How to Pitch Yourself As a Guest Contributor

I wrote a guest article for Adweek. Here's how you can create similar opportunities for yourself.

Last week, I reached a fun career milestone and for the first time, published a guest article on Adweek. I had the great stroke of luck to already have known the editor, so we knew it would be a good mutual fit.

But if I were pitching an editor at a major publication today, here’s how I would do it:

Analyze the publication and contributors

Don’t just say to yourself, I want to be published in Adweek because it’s cool. Put in the work. Read the articles and take notes.

How to note take? Take stock of the contributors. Who are they and what does their professional experience look like? I’m not saying this to imply that you should compare yourself apples to apples against other people. But it’s really gathering intel. And it can be done in a productive way.

If you see that most of the contributors have had marketing careers for 8+ years, and that you’ve had a career for 5 years, it does not mean you can’t do it. It’s just an indicator that that’s sort of the playing field.

Think about that difference in experience — and think about your competitive edge. That more seasoned person can have experience with, say, multiple product launches. Maybe you don’t. That’s ok. But maybe, you grok social media like no other. Maybe you were early to adopt TikTok on behalf of a B2B brand. That matters. That’s something I would wager a person, like myself with over a decade of experience, probably doesn’t have.

Now look at the anatomy of an article

Is the contributor writing about their firsthand experience? Probably not. I think their firsthand experience shapes how they might say something. But chances are, they’re looking at other research, doing original reporting, talking to subject matter experts, marketing leaders, and founders in their field. Remember, if you are writing for Adweek, this is not a self-promotional vehicle. This is industry journalism.

Check out some journalism resources — like the components of newsworthiness from the Purdue Online Writing Lab. Be aware of these journalistic standards and what makes something newsworthy. Generally, that tends to be some combination of objective, timely, relevant, and novel or unusual.

As it relates to you, the marketer, your value is in the novelty:

What makes *you* uniquely positioned to say X today?

Write your pitch

Write the pitch about yourself. Who are you, and why should Adweek  publish your content? What fresh perspective and expertise do you bring to the table?

This is easier said than done. Because what I’m largely getting at is credibility. How do you show your credibility? It’s not through bragging about random industry awards that your company paid and lobbied for.

It’s through your work. Your personal brand. So publish for yourself. Spend, say, 6 months building up your portfolio. Your portfolio can be:

  • Content on a personal site
  • Your LinkedIn or Twitter presence
  • Guest pieces on other known websites

Next, write your pitch for your article. What’s missing and what can you uniquely add to the conversation? Draft a solid idea or thesis in a couple sentences. Identify your 3-5 concrete, unbiased examples to back up your thesis. Then flesh out an outline, so that you know where it’s going. And pitch it.

You’ve got this.

Feature image by Domenico Loia on Unsplash