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Massage Today
May, 2014, Vol. 14, Issue 05

Getting More Clients by Submitting Bylined Articles and Columns

By Cary Bayer

A third prominent arrow in your public relations quiver is the bylined article or ongoing column. These should be service pieces that provide useful information to readers; they shouldn't be blatant self-service articles in which you promote how wonderful you are and how people should come to you for massage.

If your pieces give valuable information, they'll subtly inspire people to want to work with you.

Topical Breezes

Your articles should be like fresh breezes of inspiration. Explore the research done on massage that shows its benefits to different parts of the body and to overall health. Talk about the need for regular stress management in these tense times, etc. If the massage that you do is somewhat different — like Thai, Lomilomi or pre-natal — then focus your articles on informing readers of these lesser-known modalities and their benefits.

Since we learned how to walk before we learned how to run, it's better, with better publications, to propose a one-shot bylined article than an ongoing column. The reason should be obvious: it's harder to sell a dozen articles than it is to sell one, just like it's easier for a prospective client to book their first massage with you than to sign up for a package of a dozen. If the editor enjoys that first article, your chances of selling a regular column go up.

articles and columns - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Proposing a bylined article has most of the same elements that pitching a round-up article or profile has. The major difference is that instead of having the article that you're proposing be staff written or assigned to a freelancer by the publication, you're proposing to write it.

Before penning your pitch letter for an article, research the publication to see if it, in fact, it carries articles by those who are neither staffers nor freelancers. Then see what their word length is. Your bylined piece can be done in either of two ways:

  1. Propose a story you think readers would profit by reading and suggest that you're eminently qualified to write the piece. Explain in one paragraph why that's so.
  2. Propose a story you think readers would profit by reading and suggest that you're eminently qualified to write such a piece — and include the piece itself.

The downside of this approach is that you've gone ahead and written a piece on speculation with no idea if it will ever see the light of day. (If you have a newsletter, blog or website, it will see the light of day.) It's wise to include a sample of your writing; preferably a piece that shows off your flair with language. If you don't have a flair for language, then send off the writing of someone else who does have such flair and who would write the article if the editor gives you the green light.

The upside of sending off the sample article is that the journalist to whom you're pitching gets a chance to see how well you write and portentially approve the piece right then and there.

The Column

Pitching the ongoing column — a once-a-month frequency if the publication comes out monthly — involves additional work than just pitching a one-shot article. In this case, include a working title for your proposed writing, as well as titles for several future articles. It's essential to include a sample column, again making certain that it's of a similar length as other columns the publication carries.

A sample pitch for an ongoing column appears below.

Mr. John Smith
Natural Awakenings Magazine
City, state, zip

Dear Mr. Smith:

With many holistic healers going out of business and their fees plummeting, with many taking straight jobs to pay the rent, this massage therapist is growing the size of her practice. How, in a deep recession, could a body worker grow so? What kinds of benefits is it necessary for a holistic healer to provide regularly to not only stay in business but thrive? And what are the scientifically documented benefits of massage that has people coming back for more?

I'd like to address these and many other aspects of massage therapy in a regular column that I would like to write for your magazine. The working title for such a column would be "Destress for Success." It would show how regular massage treatments help people become healthier and happier and serves as a foundation for them to become more successful, as well.

A sample column is enclosed; titles of future articles follows:

  • "Living without Pain"
  • "Peace of Mind in a Peaceful Body"
  • "Empower your Lymphatic Drainage System to Empower Your Immune System"
  • "Staving off the Common Cold"

If I don't hear from you by next week, I'll call to see if you'd like to inspire readers with a monthly column on a modality that removes stress from their bodies and might add years to their lives.

Jane Doe, Licensed Massage Therapist
Phone Number
Website address
Email address

Analyzing the Pitch

Once again, let's take a close look at this pitch for an ongoing column. You'll notice, first off, that it's targeted to Natural Awakenings Magazine, the franchise of regional wellness monthlies throughout the country. If there isn't one in your community, check out your local health food store or metaphysical center to see if there's a similar monthly publication covering the holistic growth scene in your area.

Second, it's implied from the pitch that I've already researched the magazine and seen there is no regular column on massage therapy. And third, I suggested that I'm qualified to write this ongoing column because my business is growing; in other words, despite a difficult recession, people keep flocking to my table.

A fourth key point: I listed several titles for upcoming articles that I'd write. And most importantly, point five, I've enclosed a sample column. (In this case, I haven't actually written such a column for you to read, but I'm suggesting that you would do that to accompany your pitch letter.)

Click here for previous articles by Cary Bayer.


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