My professional writing journey started approximately three years ago while attempting to discover ways to increase my impact and influence online. I didn’t earn a degree in journalism like most of my colleagues. I didn’t have connections with publishers and editors, and I generally had no idea how to contribute content and pitch newspaper editors. Fast forward to the present day, I am not only honored to contribute to Black Enterprise (a life-long aspiration), but I am also one of the youngest African American nationally syndicated columnists in the nation. Regardless of your background or educational level, you too can become a more influential blogger, contributor, or contributing writer (and possibly syndicated writer). As an award-winning columnist, I have four rules to increase content visibility that I have developed through writing content for brands such as Forbes, Entrepreneur.com, The Business Journals, and many other global publications. Check out my top four content rules and leave a comment below and share your best tips and tricks to increase content visibility.
Increase Distribution Physically
Newspapers are not dead, they have simply expanded. While contributors and bloggers shy away from writing for physical newspapers, I have expanded my content to them. This has not only helped me make history, but it also brings more eyes to my content. I write for traditionally non-diverse publications, anytime a reader sees an African American writing content in their trusted business publication they investigate online. Sometimes out of curiosity or simple plain amazement. After all, who would imagine that a “young black guy” could write business content for their prestigious online publications? I do, and it plays well into the increase in my online visibility.
I try to stay in my lane. My content both in print and online has remained aligned. Google (smaller search engines) and my readers know what to expect when they see a Jeff Shuford article, this also helps when pitching editors. I see too many contributors writing about anything at any time, it not only can confuse a reader but it also doesn’t let a writers voice develop through consistent content (Google Searchability is key).
Personal Blogs (For Me) Are A No-Go
I don’t run a personal blog; I believe that it would do a disservice to my print and online publishers. I also don’t send people through a funnel on my personal website; it keeps readers searching for content through search engines and utilizes my website simply for validation and information gathering. When readers stumble upon my personal and business website, they are redirected to my published articles and not to a personal blog section. Simply put, the views are redirected to the individual publication that I contributed the piece to. Major Key Alert: Editors and publishers appreciate the effort to keep readers on their website as opposed to yours!
My goal has always been to be memorable and to build a legacy. Last year I discovered the power of sticking to my content roadmap. Having my content named one of the top articles on LinkedIn Business (No. 3) was a great learning experience. It has also led to more people searching for my content, this helps my editors more than myself due to the fact that I don’t monetize my readers. Publications like the Jacksonville Business Journal and other publications in my network of syndicated partners bring me in to speak at their events, also increasing my digital footprint. I maintain great relationships with newspaper and digital editors throughout the 44 regions that I write for, they teach me a great deal about distribution, networking, and content market strategy. My marketing team emails editors and influencers about my new content (Thanks Celeste Everett & Cher Davis!). I am not saying that this strategy works for everyone but it sure works for me.
National Syndication is Key
It all boils down to distribution points and brand footprint. A Google search of my name (Jeff Shuford) yields a ton of results, all pointing back to me and my content. The newspapers do a great job of generating interest for my name, and with 44 regions with an average readership (of the physical newspapers alone) of 100Kk (3.6 million readers total), I do very well (and you can too!).