This term is what college students hear all day. “Did you get an internship?” “Where is it?” “What will you be writing about?” The questions from professors, counselors, parents and siblings can feel endless.
However grating the questions might be, the people asking them have a point…you start to wonder, “How do I get an internship? I don’t have any experience. My portfolio is empty!”
Well, students, there is a solution. You can publish your articles from the comfort of home, no internship required. Internships are invaluable experiences, and many resources exist, but those looking to get published can simply use “Write For Us” pages on blogs. The concept of a “Write For Us” page is the golden ticket to any self-starter looking for experience, credibility, and a platform.
By submitting your writing to different websites in hopes of having them published, you can independently build samples of your work. If your piece is accepted, they will publish it as a “Guest Post.” These guest posts can be your portfolio building blocks and give you the relevant experience to include on your resume when applying to internships or jobs.
How do I get published on a “Write for Us” Page?
The bright idea of being a guest post on a website sounds terrific! Almost too good to be true! But, there’s a kicker… it can be hard to get published because every fish is after the same bait.
The term used when trying to get published is “outreach.” In outreach, we contact a source and hope to receive a response.
It’s like leaving a voicemail after the first date, you reach out and leave a message and hope your call gets returned. Worst case, the second party didn’t have a great time and doesn’t call you back. Then, you hold your head high and try again until you find the match.
When formatting an email for your outreach efforts, it needs to be clear and concise with what you are asking. Moz gives a great example of a student outreach template for those hoping to build their portfolio. This example is a great start, but make sure to add some changes to make it sound more personable.
A couple of tips to help you when customizing your outreach:
- Use their email address rather than a contact form (if applicable)
- Include your article title as the topic
- Have a call to action
- Include a link to previous work (if applicable)
- Do your research
- Explain how your blog benefits them and their audience
Before Reaching Out
Before crafting a generic email to the company (and wasting their time and yours), customize your outreach efforts with research. Make sure that the article you have to offer correlates with the content they produce; and use your research to outline the how and why for them. This will better your chances and show your contact you understand their audience and know the website.
For example, you wouldn’t pitch an article about “Top 10 Dog Breeds” to a blog that specializes in fashion tips.
Researching is also essential when making sure the site hasn’t already posted material about the same article you’re writing. If your outreach is about material the site has already posted, you may never get a response. And, if you discover the site does in fact already contain a similar piece, that’s your chance to offer up different materials.
Bonus Tip: If you do find that they already have similar content, but you can figure out a different angle, that allows you to link their previous story in your article. They love that. For instance, if “how to write a blog” already exists, instead write “10 tips for establishing your fashion blog” and tag their original article in it. This shows that you are familiar with their content and helps them feel ownership of the article.
Where Can I Find Sites to Reach Out To?
This is easier than you’d think.
Figure out what your niche is and then search it with the phrase “Write for Us”.
For instance, if you want to write about fashion, search “Write for Us” + “Fashion” in Google, making sure to use the quotation marks and the plus sign.
You’ll have to filter through the results a bit, but you’ll find that it’s even easier than that Beginner Walking credit you took last semester.
What to Look Out for On “Write For Us” Pages
Each site’s “Write for Us” page comes in different shapes and sizes. They all have different rules and requirements to watch out for before your outreaching efforts commence.
Before researching, you must read the directions. If you skip this step and go straight to the outreach, you could miss the essential requirements stated by the website. You may use the wrong word count or forget to hyperlink to a source from their website into your article. These requirements may seem minuscule, but they are deal breakers for the sites.
Protip: Guest posting doesn’t mean that you can’t have your own blog to brain dump on as well. If you think you’re going to start guest publishing regularly, you might start your own blog so that you can have your “author byline’ point back to your website. These are pretty easy to do with sitebuilder tools, but you can also go the more traditional route with a WordPress site.
Don’t Get Discouraged
It’s often easier to write something than it is to get it placed. You may follow their directions to a T and they may still tell you no… if they ever even respond. When I first started doing outreach, I maybe got a response from 10% of the sites, and some of them asked for money!
At first, I was a little hurt by the idea that someone would want me to pay THEM to publish MY brilliant piece of writing, but you have to remember that everyone has a business to run. Some sites underwrite their administrative costs through publishing fees, some built their site specifically to make money on publishing fees. You can’t change any of that, you just have to evaluate what the value is for you to be published on that site.
Maybe you have a few bucks to invest in yourself to get your first few pieces published. Maybe you rather stick to doing it the old fashioned way and earning the placement.
The thing I just want to reiterate here is that outreach is like sales; do you buy something from everyone who tries to up-sell you at the mall? Not likely. Similarly, not everyone is going to want what you have just because it exists. And as disheartening as this can be, you have to recognize that it’s just part of the process, accept it, and move on. You’ll be better because of it.
While entering the business world in hopes of finding an internship is scary, the work you put in now will get rewarded in the future. Your portfolio will always be a work in progress, and it will best reflect your skills and practices.
Neil Patel gave great advice when saying “Never Stop Learning.” We may feel rejected if our posts never get published or if we cannot find that internship, but we need to keep learning and broadening our horizons to prepare for the future.
Lucy Long is a Strat Comm major with a Data Analytics minor at Texas Christian University and is currently interning for Magnus Opus. She also spends her time writing for Carson Leslie Center blog.