Syndication is a term that originates in broadcast television. The idea behind syndication was that if a network had a show that was successful and had broad appeal, then the network could still generate revenue after their show had run its course by licensing the rights out to other networks.
Content syndication follows this same basic principle. Creators of content that has wide appeal and popularity extend the lifespan and reach of this content by allowing other publications to publish this content on their own site.
Instead of expecting payment, the writer simply requests that the publication credits their work and links back to the original source due to the visibility they are afforded from the exposure.
The Benefits of Syndication.
If you’re a writer for your employer or an independent freelancer you might be wondering why you’d be willingly to pursue a publication just so they can benefit from the content you spent so much time creating.
While it may seem like an unfair deal at first glance (you are putting in all the effort, and they’re just cutting and pasting), there are many benefits to content syndication that make the trade-off more than worth it for all parties.
First of all, content syndication allows you to extend the shelf life of a piece you’ve written. Anyone trying to establish their online presence knows that generating consistently high-quality content to reach the right audience takes a lot of time and effort.
Content syndication essentially doubles the utility of your articles, since you’re able to share them in front of more than one audience without having to reinvent the wheel.
Guest blogging is a wonderful way to drive additional visibility of your content and expertise, but it is a substantial time investment in addition to creating content that lives on your own properties as well.
Further multiplying this benefit is the fact that many publications that will syndicate your content will have a much larger reach than you do.
Therefore, your byline and the organization you work for will likely receive much greater visibility than you would on your own website saving you and your team much needed time and resources while still receiving a majority of the benefits from your content marketing.
For example, blogger Gregory Ciotti of Help Scout published this piece on the company’s own blog, than later had it syndicated on Entrepreneur to drive additional viewership to the article.
Even if only a fraction of the people that read a syndicated piece of yours on a more highly trafficked publication click the link back to the original article or your bio this can lead to a substantial amount of traffic and attention for you as the author and for your organization.
Additionally, as your content starts to get syndicated by publications outside your typical guest blogging network, your online footprint will benefit dramatically.
Due to the size and readership of large publications that syndicate content, simply having your name on their site with a link back to your personal site, employer’s website or social media accounts can help boost your SEO ranking in a big way overtime.
To further maximize these benefits you can include links in the articles you are submitting for syndication that point back to other relevant articles you’ve written in the past to help provide readers with coverage of related subjects that the syndicated piece didn’t go into in-depth.
An added benefit to these links is that they can help drive further traffic as readers read through an article, as well as potentially helping boost your ranking in the search results overtime.
However, don’t be too heavy handed with your SEO efforts, if Google and the other search engines feel like you are being spammy with these links in any capacity then they will penalize your content and hurt your search rankings.
How Syndication Works.
The road to content syndication is not necessarily difficult, but it does require a good deal of time and consistency. The first step on this road is to start publishing your own content. Having a blog that you write for regularly is a prerequisite for carrying out content syndication on a regular basis.
Blogging consistently not only hones your skills as a writer and familiarizes you with the topics you plan on writing about, it also serves as a demonstration of the kind of work you can produce and the type of results that work can achieve.
Showing that you can create high-quality engaging content that is received well by your intended audience will prove instrumental in the next step of this plan – guest blogging. Start by pitching editors at publications and blogs in your industry with ideas for original guest content you’ve come up with from your analytics, customer service channels like Twitter or based off of current news in your industry.
If you’re lucky and strategic in your outreach, an editor will give you a chance to write a post as a guest contributor. Having a blog with great content and quality engagement (not just vanity stats like views or clicks, think comments and social shares as well) that you can point back to will greatly increase your chances of impressing an editor and landing an opportunity to guest blog.
Assuming the editor likes your work, this arrangement could evolve into a regular guest contribution role. Once you are contributing on one blog, it will become much easier to land a similar role at another blog (even more so for the third, fourth, fifth, etc.).
Here’s my step-by-step guide to starting guest blogging regularly:
If there blog or publication does syndicate and they feel that their readership likes your content and that the writing you want syndicated aligns with their standards and audience, they’ll more likely agree to begin syndicating some of your content.
It really depends on your rapport with your editors in some cases, but in all cases the quality of your content, its match with their audience and the popularity of your content impacts an editor’s decision to syndicate.
Unfortunately, there isn’t an exact formula for this since every blog or publication has its own process and preferences, which leaves it up to you to learn what each editor at each place prefers. I recommend keeping track of all of this in a spreadsheet to help stay organized.
Tactics for Regular Syndication.
To regularly syndicate your blog content, connect your RSS feed to the blogs and publications that authorize it like Business 2 Community, upload your article in their CMS after you’ve got permission to syndicate or regularly email your editor at the desired frequency (based on THEIR feedback) with your most popular content that matches their unique audience.
This is the sweet spot you’re aiming for. Once you establish a rapport with your editor you can start to make a case to transition from primarily guest blogging to having your syndicated posts being your main contribution with an occasionally original guest blog here and there.
One way to make this easier is to set your syndicated posts up for success. It goes without saying that the posts you submit for syndication represent your highest quality work, and should certainly be of equal quality to your current guest contributions.
Reference content creators like James Clear who often syndicates relevant articles from his blog on specific publications like Lifehacker that match the audience he’s trying to reach.
In addition, include links to relevant content within your articles that are syndicated to increase value for their readers (doing this also has the added benefit of boosting traffic to your site).
If you are able to replicate this transition to syndication for multiple blogs you were once writing for, you can increase the frequency that you contribute to these blogs.
With guest blogging you had to write a separate article for each publication, but with syndication one article on your blog can be repurposed on any number of publications with minimal effort once you’ve got the process down pat.
As you ramp up your syndication and pull back on guest contributions you can start pursuing syndication opportunities on publications you do not currently contribute to. This can drastically increase the audience your articles will be able to reach.
When considering publications to pursue for syndication, keep a few things in mind. The first thing you should look for is that the publication regularly syndicates articles and caters to an audience that would be receptive to the content you are best at creating.
Attempting to change what you write for the sake of reaching a wider audience or to convince a publication that you can cater to their audience is likely to be a waste of time and energy.
However, you should also consider the size of the audience the publication is capable of reaching. Even if a blog has an audience hyper-targeted to your expertise, it won’t be worth pursuing syndication if they only have 150 readers.
On the flipside, having your SEO article syndicated on Oprah.com will likely do just as little to help your reputation even if you’re reaching 150 million readers.
I’d recommended publishing on a healthy combination of mainstream publications that typically cover the topics you’re looking to also submit, as well as niche industry publication.
For example, I syndicate content on both the Huffington Post and the Next Web.
Both publications are well-read by a large audience, but the Huffington Post has a larger distribution network and is far more well-known by the general public which can help drive quality traffic, links and credibility to your byline and your business.
On the other hand, the Next Web can also drive traffic, links and credibility to your brand, it just won’t be as well known outside of the marketing and technology industry.
Since the Next Web is a niche publication with a more specific audience, the content is far more likely to get read and shared with your particular audience than a piece on a much larger publisher that publishes thousands of pieces everyday as compared to a few hundred or less that a niche publication would typically publish.
Ideally, the publications you reach out to should appeal to a wide audience that is interested in your area of expertise at least on a high level.
In addition, you should do some digging and determine if these publications are open to regularly syndicating work from authors without requiring them to guest contribute as well, which is common. It’s just hard to say for sure one way or the other because the preferences of every publication or blog are different as previously mentioned.
This last stipulation is key because your ultimate goal in pursuing these kinds of publications should be to help you transition to mostly syndicating content.
Although there are still many benefits to guest blogging, if you are truly hoping to make the most of your time as a content creator you should limit your guest blogging efforts to the highest profile publications you can afford to and focus more of your efforts on syndicating content.
Where Syndication Can Take You.
By shifting the bulk of your online content distribution to syndication you can devote more time and energy to producing high-quality content of your own properties, which allows your business or your personal brand to reap a majority of the benefits of your efforts.
Because you can now get more mileage out of each post you create, these posts will ideally get better and better since you have more time to focus on each piece, which will in turn make it easier to land more syndication arrangements in the future.
As your articles continue to appear in more and more publications all of those articles will link back to your site (more than once if you included embedded links to relevant content within your article).
Having so many articles with quality links back to your site will help bolster your SEO rankings and increase your visibility overtime, but once again, do not make syndication solely an approach to boosting your results or you risk devaluing the quality of your content.
Also, when publications release your syndicated content and promote it on various social platforms they will likely promote your personal Twitter and other social media accounts alongside the content.
A practical guide to writing an effective social media policy http://t.co/5lkple7a2s by @BrianHonigman
— The Next Web (@TheNextWeb) September 20, 2014
The accumulated effect of all these advantages, and the manner in which they feed off of each other gives syndication the unique power to take your online reputation and reach to the next level.
While it may take time, dedication and a clearly outlined strategy, putting yourself on this path is not inherently difficult – and given the extent of the potential benefits, pursuing syndication as a content strategy is well worth the effort.
How does your business drive more visibility to your own content? Have you experimented with syndicating your content on other relevant publications? Share your experiences below.