Guest Post By Sarah Cottrell
I am not a newswoman. I do sometimes daydream about being a Lois Lane type and maybe breaking the Internet with some juicy news story. It is easy for me to slip into that particular fantasy because I blog at the Bangor Daily News (at Housewife Plus), Maine’s oldest and biggest newspaper. My little corner of the massive BDN website is surrounded by news stories and reporters, journalism lingo and deadlines.
Bloggers have a wide array of options for platforms to choose from when it comes to building a website from which your brand can be cultivated. If you are considering having a newspaper host your blog there are a number of perks and drawbacks to consider before you pitch your local paper.
1) Having an established and respected news site as part of your blog URL and title automatically gives your name as a writer some currency. When it comes to applying for guest posts at major websites, or trying to convince bloggers who are more established than you to agree to appear on your blog, it helps that you have a recognizable name attached to give you some credibility.
2) Generally speaking, you will likely have a quota of blog posts. I agreed to compose approximately two original posts a week. That is not much, and I am not necessarily tied to that quota, but the pressure to perform feels real enough to keep me working at a consistent clip, which has made my writing better over time.
3) You get access to professional editors, writers, photographers, and marketers. This is a huge boon to any project you have on your horizon because you have highly sought after access to professional connections that can help propel your burgeoning career. Take advantage of that and
hustle network like your life depends on it!
4) Access to publicity to cover YOUR events or projects. Say you just got into a fancy schmancy anthology or you have decided to produce a show that features writers; having access to a newspaper can be a powerful and free tool to promote your work.
5) Becoming a member of a respected team of writers and bloggers means that you have a pool of other talent with a variety of interests and strategies that you can brainstorm with, ask questions, trade favors, boost one another’s social media reach and so much more. You are a part of a special team and your work matters.
6) Having your work appear on the cover of a newspaper in either web or print form. I don’t know about you, but nothing gets me as excited as seeing my own work appear on the front page of my local newspaper website. My friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues…everyone in my immediate life reads this paper. I get a real sense of pride out of seeing my work getting some local limelight.
7) Becoming a local celebrity. This has not happened to me per se, but many of my fellow BDN bloggers do get recognized out in public. It is like the best high five you can get. Or so I hear.
1) Your mom is probably watching. Yep. And so are your grade school teachers, your doctor, your pastor, anyone you might bump into in your local hood is likely to be reading your work. So you have to temper your creative ideas with mild versions of what you often wish you could say, which leads me to my next point.
2) You cannot swear or use vulgar language. Not only that, but newspapers typically write at an eighth grade level and so if you want to get space on the front page you have put away your $1.50 words and try your best not to wax too poetic with your views on darn near anything.
3) In most cases, you will not likely be allowed to monetize your blog posts. Newspapers are trying to make money and although bloggers generally do not get paid, they also may not sell ad space because any revenue gets funneled directly to the newspaper.
4) You have almost no control over pop-ups, ad content, or page placement. This can be truly frustrating at times. My blog in particular has a survey that pops-up and grays out my text, forcing my readers to click into a survey and then click a ‘No Thanks’ in order to view my work. I get a lot of email about this, but my hands are tied, and so will be yours.
5) There is very little control over the blog design. That is not to say that you will get stuck with some ugly background or tacky header, but you will be forced to settle with the design theme that the newspaper uses.
6) The newspaper’s audience is not guaranteed to be YOUR audience. Newspapers have a ton of talent writing content at breakneck speeds that reap huge stats all the livelong day. Just because a newspaper has an audience of several million readers a day does guarantee that even 20 of them will read your work. You have a lot of competition.
I have been at the Bangor Daily News for a year now and I enjoy it very much; I have no immediate plans to shutter my blog and move on. Blogging for a newspaper comes with a lot of fantastic opportunities and perks that a writer simply would not have access to while going it alone. That said, while the newspaper blog is not for everyone, it is certainly one worth seriously considering!
Check out Sarah’s blog at Bangor Daily News Here: Housewife Plus
Sarah lives in Maine with her boat-builder husband and two loud boys. In 2012 she earned her MFA and since then she has been featured on several popular parenting sites including BlogHer, In The Powder Room, Mamalode Magazine website, and is a regular contributor to Scary Mommy. Her work will appear in two new parenting anthologies in 2015. You can follow the fun on Housewife Plus, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.