, offering to write one-off or regular editorial. Life got in the way, he didn’t follow up. (Hey, at least he pitched them! It’s more than most fitpros do!)
And then, today… after all these months… one of those local newspapers emailed him. “Hi, if you’re still interested in writing for us, we’d love you to contribute fitness articles…”
Here’s the advice I gave to that fitpro.
What To Do If A Newspaper, Magazine Or Online Publication Asks You To Write Something For Them
(PS: Dont’ forget, I wrote a blog post about exactly how fitpros can get featured in their local lifestyle magazine)
1. Do a happy dance
2. Email them back. Say something like:
Thanks very much – yes, I’d be delighted to write for [publication name] and would be able to supply great content every [week/fortnight/month*] to meet your deadline.
For this first article, can you let me know:
– word count
– do you have any topic in mind? or would you like me to send a couple of ideas?
Moving forward, I’d be happy to send you over a few ideas at the start of every month if that would help with your editorial schedule.
*depends on whether it’s a weekly/monthly/other publication
3. Wait for them to get back to you. If you haven’t heard within 24 hours, give them a call. It’s fine, after all they offered you this opportunity, so they’ll want to hear from you.
4. If they ask for ideas before you submit your article, think about
– the readership
– the other kind of content they cover in the publication
– topics relevant to the area and community (assuming it’s a local magazine)
– wider topics (health and fitness awareness days, health and fitness topics in the news)
If it’s a weekly publication, remember that they’ll like things which are as timely as possible, or which are pegged to something which has happened or been discussed very recently
5. Once you’ve got the go-ahead, make sure you submit your article:
– on time (never ever miss their deadline)
– with minimal fuss
– in the exact format they require (if you are sending it as an attachment, don’t label the document “Article for paper.doc” or “Fitness article.doc”. Name it the agreed title of the article.
– with any extras they’ve asked for (high res image, headshot, your biog)
6. Don’t send them something you’ve already published elsewhere (like on your own blog or your Facebook page). Use your own blog posts as ideas, sure. But don’t duplicate. If the publication happens to be following your blog, and see the duplicated content, they might feel it devalues their own published article.
7. Don’t forget a call to action. Obviously you won’t be able to put in a strong sales-type CTA. But add something at the end of your article: a question, an invitation to leave a comment or engage with you (or the newspaper) on Facebook, or something to make the reader take some action – even if that action is pondering a question you’ve posed.
8. Send as much of a biog as you can. Be a bit cheeky here – include your name, business name, title “local weight loss expert” or “town-name’s top personal trainer”, and even include your website and social media links. They can always leave them out, but they won’t put them in fi you don’t send them.
9. Ask if it will also be used online or on their Facebook page. Then keep an eye out for it and like, share, tag and link – make the most of that online content.
10. Get hold of a copy of the article. Consider scanning it in and using it on your website or social media. Or just keep it and build up a portfolio.
11. Don’t use it to line the guinea pig’s cage.
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.