The question I get asked more than any other is “How do I become a contributor to Forbes?” or Mashable, TechCrunch, Inc., Entrepreneur, The Huffington Post, and so on. I’ve previously written about how I got signed up to write for Forbes, which I then leveraged into over 200 articles in Time, Entrepreneur, Inc, Mashable, TechCrunch, and many more publications, but I wanted to show how other contributors to various publications got their big break or ended up where they are today. Below are the brief stories of many other contributors. Some are short and sweet, some slightly longer. Perhaps you’ll notice some trends, perhaps you’ll get some ideas about how you can pitch yourself to become a contributor. If you pitch yourself and succeed, you can come back here and tell us your own story in the comments.
I got my big break in writing for a big business online publication when I wrote an op-ed blog post based on something significant happening in the news. Instead of pitching the same old “ten ways, tips, how to” stories, I made it personal. I gave my piece as much voice as I could and wove in expertise on branding and marketing in a commentary fashion.
Founder, Sterling Marketing Group; Author, The Brand Mapping Strategy: Design, Build and Accelerate Your Brand
Forbes reached out when they saw me on stage at the Launch Summit talking about investing in tech in Asia.
I wrote a piece on LinkedIn, and an Inc. writer liked it and reached out to me.
Arianna Huffington, in her keynote presentation at INBOUND 2013, invited every blogger present to write for her. I took her up on the offer. Later, I got a strange email from a Guardian editor asking me if I’d contribute to a new media and technology section. Apparently, they’d made a list of industry folks to target.
I landed features on Business Insider, Forbes, and Entrepreneur and I wrote and published a blog post every single day for 6 months on my personal site. After months of writing, a friend who wrote for The Huffington Post reached out to me and connected me to an editor and I got signed up as a contributor.
Growth Associate, Inside.com
I stalked the publisher of Forbes at a conference and met up. I then found the next conference he was going to and “coincidentally” saw him there. I was set up 3 days later.
After covering a valuable niche writing on Startup Noodle for almost 4 years, Forbes asked me to come on as a contributor.
Founder, Startup Noodle
I blogged about owners who successfully grew and sold their businesses, and another Forbes contributor suggested his producer take a look at my blog.
Holly Magister, CPA, CFP
CEO, Exit Promise
I sent a cold email to Arianna Huffington with articles from my blog. She invited me to write for The Huffington Post. From there, I got introductions through contributors at various publications.
I owe the opportunity to contribute to Forbes to Cheryl Snapp Conner, a contributor before me. I hired her to help with PR for my book, Your Mark on the World, and she introduced me to her editor. Four years and almost 400 articles later, I’m still contributing.
Journalist, Author, Your Mark On The World
I started out writing as a way to prove a point to my clients: bold and meaningful material gets results. I found clients producing gentle inspirational copy meant to highlight their own companies and teams frustrating, so I went to my Forbes editor and said “I’d like to do a column. I know I can do this.” He said yes.
Cheryl D. Snapp Conner
Founder and CEO, Snapp Conner PR
I was paired up with Mashable through the Contently platform, and although Mashable soon decided not to use the platform, I had already developed a relationship with my editor.
Owner, The Startup Scribe
I got published on little sites that no one read until I had a portfolio deep enough to pitch bigger publications. My first was the Washington Times, and now I’m in Business Insider, Fox News, Entrepreneur, Forbes, VentureBeat, Fast Company, and others. There’s no replacing hard work.
CEO, Foxtail Marketing
I wrote a post about my heroes and mentioned Josh Steimle. He invited me to his Facebook group, where I met Jon, a contributor for The Huffington Post. I gave him some advice, and he invited me to become a contributor myself.
Editor in Chief, QArea
After being published by a few very popular publications, I decided it was time for me to try and get on TechCrunch. I pitched my story through their online form, and their main editor in New York decided to commission it.
The very first blogging spot I landed was Search Engine Journal in 2010. I didn’t know them at the time; I just emailed them a pitch for a story I wanted to write up, and they accepted it.
Founder and CEO, Wordstream
Designer, Blogger and Entrepreneur
I asked a friend of mine who wrote for Forbes to introduce me to his editor. As it turns out, his editor was already an avid reader of my wanderlust publication How I Travel, so our relationship grew naturally from there.
Founder, Yore Oyster
An editor at Forbes reached out to me.
Head of Asia, RISE; Venture Partner, Blue Startups
On my podcast, I interviewed an author who had a new book coming out and also contributes to Entrepreneur and Forbes. We hit it off during the interview, and he offered to introduce me to his editor.
Host,Hack the Entrepreneur
I regularly pitch content to publications as part of my business. A few years ago, I was reaching out to Entrepreneur for a story, and I stumbled across the opportunity to become a regular contributor. I had pieces for their editor to review and specific PR and business topics to submit, and I got the gig.
CEO and Founder, Onboardly
I did a trade with another contributor: I got him into The Huffington Post, and he introduced me to his editor at Entrepreneur.
Founder and CEO, Influencer Press
I was already blogging on SJO.com, which showed I knew what I was talking about and had an audience that cared. I got a warm intro to the editor to Marketing Land, showed her my existing work, showed I had an audience, and pitched a few articles, I made it easy for her to say “yes.”
I reverse engineered my breakthrough post by picking the most popular celebrity on Google Trends and writing “The Mindy Kaling Guide to Entrepreneurial Domination.” I cold emailed the full article, not a pitch, to everyone I could find at Entrepreneur.com with “editor” and “online” in their titles. Within a week I got this email back, “We’d love to run your post and have you write more for us! But please just send one email next time.”
I landed my first contributing role with Entrepreneur by establishing a relationship with an editor via Twitter. Before making the ask, he and I had multiple back-and-forth conversations over several weeks: I established rapport, so my ask seemed less out of the blue. I was a contributor by the end of the week.
A client had a syndication partnership with Entrepreneur, and they reposted two of my articles. I contacted an editor and asked how I could become a regular contributor. Following a trial run, I was issued a contributor’s account.
B2B Content Marketer
I got my big break as a daily columnist for Inc. by writing over 400 answers on Quora. There, I became a Top Writer 2 years in a row and accumulated over 13,000,000 total views. That impact was a great help transitioning into column writing.
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur
I started contributing to Entrepreneur when I was 19: I sent the then-contributing editor a personal email with drafts of three articles. He liked one and, after some edits, it got published.
I worked with Wiley to publish my book, Brainfluence, and a publicist there introduced me to the appropriate section editor at Forbes.
When the Pokémon Go craze hit, I pitched the proposed headline ‘Want to Have an Irresistible Content Strategy? Learn from Pokemon Go.’ That became my first article for Entrepreneur.
Freelance Writer, Mushroom Content
I wrote for a small blog and used that published article to get published on About.com, then BusinessWeek.
Author, NY Times bestseller Promote Yourself
After building a career as an independent traveling journalist, South China Morning Post contributor, and author, an editor I’d worked for at Thomson-Reuters moved to Forbes and brought me with her.
Journalist, Author, Ghost Cities of China
I used a survey to come up with unique data about Internet users. I then pitched the data to media sites with the condition that I write it up myself, and Search Engine Land picked it up.
Head of International Marketing, SurveyMonkey
I wrote for a publication, True/Slant, that Forbes bought in 2010. They added me to their contributor system, and I still write for them.
Digital media instructor, Colorado State University
When one of my Facebook posts went viral, I reached out to Arianna Huffington and said I would love to bring a positive voice to The Huffington Post. She responded directly inviting me to contribute. Sometimes it is as simple as asking!
Social Media Strategist
Getting into a major publication was quite a process. Several Inc. columnists I knew had introduced me their editors, but it really took one very prominent columnist championing me to the editorial team to make it happen.
We featured Arianna Huffington on the front cover of Foundr, and she gave us a column!
The first editorial link I received was from my 30th pitch on HARO. I leveraged that to pitch the editor at my favorite publication at the time.
I met a columnist at Small Business Trends [now Business2Community] and we became fast friends. When his boss was hosting a Twitter chat, I sent a direct message asking for an opportunity. She hooked me up with the right person, and I was soon published.
After leaving academia, I learned SEO, designed an education magazine, and shared my work across LinkedIn. I made a slideshow to show how LinkedIn changed my life and shared it with Jeff Weiner. LinkedIn featured my story around the world, and my new journey began.
Robyn D. Shulman, M.Ed.
Education Journalist, The Huffington Post
I built a relationship on LinkedIn with one of the editors of The Huffington Post, and that led to my first ever column opportunity.
I hired a PR company to leverage their network to get an in at Entrepreneur. I spent a significant amount of time writing the best content I could. After I was approved, I used that credibility to get published in other publications.
I read an article by Brian Evans on Inc.com and reached out via LinkedIn. We soon spoke on the phone and learned we had a lot in common. He invited me to write for Influencive.com.
LinkedIn Marketing Consultant, Linked Academy
I initially became a contributor to Inc thanks to an introduction from a columnist. He’d seen my work elsewhere and thought it’d be a good fit. Thanks to his relationship with his editor, he was able to make an introduction and after an application and a trial period, I was chosen as a columnist as well. The key here is to maintain meaningful relationships with people in your network so that you are top of mind when opportunities arise!
Branded Content Consultant and Speaker
Step by step, I contributed to e27, Business.com, TechinAsia, and business2community, and because of these blogs my application to Huffington Post got approved.
CEO, 360 Degree Technosoft
I went to Entrepreneur’s staff page, found the email address of the appropriate editor (they put them on the site), and sent a completed article to him in an email. They liked it and within a couple of weeks I received my login credentials.
I was ranked on the Inc 500 list as 172 overall and 25th in marketing companies. That opened the door to allow me to have my pitch heard to become a contributor.
Brian D. Evans
Founder and CEO, Influencive
I won two essay contests in a matter of 5 months in college I came across on Twitter. Which gave me the confidence to write. Now I’m growing Influencive and contributing to the Huffington Post.
Co-founder & Chief Operating Officer, Influencive
A friend introduced me to a high-up editor at Huffington Post and I was added right away.
I had been sending over pitches to various editors of The HuffPost for an year and never heard back. One day, I said to myself, you know what, let’s write to Ariana Huffington, she is a nice lady, she has responded to others in the past… To my disbelief, she wrote back and invited me over to write for the HuffPo.
I spoke to Michael Simmons and saw he was writing in big publications. I thought, if he could do this, I could too. Since I already had 10 million Quora views and 50,000 Twitter followers, I filled out the form on publication websites. Inc. asked for a sample post and 10-20 headliners, then gave me a column.
For Entrepreneur, I went to GrowthCon 2016, sat next to President Michael Shea and asked him for a column. I had one the next day.
For The Huffington Post, I emailed Arianna Huffington inquiring if she could give a column to my client. She gave both of us one.
Managing Partner, InfluenceTree
Being an ex-professional gamer and eSports person, I enjoy reading articles about the industry. I read an article by Jonathan Shieber on TechCrunch and messaged him on Twitter about it. Seeing my gaming profile he asked me if I’d like to write for TechCrunch as a Contributor. I was more than honored to accept and now I submit a piece whenever I find a worthy topic.
I consistently send pitches to high PR websites as part of my job. So I sent an email pitch to Arianna and she replied. That’s how I become a contributor. It was one of the best days of my life.
Faisal Wahab Khan
I emailed Arianna, inviting her to be a guest on my podcast. She thanked me and instead invited me to write for The Huffington Post. Awesome outcome nonetheless!
Host of The Soulfully Optimized Life
I continually tried to get into magazines by writing on Medium and guest posting on local blogs. An editor at Entrepreneur read one of my articles via Twitter and I am now a dedicated contributor there.
Founder, Write Right
I started with small scale business blogs because I had to gain online reputation and then with TweakYourBiz, Insights Wired, Business2Community. Then that portfolio was enough to get me into Entrepreneur.com.
Android App Developer, 360 Degree Technosoft
After writing six guest posts for InBusiness Magazine the publisher offered me a column that we titled #SocialBiz.
Spencer X Smith
Principal, Spencer X Smith Consulting
When I heard that Arianna Huffington was launching Thrive Global I emailed her directly. In my email I mentioned I was already writing for The Huffington Post and would like to be part of her new project. Within hours I got a response that they would love to have me as a contributor.
Founder of the Writers Hub Club Toni Nelson Means Business
After I wrote for mashupcorner.com, local weekly magazines and co-authored a metaphysical fiction ‘Will You Walk A Mile?’, I approached YourStory, a popular startup magazine in India and they approved me to write for them.
Content Writer, Write Right
I invested in a few writing courses to improve the quality of my articles, and I practiced making my emails short and sweet (no editor wants to read a solid wall of text). It’s this combination of simple pitches and solid writing that has gotten my submissions into both the Huffington Post and Entrepreneur.
Founder, Get Featured
Are you inspired? Disheartened? Terrified? Tell us how you feel in the comments below and let us know what questions you have about becoming a contributor.