Contributed Content Is on the Rise — Here's How to Stand OutI know I can’t possibly be the only marketer who’s felt an anxious and excited pit in her stomach as she submits a carefully crafted guest article to an editor at an online publication, crossing her fingers, holding her breath, and hoping this editor loves her content as much as she does.

No matter how many times you write guest posts, your chance at connecting with an audience depends on how an editor perceives your work.

If you’ve taken the time to understand that publication’s target audience, written your post within its guidelines, and professionally edited your work, your chances will be higher than most.

But there are still some unknown factors at play when it comes to pitching editors at the online publications you want to target.

To learn a little more about those unknown factors, my team at Influence & Co. surveyed editors at leading online publications to uncover what it is they’re actually looking for.

We’re excited to share our top findings with you today.

The Future is Bright for Content Marketers

Ninety-six percent of editors said they’re planning to publish the same amount of contributed content this year—or more.

This is great news for content marketers.

It means there will be more opportunities to publish content in the publications that reach their target audiences.

The increase also indicates potentially greater competition for readership as these outlets publish more content each day.

To stand out among that competition, marketers will need to dedicate time and effort to creating engaging, high-quality content.

They’ll also need to be more strategic about which publications they target.

Smart content distribution once it’s been published is also key.

Over-the-Top Company Promotion Will Backfire

Seventy-one percent of editors said one of the biggest problems with contributed content is that it’s too promotional.

In fact, it’s one of the leading reasons editors reject guest content, and it makes sense.

The editors who are looking to publish contributed content are doing so to offer valuable insights to their readership, not to give you a megaphone to promote yourself.

Now, what exactly does “too promotional” mean?

The biggest infraction for nearly 80 percent of editors was forcing unnatural mentions of a contributor’s company, product, or clients within an article, followed by links to a contributor’s homepage for 44 percent of editors.

It’s easy to avoid coming across as too promotional.

Keep your focus on how your content educates and adds value to your audience.

View your educational and valuable content as a tool to connect with your audience.

Think of each piece of content as a tool you can use over time.

You can repurpose that content once it’s published to accomplish a variety of goals.

Social Shares Are Still a Good Measure of Contributed Content Success

When asked how they measure the success of a guest article, 66 percent of editors cited social shares.

For content marketers, this means a focus on creating content that’s shareable.

Becoming an active member in social media distribution, will make you a more attractive contributor to publication editors.

If you want to really “wow” editors, consider using a content distribution checklist.

This can help you get your content in front of the right audience member.

This, in turn, boosts your content’s reach and gains new readers for the publication in the process.

There you have it: three of our favorite content marketing lessons, straight from online publication editors themselves.

If you’d like to read the full report (which includes more data from publication editors, as well as insights from an analysis of more than four million published articles), check out “The State of Digital Media.”

Kelsey Raymond

Kelsey Raymond is the co-founder and CEO of Influence & Co., a full-service content marketing firm that specializes in helping companies strategize, create, publish, and distribute content that accomplishes their goals. Influence & Co.’s clients range from venture-backed startups to Fortune 500 brands.

View all posts by Kelsey Raymond