The beauty of thought leadership is that credibility and trust are at its core. You cannot just deem yourself a thought leader and expect others to consider you one as well. You have to create high-quality content that’s reliable and filled with helpful tips. What’s more, you have to do so consistently. 

Writing for your company blog is great, but for your ideas to reach the masses and build credibility, you have to be incorporating a guest-contributor strategy into your overall content marketing strategy. This means contributing guest articles to other sites so you can put your brand in front of a new audience and establish yourself as an expert in your field.

In research by LinkedIn and Edelman, 55% of survey respondents said they use thought leadership to vet organizations that they may hire, and 60% said thought leadership has led to them buying a product or service they weren’t previously considering. But obtaining that third-party credibility that comes from publishing on trusted online publications requires effort and a tried-and-true process. 

Here are some steps you can take that will you get one step closer towards becoming a guest-contributor. 

1. Create and Publish Your Own Content

Since you and your team manage it, your blog is the easiest way to publish your great thoughts and ideas, so start there. To make sure you have a consistent amount of published content, create an editorial calendar that lists the various topics, dates, and stage each article is in. This will also hold your team accountable, so you aren’t letting months go between each published post. 

Make sure you mix it up, too. Incorporate guides, webinars, and other forms of content so you can eventually show external publications how varied your portfolio of work is. Proving you can create different forms of content will help you appease any particular needs they currently have. 

2. Participate in Blog Swaps

Make sure that you’re also offering blog swapping opportunities to other brands out there with similar audiences. Blog swaps are really just as they sound: it’s when you provide a blog post for another brand to publish on their blog, and they do the same for you. This shows external publications that you’re familiar with creating content with specific guidelines in mind, and that you are no stranger to tapping into the needs of other audiences and publications. Plus, you never know where a great guest posting opportunity is going to come from. By maintaining other avenues of content sharing, you give yourself a better chance of connecting with the right brand.

3. Carefully Choose Online Publications You Want to Contribute To

To really maximize the thought leadership potential of becoming a guest contributor, you want the right audience to be able to find you. Pitching your content without a thought to who’s reading it and what sorts of problems they have is a waste of time for everyone. So instead, research and pitch publications that pertain to your industry. Those are the ones your audience is reading and that you are most qualified to contribute to.

Guest content is great top-of-the-funnel content, meaning it’s also a way of generating leads for your company. To get the best quality leads, ones that are most likely to actually need your services, you have to be contributing to publications that your audience is reading. 

4. Prepare Your Pitch Email

Pitching a guest contribution is just like pitching any other piece of writing. You need to be mindful of your recipient, and optimize your pitch to ensure that it doesn’t get overlooked.

Your outreach email should contain all of the key components of a successful pitch: 

  • A solid subject line.
  • An engaging intro.
  • A summary of your article.
  • How your article will appeal to the publication’s audience. 

If you’re pitching an idea instead of a specific piece, explain it as fully and concisely as possible. Make sure you convey why it’s a fit for their audience and what makes it unique, original, and high quality. Show that you’re flexible and open for collaboration by ending your pitch stating you welcome feedback or adjustments.

A word of wisdom: always research a topic or idea before pitching it to ensure that your pitch is truly original. It doesn’t need to be a never-before covered concept, but to establish true thought leadership (and to get your pitch picked up), you’re going to need to be able to say something new.

5. Follow-Up

Editors are only human. And when they get busy, things tend to get lost in the mix, including your pitch. Don’t hound editors, rather follow-up in a timely manner. Make a point of not coming off as abrasive or inpatient. Simply check-in to ensure they received your pitch and to ask if they have any questions. If you’ve sent a couple of follow-ups with no reply, it might be time to move on. 

Understand That Rejection Will Happen

Rejection is just part of the process when it comes to guest posting. If it wasn’t, there’d be a lot more of it and a lot less value to it too. Not every editor is going to go for your pitch or your articles. Don’t let it get you down, though. A rejection now doesn’t mean you can’t wow them later with a different idea. If an editor decides to pass on your guest post pitch, be gracious, request feedback, and be sure to ask if they’re open to allowing you to continue pitching them in the future.

If you’re already creating stellar content with original ideas, then you should have no trouble finding publications that are willing to bring you on as a thought leader. You just need to put in the time and effort of seeking these publications out. Good luck!