My marketing team and I are working with a new local online newspaper to build a SEO campaign as well as a recruiting campaign to bring in writers. We are pretty well versed on SEO, but I was wondering what would be the best way to go about pitching this to writers. Right now the newspaper is willing to share ad revenue with select writers who they feel will be long term quality contributors. However they also want to bring into the fold people who are willing to do unpaid writing. Ideally they want to convert those unpaid writers into paid writers via a revenue share, but after a period of time where they can evaluate their work.
I have seen a lot of sites like Bleacher Report and Patch and various other local for profit online papers recruit unpaid writers. What is their plan of attack? Email people? What might be a sample email pitch? Direct calls? Other than Twitter and LinkedIn, how can we find writers? When I was at another marketing firm, we had a similar project and the team did a lot of email pitches. And with no luck. I am very interested to hear what unique ideas people have found to work for such a campaign.
Here is how I would do it.
Let it be a chance for them to establish themselves as an expert. Pay them with:
Of course, you could let them add a link in the author box to support a charity/local event/etc as added incentive. Something like the article sites, but for local.
EDIT Here is a footer from the blog copyblogger.com. I added the local charity bit, but you can see how the authors are rewarded for their effort.
I learned in human ressource seminars that its better to pay nothing than just pay them little. Voluntary work sometimes has an intrinsic motivation. People do it because they enjoy it. If you pay them for their work, it has a diffrent notion. They will write for money, and for little money! So they will loose motivation to spend so much time for just a little bit of money and forget about their intrinsic motivation to write just for fun.
Regardless of the method you use to get people to write for free for this publication, I don't think is a good idea... You will get what you paid for, in this case, nothing or something of low quality.
How about starting by offering a flat amount for each article that is published? at least you'll be paying people something and that way you might be able to get more writers to participate and also find writers to work with in the long term. Good luck.
Kudos to Chris and the others for their answers.
The thing here is that this is a LOCAL online newspaper. Hence, your pool of potential writers is actually limited. You can't just hire a writer in New York to write about what's going on in Yorksville, Idaho (I made up the name).
How small is that town? Is there any local college in the area? If so, you may want to approach it. And by that, I mean actually showing up there and organizing a brown bag lunch, workshop or presentation. Maybe the local chamber of commerce? And association of retirees?
It shouldn't be too difficult to find a few good writers. They don't have to be world class writers. Bear in mind that locals don't read local newspapers because of the style of the paper, they read to find out what's going on in their town. Nobody expects a Shakespeare columnist. Focus on must-haves, not on nice-to-haves. A very successful owner of a local newspaper said that the key to his success were three things:
I would also add: pictures, pictures, pictures.