Identifying content themes that will resonate
Fast Company doesn’t accept pitches, preferring instead for writers to submit finished articles. So Nathan knew that to maximize his chances of success, he would need to submit an article so relevant that Fast Company’s editors would know immediately that the piece would fit.
In essence, Nathan wanted to eliminate as much friction from the submission as possible.
He theorized that Fast Company would have a hard time saying no to an article that matched the characteristics of their most successful content.
“It clicked right away-- the whole idea is that if you are writing for a publication that works without pitches and only accepts finished articles -- I wanted to make sure that I sent them as close to a finished piece as possible.”
So, he spent an hour using BuzzSumo to find, read, and analyze the most shared articles from Fast Company.
“I looked a the first 20 or so results to find similarities; then I looked for the missing piece,” Nathan says.
In that hour, he noticed that a lot of highly shared content published at fastcompany.com was about the idea of productivity, and even more importantly, the productivity articles focused on how to make effective use of the morning hours.
It was an ah-ha moment. Nathan had identified a theme: productivity, and a gap: the infamous afternoon slump.
With that idea in hand focused on productivity hacks for the afternoon, ultimately submitting, Six Ways to Stay Productive after 3 p.m.
The article was published on Fast Company in June 2016. Mission accomplished!
BuzzSumo gave Nathan the angle and the edge he needed to get published at Fast Company.
Want to try it yourself? Here's how:
1. Use Most shared to find the content that has gotten the most shares during the last 12 months. For example, here’s an updated list of Fast Company’s most shared content from the last 12 months.
2. Look carefully for patterns or trends.
For example, you can see immediately that the most shared pieces in this search have a heavy focus on celebrities and über brands like Apple, Facebook, and Google.
3. Don’t stop researching if an interview with a celebrity or power CEO doesn’t seem possible for you. Try adding a topic like “productivity” to your domain search. This changes the landscape of results immediately.
For example, there are two top 20 articles about to-do lists and two about short work weeks.
You can also see that two of the posts are “What” posts, two are “Why” posts, and two are “How” posts.
For a more comprehensive look at what works, try content analysis reports to find the best performing content formats and lengths. (For fastcompany.com it’s 3000-10,000 words)
4. Now that you have two possible niche’s (being more productive with to-do lists and using a short work week model), follow Nathan’s example and look for the gap.
Of course, this step takes creativity and intuition, but you can begin by asking yourself if you can take a contrary opinion or provide a unique insight; interview and expert or update something that is a bit out of date; develop an idea more substantially or simplify a complex answer.
To develop content that will resonate with a certain publisher...
- Search for the most shared content at publisher’s domain
- Look for patterns and trends
- Add a topic you are interested in
- Find the gaps
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