By Susan Maccarelli
A few years ago I started a personal blog combining humor with parenting topics. I’d post once every week or two and was dipping my toe in the waters of social media and online communities as I went.
Four months into blogging I was over it for several reasons.
Only a few people read my blog, and most of them I knew IRL on a first name basis.
I thought there was a likely possibility that bad writing was the reason I had no readers, but I had no way to test that theory.
My social media following was anemic at best.
I saw no possible way to monetize that made sense for a blog with no readers.
I felt isolated from other bloggers and didn’t really know how to make my way into a tribe.
I had no idea how to reach the readers that might become subscribers and followers.
In January of 2015 I was about to throw in the towel when I thought it would be really cool if a blog that actually had an audience would publish me. This way I could see if readers even liked my writing. That test would at least give me an idea if I should keep trying or give it up.
I Googled and came across BlogHer, a site where I quickly set up a free profile and cross posted my first piece in about 10 minutes.
I got comfy with my popcorn and orange juice and watched my Google Analytics like it was the final episode of Joe Millionnaire.
When 9 simultaneous readers appeared on my site, I assumed Google Analytics was simply experiencing a bug that gave D-list bloggers false hope, when my husband assured me that I indeed had 9 people on my site who had been referred from BlogHer.
These people were reading my post on BlogHer and had liked it enough to click over to my site! That piece topped out at a little over 2,000 views and was never a viral post for me, but at the time it told me what I needed to know in order to keep me from quitting blogging: submitting writing for publication on other sites is a key part of blogging strategy and offered me several thngs I desperately needed. It can offer these benefits to you too.
It exposes your writing to an established group of readers
While I was chipping away with limited social media skills and resources trying to bring the readers to me, other sites had been building their audiences for years and often had marketing dollars and a full staff helping them. Why wouldn’t I want to go where the readers were already waiting? Especially places with readers who had an interest in the topics I was writing about.
It builds up your confidence and gives you a realistic idea of your capabilities
When I was writing only for my personal blog, I had no idea if the reason I had no readers was because my writing was awful (or not). Submitting my writing to other sites was my way to test this. Editors were not going to tell me my butt didn’t look big in those jeans just to be nice. Acceptances and rejections were more objective voices than friends and family, and new readers were even better judges. While I received my fair share of rejections, the acceptances do more to build my confidence than the rejections do to waver it.
It allowed me to gain fans quickly
Publication on certain platforms brought benefits like engagement, new social media followers, and blog subscribers. Many of these people became regular readers and helped me build readership on my own blog even though they found me on other sites initially.
I was able to network with writers and editors
Many of the sites I wrote for offered contributor Facebook Groups where I was able to learn from and network with other writers. I was also able to be ‘in the know’ about certain publications this way, finding out about new calls early and knowing what certain editors and publications valued.
I got paid
Although I have not gotten rich from it, the money I’ve made through placing stories and essays in other places has been a nice supplemental income, especially in those early days!
I think most bloggers will change their strategy many times as they change their goals and objectives. Some might stop writing for other publications in order to focus exclusively on their own products, services or projects, while others might shift from their own blog to freelance writing exclusively. Some bloggers continue to build their blogs and monetize with various ads/products/services while using submitted writing strategically to drive traffic/followers and/or gain credibility. I have mostly abandoned my personal blog to make more time for Beyond Your Blog, but I still use the lessons I learned to submit my writing to other publications in support of Beyond Your Blog, or even from time to time when I have a story to tell that doesn’t fit on my website but wants to be told.
I’ve even created a course for new bloggers or bloggers who may be new to submitting their writing that provides a step by step strategy for submitting writing online. I took all the rookie mistakes I made and created a curriculum that gets bloggers submitting their writing to online publications quickly. I include modules that explain the benefits of submitting your writing, targeting the right publications, republishing your best work for more mileage, details for submitting your work (including decoding guidelines), promoting your work once it is published, handling rejection, finding paying sites, and scheduling, tracking and staying motivated. We are even offering two bonuses for a limited time when you take my course, Submission Savvy. The course is for new bloggers, or bloggers who may just be new to submitting their writing.
If this post resonated with you, I hope you’ll consider Submission Savvy to get you off and running to your first published pieces!