It's no secret that I love HARO. Not only can you gain more exposure for your writing, but you can also add expert sources to your stories with the help of this freelance writing tool.
I've written in the past about the way HARO can help you present yourself as an expert, as well as how it can be used to boost the visibility of your home business. It's a great tool for the freelancer when it comes to finding experts for your stories.
More and more, my clients want my blog posts to look more like news articles. They want me to bring a professional voice, and add authority with primary sources. That's great for me. It allows me to trade on my journalism background and charge more.
Finding expert sources can be a bit of a challenge, though. If you're a freelance journalist, sitting in your basement, and most of your content is for web sites and blogs, chances are that you haven't been building a huge rolodex of contacts. (Well, I do have quite a few contacts now, but it's taken years of networking.)
If you want to immediately add expert sources to your stories, HARO is a good place to start. Plus, it provides you with a way to build your virtual rolodex, since you can file away good pitches — even if you don't use someone's response for your current story.
Realize that in order to submit a query, the site you are writing for must have an Alexa Rank of one million or less. If it doesn't, HARO will bounce your request. I'm signed up both as an expert source and as a journalist so that I can take advantage of both sides of HARO.
Add Expert Sources with the Right Queries
If you want to add an expert source to your story, it starts with the right query. First of all, you need to be specific about what you want. It helps to list the web site you are writing for, especially if it is a major web site or blog. As you fill out the specific elements of your query, make sure that you are as specific as possible. I like the following query from someone looking to find experts for a podcast interview:
Even if you aren't looking for a podcast interview, you can learn a lot from this query, if you want to interview someone. First of all, the Summary is clear. You want to catch the attention of an expert, showing that your query is applicable, and that the expert(s) could fit the bill. You are also more likely to get responses if you list your media outlet, rather than choosing to remain Anonymous.
Next, you need to choose your deadline. When choosing a deadline, I like to give myself a day or two of leeway, just in case. I never use my “real” deadline.
Be specific about what you want in the query, and the parameters of the interview. For the most part, rather than doing a video interview, you will do one over the phone or via email. Be clear about your expectations. Also, be clear about your requirements. If you want a specific kind of business owner, or a particular brand of expert, you need to state that clearly. While there will always be those who stretch a bit to meet the requirements, you will have fewer “wasted” responses to wade through if you are more specific.
This is another example of a query that can help you add expert sources to your stories. With this query, many of the respondents actually answer the questions in the body. You can also ask respondents to respond with three or four quick tips, or a quote that you can use. This makes the whole process easier, since all you have to do is send a quick reply letting the respondent know you are using the information, and thanking them for their help. You don't have to talk to them, and the information you want comes right to your inbox in a form that is easy to translate to an article or blog post. It's one of the easiest ways to add expert sources.
Save Expert Sources for Later
Sometimes, you receive a response that is good, but not needed for your current story. In some cases, a respondent's pitch will spark another idea in you. Since I write for a variety of web sites and blogs, I find that I can use “rejected” responses in stories for different sites. The whole process is helpful when it comes to finding ideas for other blog posts, or when it comes to adding experts to your list of names.
I like to star and archive responses that I might use for later. Then, when I am looking for experts or ideas, I can go through the starred items and find inspiration. Even better, this inspiration comes with authority attached. Here is the text I use when I decide that I might use a response in a different story, on a different site:
Thank you for responding to my HARO request. I probably won't use this information in my current article, but I might use it in a future post on another site. If this is ok, please respond with how you would like to be cited, including your credentials.
This way, the expert is aware that his or her response might still be used elsewhere. It also opens the door for me to contact the expert later and ask other questions, or set up a different interview. It's a good way to build that rolodex, as well as a bank of ideas for the future.
It's easy to see why HARO is one of my favorite freelance writing tools. Whether you are looking for good ideas for the future, you want to add expert sources to your stories, or you just want to increase your own visibility as an expert, it's hard to go wrong with this resource.