Write once. Distribute often. Distribute everywhere.
Has the traffic to your site flatlined? And are you frustrated with the deafening silence after hitting publish on your latest blog post?
One way to put an end to that might be by using an old tactic that has been updated for use on the web. Content Syndication.
Today you’ll learn how several internet superstars such as James Altucher, James Clear and some other up and comers have leveraged syndication as a powerful audience building tool.
So what is content syndication?
“Content syndication is the process of pushing your blog, site, or video content out into third-party sites, either as a full article, snippet, link, or thumbnail.”
–Andrew Delamarter, Search Engine Watch
Table of Contents
- A Brief History
- James Altucher
- How to Get Published in the Huffington Post
- James Clear
- Ryan Stewart
- Chris Winfield
- Benjamin Hardy
- Syndicating to Medium
- The Pros and Cons of Content Syndication
- Further Reading
A Brief History of Print Syndication
For decades news articles, columns and comic strips have been distributed via syndication to newspapers, magazines and eventually websites. These ‘syndicates’ and ‘news services’ would offer reprint rights and grant permissions to other parties for republishing the content of which they own or represent the copyrights.
And this would allow the syndicated writers and cartoonists to build up huge audiences numbering in the millions.
- Humorist Dave Barry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning column was syndicated in over 500 newspapers. 
- Ann Landers Advice column was carried in 1,200 newspapers with 90 million readers in the US and Canada. A 1978 World Almanac survey named her the most influential woman in the US. 
- Scott Adams’ comic strip Dilbert appears online and in 2,000 newspapers worldwide in 65 countries and 25 languages. 
- And most famously by 1980, Charles Shultz’s Peanuts appeared in 2,000 newspapers, and in the Guinness Book of Records, which recognized it as the most widely syndicated strip ever. 
And then there’s Media Syndication:
Much like print, media syndication worked its magic in expanding audience and reach– but by one or two orders of magnitude. While print syndication made authors rich, media syndication made creators and owners truly wealthy.
Firms known as ‘syndicators’ acquire the rights to programs  with the purpose of marketing them to additional audiences. Think reruns constantly running internally on US network television or shows like Seinfeld, CSI, NCIS and Law & Order playing in dozens of countries internationally.
So how do we make this work for us on the web?
Now that we’ve established that syndicating content is not a new concept, let’s look at several exciting authors out there who are adapting this concept to the web.
In this post, I’ll show you how authors like James Altucher and James Clear and marketer Ryan Stewart are doing their own versions of syndication.
James Altucher – “I’ve syndicated my material on at least ten other popular blogs”
– Syndicate – write for other blogs. Write for the Huffington Post, or the top blogs in whatever field you are interested in. I’ve syndicated my material on at least ten other popular blogs and tried to syndicate on others that said, “no”
Who wouldn’t want an audience of James Altucher’s size?
When I first was exposed to his writings, it was via his amazing blog posts. But little by little over the past couple of years I’ve seen him pop up everywhere.
Take for example one his articles ‘The 20 Habits of Eventual Millionaires’…
Back in 2015 on the morning of Saturday, Oct 10th, it went up on his Facebook page ,
Then on Monday, Oct 12th it’s live on his personal website ,
the Huffington Post 
The 20 Habits of Eventual Millionaires https://t.co/ACV07v4dyq
— Zachary Collins (@zacharycollins) October 14, 2015
The 20 Habits of Eventual Millionaireshttps://t.co/vNjzCvH9vh
— Ms. Bridgé (@MsBBuzz) October 12, 2015
and also reformatted as a newsletter and then emailed to my inbox.
The article was certainly getting around the web. And while there was probably a small overlap in readership, James’ piece was getting attention by a brand new readership on each platform and site where it was published.
THE 20 HABITS OF EVENTUAL MILLIONAIRES Nobody follows advice. So let me just say: this is what I did. # And not in one day. I’d fail if I tried to do everything. I’m not really the best at making new good habits. # Take one thing, try to get one percent better at it today, whatever that means. # That’s what worked for me. This works.
James Altucher has already figured out that a certain percentage of his audience want to read his content without having to leave networks like Facebook or Medium. Others want to consume it via email. His most avid readers will probably read it on his personal website.
And the general masses will have a better chance of discovering it on an authority hub like Huff Post (which will probably get re-shared once again to Facebook and Twitter). And on the cycle goes. He’s definitely covering all the bases.
Inc42: The 20 Habits Of Eventual Millionaires https://t.co/UASD1O2AaJ
— AllStartups.in (@allstartupsin) October 10, 2016
Re-posting your content on Facebook, Medium and sending it out as an email newsletter is easily done – and we’ll cover that below…
But what about getting into Huffington Post?
A popular question it seems.
In short, you’re better off pitching an editor directly via Twitter or email, with relevant content. The more complete your pitch is, the better.
Especially if you can provide them with an article that has already recently gone viral on your own site. Social proof + recency.
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the necessary steps to get published on Huff Post – you’ll be more than halfway to also gaining access to sites like Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur and Fast Company. Or whatever sites serve your industry verticals.
James Clear on Blowing Up His Monthly Audience to 250 Thousand Readers
James Clears writes awesome articles on mastering habits and life optimization backed by science. His site has grown to over 250,000 monthly unique visitors a month and his email list numbers over 100,000. This was achieved in under 2 years and it didn’t happen by accident.
Frustrated by the inability to scale his guest posting while maintaining quality he turned to syndication.
10 Years of Silence: How Long It Took Mozart, Picasso and Kobe Bryant to Be Successful http://t.co/W0azgHXa1P
— Buffer (@buffer) April 5, 2015
“Every Monday and Thursday, I write a new article on JamesClear.com. Obviously, I put a lot of time and energy into these articles. I want them to be as useful as possible…About a week later, I take these articles and syndicate them or re-publish them to outside sites.” 
Lessons on Success and Deliberate Practice from Mozart, Picasso, and Kobe Bryant http://t.co/eXJrKX1Nrb
— James Clear (@james_clear) July 16, 2015
He makes sure only to pitch his posts to sites audiences that perfectly match up with his writing.
He always makes sure that there are links in the articles that go back to his site (and the original source article) as well as in his author byline.
He creates dedicated landing pages back on his own site specifically targeted to the audiences that click over from the syndicated posts.
— HighExistence (@highexistence) June 12, 2016
James gained over 600 subscribers from syndicating a single post on Lifehacker. Not bad for not having to put in any additional work writing a new article.
— Lifehack (@lifehackorg) November 16, 2015
Ryan Stewart – “relentlessly create and promote in order to reach every single person on the face of the planet”
“I’ll be honest, my goals aren’t sales – it’s exposure. I relentlessly create and promote in order to reach every single person on the face of the planet (yes, I have big goals).
In order for me to really do that, I’m understanding how fragmented we are. I link back to my site as a means for additional branding – to me, “impressions” are dead. I consider a website visit an impression.
When I link back to my site (especially from marketing sites like this) it’s not to drive leads or traffic, it’s to drive exposure for my brand.
I switched to this mindset about 6 months ago – I stopped caring about leads and started caring about creating value. The ironic part is, my leads have gone through the roof – I’m literally handing off client leads to colleagues because my agency isn’t set up for that kind of scale.
I say it all the time – CREATE VALUE AND THE MARKET WILL REWARD YOU!” [inbound.org]
I like the way Ryan Stewart approached content syndication in 2015. Rather than republishing posts from his site (Webris.org) on to other sites he instead creates brand new pieces and then syndicates them out in the wild.
It might start life as a guest post on an authority blog and then later appear on Medium and LinkedIn.
So Ryan will write a highly actionable post that will eventually be posted on numerous highly trafficked sites – but link back to his own business and content hub where his longer flagship guides can be found.
‘What’s The Best Way to Syndicate My Blog’s Content?’
In the above video – Ryan outlines his entire content syndication methodology.
I encourage you to watch but I’ll pull out several of the choice bits for you to chew on.
— Ahrefs (@ahrefs) May 11, 2015
…there’s a ton of benefits to syndicating content. The problem is that a lot of people fall flat doing it. Just because you publish on LinkedIn or Medium doesn’t mean anyone’s going to see it. It’s not guaranteed to go viral. You actually have to have a promotion strategy on those networks as well.
- Publish your original post – either on your own site or as a guest post on another high authority blog.
- Go right to Webmaster Tools and use the “fetch as Google” tool and submit that URL. It will index almost immediately and that way you get credit for that content first and you will not get hit with duplicate content issues.
- Promote the post to your networks such as Twitter and Facebook to get the ball rolling. Then to your email list.
- Wait 3 or 4 months before syndication the post to other sites.
- Now republish your post on LinkedIn, Medium etc…
- Start the content promotion cycle all over again (Twitter, Facebook, email list). The good thing about using Medium and LinkedIn as publishing platforms is that if you can get a little bit of traction and some up votes than you expose yourself to even bigger audiences.
LinkedIn is great because you have your own following and every time you post something everyone gets those ‘flag’ notifications. Every time I publish there I get an extra thousand views. It doesn’t drive traffic to my site – but it’s the brand awareness and consumption of the content that really matters.
3 White Hat Link Building Techniques That Go Far Beyond Links: https://t.co/KsSs1sWYgy
— Ryan Stewart (@ryanwashere) September 8, 2015
With the Ahrefs post that I’m talking about – it did about 10,000 views. When I re-published it on LinkedIn it got another 2,000 views. Then when I put it on Medium it got another 5,000 views.
I took the Medium Link and I re-promoted it on Facebook, GrowthHackers and my email list. So you’re also scraping people that didn’t see it the first time you published it. You’re able to re-promote it, it’s on a new platform to so you’ve just cross-polinated your following.
I started reading Chris Winfield’s work after I noticed everyone sharing his article on mastering the Pomodoro technique.
Starting to see a pattern now? Chris writes high quality and actionable articles which editors love – and readers love sharing via social.
Once you’ve created an in-depth piece of content that has proven itself on your site – you can start to syndicate it elsewhere.
Content syndication has…
- Enabled Chris’ work to get read by hundreds of thousands of people.
- Sent valuable traffic back to his website and landed him new clients.
- Built out his brand across the web.
With over 75,000 followers on Medium and another 10,000 on Twitter, Benjamin Hardy has built up a sizeable audience through content syndication.
His work has been published at Psychology Today, Inc., Fortune, Observer, Thought Catalog, SUCCESS, Huff Post and Upworthy.
Some of his articles on Medium have garnered over a hundred comments and thousands of shares. Some of his most successful pieces have been republished across the web on some very authoritative sites.
“I’ve recently adopted Ferriss’ concept of doing short-term experiments. This has changed my approach to my work. For example, a few months ago I stumbled upon a personal development article that had over 1,000,000 social shares. I decided to perform an experiment to attempt creating an article that would also get 1,000,000 shares. The result was this article.
Although the article wasn’t shared a million times, the results were profound and unexpected. An editor at TIME asked if they could syndicate the article. Additionally, the article brought several thousand new readers (including some of my favorite authors & researchers) and subscribers to my blog. Lastly, it brought on several new coaching clients.“ [source]
Syndicating to Medium
Medium is the first place that you will want to experiment with syndication on. It’s free. It’s easy.
You can import your posts directly onto the platform.
- Log into your account.
- In the far upper right corner click on your picture (in the circle). A drop down menu will appear. Click on ‘Import Story’ – which is 2nd down from the top.
- You’re then taken to a new field. All you have to do is enter the URL of your original post and click on the ‘Import’ button. Medium will then import your article and give you a chance to edit it within their platform.
Medium will automatically place a canonical link (link rel=”canonical”) in the head of the document pointing back to your original article. How easy is that?
*Note there currently seems to be an issue importing posts from https:// URLs. It will pull in the text – but you’ll have to place the images and embedded media by hand.
“The API lets you write in a desktop or mobile editor and publish straight to Medium. It also works with major publishing tools like Blogger and WordPress for those who want to syndicate into Medium. Read more about the API.” 
And be sure to read up on Larry Kim’s adventures on republishing articles on Medium.
“Hopefully this helps you understand the awesome power of Medium, especially for your personal brand. You can gain an impressive amount of traction by republishing your existing content with minimal effort.” 
LinkedIn is second only to Medium as a platform for syndicating your content.
“The performance of the same content on LinkedIn in terms of both hits and engagement has been surprising. Posts have received an average of 400 hits, and 40 likes, and typically many more comments than my blog.” – Stephen Waddington 
What type of posts should you syndicate to LinkedIn?
- Visual posts with at least 8 images
- “How to” or list posts
- Long-form content (around 2000 words)
Source: Paul Shapiro, OKDork.com 
Make sure to manually link back to your original source article once you’ve formatted everything to your liking.
With Facebook, you have two main ways to syndicate your content. FB Notes and Instant Articles.
Last Sept.25.2015 Facebook announced that they were updating ‘FB Notes‘, to encourage more people to post by making them more customizable and aesthetically pleasing.
“With this update, you can add a cover photo that represents what your note is all about. You can caption and resize photos, and format your text into headers, quotes or bullets.”
Noted content strategist Jay Baer sees this as an attempt by Facebook to win back more eyeballs from Medium – “Just as Medium was starting to get some real traction outside its tech and entrepreneur core, what does Facebook do? A rollout of a totally overhauled Notes feature, which now looks and acts remarkably like Medium.”
You’re going to get frustrated trying to republish your articles as FB Notes. You won’t be able to embed YouTube videos (or most other media).
If you’re dealing with just text and images it’s workable. But you won’t be able to link canonically back to your original article.
Facebook Instant Articles
Now we’re talking. This is true syndication. Once you’ve passed Facebook’s entrance guidelines you’ll be publishing your articles (fully intact) on Facebook itself.
“the instant articles system links right up with the audience network and the ads system, for as much exposure on Facebook as you can possibly get. It’s not limited to your own audience as you are elsewhere. You even get all of the usual Facebook analytics data.” 
And if your site is using WordPress – there’s a handy plugin (Instant Articles for WP) to help facilitate your feed submission to Facebook.
The Pros and Cons of Syndication
According to Chad Pollitt of Relevance, content syndication…
- Is the number one most efficient organic lead gen channel month after month.
- Search converts around 1% or less on average, but referral traffic through syndication converts at 15% on a good month.
- Although you’ll get more traffic from organic search; you’ll get a higher share of conversions through referral/syndication.
- If faced with the choice of having to to give up one of those two channels he’d drop organic search in favor of referral traffic.
- He’s NEVER worried about any negative search ramification from syndication.
“Out of the thousands of articles we’ve had syndicated over the years, only ONE outranked its original. They were doing their canonicals wrong. I asked them to fix and they wouldn’t so I reported the article as spam to the GOOG and voila! Our original owned the SERP.
We’ve never run into any SEO problems from syndicating content. We’re likely one of the most prolific companies at syndication in this space, too.” 
“Publish on Medium (or Blogspot or Forbes or NextWeb or whatever) and you miss the chance to:
- do retargeting
- own the UX
- own branding
- capture emails (or social logins or phone numbers or whatever)
- earn link equity that helps future SEO
- earn engagement that helps future SEO (and many other marketing channels)
That said if you’re using Medium like you use Twitter or Facebook not as a destination but as a conduit to drive traffic back to your site/property, that can be great.” -Rand Fishkin 
I understand the distribution benefits (you get a ready-made network of people that your content can get exposed to). I also understand the appeal of the user experience (they do a really good job, and make it a joy to publish).
But, you sacrifice a lot when you use Medium. Long-term SEO benefits (they get the link credit, not you), inability to gain subscribers/leads/customers, and very little control of your brand.” -Dharmesh Shaw 
In this particular chapter of Neil Patel and Aaron Agius’ awesome guide on building a blog audience they outline a huge list of places to syndicate your content.
Kevan Lee got the ball rolling with this insightful post on becoming an online columnist back in May, 2014. It covers a lot of ground. A must read!
Salma Jafri outlines the benefits of syndication and on becoming a “Create Less, Promote More” content creator.
On this episode of the Rough Draft podcast -Copyblogger’s Demian Farnworth and Belle Beth Cooper discuss rapidly building out an audience using syndicated articles on sites such as Business Insider, Fast Company, and Lifehacker.
Brian Lang covers the duplicate content myth by listing out 9 cases where articles were republished and performed just fine.
The discussion to end all discussions on Inbound.org (started by Hubspot’s Darmesh Shah) on reposting content to other platforms. No less than Moz’s Rand Fishkin, and a host of other experienced marketers chime in on the subject in the comments. Well worth going through.
Sarah Peterson details her adventures in content republishing, the myths of duplicate content, pitching editors with perfectly crafted emails and setting yourself up for success. The ‘content upgrade’ on this post is a spreadsheet containing 46 of the top publishers that republish content along with contact info for each site. So take advantage!
Tim Soulo’s excellent article covers the steps and hard work involved with getting your content picked up by the “big sites” like Fast Company, Inc, Lifehacker, and The Next Web. You’ll like the “M. Night Shamlayan Technique” and the concepts of ‘white bread’ and ‘wheat bread’ content.
Chelsea Baldwin outlines a winning strategy for going all in on content syndication on Medium.