Why content marketers shouldn’t overlook niche outlets

Your organization wants to make a splash—and big marquee names can offer big ROI. However, smaller, industry-centered publications can be just as rewarding.

Part of creating effective content is knowing where you want it to end up.

Choosing publications that will best fit your target audience is key. By outlining your goals and knowing whom you want to reach with your content, you can decide which publication is the best bet for your company.

First off, it’s important to understand the difference between the two types of publications you can pitch content to, and what sort of content makes sense for each.

Marquee publications

These publications have a larger, broader range of audience members who want to read public interest pieces that get them thinking. Articles normally require an editor to do a ton of work if they were being written in-house, so having a topic that appeals to a wide audience land on his or her desk from an outside contributor is a win-win. Readers are looking to be delighted and intrigued by stories and revelations that they can comprehend and learn from.

Niche publications

These outlets sometimes have a smaller readership, but they are more directly interested in specialty subjects or specific industries. Super technical, in-depth industry knowledge on how to do something makes more sense for these types of publications. Their readers either have thorough background knowledge on the subject matter at hand or are actively trying to learn more specifics.

What’s the right fit for your goals?

When first introduced to content marketing, many are eager to focus on big, marquee publications. These are fantastic outlets with great brands that people trust. However, these publications don’t always meet an organization’s goals, and they can involve a lot of work in the editing and revision process due to publication guidelines.

Often, the niche outlets can help clients get a contributed content campaign started and help reach a targeted audience. A lot of business leaders get starstruck by the well-known names of the marquee publications but don’t realize that the niche publications allow them to reach their specific business goals much easier.

How to classify a marquee publication

Marquee publications are those that have 1 million or more monthly page views. Because of their size, their audience tends to be broad, although they may have sections that focus on narrower topics. (For example, a technology publication may have a section on fintech or security.) These are the publications you know by name: Fast Company, Entrepreneur, VentureBeat, AdAge, Harvard Business Review, etc.

The great thing about these publications is they have a large audience and can help an author expand his or her thought leadership. Yet, with that large audience comes plenty of guidelines—and a lot of competition. Harvard Business Review, for example, gets hundreds of submissions each week, and it only accepts the top 10%.

These publications typically are not good for someone who is focused on lead generation. Marquee publications rarely want you to talk about your company. They want you to focus on an experience you’ve had that is truly novel and provides value to a wide range of readers.

If you are interested in targeting a marquee publication, you must have an interesting story to tell. Ask yourself these questions to help you determine whether a marquee is a good fit for you:

Why am I the best person to write this, and what makes this story mine and only mine? You can talk about a personal experience only you have had or provide unique insights from research that you did or a lesson you learned the hard way.

What do I do as part of my process that is unusual? What can readers learn from you that they can’t learn from someone else?

What topic do I have a strong opinion about that doesn’t mirror the current conversation? Marquee publications want ideas that provide a fresh viewpoint. They won’t publish something that just rehashes what is already in the marketplace.

How to think smaller

When it comes to publications, great things can come with lower monthly page views.

Smaller publications are usually open to more SEO-friendly follow links and company mentions. Plus, despite being small, they still maintain high standards. Niche publications still have high standards for good storytelling and well-written articles. Examples include Total Retail, Recruiter.com and Builder Magazine.

Niche publications have often built an engaged audience around a specific topic, meaning the exact people you are trying to reach are the ones who read that publication. This provides an opportunity to build your expertise among a targeted audience as well as get used to writing about your experience and telling your story in a clear and interesting way. As you look at niche publications to target, ask yourself:

What about my process/experience could someone new to the industry learn from? Because these publications are specific to a narrow industry, many readers are looking to learn from experienced insiders. What can you teach them?

What new trend am I seeing that hasn’t been broadly acknowledged? How can you take a trend or an idea and apply it to your industry? You don’t necessarily have to be the only person talking about this idea, but if you present it in an interesting way, it can be valuable to a publication’s audience.

What are your experiences targeting big name publications of smaller, industry-focused outlets? Share your thoughts and lessons in the comments.

Carrie Watkins works with Influence & Co., a content marketing agency. A version of this article originally appeared on the Influence & Co. blog.

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