After months of contributions, I was feeling unsettled and unmotivated to continue writing for this particular publisher.
Instead of simply being disgruntled and quitting, I decided to examine why I felt the way I did. After all, it’s completely plausible that I was the issue. After taking a deep personal look at my feelings, thoughts and motives, I found that, honestly, I just didn’t feel valued.
My gut tells me that I’m not the only author that doesn’t feel valued, so I decided to write an honest and open email to my Editor in hopes that my perspective would give some value to future authors and contributors.
Below is my email, sent directly to my Editor In Chief (EIC).
**If you publish other people’s work on your platform, you should probably read this. If your work is published on someone else’s platform, feel free to contribute.**
**I’ve removed the name of my specific publisher, and replaced it with a generic ‘publisher’ instead. This was done out of respect for my relationship with my publisher.**
As a contributor, I put a lot of thought, time and effort into the articles I write. Each article takes a significant amount of labor to produce. My prevailing focus is to provide value to your readers and, in turn, create value for your publication. After all, why write or publish a magazine if it doesn’t clearly provide value for the end user.
Yet, as a contributor, I never quite felt that my contributions were valued from (publisher)’s point of view. There is very little feedback and very little interaction outside of simply sending an email via the publish@ address.
Ultimately, your contributors are creating value for you and should be considered a ‘customer segment’ for your business model and a customer to ‘be served.’ It doesn’t have to be big or expensive, but there are a number of ways to help your contributors feel way more valued.
I know you are pulled in so many different directions. So here are a few focused thoughts that I’ve felt / thought about over the course of our relationship regarding how you can better value your contributors:
1) Give them real, constructive feedback. Trust me, I would have loved critical feedback on what I had written. It shows you value what they wrote, and more importantly, that you read through it and are thinking about the article.
2) Recognize and reward them. Give them encouragement about which articles worked, which didn’t. Reward the wins somehow and recognize when they’ve done a good job.
3) Create connection & community. Connect them to other authors on (publisher), connect them to the editorial team. Create an ‘exclusive’ LinkedIn or Facebook network for the authors to interact directly with one another and your team. We are all in this together, so expose them to one another and create a (publisher) ‘exclusive’ community.
4) Give back. Promote the hell out of them (not only their articles) but of their other ventures, businesses and writing. All of your contributors aren’t writing for (publisher) full-time or getting paid to do so, so help them advance their personal goals / careers as well. Fight for the success of their careers as well as the success of (publisher).
5) Get personal. Send a hand-written thank you note. A Starbucks gift card. A discount to a partner. These things would go a long, long way in feeling valued.
6) Make them Ambassadors. Create / find opportunities for them to “show up” in the real world as (publisher) ambassadors. (speaking, workshops, conferences, panels, etc.)
7) Involve them. Give them a sense of being part of a ‘work family.’ Involve your contributors in the wins and losses for (publisher). We have a stake in your success and want to be aware of and involved in how its going. In the time that I started writing, you launched a subscription model. I would have loved to be able to know about that and promote it and understand what types of articles you were looking for.
8) Challenge them. Challenge them to write specific special assignments or to cover a specific topic that’s trending right now on (publisher). Challenge is a way of showing appreciation, and, more importantly, trust.
Ultimately, contributors who are ‘ignored’ or under-recognized are not going to feel motivated and, as a result, likely won’t create much value for you. In the end that doesn’t benefit anyone. Your contributors will willingly go the extra mile if they sense that their contributions are sincerely appreciated and valued.
Notice, none of my suggestions cost much money at all. Value, in this case, is so much more than money.
So those are my reflections. I may be the only one that feels this way, I don’t know. Or, our relationship could be a microcosm in the grand scheme of your other contributors, I don’t know. But that’s how I felt and I thought it was worth the email.
Looking forward to talking soon,