Many online teachers get very nervous about the idea of writing for wide audiences.
But there’s no reason to feel anxious.
After all, you prove your skills with the written word every single day:
- You use written communication to explain complicated concepts to students
- You use words to reassure your learners, and help them engage with your course
- You grade student work all the time – you know what a good sentence looks like
- You may also be doing academic research, so writing is not an alien process.
When you start writing for a wider audience, you’re simply using your existing skills to achieve a new goal:
To raise your profile using the written word.
Here’s how to get started.
How to Write Articles to Increase Your Visibility
1. Choose your target publication
It’s wildly inefficient to invest your precious time crafting sparkling articles that languish in a bottom drawer because you don’t know where to send them.
Before you start to write, think about where you want your work to appear.
Make a short-list of 5 target publications that would be a good match for your preferred topics.
Think about the publications or websites you currently read, or Google your intended subject area, and see where relevant content in your field of expertise is appearing.
2. Know your target audience
This a fundamental rule is too often overlooked.
You must write for a specific audience – one that will be receptive to your message.
Visit the website of the publication you want to write for, and take a quick look at the recent and most popular articles published there.
- Who are they written for?
- How much technical knowledge or background knowledge do the readers have?
- Is the tone formal, or more conversational?
- What kinds of titles are used to grab reader attention – engaging teasers, or authoritative statements?
Questions like these help you create a clear picture of your future readers, and what kind of material they find useful.
When you have a good grasp of what your target audience likes to read, you can keep those preferences in mind as you start to write.
3. Write for smaller sites and publications at first
If you’re worried about writing for a mass audience, try approaching smaller publications to begin with.
As your work starts to appear regularly online or in print, you’ll become more comfortable with attracting positive feedback. And your confidence as a published expert will quickly increase.
You can use that newfound confidence (and your growing publication track record!) to approach more mainstream outlets next.
4. Find out where your peers publish
These outlets could work well for you, too.
An added bonus is that this can be a short-cut to increased visibility within your organization. You’re more likely to be noticed if your work appears in publications that are already on your network’s radar.
5. Adhere to the submission guidelines
Most publications provide submission guidelines for contributors.
Follow the guidelines closely, and you make it much easier for editors to accept your article.
But what if you can’t find any submission guidelines?
Compile your own list of what this target publication expects.
Scan a few recent articles published there, and take note of key elements like:
- The average word length of articles
- How many sources are used
- Whether a bibliography is expected
- Are footnotes or links to external sources included?
Now you’ve uncovered the unwritten rules, simply follow those conventions when you write your own article.
6. Check in with the editor
So: you’ve crafted a quality article that will perfectly meet the needs of your well-defined target audience.
You’ve polished it until it shines, and sent it directly to the right editor.
You wait expectantly.
Weeks go by, and there’s not a even murmur from the editor.
So you jump to the natural conclusion:
Either your email is broken – or your article has been rejected.
In fact, probably neither scenario is true.
Your email’s working fine.
And the editor is simply overwhelmed.
If you’ve heard nothing after 2 weeks, send a polite – not demanding – email to the silent editor.
Ask if they received your work, and whether they’ve had a chance to review it.
Chances are good that you’ll receive a positive response.
And in the meantime, start planning your next article.
You know your work is high quality.
Just keep quietly believing that other people deserve to see it.
When your articles are accepted, editors will ask you for an Author Byline.
This will appear at the bottom of your article.
It needs to be short, and convey the Unique Selling Proposition you defined in Lesson 1.
2-3 sentences are ideal.
Here’s an example to get you started:
Suzanne McTeacher works at XYZ College, and has been teaching English to adults for 12 years. She specializes in finding innovative ways to use technology to help her students overcome their fear-based barriers to learning.
Believe me, writing 2 sentences about why your work is important won’t be the hardest thing you’ll do this week!
There Are Many Places to Get Published
Keep a list of potential outlets for your work as you come across them.
That’ll save you time in future when you’re ready to send another article out into the world.
Because there are many, many options for using the media to raise your profile!
Here’s a quick list of the kinds of publishing outlets that may be a perfect fit for you:
- Your organization’s internal journal
- Your departmental, or school newsletter
- Key organizations in your industry
- End-users of your training (what do your students read?)
- National and local newspapers
- Websites and blogs in your field
- Relevant lifestyle publications which cover your topic
- Professional development publications
- Your own website!
A great place to start using words for effortless self-promotion is with your Teacher Biography on your organization’s website. Here’s how to do it right:
Media Attention Can Skyrocket Your Professional Profile
Media coverage is definitely not reserved for the rich and famous.
It’s available to anyone with a well-crafted message aimed directly at a target outlet.
And now that you know how to approach the media – via interviews and articles – you’re perfectly positioned to enjoy increased professional attention.
So far, we’ve talked about how you get your work in front of audiences that other people have established.
Next we’re going to look at how to create your own audience – with a vested interest in you!