How I got a guest post with The Next Web

I stopped stopping myself.

I’ve never thought of myself as a great writer. Sure, I can write my way out of a paper bag, but I was never the one that would amaze the English teacher with amazing insights and writing flow. Nah, not me. I’ve always been the math and science guy, and I didn’t think I’d ever need to become a really good writer. I now realize just how useful writing skills are for startups and I’ve wished several times that I was a better writer. I began writing on Medium and the response has been decent thus far.

But then I wanted more. I like writing on Medium, sure, but I wanted a larger audience to speak to. I wanted to push my superior political agenda onto the lay people and convince them to view the world from my own perspective (not really). I used to read the big tech news sites all the time: TechCrunch, Mashable, The Next Web, Read Write, etc., and I knew that they accepted guest posts. These guest posts typically came from industry experts and/or proficient writers. I am neither.

Three Strikes

I found the email address of an editor at The Next Web and sent a message with three choices of articles that I had written that I thought would work well on their site. I never expected for all of the article to be accepted, but I had high hopes that at least one would make it. After all, three articles meant I would be tripling my chances of success, right? All three were rejected with one simple reply. Ouch.

At this point, I could have given up. I told myself several times that I wasn’t a good writer and that I wouldn’t be able to achieve my goal. I didn’t want to face rejection again. Coming up with a topic was difficult enough, but finding the write angle and words to say was even more difficult for me. The content I was writing was simply uninteresting and nothing new. But I tried again anyway. I tried again partially because I figured that even if the folks at The Next Web didn’t like it, I could always feed it to the Medium.com folks and get all of 54 views.

I can do this

So I wrote a new article. This article was different. It was useful and I knew a bit about the topic. Despite my previous failures, I felt confident that this new article would appear on the front page of The Next Web in shining lights. But it wouldn’t. Ever. I was once again dissappointed in myself and my writing abilities. I questioned myself a little bit. What was wrong with my article? Was it just my writing?

I really wanted that guest post. It meant a whole lot to me. This was my way of proving myself as a writer and as a human. But something wasn’t working, and I had to try something new.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

And so I did try something new. This time, instead of emailing the editor with a completed article, I tried sending a list of topics that I could write about with a brief description of each one. I gave the editor five choices and much to my liking, he picked one he liked. I was so stoked. It was basically gaurenteed that I would get this article in The Next Web. All I had to do was start writing the article! I thought that would be the easy part.

Oh.

But it turns out it wasn’t easy. I was not an expert on the topic, I simply found some reasearch and tried writing an article based on that. It turned out to be decent, but it too was rejected since it really didn’t present anything new. The readers came away with no new knowledge.

I rewrote the article a bit, but I honestly think it got even worse. I’m not quite sure why I even bothered to submit it. Perhaps I was just frustrated with myself. Over 3 months and several tries I couldn’t get one post in. I knew it would be rejected, and I was right.

Success at last

I stopped trying to get a guest post for about two weeks. I didn’t feel inspired at the time. But then I finally thought of a post that I could not only contribute my original ideas to, but also one that I felt qualified to write about. And so I got to writing. For the first time, I used Medium to host the draft of my article because I love the interface.

I thought about simply publishing the article to Medium and nothing more. I still didn’t have high hopes for this article. But something in me made me submit. And I did it. My article was accepted (you can find it here). I was so excited to see my dream come true after all my failed attempts.

So if you’ve been rejected and feel like quitting: please don’t. By trying, you’re already ahead of so many people, so why stop? We’re capable of amazing things once we truly set our minds to a task.

Follow me on Twitter, @SomewhatJustin.