It’s been a crazy year.
Lately, I’ve been devoting most of my free time for writing to my column on Inc Magazine. It was one of my goals for 2017 to become a regular contributor to the site — it’s been cool to see that goal materialize.
In the past 12 months, I’ve been fortunate to be featured in Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and others. While my co-founder, Justin Kerby, has published articles in Adweek, Social Media Today, and Business Insider.
I’d love to tell you this was based on luck, but nearly a year ago we sat down and strategized how we could get into positions to contribute to these seemingly untouchable publications.
In this post, I wanted to give you the rough outline we used to become contributors and be featured in these publications.
One of the core strategies was to start with smaller business publications on the web. We would search for, “Magazine for Entrepreneurs,” and immediately go to the third page of Google results. Here we would find lesser known sites that had decently sized followings. We looked for sites with a decent Alexa rank (traffic estimator) and would see if they’d take guest submissions. These publications are usually a small operation and will take relevant content submissions for authors willing to give them out.
Think about these like stepping stones, helping your upward trajectory. Start small, then pitch higher and higher rankings sites, referencing your previous work.
Work for Free
Yep, you read that right. If you’re going to get yourself mentioned in a major publication, you better be willing to work for free. Often bigger named sites don’t offer any monetary incentive to their contributors, but instead, great exposure. And don’t expect a payday from the smaller sites either, remember, if you offer your writing for free you’re much more likely to be brought on as a consistent contributor.
Fill a Need for the Publication
Double down on what you’re good at and what the publication is missing. For example, we noticed that Inman News was very light on video content, so we went ahead and created this video for their site (before they approved it). They loved the video and subsequently featured it on their site.
Find the need for the publication and fill it for them.
Pitch, Then Pitch Again
Editors from major publications are inundated with contributor pitches every day. This means chances are you won’t get through to them on your first email to an editor. Pitching publications regularly is extremely important to increase your chances of getting on any of them.
Don’t go into your pitch empty-handed either. If you’re pitching an article to an editor, do the groundwork and attach a finished piece for them to consider. This will give them insight into your writing ability and fast-track you getting published. Worst comes to worst, and they ignore/don’t respond, you are free to take that article and pitch it to every other publication.
Before I became an Inc Columnist, I applied to be contributor three times (it’s a lengthy process).
Use HARO (Help a Reporter Out)
HARO is a service which connects journalists with experts in select fields. Journalists send out questions 3X daily and you have the opportunity to answer these inquiries. If you take the time and write out thoughtful responses, sometimes multiple paragraphs in length, your chances of getting quoted/featured go up tremendously. Make it a point to respond to at least one HARO inquiry a day — it will pay off in the long run.
Tighten Up Your Skills
Becoming a regular contributor to these sites requires that your writing skills be tightened up. Justin and I are not Ernest Hemingway, but we deliberately practice and write every day. This practice, along with the open critique from one another allows us to incrementally improve our skills daily.
If you can’t commit to becoming a better writer, then getting on these publications will remain a pipe-dream.
If you have any questions on how we did this, I’d love to hear them. Leave a comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading guys, I hope this helps you with your marketing efforts.