What not to do, and what to do
Michelle Strange: A Tale of Two Hygienists presents this week’s TIPisode: Quick and easy tips to keep you up to date and presented by the experts in the profession. Now, get ready for your unofficial TIPisode.
Teresa Duncan: Hi. This is Teresa Duncan with the Nobody Told Me That! podcast and also the new Chew on This podcast. Both of them can be found on the Dental Podcast Network.
Over the years, I’ve worked with plenty of upcoming speakers and consultants and writers, and one of the frequent questions that I have received is “Who wants to read what I have to say?” Well, lots of people, right? And, also, I hear “I want to get started writing, but I don’t know where to start.” So I wanted to give you kind of a quick rundown of what’s available to you if you are this budding writer and you want to get your message out there.
So the first question that I get most of the time is “Well, it’s really hard to get written up and get printed, and I see that there’s online now. Which one should I go for?”
If you had asked me this 20 years ago way back when I was starting out even be — you know, I was starting about before then. But, back when I was starting out, I would have said, “Wow. Print is the way to go,” because it’s almost — it’s very prestigious, too, to get printed. You know, it’s something to brag about that you were printed in Dental Economics or, you know, RDH Magazine. And why I say that is because it’s very hard to get into the print. They have so many submissions, so when you’re printed up, it’s actually very, very exciting.
But then the industry shifted, and it went more to publishing online. And then the ad structure changed whereas if you could get a ton of clicks on an article, that was deemed to be a successful article. So my answer today — and actually for the past, I’d say, 10 years — is that it is way better to be published online than it is to be published in print.
Now, there is a couple other reasons for that, and the big one is that it increases your searchability, your findability, because your name is out there online to be Googled. So, if somebody wants to get to know you for either consulting, for hiring, for speaking, when they Google your name and you have articles that come up on reputable magazines or on your blog, which is a wonderful place to showcase yourself, it gives you that air of credibility.
I also keep hearing “What about — do I start a blog?” — you know, I mentioned blog just a second ago — “Do I start a blog, or do I submit articles?” You could do both.
Now, blogs are a little bit harder because you actually have to set them up and you have to get the site up and all of that. But, you know, if you’re techie like that or if you have access to somebody who can do that, that’s great.
Now, LinkedIn is a good way to get your word out because they actually have their own blogging platform. So, if you have a LinkedIn profile — and I hope that you do. I hope all of you do — you could certainly go in and start posting. Either you can write an article — That’s what they call them in there, articles — or you can just write your thoughts right into your update. Very, very easy to do because they just make it so easy to publish.
The good thing about the LinkedIn articles is that they do become searchable on LinkedIn, and so that’s another great way to get your name out. Also, people that you’re connected with will see that you’re becoming pretty prolific with your thoughts, and that actually just puts you on a lot of people’s radar.
So then I get the question “What about Facebook? Can I just open up a page as a business and start blogging?” You could. It’s a little bit less visibility only because people will — it’s not as indexed I guess I should say as if you had a blog or if you’re on LinkedIn or if you actually were opening up a business profile on Google My Business and putting up a blog there. That’s kind of advanced. I don’t want to get into that.
So I just want to focus on — see all the different ways that you can get your word out there? I just want to focus on whether or not you want to get published in an online magazine. So let’s bring it back down to the easiest way I think you can get started with getting your word out there.
So we all know that there’s the traditional RDH magazines, and they usually all have an online component. You know RDH Magazine, Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. ADHA has Access. There’s Hygienetown. I’m sure I’m missing, you know, one or two others. And then there’s the traditional bigger umbrella, you know, hygiene, assistant, dentist industry, which is DrBicuspid, Dentistry Today, the dental office management group has their OBSERVER article — and I’ll bring up why that’s important even though you’re not necessarily a manager — Dental Products Report, and then of course Dental Economics, which has been around for an awful long time.
So every single one of those has an online component, which is great because it makes things so much easier as far as publishing. So, like I said, the print is so hard. It takes so long. You have to wait. You have to wait for approval. You have to look at the review of the layout of it. Online is just heads and tails better. I haven’t published anything in print for a long, long time simply because it’s so much nicer to just look at sending in an online article.
And I will tell you, too, that I used to get the most response — I still get the most response from online articles, not my print articles. So take — think about that. Do you want something actionable? Online is the way to go.
Okay, so let me give you a couple “what not to dos” and then a couple “what to dos” because I want to see you get published. So we’ll end with the what to dos and give you some action plans.
Okay. What not to do. When you pitch an editor — so, actually, let me back up a second. When you go to all of these sites, you want to look for the editorial team, and you will want to find out who the editor is for that magazine. Now, you will send them an inquiry — and we’ll talk about that in just a second — and they will typically send it to whomever is working with them. They usually have an assistant that works with them on that. And so they’ll probably send you to them, so that’s pretty normal. If it’s somebody who is very hands on, they will handle the whole interaction with you themselves, which is actually kind of nice. So that’s how you find out who to send your article to. I know that’s the big piece right there is who do I send this to?
Okay, so. What not to do. When you finally find out who this person is and you are submitting your article — or I’m sorry, you’re submitting your query, you’re going to send them an email and say, “I’m interested in writing for your publication. What I’d like to do is send you an article on X-X-X.”
Okay. Why I said that that’s something that you should do is because the what not to do is the worst thing you can do for an editor. And this is speaking from somebody who had to filter a lot of these articles when I worked for the dental management organization AADOM. I would get pitches that said, “I would like to write for your magazine, but I don’t — what do you need somebody to write on?”
And Kevin Henry who is the editor of DrBicuspid magazine shares the same sentiment. He gets lots of pitches. People tell him “Oh, I need to write for your magazine, but what do you need? What do you need an article on?” And that’s the wrong approach.
What I want you to think about is what you’re really passionate about and what you’re good at because that’s going to come across in the article. If I say to you “I need somebody to write on how to talk perio with your patients,” and that’s not really what you enjoy talking about, you actually would rather talk about something else, maybe you’re more research oriented, it’s going to be like pulling teeth to have you write an article like that. And nobody wants that. I want you to write about what you’re passionate about.
Also what not to do is miss deadlines. So, if you reach out to your editor and they say, “Great. If you can get this to me by such and such date, we can put it into rotation at such and such date.” They plan out their content, and if you miss a deadline, I — you could probably get away with once, but after that, you’re not going to get priority. They’re not going to listen to you when you say, “Okay. I’ll get it to you by Thursday.” What they’ll do is just figure “Okay. If you send it and I don’t have any other content, I will go ahead and put that in.” So don’t miss deadlines. It’s just not professional anyways.
The other part is do not republish your article. So, if you send something to Dental Economics and it’s a well-written article and you’re thinking, “Oh, well let me just send it to DrBicuspid to be printed,” that is not cool. None of the magazines like that. It’s just not cool. So make sure that if you send it in — if you want to repurpose that article, then rewrite it a little bit. Make it different. Give it a different title, and then you can send it out. But sending the same content to two different articles — well, first of all, Google doesn’t like it. It thinks you’re trying to, you know, cheat and kind of just republish stuff. And, also, the editors don’t like it because they do take a look at what’s out there. They keep on top of what’s out there.
Okay, so with the what not to dos out of the way, let me give you some what to dos.
Every magazine that you would like to write for has something called a media kit. So, if you go over to the online section of, say, DrBicuspid and you go over to “advertise with us” or “advertising,” if you go to that site, it’s really for the sponsors, right? It’s for the companies who want to pay some money and get featured.
With companies — with magazines like Dental Economics — let’s go back to Dental Economics for a second — they typically will have what we call an editorial calendar. What that means is one month they’ll focus on lasers, one month they’ll focus on perio, one month they’ll focus on, you know, management. They do that so that they can find the correct advertiser for that edition. For example, you don’t want to have somebody who’s very research-oriented product in with your office management edition. You know, it just doesn’t make sense. So that’s why they have what we call a media kit so that you can target your marketing.
So what that means for my authors is that if you see that October is going to be laser month, then — and you love that. That’s what you’d like to pitch — you’d say, “Hey, editor. I see that you usually have an October laser dentistry edition, and I’d like to contribute to it.” Most editors — I’m pretty sure all editors are first of all going to be blown away that you checked the media kit because not a lot of people know about that. So, you know, be a little bit proud that you were a little bit resourceful in that regard.
So, when you pitch your idea, you want to pitch it with one or two bullet points. Don’t pitch your whole article. When you pitch, you know, people have a lot of emails. You want yours to be seen quickly and responded to quickly.
So, if you send an email to Kevin Henry, for example, at DrBicuspid, “Dear Kevin, I have an article that I’d like to write about laser dentistry. I’d like to talk about this and this. Would that be of interest to you?” More than likely Kevin’s going to go, “Heck yeah,” and you’re going to get a response that says, “Great. Send it to me when it’s done.” And the reason why you’re going to get that sort of — sort of excited but not great excited response from all of the editors in the beginning is because they get a ton of pitches. So, by the fact that you follow through on your pitch, you are already going to stand out.
Okay. When you do send — another what to do is to make sure that you get your article at least looked at by a few people before you send it in. If you’re not a great writer, this is super important. If you’re a really good writer and you have somebody eyeball it, you know that you will probably get it published very easily. If an editor has to really go through there and almost rewrite your article, it’s sometimes not worth it. So find somebody that can eyeball it for you — a spouse, partner, coworker — and if there’s any changes to be made, they’ll suggest it to you.
Now, I’m not saying it needs to be perfect when it gets sent in, but — and editors are used to rewriting a little bit. That’s fine. Mine have needed to be — you know, have parts rewritten or words inserted here and there. But, if it’s a total rewrite, it’s just not a fun time for the editor. And don’t be surprised — please don’t be hurt if it gets sent to you and say, “You know, this needs a little bit more development. Could you add this and this, and then check it for grammar?” Don’t be offended if that happens. It’s just — that’s the business, okay? And you’ll grow, and you’ll get better.
If you do think you need some help with writing, you know, go check out a couple blogs on writing and how to structure your articles. There’s a lot of information out there on that.
Okay. And then what you do when it’s submitted is maybe a week or two after it’s printed or put online, you could check back in and ask how it was received. Editors like to have some ongoing conversation with their authors because then they start to look at you as a real resource, and then that’s how you become a regular contributor to these online magazines. And then remember the conversations that you have with that editor, maybe put in one or two “I’ve got this idea about writing about this. What do you think?” And then continue to write.
So the last what to do is send in another article. Now, when you do send it in and you have the closing part of it, remember you’re going to make sure there’s a way for people to find you, whether it’s your email or whether it’s your website. I have found the best results have been when I offer something at the end, whether it’s a checklist or whether it’s supporting information for this article. But, basically, you know, “Click here — if you’re trying to start your consulting business, click here to schedule a 15- or 20-minute consultation.” That has really been very successful for most authors.
If you just want to get the word out and you just want to raise awareness of yourself, don’t feel that you have to put an offer out there. What you’re doing is building up your online reputation. You’re building a database. And, for some of you, this a passion project, and you’re fulfilling your passion project. So, whether you’re a budding speaker, whether you’re a budding consultant or a budding writer, I hope that this has given you plenty of information on how to get your name out there and how to get noticed.
I’m a firm believer in getting published and having some Google searches come up when people Google your name in dentistry because I think that that helps everybody to find you. I also think that it’s a wonderful way to spread your knowledge. And, if there’s something that I’ve learned from working with so many people looking to go outside of the operatory, it’s that they feel like they have so much to share, and they just don’t know where to start.
Writing and getting published online is a phenomenal way to start, so I hope that you are incentivized to do it after listening to this. I urge you to check out DrBicuspid. I urge you to check out Dental Economics online. There are tons of places that are willing and very excited to take your articles and publish them, okay?
I hope that this helps. And, again, check out my podcast Nobody Told Me That! and Chew on This. I will be back with another TIPisode next time. Thank you.
Michelle Strange: We hope you enjoyed this week’s TIPisode. Be sure to reach out to our guest experts and let them know how helpful their tips were. Follow A Tale of Two Hygienists on Facebook, Instagram, and head over to ataleoftwohygienists.com and subscribe to our newsletter. You can also email us at [email protected], and keep listening for more awesome content from your unofficial dental hygiene podcast.