How to get your articles published online

A sickness swells in my belly. I see the email response in my inbox and I hold my breath as I contemplate clicking ‘open.’ I hesitate, not wanting to know my fate.

There is a silent plague sweeping the consciousness of many a writer. One that keeps us awake at night, keeps a frown on our brow and a knot in our stomach. It gives us clammy palms when we click ‘Submit’ and a queasy feeling when we see there’s a reply. It is the Submission Sickness. It is the barrier between being a published writer and an unpublished writer.

Of course anyone who can hold a pen can write but few can turn it into word art. Success comes with different masks but for many writers, we can’t accept ourselves as writers until we see our byline in print or online.

Without further delay I hasten to read my submission response. I swiftly see that my article was well received and subject to a little tinkering it will be published, byline and all.

What is the magic formula for being accepted you want to know?

Let me tell you.

Tell a story

For readers to keep reading they need to be captivated. Hold their attention by drawing them in. Make sure you have a clear, attention grabbing or intriguing beginning. Be clear from the onset the message you want to communicate. You might want to spark curiosity with something whimsical or present a situation your reader can relate to. Then take them on a journey, through the middle to the end. Present their problems and show them how to solve it. Whatever you have to say never scrimp on the narrative.

Be bold with your opinions and your voice

No one likes a dishwater-weak squeak. Whatever it is you have to say, say it loud and proud. Ensure you have a distinct voice or style and don’t be afraid to ruffle feathers with your opinions.

Have a crisp clear headline

Your headline should be a clear lead in to your topic. It should allude in some way to what your article is about in order to appeal to the right audience.

Separate your text with sub-headers

By breaking up the text with sub-headers or quotes you help the reader move their attention down the page more easily. Large blocks of text are intimidating — don’t do it.

Limit your word count

The average article online is between 800–1000 words. Any longer than this then publishers will reject you or ask for a re-write. Write your article and then go about refining and editing to cut it down, removing anything that is not directly relevant to the subject matter or acts as a distraction. Never try to bulk up your work just to make it look longer. Make it clear and concise. Don’t use 50 words when 16 will do.

Check the spec

Never forget to check the submission spec of your chosen publisher online and make sure you comply.

Dot your I’s and cross your T’s

Publishers tend to stay away from your work if it isn’t grammatically accurate and properly spell checked, so set aside time when you can give this your attention before sending your article off.

If at first you don’t succeed try, try and try again

Every publisher and online platform is different. They all have their own voice and readership. What is rejected by one may be welcomed with open arms by another. Look for a publisher whose message and values are similar to your own. In other words match your content to a suitable owner. If you get rejected, tweak your work and submit to another. You might find the same article gets rejected by 12 different platforms before being accepted by the 13th. All content finds a home eventually.

Ensure your content is original

Publishers want fabulous, fresh content only. You can often put it on your own blog afterwards if you credit the original publisher, but they won’t accept anything that has been seen by public eye before.

Ask for feedback

If you get rejected ask the publisher if they’d be kind enough to give you some constructive feedback to help you refine your writing or contribute something more suitable for them in the future.

Finally, never give up. If writing’s in your blood then you are a writer, it’s as simple as that. Continue to hone your craft, continue to submit, because one day you will get picked up and isn’t it better to be a writer receiving rejections than no writer at all?

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Originally published at