So, you want to write for big time publications - you've heard about regular Joe's who became "Forbes famous" with one article, and now you want to become a thought leader in your space. Awesome.
Writing for various publications such as business.com, Elite Daily, and Social Media Today has helped me gain major visibility in my business and grow my community. And since so many of my clients have recently asked how they too can get featured in online publications, I thought I'd share my knowledge with the world.
First of all, I have good news: It's not nearly as hard as you think.
But at the same time, I'll preface this by saying that I've been writing for a long time. Whether you're a writer or not, the system I'm sharing with you will work, but it's important to know that writing is my thing. I'm a little bit obsessed with it. So churning out content is fun for me, but if writing makes you miserable, then it's going to make this process a lot more miserable. Just a head's up.
Ok, let's start from the beginning. Why become a guest writer?
As an entrepreneur with a personal brand, writing for major publications can take you from being another freelancer to being an influencer in your industry. It can enable thousands of new potential leads to view your content and it can grow your following like crazy. Plus, it builds your credibility and increases your chances of getting published in other places as well. It's all around a win-win. Ready to move on? Cool.
Here are the exact steps that I've taken to get featured in major publications.
1. Identify the best publications for you to pitch
Of course, not every publication is ranked equally - there are different "tiers" (Entrepreneur Magazine isn't going to have the same acceptance rate as your local newspaper, right?)
So, instead of shooting for the big players right away, try to identify three publications that you think are in the middle tier that you'd like to write for.
If you don't know which publications to look for, head over to buzzsumo.com and see which publications are getting the most traffic in your space. Buzzsumo will show you which publications publish content on relevant topics, where they're being shared the most, and what kind of people are writing them.
Spend some time on each of these publications to see if the central topics they're covering align with yours, and check out their other feature writers. The better sense you have of what goes on within the publication, the better your chances are of getting accepted as a contributor.
2. Write 3 to 5 relevant pieces (if you don't already have them)
It's extremely rare (if not impossible) for a publication to accept you as a feature writer if you don't have any sample pieces to share with them. So, have three to five articles ready to share with them that reflect your expertise and writing skills. These pieces don't have to be articles from other publications or anything "big" - they can live on your own blog if you want - but they do need to prove that you have an original voice, you're articulate, and you know your stuff.
If you're thinking "Wait, I'm not a good writer" don't worry about it, we're not asking you to write a novel here. Believe it or not, most influencers are not good writers. Just have someone edit your articles and run them through Grammarly to make sure that they look decent.
3. Follow the editors on Twitter
This goes a long way with certain publications - and others don't care about it at all - but it doesn't hurt to identify the big players and start engaging with them on social media prior to pitching them.
Follow them, start commenting on their posts, and sharing their content. They might take notice and remember you when you finally reach out to them as a potential writer.
4. Get on the publication websites and see what their requirements are
Every publication has a different policy when applying to contribute - some simply want you to fill out a short form on their website, and others ask that you email editors personally. Regardless, it's important to be aware of their requirements before pitching them so that you can be as prepared as possible.
For example, some publications ask you to have ten article ideas ready to go when you contact them, and others ask that you have three drafts ready to submit to them. Whatever they ask of you, be ready for it and then some.
If you're not sure how to come up with article ideas, think of what you'd want to see as an end reader. Given your niche and level of expertise, what can you come up with that's juicy? What would people love to learn more about or get a fresh perspective on?
If you still aren't sure what to write on, head back over to Buzzsumo to see what some trending topics are. Remember that you don't need to come up with something ground-breaking or unheard of, just express something in your own voice and perspective.
5. Email the right people
Now it's time to contact them about becoming a writer. Most of the time, you can easily find the editors' email addresses on the publications' websites.
For the most part, it's a straightforward intro email. Keep it short and to the point - these editors are very busy and they could immediately pass you over if your email is too lengthy.
The key here is to keep it simple - here's an idea on a possible query:
I'm Lena, a Millennial Business Coach and the founder of the Facebook group, Millennial Go-Getters. I've been reading ___ for years and I'd love to become a regular contributor! I primarily write on millennial entrepreneurship, digital marketing, personal branding, and business strategy. I've attached some examples of my writing to give you an idea.
Again, I'd love to start writing for ___. Let me know what you think. I look forward to hearing from you!
Wait a week for them to get back to you. If they don't, send them the email from scratch as if they'd never seen it - keep in mind that their inboxes are getting blown up everyday, so it's possible that they just missed your first email.
6. Once you're accepted, regularly pitch/submit
Most publications aren't looking for one-time writers - they'll be more likely to accept you if they trust that you'll regularly submit content. So, be ready to provide plenty of article ideas and start writing at least once a month.
If you're now thinking, wait, it's that simple? Yup, it really is. Anyone can do this.
Of course, as you write more and more and begin to pitch bigger publications, it can be more challenging to get editors' attention, but this is the perfect starting point. Good luck.
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