Crowdsourcing articles is a great way to create highly engaging content for your audience, but it’s not for everyone. Publishing crowdsourced articles on your site might not be for you if:

  • You don’t understand the real issues that your target audience is dealing with
  • You don’t understand how to attract great contributors, or
  • You are fearful of collaborating with online competitors

1. Know your target audience

Choosing the right topic for your article is about understanding the motivations of your target audience. Usually their motivations are directly related to a specific problem, frustration or pain they are experiencing. If your web visitor does not have a problem that you hold the solution for, then he/she is not even a prospect – it’s that simple. Your solution may solve many different problems, both real and perceived. Each problem you can solve represents a target audience who is experiencing that particular problem. When you clearly identify the problems, frustrations or pains that your business solves or takes away, you are also identifying one target audience’s motivation to buy.

When you select the right topic, you might notice things like this:

  • Retweets
  • facebook likes
  • Social bookmarking
  • Links to your article

These might also be goals for your crowdsourced article – clear evidence of target audience engagement.

2. Know your article contributors (can be experts on the topic)

  • Know what the individual likes or wants before you introduce yourself. The fastest way to get ignored is to try to sell them your idea before they even know who you are. Instead, get involved in the group they are involved in and listen to what he/she is saying. If it’s appropriate provide interesting, thought provoking comments or responses. Some aren’t shy at all and tell you flat out what they are looking for. If you possess what he/she is looking for it’s time to make your introduction.
  • Introduce yourself by letting them know that you might have something they want and then give some details about it in a respectful way.
  • Wait for their response. If they don’t respond in a reasonable timeframe, find another way to introduce yourself: phone calls often work but the best is to speak with them in person.
  • At this point it’s assumed that you really do have what they want and that they will act on it immediately. Otherwise, back up and try again or in some cases it’s over for that individual.

3. Create a question that your target audience would want to know the answer to but there is no clear-cut answer, i.e. lots of opinions about it.

Give the article contributors a good reason to participate and answer your question. The more popular the destination site where the article will be posted, the higher quality participants you will get. In other words, they are looking for exposure:

  • Lots of eyeballs on their brand name
  • Credibility and authority
  • A link to their site from a popular site

4. Go to the places where the experts and contributors hang out and pitch your idea.

  • Forums on your topic
  • LinkedIn groups on your topic
  • HARO
  • TChat

Organize the feedback from your contributors so the opinions and article flows smoothly. Give credit to each contributor accordingly. If you said you would link to their site, then add a link to their name or business.

5. When the article is published, let your contributors see it and encourage them to send it out to their followers and link to it from their site.

There are many benefits with crowdsourced articles but it all boils down to the relationship you have with each of your article contributors – treat them like royalty and you’ll reap the benefits for a long time.

Tom Shivers
Tom Shivers

I'm a ecommerce SEO consultant and President of Capture Commerce. I've managed digital marketing campaigns for scores of clients since 2000 and found that every business is unique with its own challenges and opportunities. When I see that I have contributed to the success of a business by helping them grow, it makes me feel awesome! That’s the coolest thing and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to do this.